Sunday, September 26, 2004

Darfur and Crusaders

Dr. Khaled M. Batarfi,

An American friend asked me what I meant when I claimed in a previous article (Double Talk, Double Standards) that Evangelists collect billions to support Christian revolts in the Muslim world. I gave him three examples: East Timor, South Sudan and Darfur. He seemed to recognize the first two but not the last. I had to explain:
In many wild parts of the globe there have been continuous struggles among various groups for racial, economic and religious reasons. Darfur is a huge countryside, the size of France. It has all kinds of tough terrains: Jungles, deserts and mountains.
Most of its inhabitants, if not all, are Muslims. They come from Arab and African origins. The Arabs are mostly nomads and Africans farmers. In dry seasons, nomads move to farming areas to feed their camels and sheep. They fight over rights. This is an ancient, global phenomenon.
It was worse when central governments were weaker, like before the present government took over. In recent years the nomads got stronger because they joined the state in fighting the southern revolt. After the peace accords, they returned home veterans and well-armed. In their absence, some Africans revolted with foreign help. Support comes from the same sources that sustained the southerners — Evangelical organizations, neighboring countries and Israel.
The goal is to cut off the Arab Muslim Sudan from the rest of Africa. The state called on the Arab nomads again, this time against their old rivals. Another war ensued. Like in the southern war, the Western world took notice only when the government forces seemed to be winning.
No one is denying that the situation is bad. Five thousand people were killed or died from both sides, more from the insurgents. Both rivals committed atrocities. The government should stop supporting the nomads, and the foreign powers must cut off arms to the separatists.
Terrible as is, the situation has not reached the level of genocide, and the government cannot alone improve the situation. More than 2,500 Iraqis were killed in a month, half the number of people killed in Darfur in 18 months. Close to a million (and counting) of Hutus and Tutsis were killed lately in similar conflicts in Rwanda and Burundi.
The situation is worsening there, as well as in Iraq, Afghanistan, the occupied Palestinian territories, Chechnya, Kashmir, Muslim parts of China and Philippines.
No one is calling this genocide or charging the US and the concerned governments of responsibility. Why only Sudan is the focus of all attention and actions? Is it because in most other cases Muslims are the victims? Or is it because all the right ingredients are present here: Oil, Islam, Arab, Israel and the Bush-Blair crusade?! You tell me, my American friend!

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