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Explaining Darfur

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  • ummyakoub
    Explaining Darfur Katie Baker NEWSWEEK http://www.newsweek.com/id/194622 Say darfur and hor rific images leap to mind: Janjaweed, genocide. But most of us
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 2, 2009
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      Explaining Darfur
      Katie Baker
      NEWSWEEK
      http://www.newsweek.com/id/194622


      Say "darfur" and hor rific images leap to mind: Janjaweed, genocide. But most of us would be hard- pressed to explain the violence there, beyond the popular no tion that it's ethnic cleansing of Africans by Arabs. Columbia University scholar Mahmood Mamdani's brilliant new book, "Saviors and Survivors," explains why this assumption is incor rect, and why it's undermining peace efforts in the region.

      The Idea:The Darfur conflict, Mamdani says, is fundamental ly between tribes (both Arab and non-Arab) who have rights to a homeland—and through that, political representation— and tribes who don't. This is key to understanding the situation and how to remedy it.

      The Evidence:When the British colonized Darfur—at the time a polyglot sultanate—they pursued a retribalization policy that classified certain peoples as "native" and others as "immigrant," giving land and political rights to the former while disenfran chising the lat ter. This system produced long- simmering tensions between nomadic and sedentary Darfuris. Add to that decades of se vere drought that drove nomads south onto their neighbors' land, as well as meddling by Libya, America and Chad— which militarized Darfur tribes as Cold War proxies—and by the mid-'80s, the region had exploded in civil war, which spiraled into an international conflict with escalating atrocities.

      The Conclusion: The old colonial land-rights system must be overhauled before Darfur's tribes can find a common path forward and integrate into a peaceful, multiethnic whole.

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