So now we discover a new wrinkle in the conflict in Darfur.
For those of you unfamiliar (which should be very few by now), here’s a brief history: Sudan is a country whose north region and government is primarily Muslim, with a Christian and Animist south. Ever since the 1940’s, when the British merged north and south Sudan, the south has feared the north’s power. There’s been tension and civil war pretty much ever since.
Darfur is a region of western Sudan, in which a militia called the Janjaweed has been raiding and pillaging the last 4 years. Millions of people in the region have been displaced, and even neighboring countries (Chad and the Central African Republic) have seen fighting and an influx of people. Rebels accuse the Sudanese government of supporting and equipping the Janwaweed, which the government denies.
According to this article, an (anonymous) Sudanese official says the Janjaweed initially received equipment from the government, but things have gotten out of hand. A human rights activist had this to say:
“I don’t think raping was planned by the government. Killing and looting and torture, yes, but not rape.”
Oh. Well then. Khartoum’s getting blamed for something they really didn’t plan on. What a pity. Maybe if the UN had known that, they wouldn’t have tried to deploy peacekeepers in the region.
(As a side note, Americans can feel better for not being the only country to have foreign policy influenced by oil.)