While the genocide in Darfur is receiving significant press coverage in the Western press, scant attention has been paid to this humanitarian crisis in the Arab Middle East. When the Arab media does cover the story, most often it is presented as a Western conspiracy to gain access to Sudan’s natural resources.
Arab readers anxious to learn details of the crisis in Darfur will not learn from their largely government controlled newspapers that ethnic cleansing is being perpetrated by the Arab dominated government of Sudan in cahoots with the Arab militia known as the janjaweed, against fellow Muslim, black-African natives.
In a July 31, 2004 investigative piece by Dr. Amani Al-Tawil and published in the Egyptian government-controlled weekly, Al-Ahram Al-Arabi, Al-Tawil charged,“ The key to the American voting booths is in Darfur: The plot which is called ‘oil.’”
The Egyptian government-controlled daily Al-Gomhuri, reported in an April 20, 2007 editorial that, “The subject of Darfur, which the west described as a humanitarian tragedy, has become a cover to hide what is really planned and executed by the hegemonic forces in the west in our Arab world. The west’s intent is to redraw the map of the Arab world in accordance with western and Israeli interests, and without real consideration for true humanitarian disasters.”
The fact that over 400,000 black Darfurians have been killed and more than 2.5 million have become refugees has not raised great concern in the Arab press.
Qatar’s Al-Raya published an editorial by Sudanese journalist Babker 'Issa on April 20, 2007 in which he purported that, “The American public is showing extraordinary interest in the events in Darfur. The American administration shares this interest, as though the events in Darfur are meant to hide America's incompetence in Iraq, to divert attention away from Israel's actions in the occupied territories… or to disguise the daily massacres being committed in Somalia… We all know that the U.S. is pursuing its own interests in the world... and that there is no dimension of morality in American policy…”
Few in the Arab world would admit to supporting the anti-black racism that is being perpetrated by the Sudanese and the Janjaweed Arabs in Darfur. A look back at history reveals similar and equally as bloody campaigns waged by Arab rulers in Khartoum against black Christians and animist Southern Sudanese, and black-Muslim Nubians. Once again, it is easier for the Arab media to place the blame on the West and the Zionists rather than admit to the ugly reality of their racism.
Jihad Al-Khazen, former editor at Al-Gomhuria and currently a columnist for the daily Arabic Al-Hayat, published in London, claimed in his April 13, 2007 column that the “Israeli lobby is exploiting the victims of Darfur in order to divert the world’s attention from crimes being committed in Palestine and Iraq.” Al-Khazen added, “In New York, Darfur is the most important issue in the world…in the subway tunnels and the streets, there are thousands of posters screaming ‘genocide’ and 400,000 people dead…” He continues, “The U.S. war in Iraq has killed, according to a medical estimate 655,000 Iraqis. That is, more than three times the number of dead in Darfur and perhaps five times…yet, we do not see posters in New York for the Iraqi victims, nor read about ‘genocide,’ or at least for war crimes.”
Arab racist views founded on the belief in African inferiority, have been an ongoing factor in the relationship between the Arabs and Africans. Arab merchants were heavily involved in the slave trade, and in some Arab states slavery still exists, albeit “illegally.” In Saudi Arabia, slavery was only “officially” abolished in 1962 - but the practice remains pervasive in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.
The antecedents of the current conflict in Darfur began in the 1960’s and 1970’s with Libya’s promotion of Arab supremacy over African blacks. Famine in the mid-1980’s disrupted the social and economic equilibrium in Darfur, and low level fighting began.
Back in 1875, Egyptian forces under British domination took control of Sudan and the region of Darfur. The Mahdi’s (Muhammad Ahmad) Darfurian forces defeated the combined Anglo-Egyptian forces in 1883. For a brief period, from 1898 until 1916, Darfur was an independent sultanate. But, during WWI, the British incorporated it into Sudan.
According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, one of the underlying reasons for the killing in Darfur is ecological, “arising at least in part from climate change.” He explained that the droughts of the 1980’s pitted Arab nomads against African farmers in a struggle to survive.
The Secretary-General’s politically correct explanation ignores the political reality that intensified in 2003, when the Islamist Arab government in Khartoum began to encourage the nomadic Arab tribes and its militias, especially the janjaweed, to engage in ethnic-cleansing. In response to the janjaweed attacks, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) were formed.
It is high time for the western political leaders and western human rights organizations to call the conflict in Darfur by its right name: An Arab racist campaign of ethnic cleansing aimed at the black-Africans. The ethno-religious, ethno-centric Arab Muslim world is simply intolerant of non-Arabs (and non-Muslims)- be it Jews in Israel, Kurds in Syria and Iraq, or black-Africans in the Sudan.