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Vol 45 No 17

Published 27th August 2004


Darfur's turning point

Without international peacekeepers the massacres will continue

In a few weeks, the direction of the Darfur crisis should be clearer: if the pressure for an international peacekeeping force and sustained pressure on the National Islamic Front government wins out, then there is a real chance of halting the rising death toll and stopping the political disintegration in the region (AC Vol 45 No 16). If those efforts by the African Union and the United Nations fail and Khartoum faces down the growing pressure, the conflict in Darfur is likely to worsen again and drag hopes of a sustainable North-South peace agreement with it. Above all, Darfur is a political conflict: the rebel Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLA/M) and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) are challenging Khartoum's control of Darfur - and by implication, of other parts of the country. Primarily, this is a direct clash between the armed opposition groups and the NIF government, not between competing bands of Darfurians. What muddies the waters is that the government has mobilised local militias from Darfur to carry out its scorched earth policy alongside its formal military forces and in so doing, has revived old communal divisions.

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