Sudan has been under attack by the US for at least 15 years. In 1998 thousands demonstrated against the bombing of the only pharmaceutical plant in the country at al-shifa by the Clinton administration.
Originally uploaded by Pan-African News Wire Photo File
PANW Editor's Note: This is the text of an informational leaflet passed out at the Detroit Film Theater on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 12-14 on the Sudan. This leaflet was developed in response to the screening of the pro-imperialist film: "The Devil Came on Horseback," which attempts to provide a rationale for the American military occupation of Sudan over the conflict in Darfur.
Five Truths About Darfur
1. Nearly everyone is Muslim
2. Everyone is black
3. It's all about politics
4. This conflict is international
5. The "genocide" label made it worse
Source: Emily Wax. Washington Post. April 23,
2006; p. B03. Wax is the Post's East Africa
Facts about Sudan, the Darfur Conflict, and United States Foreign Policy
The film The Devil Came on Horseback is based upon the photos and experiences of US Marine Captain Brian Steidle, who was a military observer with the African Union. In the film, Steidle refers to the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan as "genocide" and the film's official web site describes the movie as depicting the "tragic impact of an Arab government bent on destroying its black African citizens."
The film is endorsed by the Save Darfur coalition, which sponsored Steidle's 22-city "Tour for Darfur: Eyewitness to Genocide" last year, concluding with Steidle's address at the Save Darfur rally in Washington, DC in April, 2006.
Here are some interesting facts to ponder:
There is a civil war or insurrection going in Darfur and
Steidle's former employer, the African Union, which has thousands of peacekeeping troops in Darfur, has declined to characterize the conflict as genocide.
Likewise, the United Nations has refused to call the conflict
"genocide" and the 177-page "Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General" of January 25, 2005, concluded that "the Government of the Sudan has not pursued a policy of genocide."
Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)/Doctors with Borders has also declined to label the conflict as genocide. Indeed, in 2006 in piece entitled " Darfur, Sudan: no peace, no food," MSF criticized Western governments for playing politics with food and other aid: This imminent disaster is neither an accident nor the result of Darfur's relegation to the rank of "forgotten crisis."
It appears to be the result of a well-considered political decision. The international community's behavior suggests that it has decided to finance vital aid on the condition that a peace agreement be signed between the conflicting parties.
In the name of a peace process that is, at best, uncertain, the West has resigned itself, through its deliberate inaction, to the death of the population it claims to be saving. Though the international community may have legitimate concerns about the political crisis in Darfur, it should not condition humanitarian aid to a political agenda. Such policies will lead to extensive loss of life in the camps.
Malnutrition and diseases related to it have been by far the biggest killers in Darfur. Heavy-handed US interference in the peace process also set the stage for massive killings in Rwanda in 1994.
Just this month former President Jimmy Carter and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited Darfur.
Reuters reported (10/4/07):
Carter said Washington's use of the term genocide to describe the situation in Darfur, where international estimates say 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million driven from their homes, was unhelpful.
"There is a legal definition of genocide and Darfur does not meet that legal standard. The atrocities were horrible but I don't think it qualifies to be called genocide," he said.
"Black Americans who come to Darfur always say, 'So where are the Arabs? Why do all these people look black?'" said Mahjoub Mohamed Saleh, editor of Sudan's independent Al-Ayam newspaper.
Source: "5 Truths About Darfur" by Emily Wax.
The White House and U.S. media persist in characterizing this war and its barbarities as "Arab" vs. "Black African." But this is simply not true. Such deliberate mischaracterization is being done to further demonize Arabs and Muslims and thereby aid the U.S. "war on terror," and to promote military intervention.
As Professor Mahmood Mamdani, director of African Studies at Columbia University, points out in an article published in Black Commentator, "All parties involv ed in the Darfur conflict - whether they are referred to as ‘Arab’ or as ‘African’ - are equally indigenous and equally black. All are Muslims and all are local. The so-called Arabs of Darfur are Africans who speak Arabic. The real roots of combat are not racial or ethnic but political and economic.
Source: Monica Hill. "U.N. Troops Are Not The Answer--Tragedy in Darfur: Unraveling the Real Causes." Black Commentator.
December 7, 2006.
So, what's going on then, what and who is behind the "Save Darfur" movement?
Sudan produces 525,000 barrels of oil per day with an estimated 1.6 billion barrels of oil in its national reserves.
80% of the oil concessions have been granted to the People's Republic of China and Sudan is that country's fourth
largest supplier of oil. U.S. oil firms have been barred from the Sudanese oil industry since 1997.
I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed … without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.
Source: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Apr. 4,
1967, "Beyond Vietnam," Riverside Church, NYC.
Because of its oil wealth and its ties to China, Sudan is able to follow a political and economic path that is independent of what the US government would like to see. That includes Sudanese opposition to the US war in Iraq and, especially, to the wars of America's closest ally in the region, Israel, with other Arab countries and Israel's military occupation of Palestine.
In fact, Sudan has no diplomatic relations with Israel. The vast majority of Sudan's people are Arabic-speaking Muslims and Sudan is a member of the Arab League.
The Save Darfur coalition was created by mostly Jewish supporters of Israel in order to take the spotlight off ongoing Israeli abuses of Arab people in Palestine, Israel's attacks on neighboring countries, and off the growing international economic and cultural boycott of Israel.
It also had the perverse effect of taking some of the focus off the US occupation of Iraq, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis. Mainstream scholars of the Left, such as James Petras, and of the Right, such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, agree that the Israel lobby played a major role in pushing the US to invade Iraq in 2003 to remove a perceived threat to the Jewish state.
Little known, however, is that the [Save Darfur] coalition, which has presented itself as "an alliance of over 130 diverse faith-based, humanitarian, and human rights organization" was actually begun exclusively as an initiative of the American Jewish community.
And even now, days before the [April 2006 Washington DC] rally, that coalition is heavily weighted with a politically and religiously diverse collection of local and national Jewish groups. … Besides the Jewish origins and character of the rally - a fact the organizers consistently played down in conversations with The Jerusalem Post-the other striking aspect of the coalition is the noted absence of major African-American groups like the NAACP or the larger Africa lobby groups like Africa Action.
Source: Gal Beckerman. "US Jews leading Darfur rally planning." Jerusalem Post. April 27, 2006.
Every morning I open the New York Times, and I read about sort of violence against civilians, atrocities against civilians, and there are two places that I read about -- one is Iraq, and the other is Darfur -- sort of constantly, day after day, and week after week. And I’m struck by the fact that the largest political movement against mass violence on US campuses is on Darfur and not on Iraq. And it puzzles me, because most of these students … are American citizens, and I had always thought that they should have greater responsibility … for mass violence which is the result of their own government's policies. And I ask myself, “Why not?”
Darfur is simply a dot on the map. It is simply a place, a site, where perpetrator confronts victim. And the perpetrator’s name is Arab, and the victim’s name is African. And it is easy to demonize.
Source: Ugandan-born Columbia University Professor Mahmood Mamdani. Interviewed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. June 4th, 2007.
Should the United States intervene in Darfur?
Absolutely not. If the American political and economic elites really cared about the people of Sudan and Darfur then conceivably there could be some constructive role for them to play but history shows that American interventions are driven by the narrow, selfish interests of American elites.
The US showed its true regard for the well being of the
people of Sudan and Darfur by bombing the al-Shifa plant,
the only pharmaceutical factory for millions of Sudanese
people and their livestock in 1998.
On his personal web site, Brian Steidle calls for no-fly
zones and economic sanctions to be imposed on Sudan. The
same measures, orchestrated by the US, killed over a million
Iraqi civilians in the 1990s. When asked about the half million Iraqi children killed by the US/UN sanctions, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright infamously told Lesley Stahl of CBS' 60 Minutes, "…we think the price is worth it."
The US government is interested in Sudan and Darfur only as part of its quest for global economic and military dominance. Because the US military is currently overextended in Afghanistan and Iraq it has taken a comparatively low-key approach to Sudan, so far, but that will change if the Save Darfur coalition gets its way.
All decent people are right to be concerned about the malnutrition, rape, and other violence in Darfur but the best thing they can do for the people of Darfur is to stop American intervention in the region and to tell the truth to others about what is happening there and about the hidden agenda of the Save Darfur coalition.
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