Since 2003, the black African farmers of western Sudan's Darfur region have been victims of genocide. The genociders are Sudan's Arab-dominated government and nomadic Arab militia groups known as the Janjaweed. With Sudan's military providing assistance, Janjaweed have murdered approximately 400,000 of their fellow countrymen and have forced another 2 million to flee their homes and farms.
The genocide is motivated by three basics: power, hatred and greed. The Sudanese government dislikes Darfur's black African farmers because they're not Arab and because they've bristled at Sudan's cruel and incompetent rule in the past.
The Janjaweed share the Sudanese government's ethnic hatred of Darfur's black non-Arabs. They also want to clear Darfur of as many farmers as they can so that they can use the land for themselves.
(Note that this isn't a religious conflict. Both the genociders and their victims are Muslims.)
What do Sudan's neighbors think of all this?
To most, the genocide seems like an annoyance. But not so annoying that anyone is mounting a serious effort to stop it. It's merely a low-grade annoyance, on the level of, "Kindly turn down that genocide. It distracts us from our efforts to misrule and exploit our own citizens."
Yet some of the more thoughtful neighbors have begun to team up to slow the genocide. Under the banner of the African Union, 8,000 soldiers have been stationed in Darfur. Their mission is to monitor an April 2004 cease-fire agreement that never actually ceased any firing. The only thing the AU has been able to "monitor" is that the genocide continues.
Even if they wanted to, the AU forces would be unable to stop the genocide. They're spread too thin and are less well-armed than the police of most American cities.
Sudan's government officials recently blocked an effort by the United Nations to send a larger, better-armed peacekeeping force into Sudan.
They did so by -- get this -- convincing some of their neighbors, namely Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia, that a U.N. intervention would amount to Western imperialistic interference in African affairs. "How dare they interfere with our right to commit genocide without Western interference!" No one actually said that, but they might as well have.
The only neighbor of Sudan for which indifference is not an option is Chad.
Chad's long border with Sudan runs along the Western edge of Darfur. Approximately 200,000 Sudanese have fled to Chad from Darfur. Janjaweed and Sudanese government forces have increased the intensity and frequency of across-the-border raids. Sudan has, in essence, invaded eastern Chad.
And if that wasn't enough reason for Chad to feel bad, Sudan is now sponsoring rebels trying to depose Chad's government. Recently, Sudan allowed (translation: assisted) a convoy of Chadian rebels to drive the width of Sudan and enter Chad.
The incident was just the latest in a series of moves that seem to spell doom for Chad's sickly dictator, Idriss Déby. Many of Lil Déby's top military backers have deserted him. A few weeks ago, someone tried to shoot down a plane on which he was flying. The fatal blow to his regime might have come from, of all people, Paul Wolfowitz.
In his capacity as the World Bank's head teller, Wolfowitz has halted aid to Chad and frozen some of its accounts in response to Déby's reneging on an agreement to spend 80 percent of Chad's oil revenue on economic development projects. With his rule hanging by a chad, Déby wants to spend Chad's oil money on guns that might delay his overthrow.
The people of Chad can hardly afford a military conflict now. It's already one of the worst places where humans live. Per capita GDP is a mere $1,100, and life expectancy in Chad is just 47 years. Chad ranks 167 out of 177 on the U.N.'s Human Development Index, just behind the planet Mercury.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the anti-corruption organization Transparency International recently ranked Chad as the most corrupt nation in the world, the announcement of which came on the same day that Misery & Corruption International ranked Chad the "Best Country in the World Ever!"
Unless the United States or U.K. steps in, it's unlikely anyone will intervene to stop the chaos and killing anytime soon.
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