And Then Khartoum Destroyed the World

Originally Written: May 4th, 2016

In 1966, when the Beatles were bigger than Jesus, Basil Dearden, one of Britain’s lesser known film directors of the time, embarked on a film that chronicled what is now an ironic circle of repetition, Khartoum (Dearden 1966). Although the historical accuracy of the film is debatable, it depicted the efforts of General Charles “Chinese” Gordon, portrayed by Charlton Heston, trying desperately to save what would be the capital of Sudan from slaughter in 1885 by Mohamed Ahmed “al-Mahdi”, portrayed by Laurence Olivier, a Muslim extremist. It is here, in the mid-1880’s that the British become interested in the Sudan and is the first catalyst among many that would lead to the creation of The Anglo-Egyptian Condominium which would last from 1899 – 1956 upon Sudanese independence. Presently, the government that now sits in Khartoum is committing mass atrocities in the Darfur region, in far greater numbers than the Mahdists of 1885 with the purpose of genocide. The International Criminal Court identifies the combatants as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and the government backed Janjaweed, an Arab militia, against the various rebels groups of Darfur (SLA- Sudanese Liberation Army, JEM- Justice for Equality Movement) and the United Nations. If a militaristic government is responsible for this, then the question becomes: did British colonialism have adverse effects to cause this genocide or was it simply the inevitable fate of long feuding peoples?

Located in the western part of Sudan bordering Chad, the Central African Republic, and just barely touching Libya, Darfur is approximately the size of the France and is home to approximately 6-7 million Muslims (UN, Amnesty International, Al Jazeera, Docherty 2015, 2016, 2016, 2007). In a rather seminal work, “Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide”, Gérard Prunier begins early on as by refuting claims of simplicity in the media. “The present crisis has been presented in the media as consisting of a form of ethnic cleaning verging on the genocidal, as carried out by Khartoum’s behest by “Arab” tribes against “African” ones. This is both true and false…” (4). Without diving too much into the specifics and forcing tangents, the population of Darfur, as explained by Prunier, is a complex system of tribes that considered both “Arab” and “African”. “In terms of skin color, everybody is black. But the various forms of Sudanese cultural racism distinguish “zurug” [Black Africans] from “Arab”, even if the skin has the same color” (4). This racism stems from the various migrations into the region between the fourteenth and sixteenth century whose descendants make up the modern-day tribes of Darfur that are seen today: Fur, Ziyadiyya, Habbaniya, and Rizzeyqat to name a few (6). What is important to note is the difference between “native-Arabs” and “Arabs” (who would later be called “Khartoumers”). During what is considered the first migration into the Darfur region sometime after the fourteenth century, peoples “from further northeastern reaches (and perhaps directly from the East [Arabian Peninsula]) came Arab groups such as the Ziyadiyya, Ta’iasha, Beni Halba, Habbaniya and Rizzeyqat. These long time settlers are at times described as “native-Arabs” to differentiate them from the more recent Arabized migrants who came from the Nile Valley in the eighteenth and nineteenth century” (6). The “Arabs” came in the region sometime during eighteenth century, during the height of Darfur’s prosperity:

“[They] were almost exclusively fuqara [religious predicators] or jallaba [traders] and settled in towns. Although “Arabs”, they had almost nothing in common with the old nomadic “native-Arabs”. They…constituted the nucleus of a quasi-colonial “foreign-elite”…. But in the South [what would become South Sudan] these “Khartoumers”, as they were called in the 1840s, were a completely colonial element, with nothing in common with the local population…; they came solely for the slaves and the ivory and remained un-acculturated…” (7).

In terms of government, the Darfuri people, as the tribes are collectively known, were ruled by a Sultanate, which was historically operated by the Fur tribe, whose origins of power are largely speculated. As Martin William Daly, author of “Darfur’s Sorrow: The Forgotten History of a Humanitarian Disaster” (2010), explains: “The early history of the Fur [or Keira] state is nonetheless shrouded in legend” (17). The first true Sultan of Darfur is believed to be a man known as Sulayman, who is also shrouded in myth and during his reign Islam became established in the region (18).

Egypt, who was at the time subservient to the Ottoman Empire, thought it proper to expand their influence southward into the Sudan via invasion. The person who organized this, Muhammad Ali, the Viceroy of Egypt, was attracted by the areas resources and Daly notes that following the invasion of Sinnar and Kordofan, “Muhammad Ali had immediately set about extracting the wealth that had attracted him – notably, gold and slaves” (40). However, Daly seems to miss what Prunier states in terms of Darfur; the Darfurians tried to resist invasion, but failed due to superior Egyptian technology, after this, the Darfuris retreated back to their homeland (Prunier 16).

Bhar al-Ghazal, the northwestern most region of South Sudan that borders Darfur, spawned al-Zubayr Rahma Mansur, a powerful merchant prince who wanted to control the slave trade of the Nile Valley, along with all of Darfur’s resources, began to move upon the Darfuri Sultanate in 1873 after the ascent of Ibrahim Qarad, who succeeded after the death of his father, Muhamma al-Husayn. Al-Zubayr, after defeating a small army sent by Qarad, “called up reinforcements from his slave stations in the south…marched on Dara with 7,000 men” (Daly 37-38). Due to this invasion, Egypt was prepared to act:

“Alarmed by the prospect of a Sudanese parvenu in control of Darfur, Khedive Isa’il of Egypt declared war on Sultan Ibrahim Qarad and ordered the governor-general of Sudan, Isma’il Ayub, to invade the sultanate from Kordofan…. Al-Zubayr thereupon marched into El Fasher. The Egyptian army arrived from Kordofan after the fighting was over… Isam’il Ayub began to establish an Egyptian administration” (38).

In 1877, General Charles Gordon was recently appointed Governor of Sudan. Hearing the news of rebellion against Egyptian rule, he decided to see to the affair peacefully himself. As Daly observes, Gordon intercepted the “slave caravans, releasing their human cargo- only to see them snatched up by local Arabs” (55). This brings out the inference that Arab peoples saw African blacks as slaves.

The Fall of Khartoum, as it was known in British circles, and the death of General Charles Gordon, the Governor of Sudan at the time, was the British government’s fault according to the media at the time and initially sparked interest in Sudan. In 1881, Mohamed Ahmed, also known as “ah-Mahdi” rose in opposition to Egyptian rule. Gordon, who was sent by both London and Cairo in1884 to evacuate British and Egyptian troops, was killed in Khartoum on January 26th, 1885 partly due to the inaction of the British government. The British force, which would come two days after Gordon’s death, ultimately failed in recapturing Khartoum and the Sudan fell to Mahdist control after the British retreated. M. W. Daly observes the British reason for colonialization as a means of reclaiming British honor “as the only outcome consonant with British imperial interests and worth of British dignity” (87).

1899 marked the beginning of the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and thus, the beginnings of trouble for the Darfur region. Darfur was annexed by the British Sudan in 1916 via an invasion of Al Fasher, most likely due to the same reason that the Darfuri’s could not hold up against the Egyptians, however speculative this may be.

Gérard Pruiner points out that soon after the annexation, the British imposed indirect rule and created The Sudan Political Service, which was a group of white male Oxford and Cambridge graduates who knew nothing of the region and ran the government of Khartoum (25). Since the Political Service could not oversee the area themselves, they divided the Darfur region and gave the land to local leaders:

In theory it could have been a good idea, but those appointed to these charges were often incompetent, illiterate, and corrupt… they were usually incapable of implementing any form of technical or administrative progress or dealing with problems of education. This suited the local British administrators, who believed that education and technical change would only “spoil” their charges (29-30).

Sudan: The Longest War, a documentary by Journeyman Pictures and produced by Paul Mooncraft, tells the events of the Sudanese Civil War, which lasted predominately from the eve of Sudanese independence to 2005. The documentary begins with how the British were rather unique when it came to Sudan in terms of how they used their hallmark policy of Indirect Rule:

In 1898, an Anglo-Egyptian Army defeated the Mahdi’s forces. This established British Imperial control of the Upper Nile, and set a precedent for great power intervention in the country. Sudan was officially ruled by Egypt and Britain, but Britain took the main decisions, one of which was the establishment of a separate system of imperial government in the south of the country (Moorcraft 2004).

Upon Sudanese independence in 1956, the southern regions of the country were already speaking of war. The predominately Christian south was planning an anti-Muslim succession movement and from then on, the government in Khartoum was largely dependent on military coups (Mooncraft 2004). In 1969, a coup d’état by Col. Jaafar M. Nimayri overthrew the government. Nimayri was backed by the Sudanese Communist Party and the Sudan Socialist Party and during this time Sudan was being courted by both the United States and Russia due to Cold War tensions (Mooncraft 2004). 1971 saw a failed coup by the Sudanese Socialist Party which resulted in several members being executed. What followed next would later set a precedent for the Darfur region: In 1972 the Addis-Ababa Agreement brought a temporary end to the war in the south. The southern region was granted self-government but not independence (Mooncraft 2004). In the late 1970s, oil was discovered in the south, and this discovery would most likely prompt a reason for genocide. In 1983, Nimayri enforced Sharia Law which prompted the south to protest despite the law not being enforced. The war worsened and the economy followed suit. “In June 1989, the National Salvation Revolution took over in a military coup, General Omar al-Bashir was the military figurehead but the intellectual foundations were provided by Dr. Hassan al-Turabi, an Islamic scholar” (Mooncraft 2004).

In 2009, Sudanese documentarian Hisham Haj Omar presented a film, Darfur’s Skeleton, which chronicles the events of the Darfur Genocide from the lens of Darfurians. One of those Darfurians was Al Nur Daoud Khair Allah, a writer and researcher, who recounts that Darfur experienced radical change during Nimayri’s administration where the President eliminated the Tribal Administration. The Tribal Administration of Darfur was a local government that set local laws separate from the Khartoum, these local laws were called tribal agreements. Through tribal agreements, disputes were settled and the persons who settled these disputes were tribal administrators (Omar 2009). Mohamed Abd-Allah, Tribal Mayor for the Bershel tribe, elaborates further by saying that when President Nimayri eliminated the tribal administration, everything got out of hand- there used to be respect and some sort of order, every leader was responsible for his own, but when the tribal administration was taken, nothing took its place. Darfur was officially without a government and without a voice (Omar 2009).

In the 1980s, the Darfur region suffered drought and famine, as a result of this, migratory movements began southward; due to the nature of the situation, conflicts began emerging over resources. Simultaneously, the war between Libya and Chad, as journalist Adam Khater recalls, “…played a major role in the influx of arms into Darfur due to the ethnical integration between Sudan and Chad- the exchange in weaponry became possible. Which were first used in [the commonplace] local conflicts and this advanced the combatant experience” (Omar 2009). Mohamed Tahir Aseel, Director of the Great Family Organization, got into the root of the Darfuri conflict- the reason as to why the conflict would later emerge in a mere twelve years:

“The main problem in all this the central government in Khartoum, regardless of its nature, whether it was democratic, military or otherwise- instead of solving the conflict, and establishing that the country belongs to and can fit all the people, they always chose to help one group over the other…” (Omar 2009).

By the time the 1990s rolled around, the economy of Sudan was worsening and the war in the south had been escalating. The Sudanese government attempted to mend relations but despite this, both sides committed horror and both sides talked of peace on occasion, but no military solution would be present (Mooncraft 2004). The Sudan had become the interest of the United States and the reason is because of the spread of radical Islamism (who was concerned after the Iranian Ayatollah coup) and Osama bin-Laden:

Washington was hostile to the Islamic Administration in Khartoum, it wrongly liked it to Iran after the Ayatollahs took over. Washington was also concerned about the presence of Osama bin-Laden, the Saudi warlord went to live in Khartoum until 1996 (Mooncraft 2004).

Andrew Natsios, who was Chief Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, took part in an investigation that changed the way the world saw Darfur, as not simply a place on the edge of the Sahara, but as a place of grave concern. This investigation was compiled in a book edited by Samuel Totten and Eric Markusen, “Genoicde in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan”. Natsios opens his portion with an analysis of why the Sudan grew international importance, particularly with the United States:

In 1992, Sudan played host to Osama Bin Laden. Bin Laden used his considerable wealth and contacts to gather around him the veterans of the Afghan war against the Soviet Union… [The U.S. military was allowed to stay in the Sudan region via the Arab ruling elites] Six years later, United States embassies in Tanzania and Kenya were bombed by Al Qaeda. This was the same year that the United States bombed a Sudanese facility suspected of…weapons of mass destruction… In summary, this was the situation in Sudan that faced President George W. Bush (Totten 26).

After September 11th, 2001, the United States was affected by the region due to the estimated “twenty thousand Al Qaeda operatives [in the 1990s] passed through camps in Sudan, Somalia, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. It was there that they were indoctrinated and trained…” (Totten 26). As the War on Terror commenced, George W. Bush released a statement on June 22nd, 2005, which outlined his plans for Sudan, which called for a “unified and peaceful Sudan that contributes to the regional development and cooperates on counter-terrorism; a participator and inclusive democratic government in a federal system that respects human rights and shares resources for the benefit of all Sudanese” (as quoted itn Totten, 27). By the time of Bush’s statement however, Sudan was far from unified and peaceful.

To make the situation even more problematic, the Sudanese Civil War marked U.S. sanctions on Sudanese oil, as peace was coming to fruition in 2003, the Sudan found cooperation with China, as Eric Reeves, a Professor of English at Smith College and human rights activist, who was interviewed for the Frontline PBS documentary, On Our Watch (Docherty 2007) explains:

“Sudan is China’s premiere source of off shore oil production. Even as the Chinese economy consumes petroleum at an ever greater rate over ten percent growth per year, they want as much off shore oil production they can get and Sudan is their premiere source of that production without a close second.”

Alex de Waal, co-author of “Darfur: A Short History of a Long War”, who was also featured in the documentary, discusses the demographics of Sudan. “If you go to Khartoum you see a middle income city… surrounded by hinterland that is not only developing it’s actually pre-developing- it’s some of the poorest parts of the world and Darfur is among those and that fueled a huge amount of resentment” (Docherty 2007).

Hubert Sauper, a documentarian from Australia most known for his Academy Award winning documentary Darwin’s Nightmare (2004), follows his seminal piece with “We Come as Friends” (2014) which deals with the oil situation in the south as well as the south’s independence in 2011. Sauper, who flew into the region on a plane he built himself, observed that most of the oil in South Sudan is owned by foreign investors, namely, China and Russia (Sauper 2014). The United States has some stake in the country in terms of oil, but nothing comparable to the two countries. There needs to be more research on this matter, but it is reasonable to assume that oil also resides underneath Darfur and that the government, who at this point has already been killing the Darfuri, wants the oil reserves underneath their feet. One of the reasons why this genocide occurred is due to the wealth of oil in Khartoum not being equally shared (Mooncraft, Docherty, Sauper 2004, 2007, 2014).

In the same way that Pearl Harbor was the United States’ Day of Infamy, so was February 26th, 2003. In the middle of the longest war in African history, Darfuri rebels rose up against the government of Khartoum for claims of marginalization. The effects of British Colonialism were taking its toll; as the government of Darfur was nonexistent, so was “inadequate representation of the government, a lack of equal justice in the courts, a lack of roads, and inadequate schooling” (Totten xix).

Robert O. Collins, Professor Emeritus of History at the University of California at the time of the investigation, describes the early history and context of the Darfur genocide as a contribution to the investigation, and spoke of the effect Bashir’s government had on Sudanese society:

[Bashir’s government]…Reopened old and deep wounds in Sudanese society…. Injecting an ideological and racist definition as to who is “Arab” and who [is] zuruq, black, or the more pejorative epithet abid, slave, to distinguish between Arab and African – and justify killing, rape, and enslavement of these marginalized people… (Totten 9).

Collins continues with his illustration of Sudan’s Day of Infamy, February 26th, 2003, in which approximately three-hundred rebels, who at the time were called the Darfur Liberation Front (DLF), seized the town of Gulu, a capital of a province in the state of Western Darfur. The rebels, equipped with Chadian and Libya weapons and vehicles, attacked policemen and art posts before returning to camp. Two weeks later, the DLF would be called the Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A) and would retake Gulu, killing one-hundred and ninety government officials and forcing the government garrison off (9). Minni Minnawi, who was at the time secretary-general of the SLM, released a press statement explaining the reasoning behind the rebellion:

The SPLM/A firmly opposes…the Khartoum Government’s policies of using some Arab tribes…to achieve its hegemonic devices that are detrimental both to Arabs and non-Arabs… [Consequently], the brutal oppression, ethnic cleansing, and genocide sponsored by the Khartoum Government [have] left the people of Darfur with no other option but to resort to popular political and military “resistance for the purpose of our survival… (as quoted in Totten, 2003  9-10).

What Minnawi spoke of was a group known as the Janjaweed, a group of Arab nomadic tribesmen, supported by the Government of Sudan, who generally serve as a proxy militia to do the Government’s bidding of genocide. James Traub, writer for the New York Times Magazine explains: “Janjaweed are, in effect, camel born Cossacks, these are young men who are happy to be used as warriors, many of them are bandits in any case and so what they are doing now is becoming government sanctioned and controlled bandits” (Docherty 2007).

Mukesh Kapila, who in 2003 was the UN Coordinator for Sudan, recalls when a young Darfuri woman came into his office in Khartoum: “….Not only had she herself been…raped, but also her sisters and her family were maltreated in that way, and that this had been done by soldiers and people dressed in military and paramilitary uniforms” (Docherty 2007). In 2004, Kapila went to the Sudanese government and told them of these stories but the government denied this and sent him away. He went to places such as Washington and London in the hopes that perhaps the United States or the United Kingdom would act with political pressures on the Sudanese government, sadly, he was met with excuses:

The excuses were ranging from ‘Why does it have to be us?’ through to, ‘it’s not as bad as this’, through to, ‘We will discuss this matter in this Council, that Parliament, and get back’. So, virtually from everywhere, it went from cynicism to skepticism through to disbelief… to actually [the] opposite, ‘we know exactly what’s going on, but actually, what do you expect? This is a country where nasty things happen’ (Docherty 2007).

On June 25th, 2004, Lorne Carner, Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL), met up with several non-government organizations and suggested that a team of investigators interview the refugees that spilled into Chad in April 2003 (Totten xix, xxiv). This investigation group was the Atrocities Documentation Project, or ADP.

“One writer has said, ‘If the United Nations could die of shame, it would have been dead years ago’” (Docherty 2007). In terms of the international response to Darfur, the results were slow and heartbreaking. The ADP had several things going for it in the beginning- as the information of these reports of Darfur reached Washington in 2004, the Project had originated within the government and branded itself as a State Department document, it reinforced the call to action and the methodology used was so damning of the Sudanese government and documented so strongly these claims by way of consistency, to ignore it would be a crime against humanity in itself (Totten 164-65).

The findings of this investigation, as documented by Samuel Totten and Eric Markusen who conducted interviews with refugees along with several others, coincided with Kapila’s story. A young Masaleit woman from West Darfur relayed to an interviewer what the Janjaweed proceeded to do: “They were saying that the government from Khartoum sent [them] and we [were to be] killed and raped and cleaned [from] their land. Ten soldiers rape[d] me and left me. I was bleeding and could not walk. They did this to me for nearly three hours” (Totten 95).

Besides rape, torture and destruction of property took place. “Houses and entire villages were burned to the ground, the carcasses of dead animals and human bodies were thrown into wells to poison them, and crops were razed and orchards chopped down” (Totten 97).

In terms of genocide prevention however, this evidence did next to nothing in terms of international action. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), one of the advocates for human rights in the world, documented that on September 9th, 2004, for the first time in United States history, an ongoing crisis was called ‘genocide’ by then Secretary of State, Colin Powell: “We concluded—I concluded—that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the Government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility…” (2016). Totten Taylor Seybolt, a Senior Program Officer for the United States Institute for Peace observed: “The U.S. Government clearly recognized in September 2004 that genocide was underway in Darfur. It has done next to nothing in response. No other country has done any better, and the United Nations has proven ineffective” (Totten 167).

The genocide continued into the middle part of the first decade, the Janjaweed persisted their violence via scorched earth tactics, and the Government of Sudan and rebel groups reached cease fires that always resorted in violent means. Al Jazeera, an international news station based in Qatar, reported in 2010 that Mimmi Minnawi, who was still working with his organization, the SLA/M, was the only person to sign the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) in 2006 (Al Jazeera 2010). The DPA called for Power Sharing (Article 2) which loosely means “…the inclusion of Darfurians at all levels of governance in all institutions of the State…” (UN 4), as well as a section that is similar to the United States Bill of Rights titled, Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (known as Article 3): “Every person is entitled to freedom, safety and security. No person shall be subjected to arrest, detention, deprivation or restriction of her/ his liberty, except in accordance with measures prescribed by the law…” (UN 5). Minnawi who was the ‘senior assistant’ to Omar al-Bashir, accused the Government of Sudan for “failing to implement the Darfur agreement, saying that he is ready to do battle” (Al Jazeera 2010).

After the DPA was signed, it allowed the opportunity for the largest humanitarian aid force in the world to go into effect. The United Nations, who had been struggling to push any sort of legislation thanks to influence from China and Russia, agreed on Jun 31st, 2007 to deploy UN Peacekeepers in join operation with the African Union known as The United Nations- African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) (UN 2016). However, there was a condition that the United Nations was forced to accept from Omar al-Bashir. Ahmad Sikainga, a native Sudanese Professor of History who teaches at The Ohio State University, wrote in a 2009 article, “’The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis’: Understanding the Darfur Conflict”, that Omar al-Bashir’s government declared “its objection to the presence of any European troops on its soil and maintained that it would only allow African Union peacekeepers” (2009). This demand may have been intentional as Susan Manuel, the Chief of Peace and Security Section of the UN Department of Public Information at the time, implies. She was interviewed by Paul Jay, a Senior Editor for The Real News Network. When asked of what was happening on the ground in 2009, she notes one of the main problems of the mission was the lack of equipment in African militaries: “…The African countries, their militaries don’t have equipment, they don’t have transport vehicles, they don’t have helicopters- they don’t have rudimentary signaling equipment. So all the logistics have to be provided by other countries…” (The Real News Network 2009).

In 2009, The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir, the first time in the organization’s history that an arrest warrant was issued for a head of state (USHMM). As a result of this, Omar al-Bashir banned all aid groups from coming into Darfur, accusing them of working with the ICC to carry out the arrest (Al Jazeera 2016). By 2010, another peace agreement was proposed, this time the agreement was oversaw by the Qatari Government and the UNAMID. This agreement, collectively known as The Doha Peace Agreement, was extremely similar to the first agreement, but with more focus on recognizing the JEM force, which at the time was Darfur’s largest rebel group, as a political party (UN 2010). The agreement failed in the same way that the first one had, with repeated violence and civil unrest; one of the major successes of the Doha Agreement was the Darfur Referendum. Originally scheduled to take place in 2011, it was most likely pushed back due to South Sudanese independence that same year (more scholarship needs to be made) but instead, took place on April 11-13th, 2016. The referendum was to allow Darfur to become a single region as it was in the time of the Sultanate or the current five state system. The event was covered by Al Jazeera and Radio Tamazuj, a Sudanese radio station, which both reported that the five state policy was upheld, thus setting the region into continued violence and hardship (2016).

To answer the main question, it is probable to conclude that the Darfur Genocide occurred (as is still occurring) as a result of British Colonialism. The inaction of the British government set a precedent for continued inaction by the Sudanese government to invest in Darfur appropriately as an area with rich diverse people who can contribute to society. However, because of British Colonialism and the policy of indirect rule, the Darfur region has been stagnant for the majority of the past century. In order to break the cycle of stagnation, it must be proposed that the Government of Sudan cease the violence in the region, promote a higher standard of living, and generate peaceful and long-lasting solutions to problems that they themselves created.

In conducting research, one of the main obstacles was finding information that was relevant to the roots of the problem. As Ahmad Sikainga observed, “… much of the media coverage tends to follow the familiar patterns of sensationalizing the story rather than providing a nuanced analysis of the root causes” (2009). Most of what is known is rather repetitive, with holes regarding the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium and The Sudanese Civil War in terms of what occurred.

As the genocide continues, the world has been relatively silent, sending in lofty words of moral obligations to help the region. As then Senator Barack Obama stated in 2007: “The United States has a moral obligation any time you see humanitarian catastrophes…” In that same year, Hillary Clinton had more political edge and obvious propagandist flavor in terms of her opinions on the issue. “…The Bush administrations words have not been matched by deeds. Its actions have been ad hoc and inconsistent…” (United to End Genocide). The most recent causality numbers for this conflict, which was reported in 2015 by the United Nations, United to End Genocide, Amnesty International, and others, is in the ballpark of 300,000 with approximately 2-3.7 million displaced persons in Chad, the Central African Republic, and other neighboring countries. Human Rights Watch, who conducts a World Report yearly, stressed concerns about the UNAMID: “In its sixth year, UNAMID has been largely ineffective in protecting civilians from violence and has all but ceased public reporting on human rights issues” (2015). To illustrate the lack of help, in Tabit, Darfur. An investigation, “Mass Rape in North Darfur: Sudanese Army Attacks against Civilians in Tabit”, by Human Rights Watch details that:

Over the course of 36 hours beginning on October 30, 2014, Sudanese army troops carried out a series of attacks… the mass rape of women and girls and the arbitrary detention, beating and ill-treatment of scores of people. (Human Rights Watch 2015).

When Basil Dearden made Khartoum in 1966, he, well, more accurately, Robert Ardrey, the screenwriter, penned one of the best scripts to come from Hollywood. As Charles Gordon says goodbye to his camel just as he heads to the final hours of his life, he says: “So we ride beneath no more desert stars, then. Ah, all things must end.” It is unclear if the real-life Gordon said something to this effect, but what is clear is that all things must indeed end. Genocide, thankfully, does not last forever. So let us make sincere notions to cease this violence, put words to true legitimate action, and finally end the worst humanitarian crisis in history.


Work Cited

“Inside Story – Will the Darfur Referendum Be Credible?” Inside Story. Al Jazeera. 9 Apr. 2016. Al Jazeera English – Will Darfur’s Referendum Be Credible? Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <;.

“Mass Rape in North Darfur.” Human Rights Watch. 11 Feb. 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <;.

“Sudan.” Amnesty International USA. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

“United Nations Peacekeeping.” UN News Center. UN. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

“World Report 2015: Sudan.” Human Rights Watch. 2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2016.

Abushouk, Ahmed I. “The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan: From Collaboration Mechanism to Party Politics, 1898–1956.” EBSCOHost. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 1 June 2010. Web. 23 Apr. 2016. <;.

Daly, M. W. Darfur’s Sorrow: The Forgotten History of a Humanitarian Disaster. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010. Print.

Darfur’s Skeleton. Dir. Hisham Haj Omar. Refugee Club, 2009. DVD.

Khartoum. Dir. Basil Dearden. Perf. Charlton Heston and Laurence Olivier. MGM, 1966. DVD.

On Our Watch. Dir. Neil Docherty. PBS, 2007.

Prunier, Gerard. Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2005. Print.

Sikainga, Ahmad. “‘The World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis’: Understanding the Darfur Conflict.” The Ohio State University, 5 Feb. 2009. Web. 14 Apr. 2016. <;.

Sudan: The Longest War. Prod. Paul Mooncraft. Journeyman Pictures, 2004.

The Real News Network. “Not enough support for UN mission in Darfur”. YouTube, 18 Jun. 2009. Web. 1 May 2016.

Totten, Samuel, and Eric Markusen. Genocide in Darfur: Investigating the Atrocities in the Sudan. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.

We Come as Friends. Dir. Hubert Sauper. 2014.


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