Darfur “not genocide”

A day late, I know (following a reminder and some new info on Lenin’s Tomb):

Jonathan Steele commented in the Guardian yesterday that the UN secretary-general has published a report that “attacks the government for not disarming the Janjaweed or holding enough people accountable for last year’s atrocities, but it blames the rebels for most of this year’s abductions of civilians and attacks on aid convoys”. He also concludes that the conflict was not genocide or classic ethnic cleansing and that intellectuals were not targeted, as in Rwanda.

In recent weeks there has been a turn for the worse. A new chain of tit-for-tat violence is developing. Janjaweed forces attacked a displaced people’s camp in western Darfur last week, an unprecedented assault on a sanctuary in which at least 30 people died, and AU monitors report that government helicopter gunships were seen over the camp. This may have been retaliation for a rebel seizure of a town a few days earlier.

To its credit, Washington has stepped up efforts to get the anti-government rebels to stop blocking the peace talks now under way in Abuja. As inter-ethnic tensions among the rebels grow stronger, leaders of the Zaghawa, the main fighters, are unwilling to attend despite face-to-face pleas from US and UN diplomats urging them to accept the model that ended the much longer war between the government and the south.

Last April, in an interview with MSNBC, Mercedes Taty of MSNBC disputed the commonly-heard genocide interpretation of the trouble in Darfur. Steele’s article also mentions that no evidence has been produced of Sudanese involvement in terrorism, and that the country has in fact co-operated in the fight against terrorism by “keep[ing] tabs on Somali, Saudi and other Arab fundamentalists who pass through its territory”.

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