2004 April 19 Monday
It Is Time To Partition Sudan

Nearly a million black Sudanese have been forced out of their homes by an Arab militia.

In the Darfur region of western Sudan, a humanitarian crisis has already displaced nearly one million people -- and the United Nations has warned that the situation is getting worse.

According to reports, an Arab militia known as the Janjaweed has committed atrocities ranging from raping and murdering civilians to burning down entire villages, all with the aim of displacing the black Sudanese tribes.

This is all terribly predictable from just a very cursory reading of the last half century of Sudanese history. The civil war in Sudan has been going on for decades. Sudan has been in a civil war for longer than most of you reading this post have been alive.

The Arab-led Khartoum government reneged on promises to southerners to create a federal system, which led to a mutiny by southern army officers that sparked 17 years of civil war (1955-72).


In September 1983, as part of an Islamicization campaign, President Nimeiri announced his decision to incorporate traditional Islamic punishments drawn from Shari’a (Islamic Law) into the penal code. Southerners and other non-Muslims living in the north were also subjected to these punishments. These events, and other longstanding grievances, in part led to a resumption of the civil war that was held in abeyance since 1972, and the war continues until today.

There is nothing sacred about international borders. God did not come down and stand on a mount and announce that all borders made after World War II must be kept sacred and permanent from now until eternity. It is time to start solving long-running conflicts by splitting up peoples who obviously do not belong together. It is time to partition Sudan into black African and Arab sections. Continued international support for Sudan as a single national entity is grossly immoral and irresponsible.

Iraq is another place which should not be single a country. Others have recognized that partition of Iraq has considerable merit. I was very surprised today when Tyler Cowen pointed out that even Glenn Reynolds is batting around the partition idea for Iraq. Keep thinking about it Glenn. Partition would yield substantial benefits. Given all the factors working against a democratic Iraq (including continuing Bush Administration incompetence so severe that they haven't even managed to spend much on aid - see that post) a split of Iraq into pieces would give us at least a Kurdish part that would view the US favorably. See Glenn's post for a quick list of reasons why we don't owe the neighboring countries squat. We should not feel obliged to keep Iraq together.

I've also made this argument previously with regard to Afghanistan in the post Why Not Partition Afghanistan Along Tribal Lines?

The mess in the Balkans is effectively being sorted out by partition while Western governments pretend that they are not partitioning. Albanian Muslim dominated Kosovo is de facto a separate country from Serbia. Bosnia-Hercegovina has been split into pieces. Western governments could cut the death tolls and create the conditions for much better governments in several parts of the world if they were willing to explicitly acknowledge that not all currently recognized international borders deserve to be treated as having fixed permanent boundaries. A number of current borders throw together people (can you say Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda and Burundi? sure!) who would be best off separated by strongly enforced borders drawn between them.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 April 19 11:40 AM  Reconstruction and Reformation

Bob Badour said at April 19, 2004 5:50 PM:

As I prepare to meet with lawyers tomorrow to initiate a lawsuit against my next-door neighbour, I can only agree that strong fences make good neighbours.

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