Everything you always wanted to know about media coverage of Darfur (but were afraid to ask)
September 12, 2004—Abe Lincoln asked "How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?" A governmental propaganda channel that masquerades as a newspaper would have us believe five. (And six, if it could get away with it.) Yet, as Abe informed us, a dog has four legs because calling the tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. And so it is with the government-media alliance's unsubstantiated claims about one-sided government-sponsored genocide in Darfur. Just because they suddenly want to call a virtual Civil War that has gone on for over 20 years—and in which the rebels had in fact had the upper-hand—'one-sided' and 'genocide' neither makes it so nor does it mean that seekers of truth have to believe them. The reality is quite different.
The Washington Post, in the forefront of the invade-Sudan frenzy, has regularly run propaganda, and even stories and editorials which imply falsehoods, e.g. As Darfur's People Die, August 8. The fundamental thrust of the media campaign appears to be both to trigger and justify American invasion of Sudan in the name of the U.N. or under the veneer of multilateralism, and to get the (mostly unsophisticated) American public to support such an invasion. The objective of this writing is to present the other, suppressed side of this ongoing news story, and present a broad-based and multi-faceted treatment of the Darfur issue in context with the overall situation in Sudan, which, in turn, shall demonstrate beyond all doubt the American media's betrayal of journalistic principles and their utter disregard for even-handed reportage.
We shall hear from many voices in this writing, including copious quotations.
Of Rags . . .
Could we be being too hard on the Post when we allege that it is whipping up an invade-Sudan hysteria and implying falsehoods? Let's consider that other oh-so-enlightened flag-bearer of the 'liberal' media, The New York Times. That organ of the establishment is also a party to the 'invade first' mindset and has advocated American intervention, not only on its own but also by having its trained doggy, the once independent International Herald Tribune, write rubbish like "the case for military intervention [in Darfur] grows with every passing day."
Yet the NYT's reportage about the Darfur crisis seems even sketchier than that of the Post, strange as it sounds. The Post mentions the word 'Garang' in regards to Sudan only seven times in six months. A little shabby, considering that John Garang, the Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) boss, is one of the three most important men in Sudan, not only in the current scenario but for about two decades. Now how about the 'venerable' [sic] NYT? Here is a straight copy-paste of the results returned by a search-engine:
Results 1 - 2 of 2 from nytimes.com over the past 6 months for sudan garang. Over a six month period, the New York Turkey has mentioned the word 'Garang' in connection with Sudan twice. Disgraceful.
Let's compare the NYT on that statistic with one of the two or three respectable and first-rate English-language mass-media dailies left in the world:
Results 1 - 18 of about 33 from guardian.co.uk over the past 6 months for sudan garang. And The Guardian is not even a party to the invade-Darfur hysteria. We rest our case.
Should we be surprised that the faux intellectual openly wrong-wing New York Sun is as inept, if not worse? Sun reporter Dina Temple Raston writes "'We need to get our message out,' JEM's vice secretary-general, Mohammed Saleh Hamid, said. 'We need help from the United States to stop Khartoum from killing our people and help us create democracy in Sudan. If they provide the ammunition, we'll change the government in Khartoum.'" Not providing further relevant facts strikes us as peculiar indeed. Perhaps she does not know, but 'the United States' has been giving 'help' to the main rebel group, the SPLA, for the past many years, '[providing] the ammunition,' directly and also through proxies such as Uganda. Raston and the New York Sun do not mention that little nugget at all. ('JEM' is the Justice and Equality Movement; it is one of the newer rebel groups, relatively speaking.)
So what is really behind the frenzy suddenly being raised by the American bought-and-paid-for media, and even Human Rights Watch (HRW)? You shall not find the truth in the American media, no not even on has-been CNN, property of AOL Time-Warner, Inc. America's favourite media character, Mrs. Jamie Rubin, a glorified anchorwoman and a built-up media-establishment figure, doesn't have anything of value, as regards balance or depth, to say about the two-way fighting, about the SPLA's American patrons, or American designs on Sudan as extrapolated from what the U.S. has done to other African countries. She comes up with "[Darfur's indigenous farming people] say they had a decent life in Darfur until the Arab Sudanese government went to war against the region's indigenous African people." Tsk-tsk. If you consider being raided by northern nomads for women and cattle on a regular basis and having your youth press-ganged into joining the SPLA by the C.I.A.'s knuckle-draggers 'a decent life,' we suppose Mrs. Rubin is right. And saying that the 'government went to war against' anyone is a blatant falsehood, as made clear in a later section of this article. (The courts have legalized media falsehoods in the U.S.A., vide "New World Communications of Tampa, Inc., d/b/a WTVT-TV vs. Jane Akre", District Court of Appeal of Florida, Second District, Case 2D01-529, 2003. The Court of Appeals agreed with an argument by Fox Television, for WTVT, that under the First Amendment, broadcasters have the right to lie or deliberately distort news reports. Under the current ruling, it is up to the public to discover whether or not they are being lied to.)
Get real, people: The employees of a Time-Warner media possession do not say things the Time-Warner board would be displeased to hear. (Remember Disney's thumb-breakers telling ABC news "Don't say nuttin' about Eisner—or else"? Remember Jack Welch's infamous phone call to the NBC News president, so very politely requesting him, "Don't say nuttin' about GE's stock price—or else"?) And Time-Warner's board of directors would be very displeased to hear anything that would annoy a Very Important former director who retired from the board in 2001 to become . . . the U.S. Secretary of State, who has been making very self-righteous and even more hypocritical pronouncements of late. (And that's assuming that CNN and Christiane Amanpour have dug out the truth in the first place.)
And how about the American media's ceaseless chatter about the Sudanese government allegedly killing Darfurian civilians and throwing the corpses into wells to poison the water supply? For example Eric Reeves is concerned about "the burning of thousands of villages; the destruction of foodstuffs, seeds, agricultural implements and donkeys; the dynamiting, bombing, and poisoning of wells and irrigation systems" by the Janjaweed. And there ought to be equally righteous outrage about these facts too: "some of the women had been beaten and raped before being killed . . . the carcasses of the villagers' cattle tossed into wells to poison the water . . . the massacre . . . had been carried out without provocation." No, not the Janjaweed this time. Our American blue-eyed humanitarians in Vietnam, from The Arrogance of Power by Summers. Apparently, the Janjaweed have been taking lessons in well-poisoning from the U.S.A. (And this is not a gratuitous pot-shot: The U.S.A. does teach such things to overseas client groups, such as rebel leaders, at its terrorist training camps such as the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.) It seems to us that a country with such proficiency and experience in raping women, mass-murdering civilians, and poisoning wells would do well to keep silent instead of taking the bully-pulpit route and browbeating other countries about their problems.
Now Colin Powell has gotten into the act, publicly claiming that the Sudanese government is guilty of violating the Geneva Conventions of 1949. Whether or not that is so is an open question. What is not an open question is that it is Powell and his administration who are undoubtedly guilty of violating those self-same Conventions, to wit, the sections forbidding attacking and killing civilians, and providing for the humane treatment of POWs. The U.S. has killed tens of thousand of civilians by bombing civilian neighbourhoods, including many children. Horrifying photographs of this carnage have been published in societies with a free media and indeed are available on the Web, but these have been censored in the American media. And in fact, as we shall see in a later section, it is all but accepted by prestigious journals and by the international community that the U.S.A. has wantonly and knowingly tortured Iraqi POWs—one cannot fight with evidence. Colin Powell's hypocritical denunciations can safely be disregarded. Not only is it a case of the pot calling the kettle black, ulterior motives are also at play as we see in a later section.
. . . and Media Whores
It appears that one Eric Reeves may be the major source of disinformation (he calls it 'analysis') about Darfur which is then spread throughout the U.S.A. by willing and paid-for channels such as the organ of the establishment. How curious that the American media latches on to Mr. Reeves' one-sided falsehoods by way of presenting out-of-context half-truths while at the same time ignoring the dispatches of other journalists, including those who have provided eyewitness accounts. Many of these provide balanced and detailed reports which convey the complex reality of the Darfur situation (in the greater context of the long-running Sudanese Civil War) which the American media would desperately withhold and hide from the American public.
Reeves' pieces altogether comprise of several dozens of pages which have the same basic thrust, yet he utterly ignores the realities of the two-decade-plus Civil War in Sudan and even the more recent background of violence. He tries to appeal to the emotions in his attempts to get 'humanitarian intervention' underway, a codeword for American occupation and subversion—remember Somalia? Those Somalis neither wanted nor cared for American 'humanitarian intervention', did they now? Reeves does let his hand slip; he writes: " . . . credible plans for non-UN multilateral humanitarian intervention must be publicly announced . . . If this fails, intervention must begin immediately." Iraq encore!
As an example, Reeves writes "[UN human rights investigators] write of Khartoum's 'reign of terror' in Darfur and speak of rape, torture, and arson." The gist of his propaganda is that Darfurians are being murdered and expelled by heartless militia and that an American-led force, nominally 'multilateral', needs to step in and save them.
Another quote: "These were not isolated incidents, but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis, with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command . . . they personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to genitals and turned up the power, randomly shot at civilians [and] razed villages . . . and generally ravaged the countryside." This is truly horrendous. But wait—don't jump to conclusions. This is not the Janjaweed militia. This is the refreshing behaviour of American troops in Vietnam per the sworn Senate testimony of . . . John F. Kerry. (American troops have committed atrocities as bad in Afghanistan and Iraq which the government is desperately trying to suppress, as a throwaway example, the story that the C.I.A. boy-next-door Johnny Spann may have been a torturer was shut out of the American media.)
American forces are not fit to save anyone; other people need to be saved from them. It is clear that Mr. Reeves thinks that the mass-murder, mayhem, and torture perpetrated by the Janjaweed is wrong but if it is carried out by Americans, why, then that is quite wholesome.
Let us also examine the fairness and humanism of Eric Reeves. He writes "The U.N. Commission on Human Rights has refused to condemn the Sudanese regime. But what can you expect from a body that includes Cuba, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and, yes, Sudan? When Sudan was re-elected to the Commission on May 4, the American envoy was alone in walking out on what he called this 'absurdity.'" The implication here is morally warped and hypocritical. For what is absurd is that the world's pre-eminent 'rogue nation' (as Blum has referred to the U.S.A.) who has wantonly and systematically tortured prisoners in Afghanistan, Guantanamo, and Iraq, including beatings to death and torture to insanity, who has used and continues to use D.U. (a radioactive material) in Iraq and perhaps in Afghanistan, who has mass-murdered tens of thousands of people—fighting men, civilians, women, and children alike—within three years, and in general, has violated the 1949 Geneva Convention ('Fourth') left and right, should even have a seat at such an august body. It is the other delegates who should be walking out over the U.S. having a seat on any 'Human Rights' commission!
Reeves,' and by extension, the newspapers that publish him, morality is clearly a one-way morality. In other words, a hypocritical immorality.
The Washington Propaganda, a major conduit for Mr. Reeves' misinformation, also stands inculpated in light of the dissection above.
Messrs. Corzine and Holbrooke, old sophist hands of the American political establishment, write in that indefatigable propaganda channel, The Washington Post, "The underlying causes of the suffering in Darfur are complicated . . ." without explaining what these causes are. They do, however, let slip a very important truth that had not passed the American government-media alliance's censors previously: "the village structure in Darfur . . . is a base for the activity of rebel movements . . ." The next few sections will reveal the suppressed facts about said 'underlying causes' and 'rebel movements.'
The last word on rags and media whores goes to Christiane Amanpour's former boss, Ted Turner, who says he has a "beef with big media." His comments are certainly not related to CNN exclusively. "The FCC says that we have more media choices than ever before. But only a few corporations decide what we can choose. That is not choice. That's like a dictator deciding what candidates are allowed to stand for parliamentary elections, and then claiming that the people choose their leaders." Turner is not talking about Paul Bremer in Iraq. He is talking about the state of American television.
He elaborates "A few media conglomerates now exercise a near-monopoly over television news. There is always a risk that news organizations can emphasize or ignore stories to serve their corporate purpose. But the risk is far greater when there are no independent competitors to air the side of the story the corporation wants to ignore." (One point that Turner does not make is that the situation of the print-media in the U.S.A. is, by design of the powers-that-be, almost as dire.) Turner is right on every count except the last: Dissident and independent websites such as Online Journal are 'independent competitors [that] air the side of the story the corporation wants to ignore.' (So bring Online Journal to the attention of your friends who read and are deceived by The Washington Post and others of its ilk.)
In sum, what the American media has poured down an unsuspecting public's throat is a hellish brew of selective half-truths, sophistry, and ad hominem pseudo-arguments. If Americans are really as gullible as they seem to be, this brew may yet be sufficient to bamboozle them into making phone calls to their representatives and senators asking for 'humanitarian intervention' in Darfur. (On the other hand, if Americans were well-informed and ethical, they would be making phone calls to their representatives and senators asking that their government at once cease fomenting insurgencies and rebellions, destabilizing the government, and causing suffering to the nation as a whole, in Sudan, as well as in other African countries.)
Of Pros . . .
The unhappy facts in this and the next section are not meant to condone the alleged brutality of the Janjaweed or diminish the sufferings of the Fur, Massalit, and Zhagawa who have recently been targeted. The objective is to fill in the untold, suppressed story. It would have been nice if the American mass-media had had the honesty and independence, the commitment to their profession, and a respect for, and kinship to, the American public, to have told the whole story, not only now, but during the past two decades.
As regards the 'one sided' warfare supposedly suddenly being waged by the Government of Sudan (GoS) through its Janjaweed proxies, Project Censored award-winning reporter Keith Harmon Snow, who has extensive on-the-ground experience in Africa, writes "[Sudan's] ties to U.S. intelligence predate the current Islamic regime. From 1964 to 1984 Sudan was run by the corrupt U.S. client dictatorship of Col. Jaafar Nimeiri . . . Nimieri instituted a purge against Islamic society, including mass arrests, executions and torture." However, al-Numeiry (aka 'Nimieri') was toppled by al-Bashir on whose coattails the Islamists also rode into power. Snow writes "The SPLA has for years received covert military support from the U.S. and its clients. In 1996, the U.S. sent nearly $20 million in military hardware through the front line states of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda. The SPLA has perpetrated its share of atrocities in Sudan and it is unreasonable to ignore their responsibility in perpetuating war . . . [in the past few years] SPLA forces have looted relief supplies and medical facilities, slaughtered civilians, torched villages. They have raped, pillaged, and abducted and forcibly recruited child soldiers." But nary a peep about these facts in the U.S.A.'s 'free press,' eh?
From a research paper by Lt. Col. Barnabas L Wama, for the Air Command and Staff College, and certainly not meant for the general public, a few relevant facts: "The SPLA operated training camps, logistic centers, a prison and a POW camp—all beyond the reach of the Sudanese army. By January 1990 the SPLA claimed several victories in Equatoria: the Kaya garrison fell on 14 January, Yei on 28th, and the Kajo Kaji plateau came under SPLA control. Juba was put under siege . . . The SPLA strategy was to undermine the government and the armed forces on the South by mounting protracted operations that would wear them down. The forces sought to cripple major economic developments; block communication routs; surround, isolate, and overrun army garrisons; seize and administer towns; and expand the fighting to the north. The SPLA operations moved from beyond purely guerrilla tactics to include limited position warfare and rule over a vast territory . . . SPLA raiding continued into 1987. It was aimed almost entirely at civilian targets, moving as far south as Rumbek district in 1987." As we can tell, the GoS was hard-pressed by the SPLA who are no choirboys. Certainly not what the American media have been telling the public of late.
That the fighting and unrest has been a two-way street is further revealed by Dr. James Morton of the HTSPE. Morton actually lived in Zalingei, Sudan, from 1987 to '91. From his paper of 1989 presented to an Oxford University college: "by all reports, both sides seemed to have concluded that the situation was irretrievable. Arab groups who had been settled in the Fur areas for many years had left or were leaving, while the Fur and Arab leaders were negotiating over the 'repatriation' of the fairly large Fur populations in the Bani Halba towns like Kubbum and Idd El Ghanam . . . From the 'Report of The Popular Committee for Salvation on the Conference to Secure the Tribal Peace Agreement,' it appeared that both warring parties were to blame: '1. The presence of what are called 'militia' on the Fur side and 'Janjawid' on the side of some Arab tribes.'" He also observed that the government actually made efforts to defuse the tensions (which, as is revealed elsewhere, were being stoked by the U.S.A.): The GoS "[re-arresting arrested leaders of both sides and reconvening the Truce Conference] has been interpreted as the last stage of government's involvement on the Arab side but I can assure you it was not. It was a serious and, from all I could see and hear, entirely genuine attempt to make the truce stick."
Morton concludes that "there is no conspiracy to oppress the Fur, to take their land for the Arabs and so on. Instead there is a very substantial mess of different interests which are not actually unmanageable but that are not being managed because of the near collapse of government's ability to do anything more than the wholly routine."
Finally, let's address the 'genocide' allegation. Dr. Mercedes Taty is a Deputy Director with Médecins Sans Frontičres and has worked in hospitals in different areas of Darfur. In April, she said "I don't think that we should be using the word 'genocide' to describe this conflict. Not at all. This can be a semantic discussion, but nevertheless, there is no systematic target—targeting one ethnic group or another one. It doesn't mean either that the situation in Sudan isn't extremely serious by itself."
It would appear that in addition to the U.S.'s government-influenced media, the U.S. government itself is defaming Sudan and intentionally besmirching its name, for several members of the American government have shamelessly been throwing the g-word around and Colin Powell has made it official.
. . . and Straight-Shooters
Well then, the question posed earlier ("So what is really behind all this hysteria suddenly being raised by the American bought-and-paid-for media and HRW?") is still unanswered. Adventurer-writer Robert Young Pelton (unknowingly) gets to the heart of the matter, and that in a mere two lines, written well before the problem really blew up: The American-supported "SPLA is slowly making its way up north, flowing around and over the northern garrisons like a black wave. There is also another tide that has not begun to rise. It is estimated that Sudan has oil reserves equal to [those of] Saudi Arabia." (And ports on the Red Sea, to go with that oil.) Ah, so! The U.S.'s proxy warriors who were winning are now on the backfoot and need help, and huge oilfields and tens of millions in pure profit are waiting for American oilmen.
Columnist and broadcaster Eric S. Margolis tends to agree, though he also imputes motives, which are very well-founded as we shall see later in this piece, to the U.S.: "Washington is using Darfur's rebels, as it did southern Sudan's thirty-year old insurgency, to destabilize the Khartoum regime, whose policies have been deemed insufficiently pro-American and too Islamic. More important to the increasingly energy-hungry US, Sudan has oil, as well as that other precious commodity, water." (The White Nile and the Blue Nile converge near Khartoum to form the Nile. The suspicion that the U.S. may want to steal water from Sudan is an intriguing one, bringing to mind the U.S.-Canadian water sharing agreements.)
Peter Hallward of The Guardian, comes from another angle on the invade-Sudan mania, though he is as coldly realistic as the other straight-shooters: "Bush's opportunity to adopt an election-season cause that can appeal, simultaneously, to fundamentalist Christians, the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, multilateralist liberals and the altruistic 'left' may now be too tempting to pass up." Hallward is the only person to our knowledge to have made this very astute observation in print.
Finally, two 'big picture' continent-wise perspectives through the prism of America's African policy that expose the U.S.'s nefarious designs upon all of Africa.
First, award-winning roving journalist and author John Pilger: "[Bush and Blair] have no interest in human distress and human rights, and are busy securing the same riches that led to the European scramble in the late 19th century by the traditional means of coercion and bribery . . . there is oil and natural gas in Africa from Nigeria to Angola, and in Higleig, south-west Sudan. . . . [the U.S. has established] 'military assistance programmes' in Senegal, Uganda, Malawi, Ghana, Benin, Algeria, Niger, Mali and Chad. Acri is run by Colonel Nestor Pino-Marina, a Cuban exile who took part in the 1961 Bay of Pigs landing and went on to be a special forces officer in Vietnam and Laos, and who, under Reagan, helped lead the Contra invasion of Nicaragua. The pedigrees never change."
Next, investigative journalist Wayne Madsen. He had this to say in his testimony in 2001 before a sub-committee of the (U.S.) congressional committee on international relations: "[In 1998 an expert] told the Subcommittee that one senior U.S. embassy official in Kigali described the U.S. Special Forces training program for the RPF as 'killers . . . training killers.' . . . In September 1997, the prestigious Jane's Foreign Report reported that . . . the DIA [U.S.A.'s War Department's Defence Intelligence Agency] trained young men and teens from Rwanda, Uganda, and eastern Zaire for periods of up to two years and longer . . . the recruits were offered pay of between $450 and $1,000 upon their successful capture of Kinshasa. . . . [A U.N. expert] concluded in a his March 2001 report for the UN Commission on Human Rights, that mercenaries were inexorably linked to the illegal diamond and arms trade in Africa . . . Military security companies and air cargo companies registered in Nevada (the United States), in the Channel Islands . . . are engaged in the transport of troops, arms, munitions, and diamonds.'"
(We must express gratitude to former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney for holding the hearings which allowed Mr. Madsen to tell Congress the truth about U.S. involvement in Africa. For her bravery and patriotism, Ms. McKinney was made the target of a vicious smear campaign; Karl Rove was allegedly one of the masterminds behind it.)
Evaluating the current brouhaha against these facts, one can only conclude that Sudan is next on the U.S.A.'s list of African ninepins. It is clear now that what Sudan is actually experiencing is akin to a Civil War. It has been going on since 1983, flaring up and winding down every so often, though its origin is by now nearly 30 years old. Now that we know the truth from a few respected straight-shooting pros, the U.S. government's desire to use the killings, and the suffering of over one million people as a casus belli for establishing an Imperial outpost in the Sudan demonstrates the depths of degradation to which the Empire and its media whores have sunk.
Cold, Hard Facts—From Way Back When
This article is not intended to be a puff-piece that would give the state or the government of Sudan a clean bill of health. Clear facts exist in Sudan that on its own would condemn not only the present Khartoum government of Al-Bashir, but previous Sudanese governments too. Only one word need be said: Slavery. However, neither the stories nor the prop-eds of the rags in question bring up that point. And why should they, now? For why was slavery in Sudan (and one or two other African countries) not a matter to be condemned and kept in the public eye 10 years ago, 20 years ago? The answer: Until the mid-late eighties Sudan had a puppet-government that was acquiescent to the wishes of American power and corporate interests. As long as that regime was in power, no matter how it repressed its people, Sudan was a 'good guy.' Q.E.D.
Sudanese lobbying groups and Sudanese press continue to deny that slavery exists in their region. They point to several reports in the Western press that exposed a few slave redemption programs. That slavery and "slave redemption in Sudan is often an elaborate scam" is the 'official' position. It must be noted that just because a few cynical operators were caught in a phony slave-redemption operation, whose purpose was to manufacture disinformation for propaganda purposes, does not mean that slavery does not exist; moreover, reports to the contrary are far too consistent, plentiful, and persistent to ignore.
(Accounts of enslavement and gang-rape perpetrated by Arab and Islamic invaders upon the Negroid peoples of north-eastern Africa recur throughout history; it is not something new, Arabs have enslaved conquered peoples, pre & post-Islam. In fact, the collective memory of the suffering and enslavement that the Serbians suffered at the hands of the Islamic Ottomans after the 14th century conquest may well partly contribute to the antipathy of the Serb towards the Mohammedan—which burst into such violence during the last decade. And Arab settlement, slave-raiding, slave-trading, and slave-ownership of the indigenous Africans, on and near the Horn of Africa, has been ongoing for decades. What a pity that those nations who consider(ed) themselves 'enlightened' chose to cast a blind eye on it.)
Slavery aside, Sudan has hardly been the most blighted country in Africa, neither has it been that continent's outlaw nation. By the tumultuous and violent standards of Africa, in no small part directly caused by the U.S.A., Sudan has had a relatively calm past.
In truth, Arabs have not been the only invaders of the Horn from the north. Winston Churchill, then an officer under Kitchener (subsequently Lord Kitchener), and his British troops made a foray with their Egyptian allies into the Sudan to subdue the Dervishes. Churchill at Ombdurman, right next to Khartoum, in 1898: "Were we riding through the gloom into thousands of ferocious savages? . . . Down went [the Dervish] . . . men by hundreds. Wide gaps and shapeless heaps appeared in their array . . . I now saw the Baggara horsemen . . . they were dark, cowled figures . . . ugly, sinister brutes with long spears." Heartwarming. The point to be made is that if you don't like the locals, how about staying in your own country? Take a hint. (And that works both ways.)
The other problem has been ongoing since historical times and certainly cannot be attributed to Khartoum. That is the movement of Arabs into northeastern Africa, resulting in the displacement of indigenous African tribes. Egypt conquered the Sudan in the 1820s. And in fact, as we see above, over one century ago the British and the Egyptians jointly invaded Sudan, and established joint British-Egyptian rule over the country.
The slow but steady Islamo-Arab encroachment and occupation of northeastern Africa, resultant ethnic displacement, and Islamization, have been continuing over the centuries. Gradual displacement of indigenous populations by better organized newcomers is an unfortunate historical constant around the world—a couple of examples from today would be Han into Tibet and Indians into Fiji. Would it be the right thing to do to halt the occupation of the land of one race by the people of another? We declare it most certainly would, if we lived in a perfect world with a perfect judge. But the world is not comprised of perfect nations and the U.S.A. is the least perfect of them all—the most rabid imperial force and military invader on the planet. If Sudan were invaded by the most imperfect judge in the name of 'justice', it would not be justice but a travesty of justice.
Cold, Hard Facts—From the Here & Now
The Darfur conflict is much the same in kind, though of greater intensity in degree, as the other violent conflicts scattered around that unfortunate continent, which, in the main, are fomented by the U.S.A. These remain unreported by the organs of the establishment until it is convenient for oil & gas and minerals and mining corporations to manipulate the public. This is not cynicism but fact; it can be brought into sharp focus by highlighting a striking double-standard. Right next door to Sudan, credible sources say that the Ethiopian junta itself, i.e. the state military, is truly carrying out a 'genocidal' campaign against a specific group, the Anuak people. Mass executions and mass rapes have occurred and are continuing. Yet information in the American media about and from that blighted region is not only scarce, it is actively being suppressed. Also, we do not see George Soros' HRW carrying headline stories about this tragedy. And neither Mr. Eric Reeves, the organ of the establishment, nor Colin Powell are raising hell about it. But why? Are the Anuaks lesser human beings? Or could it just be because Ethiopia happens to be an American client-state with a pliant puppet regime?
Similarly, although Powell does not have any qualms about labelling the Darfur situation a 'genocide' (a charge that has so far not been echoed by other, more fair-minded and disinterested entities), he has nothing to say about the horrors being perpetrated in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and for a longer period at that. Certainly that must be because Powell & Co. went to a lot of trouble killing tens of thousands of people in a war that involved Congo and four other countries, to depose (and assassinate) a president who kicked out USAID and Bechtel and wanted nothing to do with Halliburton.
Now that Powell and his plutocrat pals like Maurice Templesman have free and easy access to the DRC's diamonds and vast array of minerals, Powell probably does not want to muddy the waters. It may also be because Powell's country sponsors Paul Kagame (graduate of the U.S. Army College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas) of Rwanda, whose armed forces are trying to destabilize and annex a part of the DRC—again censored in the American media—at a cost of over four million preventable deaths. But those deaths gain the American power-elite lots and lots of wealth, so don't hold your breath waiting for Powell to thunder that those constitute 'genocide.'
The most recent troubles—C.I.A. involvement, Janjaweed, and everything else aside—are rooted in religion. The recent past in a nutshell: Muhammad Jafar al-Numeiry, president since 1971, decided to bring cleric Hasan al-Turabi into the corridors of power and in 1977 made him the attorney-general. Al-Turabi pushed for Shari'a law and got his way in 1983 when a nominal version of it was declared. It was this imposition of Shari'a law that was the spark for this Civil War of a kind; it has been continuing in fits and starts since 1983. Almost immediately thereafter, his star waned and al-Turabi was in the political wilderness for six years. In the interim, Siwar ad-Dahab seized power in 1985 and in a single year lost it to Sadiq al-Mahdi who made a comeback of sorts from the sixties. Umar Ahmad al-Bashir deposed al-Mahdi in a coup d'etat in 1989 and remains in power by way of 'winning' a fraud-tainted election in the mid-nineties.
As soon as al-Bashir took over, he put al-Turabi and his Islamists back in the saddle who lost no time in pushing for his pet fundamentalist project: Shari'a law. This time, it was not nominal. Compulsory Islamic education, Arabized instruction, and Islamic banking were being promulgated. (A few years ago, al-Bashir and al-Turabi were on the outs and the split was final in 2000 when the two were on opposite sides in the election that year. Al-Turabi and his party boycotted the vote which al-Bashir won. The next year al-Turabi and some of his party members were arrested.)
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the southerners were not going to take this lying down. Non-Muslims, understandably, did not cotton to the imposition of Shari'a law. Sudan had a background of rebellion and insurrection from the time of the Ananya separatist movement, a north-south conflict. The knowledge and experience for the infrastructure and organization of an opposition movement was, thus, available within the population.
The SPLA, headed by John Garang, alumnus of the notorious School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, spearheaded a liberation movement which initially had regional objectives. But within a few years the SPLA expanded its ambitions and started moving northwards, gaining territory. Apart and separate from the reality of tribal feuds, some loosely organized home-grown rebel groups started coming together, too, and these rag-tag groups functioned independently. The SPLA though, was well organized and funded, and pulled in considerable foreign support for their insurgency; the U.S. was only too happy to attempt to destabilize a government it perceived to be less than friendly to its economic interests and routed weapons and other military equipment through various fronts, such as USAID, to the SPLA, as exposed by Wayne Madsen, and attempted to foment a revolution.
Robert Young Pelton writes that the "SPLA, through the efforts of the American covert intelligence community, has gotten an overhaul in [the late nineties]" and that they "[have been] chalking up wins in the south and east of Sudan in 1997 with C.I.A. assistance." John Garang's SPLA is the biggest and best of the rebel groups and until very recently gave the GoS a run for its money.
There can be no doubt that the American government, the C.I.A., and America's oil-barons would have known in advance how Khartoum would react if the SPLA became overweening and decided they wanted to go all the way to the Red Sea. They would unleash their own forces on the SPLA—al-Bashir & Co. were not going to surrender their country to Unocal, Conoco, and Exxon-Mobil's brainwashed proxy warriors without a fight. The Janjaweed are an auxiliary unit, a militia, of the government's. Having been given the go-ahead to try to break the SPLA's back, they may well be a Frankenstein's monster on the loose and out of control now. Keep in mind that Khartoum's writ did not even extend all the way into Southern Sudan where the SPLA was boss. Morton writes " . . . far from being the driving force behind events in Darfur, government is responsible only by virtue of its abject inability to do anything at all in the area, be it for good or evil," a view echoed by Pelton.
Despite claims to the contrary from the British foreign office, the GoS certainly cannot be expected to bring law and order within a short time inside territory in which the American-sponsored SPLA have been the bosses. According to Ms. Achouri at a U.N. unit, the GoS has said that they have some level of 'control' over the Janjaweed and will provide a 'list of names.' However, since the time this announcement was made, the story has not developed further. In fact, the cycle of allegation and denial continues. And in all fairness, the accusers have not presented a shred of evidence to bolster their claims—no memos, no tape-recordings, no photographs . . . nothing. To the contrary, more evidence exists in the form of names, go-betweens, charter flights, eyewitness accounts, etc., to support American covert involvement with the rebellion!
That villagers and civilians have been murdered in horrifying numbers, have been displaced, and are being expelled from their lands is an ongoing tragedy. In addition, mass-rape, of atrocious intensity, perpetrated by the Janjaweed certainly is a humanitarian tragedy in Darfur. Amnesty International has published a detailed 36-page report of this dreadful reality on the ground, one for which there can be no explanation let alone justification. All concerned parties must lobby the GoS to try to halt the atrocities and bring the offenders to justice; however, American intervention is neither a fair nor a lawful option because the point made earlier about the absence of a perfect judge is, unfortunate as it is, valid here too.
Sudan in a-Sudden
Sudan emerged as an independent nation on New Year's Day 1956, casting off half-a-century of British-Egyptian rule.
The single most pertinent fact to the invade-Sudan media frenzy being whipped up in the U.S.A. is that Southern Sudan from Southern Darfur through Warab on down to Jonglei is choc-a-bloc with oil and gas fields, and a major oil-pipeline shoots northeast from the oil-fields and hits Port Sudan on the Red Sea. (Did we just hear Dick Cheney go 'yum, yum!'?) Did The Washington Rag or Mrs. Jamie Rubin tell you that? No? We thought they wouldn't. A few more things they may not have told you: Sudan is geographically the largest country in Africa (967,500 square miles), has rich deposits of much-sought minerals, grows cash-crops such as cotton, coffee, and sugar-cane, is the source of nearly all of the world's gum arabic, and besides desert in the north it also has flood-plains and lush vegetation in the south, which region is blessed with 32 to 55 inches of rain per year. And there's the oodles of freshwater flowing in the three major rivers mentioned earlier. Put it all together and we have a tasty dish for the neo-Empire, indeed.
The Darfur is a large region along the west and south of Sudan; it is more properly divided into the states of Northern, Western, and Southern Darfur. The current crisis is centred mainly in Western Darfur. Oil fields are in Southern Darfur (specifically the Chinese concessions), besides other states.
The current violence is the latest manifestation, and a very ugly one at that, of the two-decade long Civil War of sorts. Overall expulsion and displacement figures during the current strife are reported by most sources to be 1.4 million, with 1.2 million of these being internally displaced. Overall expulsion and displacement figures through the past twenty-few years, collating different sources, hover around 6 million and total fatalities have been put at 2 million prior to the recent round of violence.
Besides the one-sidedness and other forms of propaganda as mentioned earlier, the 'reportage' of the government-media alliance's paid-for rags is simplistic in the extreme. Merely consider the tribes and ethnic identities of only the major original inhabitants of the Sudan: Azande, Beigo, Beja, Berti, Birgid, Daju, Dinka, Fellata, Fur, Gimr, Hadendowa, Irenga, Jebel, Kakua, Mahas, Masalit, Meidob, Nuba, Nubians, Nuer, Shiluk, Tama, Tunjur, Zaghawa. A child opening an encyclopaedia could find an outline about at least some of these ethnic groups, but The Warmonger Post (and for that matter all the American mass-media outlets and reporters that we have audited) that advocates an intervention into, and resultant occupation of, a country, fails to identify even a third of its ethnic groups in any and all of the articles it has published about Sudan. (Including alternate spellings of these names.) Evidently coverage that is both detailed and unbiased is not The Warmonger Post's forte. In addition to the above, several Arab tribal ethnicities are also found in Sudan. A few tribes above named are not native exclusively to Sudan but are migrant and spend, or used to spend, a part of each year in Sudan.
As regards the Fur, Darfur was originally called 'Dar Fur' after the Fur; they are, or at least were, the most populous tribe in the southwestern part of the Darfur region. As regards the Nubians and Nuba which seem like two names for the same people, the former are an ethnic group, a 'sub-tribe' so to speak, who migrated north along the White Nile and thence the Nile from their original region of the Nuba mountains; Nuba are their ethnic brethren who remained, and remain, in their original tribal region.
Finally, Sudan is not immune to problems of violence. However, America's mass-media have deliberately ignored wire-service reports that have revealed Khartoum's good-faith attempts to maintain law and order between different ethnic groups. Two examples specifically about Arab on Black-African violence: Associated Press carried a story in 2003 about Sudanese courts sentencing 24 Arab armed bandits to death for their involvement in the murder of 35 African villagers in attacks on pastoral villages. Judge Mukhtar Ibrahim Adam described the attacks as "barbaric and savage conduct" reminiscent of "the dark ages." Agence France Press carried another story about a separate incident; 14 Arab tribesmen were sentenced to death for the murder of non-Arab villagers during attacks and arson within villages in south Darfur state in October 2003. Although Sudan is scarcely a country where peaceful order is the norm, the facts about the Sudan situation are nowhere near as dreadful as the one-sided American media would mislead their readers to believe. And, to tell the truth, if the U.S.A. had not been fomenting the insurrection and trying to destabilize the country for over a decade, very likely there would not have been any 'Sudan situation.'
To Deal with the Devil
In light of all the above, The Washington Pimp's editors writing " . . . the question is what the United States is going to do" (about the Darfur issue) merits a one-line answer: "It should stop destabilizing countries and fomenting insurrections all around the world." When one thinks about the continual coups d'etat and counter-insurgency campaigns waged by the C.I.A. and American mercenary outfits against independent and non-aligned African countries, mostly at the behest of oil and mining interests, the Post's statement "the United States has done more to help Darfur than any other country" cannot even be responded to, for such a statement is truly a surreal grotesquerie.
One last quote, this from journalist and commentator Gwynne Dyer, on the Darfur issue: "It's another problem from hell." Not quite, we opine. The Americans might yet invade Sudan or manoeuvre another Allawi into power. And if so, that's when the Sudanese will really know what 'hell' is . . .
It has been reported that 'authentic' Sudanese people would like the U.S. to intervene in Sudan. It has also been reported that the baying of these supposedly 'authentic' Sudanese voices in, of all places, Washington, D.C., is funded by foundations with connections to multinationals with financial interests in Sudan and the military-industrial complex. (Possibly some of the same extremist wrong-wing kingpins who are doing a hatchet job on John Kerry vis-a-vis his military service in Vietnam?)
But should there truly be any independent and uncorrupted Sudanese who look upon the U.S.A. as a saviour, they would do well to pause and reflect and take heed, for instance, the Guardian writes "CIA agents have been approaching would-be allies among the Iraqi opposition who have little reason to trust them, having been let down by Washington twice before." The Kurds of northern Iraq trusted the U.S.A. once. And then that self-same U.S.A. not only stood by idly, as has been reported in the global press, but actively assisted Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Kurdish massacres by, at the very least, disallowing the Kurds access to weapons with which they could have defended themselves. (Not reported in the American mass-media.) Yet again, Kurds and Shias in Iraq thought of the U.S.A. as a saviour. Now, a vast number of Shias are besieged and are taking a fearful military pounding in Najaf and many hundreds have been killed. And the Kurds have been sold out yet again—a murderous brute and former Hussein associate their new master, and the organizer of the Latin-American death-squads their new proconsul. And we must not forget how individuals who had tried to make deals with the U.S.A. ended up, think of Noriega and Zia-ul-Haq. And oh, one Saddam Hussein. And Rumsfeld's favourite Iraqi, Chalabi. Closer to home, Mobutu. And America's pet, Savimbi; left for dead—literally.
Those Sudanese who favour American intervention should also know that The Lancet (one of the world's finest medical journals) has recently reported that "U.S. Army doctors in Iraq helped design abusive interrogation methods and failed to report death triggered by beatings . . . The medical system collaborated with designing and implementing psychologically and physically coercive interrogations. Army officials stated that a physician and a psychiatrist helped design, approve, and monitor interrogations at Abu Ghraib. There are isolated reports that medical personnel directly abused detainees . . . A medic inserted a intravenous catheter into the corpse of a detainee who died under torture in order to create evidence that he was alive at the hospital." If the U.S.'s certified doctors are accomplices to torture, extrajudicial killings, and actually devised means of 'abusive interrogation', then by extension the American Medical Association is an organization that may well have torturers and accomplices to murder among its members. Where the medical doctor is the state torturer, then the responsible country is one where any and all perversions of humanity are possible—unimaginable, horrifying, utterly Godless perversions of humanity.
Going back to Iraq's Shias and Kurds, the mistake they made made was to try to cut a deal with the U.S.A. There is a name for it: It is called a 'Faustian bargain.' Faustian bargain? Then it would behoove the Sudanese—friend and foe alike—to know the true identity of that whom they would deal with. Faust himself did at least that much when he was visited by the Other, who railed:
Dost know me! Skeleton! Vile scarecrow, thou!
Shekhdar is a Zarathushtrian ('Zoroastrian') Mazdayasni by birth and is a non-practising monotheist. By rational orientation he may be termed a passionately humanist free-thinker.
Activist & reporter Sam Smith said " . . . I suddenly noticed that the truth was no longer setting people free; it was only making them drowsy." So we thought, "Then shall we change the style, the manner, in which we tell the truth?"