Sudan: May 13, 2004

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The violence has subsided in western Sudan, mainly because there are few villages left to burn down. The Arab Sudanese gunmen have conducted a massive act of pillage in the last 15 months, raiding and destroying hundreds of towns and villages, driving over a million people into the bush, and at least a 100,000 into neighboring Chad.  The government has taken advantage of this to say they have halted the violence, even while they still insist that the government has nothing to do with the pro-government Arab militias. The government still believes the two rebel groups in Darfur are responsible for most of the violence, but no one in the area believes that. The local rebels originally got organized to oppose the government favoritism towards the Sudanese Arabs. This has long (as in for thousands of years) been the basic cause of strife in what is now Sudan. Thousands of years ago, Egyptians began moving upriver along the Nile and intermixing with the black African tribes that originally occupied the area. In the last thousand years, Arabs have moved into the area as well, and brought with them their language and religion (Islam.) But southern and western Sudan remain largely black African. In the west, there is not enough land for farming and grazing, in the south, oil has been discovered. So now the Sudanese Arabs have something to fight for (land and oil), and that's what they are doing.

 

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