Darfur war crimes, changes in demographic composition, and ethnic displacement
By Hamid Eltgani Ali
This year has been the bloodiest year ever in Darfur. The government has stepped up its air campaign in East Jebal Mara and in other parts of Darfur. Short-wave radio signal receptors revealed a communication between a government official and an air commander that the latter’s mission had been accomplished by destroying all the rats! The “rats” in question were civilians working on farms. The government has embarked on dangerous road of ethnic cleansing and demographic engineering to uproot the African tribes in North Darfur.
The first phase of the government demographic engineering has started with a brutal massacre that occurred this week in Hashaba, Um La’ota, and Tabaldia, in North Darfur. In this incident the government used seven fighter jets to provide air cover for the Janjaweed to block the roads and massacre more than 87 innocent villagers, including women and children. This is an old tactic used by the junta in Khartoum to commit genocide in Darfur eight years ago. The ultimate result is the destruction and displacement of the African tribes in Darfur, in particular the Zaghawa tribe. This is beginning. The world is silent. Darfur Regional Authority is tacitly in agreement with the government that is why they remained silent.
The military juntas in Khartoum are masters of deception, and they have brought out their old play book for the game. Since they know that Darfur is no longer on the world’s agenda, they return again and again to spill more innocent blood. For example, during the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with South Sudan, the government exploited the world’s sympathy and blessing for the hallmark peace deal to commit war crimes in Darfur with impunity. Vice President Ali Osman Taha Al-Ezarik, the mastermind of the CPA, promised the Bush administration to clear up the Darfur rebellion in matter of weeks. The administration gave its blessing, on condition that if the conflict was protracted there would be consequences and they would have to submit to talks! Today, once again, while the world’s attention is focused on South Kordofan, the Blue Nile, and South Sudan, the regime is using this as a cover to commit war crimes, including demographic engineering and ethnic displacement in Darfur.
The regime has prepared a master plan to displace the African tribes, particularly the Zaghawa tribe in North Darfur. The government has divided the areas owned by the Zaghawa, Meedoub, Tinger, and Massalit African tribes among the following Arab tribes:
- the Megour area to the Iragatt tribe
- the Ba’ashooum and Wa’khaem areas to the Zayadiea tribe
- the El Housh area to the Awlad Rasheed tribe
- the Mouzbad area to the El Maharia tribe
- the Ombarou and Orshee areas to the Galoul tribe
- the Abugamra area to the Awlad Tago tribe
- the Wadi Saira, Eid Elkhar, Karnoi, and Tuna areas to the Awlad Zaid, Awlad Eid, and Awlad Kluab tribes
In order to carry out this racist Arabizing project, the government has set up training and mobilization garrisons for the military and its Janjaweed militias. The Army’s mobilization garrisons are in the following areas:
- Gareed Elsaul, north of El Fasher
- Doamaya, west of Niyala
- El Genenia
- Malha and D’rea She’gea, north of El Fasher
- El Salayaa, north of El Genena
- Areas of military mobilization under the supervision of the joint patrol forces (Sudan and Chad) include Abou Saroog, northwest of El Genena; Bear Saluba; Birk; Teeuna; Bahai; Om Geraus; Kari Yari; and Ombaro.
- The militias’ mobilization and training areas are:
- the Quba area east of Kutum, where there is cavalry with more than 160 trucks mounted with machine guns. This week’s massacre in Hashaba was launched by the Janjaweed commander Elnour from Quba.
- the Da’awa area southwest of Kutum, where there is cavalry with more than 180 trucks mounted with machine guns.
- the Mustraha area near Kabkabia, the headquarters of the notorious Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal.
- the Serif Benuo-Hussein area, where there is cavalry with more than 160 trucks mounted with machine guns.
- the garrison of Essia Hussein, with sizable cavalry.
The objectives of this project are:
- to create an iron wall between the African tribe of Toboo in southern Libya and the African tribes in Darfur, particularly the Zaghawa;
- to secure the Chadian borders from any infiltration by the opposition forces in future;
- to eliminate the historical existence of the oppositions of Chad, Sudan, and Libya along the borders of these countries;
- to conquer and displace the African tribes, and in particular the Zaghawa tribe, because of their role in the Darfur struggle;
- to distract the Darfur rebel movements from their goals and drag them into war in the desert, with the aim of “domesticating” the violence into inter-ethnic conflict and thus to prolong the survival of the regime.
This new wave of demographic change will be very brutal and costly, because other countries in the region will become players. It will be funded by Libya and carried out by the Sudan junta and their militias. For example, the rebellion in southern Libya by the African Toobo tribes has raised fears in both Sudan and Libya that the African tribes could create a depth for their struggles. The Sudanese government has convinced its Libyan counterpart to replace all of the African ethnic groups with tribes of Arab origin in order to isolate the Toobo from the Zaghawa tribes. This racist Arabizing project will extend from north of El Fasher to the Libyan border, encompassing the border with Chad and including West Darfur.
In order to avert this catastrophic event, all the Sudanese people must realize that these bankrupt juntas have no future. They must go today, rather than tomorrow. The longer they stay, the messier the country becomes, and the harder it will be to rebuild the social fabric. It is important for the tribal leaders in Darfur and the rest of the country to avoid such heinous and satanic plots that can only escalate ethnic tensions.
The Darfuri movements should not squander their energy in domesticating the conflict. Instead, they must take the struggle to the gates of Republican Palace to dislodge the juntas. This is a struggle between the past and the future. It will be costly, but there is no option other than to continue marching for the dawn of justice and freedom. The country needs radical change. The old temple must be demolished to build a newer one. It is time for all the rebel movements in Sudan, with the rest of civil society, to set a clear agenda and roadmap on how to govern Sudan and put an end to the human suffering under the juntas. The change is coming, we must work for it.
* The writer is professor of Public Policy at the American University in Cairo.