2004 September 03 Friday
Sudan Darfur Conflict Between Farmers And Pastoralists

If you are wondering why two groups are fighting in Sudan this time around it is not a battle between black Christians and Arab Muslims. Both groups are Muslims. But as David S. Hauck of the Christian Science Monitor explains, the Arabs are pastoralists who have been raiding the (almost same in skin color) ethnic African farmers.

According to Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring group, the farmers are generally non-Arabs, or ethnic Africans. They live and farm in the central part of the region. The pastoralists, who reside in the north, are largely of Arab descent. They are nomadic and seminomadic and herd camels by trade.

Spats have periodically flared between the two groups, as migrating camel herders in search of water during the dry season would graze on the farmers' land. Disputes over lost crops would be settled by tribal leaders, with the nomadic tribes reimbursing the farmers. Recent droughts, however, have exacerbated the tension. The pastoralists began raiding farms to restock their decimated herds, and with the introduction of automatic weapons in the 1980s, banditry increased and the clashes became more violent.

The Arab-dominated government has been siding with the Arab pastoralists. Why? Perhaps simple racism in favor of their genetically closer Arab brethren. Or are the top leaders of Sudan from herding families? Has anyone come across an article which provides a convincing explanation of the Sudan government's motives?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 September 03 11:34 AM  Chaotic Regions

Harrow said at September 10, 2004 9:32 PM:

I don't have a link for it, but I recall reading not long ago that the Sudanese government was reluctant to send its regular army to fight the Darfur rebellion when it first broke out because so many members of the army are ethnically related to the Darfur tribes (and also the army was demoralized by the never-ending civil war in the south). So they sent Arab militias to fight the Darfur rebels, perhaps not realizing what a foolish idea it was. Or maybe they knew perfectly well, and were willing to do anything to crush the uprising before it turned into another 40 year quagmire.

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