The U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, who directs the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, said during a USINFO Web chat on November 17: "The ongoing genocide in Darfur, Sudan — a 'gross violation' of human rights — is among the top international issues of concern to the United States."
Whenever U.S. officials refer to the situation in Darfur, they call it genocide. Is their assessment of the situation correct, or do they have ulterior motive in painting a grim picture of the situation?
Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell used the term “genocide” for the first time while speaking to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said, "We concluded — I concluded — that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility — and genocide may still be occurring."
However, When Powell visited Darfur in June 2004, he resisted questions about whether the abuses amounted to genocide, saying, "what we are seeing is a disaster, a catastrophe, and we can find the right label for it later."
There are no reliable estimates of civilian casualties from the fighting in Darfur due to the limited international access to the area. U.K.-based Dr. Jan Coebergh, who once worked in Darfur, has examined a range of aid agency health surveys. He puts the figures at about 300,000, but he admits it is little more than a stab in the dark. "The reality is that we just don't know the scale of the problem," Dr. Coebergh told BBC News.
The Bush administration keeps on insisting that genocide has been going on in Darfur since 2003, despite the fact that a five-man panel U.N. mission led by Italian Judge Antonio Cassese reported in 2004 that genocide had not been committed in Darfur. The commission concluded that grave human rights abuses were committed. They called for war crime trials.
Critics say that main motivation behind the heightened interest of the U.S. government in Sudan is oil, not human rights. They say that United Nations troops were present in the region when the massacre occurred in Rawanda. The self-appointed champions of humanity remained silent spectators during the crisis. Rebel forces slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis in 100 days. It is not the first time that the International community remained indifferent to genocide. In 1971, the U.S. ignored the genocide in Bangladesh despite frantic calls from diplomatic staff of the American consulate in Dacca.
Darfur is a sparsely populated and parched area. It has an ancient history of separate existence as a kingdom lapping into Chad, separate from the area known today as Sudan. Darfur's population is proportionately more Muslim and less Christian than southern Sudan's, but is mostly black African, and identifies itself by tribe, such as the Fur. (Darfur, in fact, means "land of the Fur."). It is of great strategic importance, as it straddles Libya, Egypt, Chad, and the Central African Republic.
Darfur is home to some 80 tribes and ethnic groups divided between nomads and sedentary communities. The unrest appears to have been identified within two or three communities such as the Fur and the Zaghawa tribes. Darfur has faced many years of tension over land and grazing rights between the mostly nomadic Arabs, and farmers from the Fur, Massaleet, and Zagawa communities.
Sudan discovered an oil field in 2005 in Darfur region. It was announced that this field will produce 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil. This new development transformed the traditional competition for water at the fringes into quite a different struggle.
The conflict began in the arid and impoverished region early in 2003 after a rebel group began attacking government targets. The rebels say that government is oppressing black Africans.
It is well documented that the U.S., through its closest African allies, helped train the S.L.A. and J.E.M. Darfuri rebels that initiated Khartoum's violent reaction. Khartoum responded by unleashing the Janjawid militias — nomadic, Arab fighters — in a scorched earth policy directed at villages that supported the rebellion.
The real driving force behind the U.S. intervention in Sudan is oil. In 1974, Chevron got large oil concessions from Ja’afar Nimeiri’s government. The man behind this deal was then U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. (later U.S. President) George H. Bush, who told the government of Sudan about the satellite imaging maps that indicated the presence of oil in Sudan.
Chevron discovered oil in South Sudan in 1978. However, It was forced to leave Sudan after the second civil war broke out in the South in 1983. A southern separatist rebel force, Anyanya II, attacked a Chevron facility and killed three expatriate workers in February 1984. This led Chevron to suspend operations in the South. It sold out its rights to the entire Sudanese concession in 1992. The rebels wanted a share in the country's new mineral wealth, much of which was on lands they had long occupied.
Sudan is believed to hold Africa's greatest unexploited oil resources, even greater than those of the Gulf of Guinea. U.S. oil companies are barred from operating in Sudan and other Western companies are chased from the country by the Washington administration. At present, Asian oil companies dominate the field in Sudan. China's state-owned oil company China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) owns a 40 percent share of the local Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC), which controls two of the most important oil fields in the Western Upper Nile Province.
What can be judged from the activities of the Western countries, namely the U.S., U.K., Norway, and Italy? They want access to the Sudanese oil. Theses Western powers are looking for an opportunity to intervene militarily and provoke a change of the unpopular Islamist regime in Khartoum.
In short, the Islamist Arab regime has manipulated ethnic, racial, and economic tensions, all as part of a strategic drive to commandeer the country's oil wealth.
Racism figures heavily in all this. Arabs refer to darker Africans as "abeed," a word that means something close to "slave." It is shocking to know that Islam has not been able to change the tribal mentality of Arabs. Their behavior towards their fellow African Muslims is morally unpleasant and contrary to the teachings of Islam and to humanity. Rebels have also chosen the wrong way to get their rights. Rebels must realize that their rash adventurism is bringing miseries.
Khartoom should accept the legitimate demands of the African Muslims and give them due share in the new wealth. Otherwise, conflict will keep the region in perpetual crisis.
America has a wonderful chance to lead the world after the fall of the Soviet Union. However, the greed of her leaders has entangled the country in quagmire of problems. They have diverted all their energies to full the coffers of their campaign donors instead of working for the welfare and benefits of the American people.Powered by Sidelines