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Darfur: A Short History of a Long War (African Arguments) [Paperback]

Julie Flint , Alexander De Waal
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 14.68 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Darfur: A New History of a Long War (African Arguments): A Short History of a Long War: 1 Darfur: A New History of a Long War (African Arguments): A Short History of a Long War: 1 5.0 out of 5 stars (1)
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Book Description

1 Sep 2005 African Arguments
Sudan's westernmost region, Darfur, sprang into notoriety early in 2004 when a war of hideous proportions unleashed what the United Nations called 'the world's worst humanitarian crisis'. For the last two years, the conflict has been simplified to pictures of sprawling refugee camps and lurid accounts of 'Arabs' murdering 'Africans.' Behind these images lies a complex story of a remote region of Africa. This book details the history of Darfur, its conflicts, and the designs on the region by the governments in Khartoum and Tripoli. It investigates the identity of the infamous 'Janjawiid' militia and the nature of the insurrection, charts the unfolding crisis and the international response, and concludes by asking what the future holds in store.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Zed Books Ltd (1 Sep 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1842776975
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842776971
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,419,137 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"Both writers are intimately familiar with Darfur--Ms. Flint reportedly came close to getting herself killed there when traveling with rebels in 2004--and their accounts are as readable as they are tragic."--Nicholas D. Kristof, "New York Review of Books"

About the Author

Julie Flint is an award-winning journalist and film-maker. She has been writing about Sudan since 1992, initially for the Guardian and later as a freelance. Her work includes, The Scorched Earth (Christian Aid 2000) and Darfur Destroyed (Human Rights Watch 2004). Alex de Waal is a writer and activist on African issues, and a director of Justice Africa. His books include Islamism and Its Enemies in the Horn of Africa (Hurst, 2004).

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short, concentrated and excellent 20 Sep 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A bunch of people professionally concerned with genocide and Darfur recommended this short but outstanding book when I needed to supplement my knowledge quickly. Its 134 pages of condensed information are based on prolonged and detailed work in the region and with people who know it well. The complexity of Darfur and its crisis as well as its relationship to other regions of Sudan, Chad and Libya emerge with balance, but with a clear picture of the horrors being committed. It enlarged my knowledge greatly beyond what I had gleaned from the media and a few days spent with some refugees from Darfur. It discusses events up to early 2005, its publication year, so is not quite up to date. The experts recommended it despite pointing this out, and I'm glad they did.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Short and excellent 20 Sep 2007
By Slow reader - Published on Amazon.com
People professionally concerned with genocide prevention and Darfur recommended this short but outstanding book (there are quite a few others on the crisis) when I needed to supplement my knowledge quickly. Its 134 pages of condensed information are based on prolonged and detailed work in the region and with people who know it well. The complexity of Darfur and its crisis as well as its relationship to other regions of Sudan emerge with balance, but with a clear picture of the horrors being committed. It enlarged my knowledge greatly beyond what I had gleaned from the media and a few days spent with some refugees from Darfur. It discusses events up to early 2005, its publication year, so is not quite up to date. The experts recommended it despite pointing this out, and I'm glad they did.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Comprehesive Book on Darfur!! 18 Oct 2008
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I purchased this book for my class on Conflict and Conflict Resolution at San Diego State.
This book is very detailed giving all the background on Sudan the country, its different tribes and groups as well as all of the individuals who have held or are seeking power in Sudan.

The book also highlights the regional players and their modivations such as Libya, Chad, Eriteria who are seeking to keep Sudan destablized for their own personal gain.

The authors do an excellent job of also bring to light the international aspects as well as the local and national issues the helped to create the circumstances of the first civil war/ conflict of north vs south Sudan and then Darfur. Not to mention the problems that stem from the international communties poor foresight when it came to resolving the North vs. South Sudan issues and the treaty that has made it impossible to truly resolve the Darfur conflict. Also how the international community and aid agencies shot themselves in the foot by labeling Darfur a genocide - spending more time documenting the genocide than helping people get food and water in that barren land.

However the one criticism I have of this book is the amount of shifting between different eras in history, players (wait till you get to the part about SLA vs SPLA vs SLA W vs SLA M) essentially you need a felt board like they use in military strategies to keep track of the players and their movements around Sudan.

I however despite my critisims highly recommend this book as a primer for anyone interested in Sudan and the root issues of Darfur.
7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading 1 Sep 2008
By Savo Heleta - Published on Amazon.com
The 2008 edition of Darfur: A New History of a Long War, by Julie Flint and Alex de Waal, is an essential reading about the current conflict in Darfur. The book gives a short overview of the history of Darfur and its people - from independent sultanate, annexation by the Anglo-Egyptian condominium, colonial times, to Sudan's independence.

Authors blame the British colonialists and Sudanese governments after independence for the lack of development in Darfur. They assert that Arab supremacy and racism, preached from Libya and the Sudanese capital, have caused divisions and animosity between "Arabs" and "Africans" in Darfur in the 1980s and 1990s, culminating with the conflict that began in 2003.

Flint and de Waal closely look at the links between the Sudanese government and "Arab" militias, called Janjaweed, claiming that there is enough evidence that proves that the government of Sudan is using the militias as a proxy in the Darfur conflict. They write about the Darfur rebel movements and their leaders, noting tribal divisions among the rebels and the crimes committed by the "African" rebels against "Arab" civilians.

Authors examine the international community's reaction to the conflict and the Abuja peace talks that culminated in 2006 with the Darfur Peace Agreement that was signed by the Sudanese government and only one rebel faction, but did not bring peace. They end the book with a chapter titled Endless Chaos, having little hope that the Darfur conflict could be ended any time soon.

It is important to note that the authors, for whatever reason, have not mentioned China once in the entire book. As a major world player that has oil interests in Sudan and is preventing any sanctions or condemnation of the Khartoum regime, China must be mentioned in a book about the current conflict in Darfur.
24 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Instructive look at Darfur 31 Mar 2007
By Chris - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are plenty of serious human rights abuses in Africa which Westerners, particularly American corporations and arms dealers have strong complicity in: the 4 million dead in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia under Meles Zenawi, Equatorial Guinea under Teodor Obiang, Chad under Idriss Deby, Uganda under Museveni. One can also mention the horrors of the neoliberal economic model which African governments have followed so studiously. But Sudan and Zimbabwe seem to take up 90 percent of recent Western media reporting about abuses in the region. Both governments, vile as they certainly are, have struck independent courses via US power over the years and so are demonized in the US media. Former Senator John Danforth, US ambassador to the UN in 2004, stated on British tv in 2005 that the main reason the Bush administration made noises about Darfur in the election year of 04' was to please the voting block of fundamentalist Christians who have long believed the Sudanese regime to be satanic.

There is plenty of stuff in this book about the barbaric atrocities of the Sudanese government and the Janjiweed, the paramilitary force which acts as a proxy for the Sudanese military in Darfur.. In Darfur, the driving Arab supremacist ideology was rooted in the "Arab Gathering" group which emerged under the backing of Colonel Qadaffi of Libya in the 70's and 80's. Many in Sudan's government have been influenced by this ideology. The authors provide much quotation from these brethren who stress the need to make Darfur a purely Arab homeland and to cleanse it of non-Arab elements. Qadaffi funded the Sudanese Islamist/Arab nationalist groups Ansar and Muslim Brothers against his enemy, Sudan's then dictator Jafarr Nimieri in the 70's and early 80's. Many in these groups ended up in positions of power after the Islamist regime took power in June 1989. Qadaffi also funded Arab supremacists in Chad during the 80's, many of whom found refuge in Darfur and have since made not insignificant contributions to the violence there.

It also appears from the authors' discourse that the conflict is driven by the struggle for land and water in an area which has seen much drought, and a dwindling supply of water and arable land.....
The authors point out that Arabs of the Bagarra Rizeigat--to which the majority of Arabs in Darfur belong--have kept out of the conflict.... A not insignificant number of the janjiweed are violent criminals released from Sudan's prisons to serve in that body......

Bagarra Rizeigat have protected refugees from Janjiweed terror. The Bagarra Rizeigat chief, Saeed Madibu has resisted efforts by the Khartoum government to bribe him and terrorize him into submission. The authors seem to imply that most of the Arab tribal elites in Darfur would greatly prefer peaceful social, political and commercial interaction between Arabs and African tribes instead of the apopaclyptic ideology of a Darfur cleansed of all black people that Janjiweed leaders profess. Saeed Madibu, in a contumacious act to the Khartoum government, has resurrected meetings of Darfurian tribal elders to negotiate in an equitable fashion, land and resource issues.

One of the two Darfurian opposition groups, the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) is divided between two tribal based factions, the Fur, led by Abdel Wahid and the Zaghawa, led by Minnie Minawi. These two groups spend alot of time making war upon each other, rather than upon the Sudanese army and Janjaweed. They mention that the SLA, perhaps a joint action of the two factions, attacked Bagarra Rizeigat territory in the Summer of 2004 and burned villages, stole livestock and engaged in other such activities at which the Janjiweed are such experts but Said Madibu's forces drove them out of their land.

The JEM is much more sophisticated. Islamists disillusioned with the extreme corruption and violence of the Khartoum regime seem to make up a significant part of the JEM's leadership. In interviews with one or another of the authors, the JEM leaders disavow any association with Hassan Al-Turabi, the Islamist scholar who was Sudan's de facto ruler throughout the 90's until he lost a power struggle with the country's president General Omar Hassan Al-Bashir in 2000 and was thrown into prison. Turabi had attracted many to his cause in the 70's and 80's because he spoke of a brotherhood of Muslims regardless of race and spoke out against the extreme corruption and inequality in Sudan's society. JEM leaders, according to the authors' interview of them, think that Turabi is a disgusting fraud and don't want anything to do with him. However many of them are specifically committed to setting up an Islamic state in the Sudan, which they say will grant freedom of worship to other faiths and will fullfill the ideals of honesty and equality in government that Turabi's variety of Islamists promised back in the 80's but have made such a mockery of in practice. The leaders of the JEM are often former national and regional officials under the current regime and provide the authors with stories probably containing at least some truth, illustrating their own virtue when they were in the service of the current regime, in the midst of grotesque brutality and corruption.

The authors mention the US and UK backed Naivasha accords that ended the civil war in Southern Sudan in 2005. In that accord the oil revenues are to be evenly divided between North and South, the SPLA has become the autonomous ruler of the South and army units in the capital are divided 50/50 in membership between the SPLA and the Sudanese army. SPLA leader John Garang was made first vice president of Sudan but he died in a mysterious plane crash shortly after the Naivasha accords. However the war criminals in both the Sudan government and the SPLA were granted amnesty from prosecution.....The authors note the desire for stability in south Sudan with its strategically important oil wealth by the US and UK, the Naivasha accord backers. Darfur in contrast has no important resources.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Explains Well What the Genocide in Darfur is all about 24 Nov 2009
By Herbert L Calhoun - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book because, having worked as a U.S. delegate to the UN during the Rwandan genocide, I wanted to better understand the background to the genocide in Darfur.

In the case of the Rwandan genocide, it has been argued that the international community did nothing, allowing the genocide to unfold unchecked, which basically is true. However, it must be remembered that of those who did make a feeble attempt to do something about the genocide, it was the U.S. that authored and sponsored the first UN Security Council resolution condemning the genocide and calling for collective action by the international community to stop it. However feeble subsequent actions that followed may have been, it still was the U.S. that got the ball rolling. As I recall, it was the French that stymied more robust efforts to make headway in stopping the genocide in Rwanda. And rather oddly too, the Secretary General also quickly caved in to French pressure, and thus was not anxious to exert his leadership in overcoming French attempts to prevent robust international action. I was unhappy to see that Samatha Powell, in her otherwise fine book on America's reaction to genocide in general (called "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide"), did not get these facts correct and in particular did not underscore the important role the U.S. played in trying to galvanize a collective international response. As well, rather egregiously, she failed to mention, except in passing, the genocide against Native Americans committed by our colonial forefathers. (See my review of this book on Amazon.com)

Regarding the present book, the authors tell us about the background and history of the events in Darfur. And as usual, the genesis of the conflict that led to genocide had social, economic and especially ethnic and tribal roots that can best be laid at the foot of British colonial policies. The cause is not, as is usually mistakenly assumed, due to religious persecution, for both sides of this (basically racial, tribal and ethnic conflict), are Muslims. The pattern of neglect of this vast southern region of Sudan (which also included black Christian and Amist factions) began during British rule, where because it suited colonial needs, the British deliberately restricted education in the whole region to one school. Its only purpose was to educate the sons of chiefs being groomed to become colonial surrogate leaders.

In 1956, when independence was declared and the Arabs took over, this pattern of neglect previously established by the British was simply continued and morphed into national policy by the new Arab rulers. Over time, and after a number of border skirmishes with its neighbor, Chad, ethnic cleansing by the Arab rulers in Khartoum became national policy. Famine, and especially competition for water were used as a political tools to push three key African tribes (the Zaghawa, Fur, and Masalit) out of Sudan altogether. Those that did not leave willingly, or would not leave under duress, were simply raped, tortured and otherwise massacred with their land and crops scorched and destroyed. Following a pattern also established by Westerners during slavery, the Arabs of Sudan eventually adopted an ideology of racial supremacy as a way of justifying the ethnic cleansing of what they considered their often less educated black African Muslim brothers.

The Janjeweed, made up mostly of the Masalit tribe of nomads, served as the vanguard of this racial ideology and continues to be used by Khartoum like a vigilante group that raids and strikes terror in the hearts and minds of the black tribes that settle along the edges of the Sahara desert. Predictably, the black tribes responded by establishing their own army of resistance, which attempts to defend its people and occasionally engages in uprisings and even counter raids and attacks. Khartoum continues to support and hide behind the Janjeweed because the international community allows them to get away with it.

The book also recounts efforts made by American evangelical groups to draw attention to the plight of the small number of Christian in the same region of Sudan. These Christians have also been persecuted and subjected to raids involving rape and murders. However, given the much larger problem of Muslim-on-Muslim genocide, little attention is being paid to the Christians concern. There is much more here, but for my purposes, this book answers my basic concerns about the history and causes of the genocide. Three stars.
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