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October 19, 2004

Genocide in Sudan a “Purely African Question."

By Zach Neumann

The NY Times reported yesterday that:

Leaders from Sudan and four regional states concluded a meeting (Tripoli) early Monday with a statement rejecting any "foreign intervention" in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The African leaders also urged rebel groups in Darfur to sign an agreement with the Sudanese government, said the Nigerian foreign minister, Olu Adeniji.

The participants, from Libya, Sudan, Egypt, Nigeria and Chad, expressed strong support for the Sudanese government, which is under threat of United Nations penalties over the crisis in Darfur, where 1.4 million people have been displaced by pro-government Arab militias.

The statement emphasized the leaders' "rejection of all foreign intervention in this purely African question."

I find it very disturbing that Sudan and its neighbors think that genocide is a local issue. Thankfully, the rest of the world seems to disagree with them. With U.N. sanctions looming, maybe the Sudanese government will back down and allow black refugees to return to their (now destroyed) villages and begin rebuilding their lives.

It is ironic that the United States is willing to invade Iraq to (allegedly) promote freedom and democracy but stands idol when millions of people are being slaughtered in a xenophobic massacre. Too bad Sudan doesn’t have a lot of oil or a cocky dictator…

Posted by Zach Neumann at October 19, 2004 09:11 PM | TrackBack


The same way that President Clinton stood aside in ragards to Rwanda. Neither party is, shamefully, interested in preventing mass deaths in Africa. There is no vested interest.

And Iraq was not invaded for oil.

Posted by: Drew at October 19, 2004 09:33 PM

Zach... fixed up your taglines again. Here's a quick primer on html blockquotes:

If you're referencing an article where you blockquote, you should be using three tags - paragraph, italics and blockquote: <p> <i><blockquote>

The spacing works best using <p> before and after the blockquote as well as in it. This is the format I'll typically use:

<p> Begining of the post. Do the intro, the link to the blockquote and all.</p>
<blockquote><i><p>This is the tag to start the blockquote. Put it all in here and when you're done, do it backwards.</p></i></blockquote>
<p>Do the conclusion here after a new paragraph tag, and be sure to close it.</p>

Posted by: Byron L at October 19, 2004 09:54 PM

Bah, the only time I use

is in the first paragraph of a blockquoted item. It keeps it from going all bold. Otherwise, I've been fine.

Posted by: Karl-T at October 19, 2004 10:39 PM

I kind of suck at computer stuff. Sorry for the trouble guys.

In regards to Drew's comment, I agree that neither party has shown any initiative in reducing the serious suffering that occurs in Africa. Like Bush, President Clinton often turned a blind eye to problems like AIDS and mass killings (see Rwanda '94).

Though I don't think the primary reason for the invasion of Iraq was to acquire an easily accesible supply of oil, I do believe that the prevalence of Oil in Iraq led many policy makers to be more wary of the political/military situation in the country. Thus, the U.S. government was faster to respond to problems there. As Sudan has no real effect on U.S. strategic interests, it takes much longer for those in power to address humanitarian crisises/ political problems when they arise there (if at all).

Posted by: Zach N at October 19, 2004 11:07 PM

It is indeed disturbing, although the democratic credentials of Sudan's neighbors are not exactly the best; unless Libya is now qualified to judge whether this is a genocide or not, after having led the UN Human Rights Commission! So, we shouldn't be very surprised.
Unfortunately, because of the overextension of the troops, the American government is unable to do a lot (of course you can argue also that it is unwilling to do so). Even if many attacks against the 'old Europe' are just patriotic vitriol, it is convenient to ask: where are the Europeans now? Where were they when the Rwanda genocide? Where were they when Bosnia and Kosovo?
I think that it is fair to say that apparently, they are also only interested in oil.

Posted by: LBJ at October 19, 2004 11:09 PM

President Clinton has said that one of his greatest regrets was not intervening in Rwanda when he could.

Posted by: LBJ at October 19, 2004 11:28 PM

Zach, you are right in that the prevalence of oil in Iraq was a factor in the invasion, but only because the large amounts of money that the oil could provide could be used to finance terrorism, a renewed military, or a WMD program.

LBJ brings up a very valid point. For all of Old Europe's talk about humanitarianism and peace in regards to Iraq, why are they not willing to put their money where there mouth is in Africa?

Posted by: Drew at October 20, 2004 07:22 AM

Too bad Sudan doesn’t have a lot of oil or a cocky dictator…

Actually, Sudan does produce enough oil to make money through exports. And its leader, Gen. Omar al-Bashir, is an odious dictator with a rotten record on human rights.

The real problem is lack of coverage of Africa in the US news media. A good American news organization will have a total of two bureaus in all of Africa: one in Cairo and one in Johannesburg. Out of sight is generally out of mind.
The world's second largest continent is simply not regarded as very sexy by US media. Africa is generally associated with wars, famines, and epidemics. It is only when one of those events gets especially nasty that you begin to hear a little bit about it over here.

The BBC has the best day to day coverage of events in Africa. Tens of millions of Africans regard it as the most dependable source of news for the continent.
Check the BBC's Africa site regularly and you won't be surprised by events like the Dafur genocide.

The BBC World Service has an excellent six day a week radio program called "Focus On Africa". You can hear it online via the program's site.

Jim can inform you how to hear it on shortwave.

Posted by: Tim Z. at October 20, 2004 01:35 PM

Tim, I am well aware of the fact that Omar al-Bashir has a terrible human rights record. However, though his treatment of people parallels that of Saddam Hussein, he has not demonstrated a willingness to challenge Western nations (particularly the United States) on their fundamental priorities. When I said that Sudan lacked a cocky dictator, I meant that it did not have one that generally got in the face of Western policy makers on issues of major concern (as Saddam repeatedly did).

Moreover, though Sudan does have oil supplies, these do not compare to Iraq's in either size or development. In fact, there is really no comparison. Though Sudan produces enough oil to export (and has numerous Western countries operating in-country), it does not compare to Iraq in terms of Western strategic interests.

As far as your comments on media attnetion go, i tend to agree. Africa gets very little coverage by American News sources, allowing elected officials to overlook it. The BBC is somewhat better..

Posted by: Zach N at October 20, 2004 03:03 PM

Tim, before you attack someone I want you to do two thing.
1. understand what they are trying to say
2. chekc your facts

yes, Zach N said that Sudan doesnt have a cocky dictator-- however to everyone else it was clear that he didn't mean that Omar Al- Bashir is a good guy....

moreover, Sudanese oil supplies, though vibrant, do not compare with those of Iraq... its as simple as that...

in the future Tim, try not to take someones sarcastic comment out of context... it just makes you look bad

Posted by: Mugsy at October 20, 2004 03:08 PM

Only someone who is hypersensitive could consider my post as an "attack". You have completely twisted my indictment of domestic news media. But clearly, facts should be checked before posting something on a site which has a claim to credibility.

I have been following events in Sudan since the mid 1980s when the Nimeiri government's attempt to abolish autonomy in then south led to civil war.
In general, I have been interested in Africa since I was ten years old.

Posted by: Tim Z. at October 20, 2004 09:11 PM
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