TCS Daily


Iraq and Darfur: Common Roots

By J. Peter Pham & Michael I. Krauss - April 4, 2006 12:00 AM

Since mid-2004, when the humanitarian crisis in the Darfur region of Western Sudan burst into the spotlight, journalistic explanations of the unfolding catastrophe have been riddled with inaccuracies based on hasty generalizations (to say nothing of politically correct wishful thinking). Since the perpetrators of the violence -- "Islamic" militias supported by the government in Khartoum -- and its victims are both dark-skinned Muslims, reports inevitably downplayed the religious and ethnic dimensions of the conflict, ascribing it instead to competition for land and water resources between sedentary farmers and nomadic herdsmen. As a result of this superficial analysis, not only have some shied away from calling the crisis by its real name - genocide -- but its true origins in the twin ideologies of Islamism and pan-Arabism have been obscured.

Islamism has been a source of open conflict in Sudan since 1983. In that year Sudan's dictator, Jafaar al-Nimeiry, imposed sharia (Islamic law) on the luckless citizens of his country. Al-Nimeiry was inspired by the man who later invited Osama bin Laden to make Khartoum his home, the radical cleric Hassan al-Turabi, founder of the National Islamic Front (NIF), an offshoot of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. The result was an outbreak of civil war as the largely Christian and animist black populations of Southern Sudan resisted this fundamentalist religious imposition. The ensuing two decades saw the slaughter of nearly two million men, women, and children, who resisted this jihad. Little was done to stop the killing until Michael Horowitz of the Hudson Institute (a member of the same synagogue as the co-author of this essay) joined with Christian Evangelical leaders to bring that calamity to the light of day.

Having massacred millions of black non-Muslims before the internationally-brokered ceasefire, the NIF apparently decided to turn on the black Muslim population in Darfur, the western region of the country. It is unclear whether al-Turabi is behind the latest round of mass killings -- he was pushed aside as "Guide of the Sudanese Islamic Revolution" by the country's current NIF dictator, Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir. At any rate, what is certain is that the government-funded Janjaweed militia has, by various accounts, killed upwards of 300,000 people and displaced more than two million. Last week Janjaweed crossed the international border -- it is presently wiping out thousands of the same black ethnic Muslims in Chad, whose army is powerless to defend its citizens.

Why does the Islamist regime in Khartoum attack fellow Muslims? Because the ideology of Islamism that informs its identity is also linked in its warped Weltanschauung to the equally totalitarian ideology of pan-Arabism. This fascist movement rose to power through military coups that destroyed liberal Arab elites in the last half of the twentieth century, replacing a brief Arab intellectual renaissance (al-Nahda) with the long night of repression of Ba'athism in Syria and Iraq, and of Nasserism in Egypt, Sudan, Algeria, North Yemen and Libya.

Pan-Arabism authorized the enslavement of African Muslims in Saudi Arabia and other Arab states until the mid-1960s, when slavery was abolished due to intense Western pressure. It justified the same horrible practices during the North-South Sudanese civil war. Like Nazism, from which its founders Sami Shawkat and Michel Aflaq drew explicit inspiration, pan-Arabism inevitably leads to violence, conflict, and, where successful, subjugation, because it defines its identity in opposition to the other—the hapless Jew, the black, or the other pariah within its self-proclaimed Lebensraum.

Recently the African Union declared a six-month extension for its 7,000 troops patrolling Western Sudan, "protecting" the refugee camps used by displaced Darfur people. The extension, at the request of the Sudanese government, is a virtual death sentence for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Darfuris. And here the international contrast is striking. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has been pushing for the immediate deployment of a larger, better-equipped UN force in Sudan. But three Security Council members -- Russia, China, and Al-Jazeera-hosting Qatar -- have blocked his efforts. As Benny Avni reported in the February 28 New York Sun, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recently traveled to Qatar for a weekend's talks, but somehow forgot to discuss the Sudan question. Meanwhile, Warren Hoge reports (New York Times, March 1) that UN special representative Jan Pronk is warning that a too-hasty involvement of UN forces could lead to "retaliation" by Al-Qaeda, which Pronk admits is heavily embedded in Sudan.

And so we return to the bin Laden connection. Osama bin Laden is in fact the latest and quintessential product of pan-Arabism. The only difference between the al-Qa'eda leader and previous pan-Arabists such as Gamal Abdel Nasser or Saddam Hussein is that he welds pan-Arabism to an equally toxic Islamism that overtly manipulates the spiritualism of the Islamic religion to further the overall totalitarian project.

Every synagogue in Montgomery County, Maryland (where said Jewish co-author lives) has a huge billboard outside its building, exhorting passers-by to help save the people of Darfur. Not for the first time, Americans (prominently including "Zionist elements") are desperately anxious to save innocent people from a fanatical ideology. Pan-Arab fascism, conveniently cloaked in the pseudo-religious mystique of the Islamist jihad, versus freedom vindicated by America - gee, where else have we seen that battle rage?

Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Both are academic fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.


10 Comments

Well, that's a theory
We can speculate whether the mysterious Dr Turabi has any connection with the government's military backing of the Janjaweed, but his imagined complicity is not central to the matter.

It's a race war. The aggressors imagine themselves as Arabs. The victims are black. Both occupy the same lands. Herders on horseback and dirt farmers are traditional enemies in every part of the world. Dr Turabi did not convince anyone to pick up a gun and start killing their neighbors.

The matter of government complicity is easy. The farmers started a revolt, in response to government neglect and discrimination. Can't have that, can we?

The interesting facet to this whole thing is how much energy we spend on concocting a reason to invade a place like Iran, while we are officially taking zero interest in a place like Darfur, where hundreds of thousands of helpless victims are being burned alive, castrated and dragged from horseback. As the leaders of the free world, we just don't look that good in this.

Poor Sudan--Beware Europeans....and America.
Again, here we have another perfect example of "peaceful" muslims waging war against Christians and other non-muslims for the horrendous crime of defying islam. The west needs to at least send weapons to those poor people so they can defend themselves against those murderous mohammeds. They tried to attack Christians weeks ago in Nigeria and they fought back....guess what...the muslims stopped attacking because they were met with force! These devils do not respect anything but violence and force, can the western world understand that simple concept? Europe should have done the same thing when the towelheads started burning all of suburban Paris. I was wondering the whole time why does not the government send in the army to blast them to hell? Afterwards, they could have picked up the rest and sent them to their REAL HOMELANDS in the middle east. If Europe does not act VERY SOON than the muslims will revolt again. They should look at the poor Sudanese and take lessons, they could could be next in a few years. This is the fate of all non-nuslims in this world if they do not fight back against islam and win a total victory. Did anyone ever notice that invasions and other troubles against the west always originate from the east?

My observation
This is some pretty muddled comment. Other than your obvious racism ("towelheads") there's not much of an underlying theme.

My comment went to the fact that the Islamic government of Sudan was engaging in acts of genocide-- against other Muslims. You have not refuted it but instead seem unaware of it.

We also see quite a lot of backlash against the West in the lands of Islam nowadays. Perhaps of the West weren't engaged in occupying those lands, we wouldn't see so much of this.

As for the Christians and Muslims in Nigeria-- they each attack the other at the drop of a hat. I know there are Christian web sites who frame this as being unilateral atrocities on the part of the Muslims. Not so. Many of the atrocities are initiated by the other side.

When you feel the other side respects only violence and force, don't be surprised when it's used against you. Any brief glance at human nature will tell you that peace is not always met with peace-- but violence is invariably met by a corresponding violence.

Your sort of philosophy is guaranteed only to make matters worse. If you troubled to research your answers you'd find that in Darfur, both sides are Muslim. Therefore that struggle has nothing to do with religion. I think you need to play some more paintball, to get all this out of your system.

Your observation is worthless.
You must be a muslim and a sympathizer to those terrorists.
How can matters be made worse if WE have already been attacked? Should we lie down and go extinct as you and YOUR FRIENDS would desire? It will not happen. What is wrong with towelheads? Your buds call us infidels, devils, apostates, and write cartoons against us on a weekly basis and we do not act as they do.Is that better? Obviously, you have no answers only hatred for the west. It is very convenient that you do not acknowledge that Southern Sudan is being attacked BY MUSLIMS and wholesale murder is occuring as it is occuring everyday. MUSLIMS are enslaving and executing Christians and all other tribes who do not convert to islam. Or do you believe it to be false? Force was not used by the Europeans when Paris burned last fall and look what happend? It only stopped when they got too tired and bored for burning weeks on end. I mean they must have realized that no mailmen will deliver their welfare checks when they are at risk of being killed. Your muslim comrades BRAVELY chased and burned Nigerian Christians until they were counter-attacked. What does that say about force meeting force? Your friends were counter-attacked by furious Christians and now it is basically quiet. There is a strong lesson in that story. Where was the west occupying the middle east in 2001 my professor? We were not in Afghanistan or Iraq and yet your relatives attacked New York City. I'm waiting for an answer. Your COWARDLY-TRAITOROUS PHILOSOPHY will only invite more attacks, demands, and compromises against the free nations of the western world. Never or anywhere in history has a nation saved itself by refusing to fight back when attacked. Please, show me an example where cowards and pacifists as yourself averted war by following your mentality. If you would only read your own jibberish you just proved my point about violence being met and stopped by an equal violence. I think YOU NEED TO READ MORE of the news AND LESS OF THE KORAN to detoxify your insiduous-evil mentality. I do not play paintball...I read and play chess you mavros.

P.S. What did you score on your GED...did it take you 3 times to pass?

An interesting pathology
Your comment is telling in your use of the word mavros, which tells us you know a bit of Greek and in particular the racial epithets occuring in that language.

A combination of some erudition mixed with the vilest of antipathy toward the darker races brings us back to the 1940's. I'd be willing to believe you had served time in some killing regiment. Which army would that have been?

Is that ALL you have to say after the education I just gave you?
I am not Greek but had the fun experience to have many Greek friends in college so they taught me all the GOOD words. How long did it take you to look it up and what dictionary did you use? I don't have any animosities or hatred toward the "darker races"-talk about racist comments, just disgust with people as yourself who can not understand the differences between right and wrong. The only vile items here are your constant rejection of truth, history, and your defense of the islamic attacks on the west. Now stop taking up space and just read my other columns through the coming weeks and you will continue to learn both sides of a discussion for free.

P.S. Will you again vote for Tony Blair?

Racist comments
So you call me a schwartzer and then say you don't have any animosity toward the darker races? This displays an interesting consistency. What other "good words" do you know?

I can't believe you've read any of my comments and deduce from them I'm an admirer of Tony Blair. I must be losing my touch.

I was serious about my question. I'd be interested to learn what branch of the service you served in.

My reasoning was because you sound like a typical apologist...
as Blair has done constantly to islamic interest groups in Britain. The Labor Party conducts itself as if all ethnic Brits were dead and that only 1.6 million muslims live in the country...his actions and attitudes make no sense. What would Churchill be thinking today if he saw his country now. He would probably think he was in Turkey or Syria. So you claim to be black, than of all people you should know how nasty muslims are to non-arabs.Does not 2million murdered black Sudanese mean anything to you? It is called genocide. Your writing and reasoning in the first reply to this sites article astounded me that you were so worried about arab on arab violence when all the dying is done by the native, non-islamic tribes. Wherever, islam goes, violence and death follow. Again, it seems slowly the poor Sudanese will be getting some help in military aid so that they can push these islamists out of Khartoum and rebuild their nation. Why are you muslim? If this world ever became muslim, it would truly be a dark, dreary, and dreadful place.

No Subject
Actually your inferences from what I've written are pretty foggy. I'm not British, don't care for Tony Blair, I'm not black (you were the one who came up with this one) and have no particular fondness for (or antipathy toward) the religion of Islam or for its adherents. I'm neutral in these areas.

Two million murdered black Sudanese do in fact concern me. The focus of my concern is that in neither case-- warfare in the south or ethnic cleansing in Darfur-- has either the US or any other western country lifted a finger to help. Even their condemnations are the mildest possible chides. So I do not believe one word of any humanitarian aims any diplomat espouses. They simply do not care about anyone except their principals.

And by that I do not exactly mean the American public. We are merely their enablers.

It is no more the case that violence and death follow wherever Islam goes than it is the case for Christianity. For example, by every measurement the civilian death rate in Iraq is significantly higher now than it was under Saddam. You do the math:

Under Saddam: a typical estimate of 200,000 dead divided by 25 years. 8,000 dead per year.

Under the US: 33,800 to 37,900 deaths in three years by the most conservative measure (iraqbodycount). 12,000 per year.

So in reading my mind, your crystal ball is in need of a retread. I support neither radical Islamism in general, our invasion without adequate pretext of a country that posed no danger to us, or the principal of pre-emptive invasion. Go back and read my original post again, and see whether I have espoused any of the things you have accused me of.

heavyvinter IS CORRECT!
Anybody associated with the theories of "Hassan al-Turabi" (who philosopohy is in the linaege of Qtub) should be watched out for. They have a Fundamentalist Muslim world view! All they want to do is take over( that is the premise of their philosophies). If the world does not step in right now, and they advance, we will see another Afghanistan. The only way to deal with "Islamism and pan-Arabism" is how heavyvinter states. Eventhough he might not know the extent of racism in France, he has more than a point on this issue.

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