Friday, August 31, 2007

Darfurian Diaries: About the janjweed.

Musa Hilal

Are the janjaweed simply devils-on-horseback?
So janjaweed means devil-on-horseback but it’s usually used to refer to Darfurian Arabs.
Not all Arabs in Darfur are janjaweed. According to an aid worker in Darfur, some Darfurian Arabs are aid workers.(SIS)

Note:- please keep in mind that Musa Hilal doesn't like the term "Janjaweed. He believes it should only be used to refer to thugs and theifs in Chad.

Musa Hilal
He is one of the leaders of the racist and criminal organization called the Arab gathering and leaders of the Janjaweed. Musa Hilal is from the Um Jalul tribe, a branch of the Rizeigat Arabs.
Hilal is not only the leader of the Janjaweed; he is also the first name on the US state of department’s list of suspected genocidal criminals. A disgrace to the Sudan and to humanity in general.
The mastermind behind Darfur’s atrocities

"In 1997, Hilal was jailed for killing 17 Africans in Darfur, according to the inquiry. Years earlier, he had also been imprisoned for killing a security guard and robbing a bank in Nyala, a city in southern Darfur. " (Wax)

He was set free after that only to be jailed again for other crimes against humanity. After the government he is the perfect man to help them fight the rebels. They let him go(the vice president himself intervened to do so). He was set free to kill more people.

Come fight with me” Musa Hilal to the Arabs

On the 27th of February 2004, the town of Tawila was attacked.
75 murders and 100 women rapped and gang-rapped later, it ended.
Sitting comfortably in his Land Cruiser and keeping himself busy with word games and fun stuff, Hilal witnessed the 3 days long attack and gave instructions to his men to burn the village and leave no infrastructure.
When questioned about this attack, Hilal denied it although there are many witnesses.

“A retired teacher, hid in the bushes when the attack began and took notes, feeling it was his duty as an educated man to record what was happening”(Alex De Waal)
The teacher confirmed that Hilal was there and he was in charge but Hilal’s confession was more credible to officials.

Is Musa Hilal the real criminal here?
“I answered my government’s appeal and called my people to arms” Musa Hilal.
If you read my biography to the right-hand side, you will notice that it’s titled “our government thinks we are the enemy”.
Recently, I've started to believe that our government wants us dead. Over a million died in the South and now over 200,00 died in Darfur. Who is next? Me? You? My whole tribe?
I don’t see why we should blame a man like Musa Hilal.
Is he responsible for the security of the civilians in Darfur or the Sudan? It’s debatable.
His only crime is obeying OUR governments order. He is just doing what he is asked to do.

“I have orders from the government. All our orders come from the government. We are here so no one can point a finger at the government” A general in military intelligence.

If our government wants some of us dead then all they have to do is find people who are willing to do so. The janjaweed are like our governments version of a ""Hitman ".

Who should the international court of justice prosecute first? Musa Hilal or Omar Al Bashir?

Jihad in Darfur

“Drought and destitution embittered the Darfur Arabs…they were ripe for picking by the government” (Alex De Waal)

As rebel movements started forming (SLA), Musa Hilal was busy recruiting men from Chad and arming himself for his “Jihad”.
In October 2002, A Fur village was attacked. Women were rapped. Many were killed and many were abducted.
Similar attacks were launched after that. Villages were burnt and the displacement of the 1.5 million started. Darfur began to unfold at an alarming rate.

Rwanda in 1994 in Darfur in 2004.

“Blacks always support the rebels” Musa Hilal.

This reminds me of radio stations in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. They encouraged the population to become a criminal population.
Hutu teachers were asked to kill their Tutsi students. Hutu men were forced to kill their Tutsi wives and children.
If your neighbours were Tutsi then you better kill them or else, you are a tratitor...a disgrace to the entire Hutu population.
Alex De Waal's ,Darfur: A Short History of a Long War
Sleepless in Sudan blog
Emily Wax, The Washington Post

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A House is not always a home

In late 2001, I was waiting right outside Khartoum International airport with at least 50 family members for a man who was forced to leave Sudan 11 years earlier because he had opinions and he refused to conform. I was waiting for my father.

He is your typical educated ,intellectual and politically-involved Sudanese nationalist who is also one of my favorite authors. At the age of 30, the government decided that he must retire. He went with my mother to England. He wanted to live there temporarily but my mother wanted to stay there and raise her daughters away from political problems and African dictatorships.

He was like Anwar from Leila Aboulela's novel, Minaret. A young figure in the opposition who would've never even considered living in the West but found himself there.

Many of his friends were already there, doing their PHD's and applying for political asylum.
Not long after moving to London, they returned home.
The transitional-government took over and my father was optimistic once again. He went back to work.

Years passed and the national salvation government took over.
New government,New problems.

In Sudan, people always hope this new government is better than the one before it. This government was suppose to end the war with the South , they made it worse. Since the beginning, their "we eat what we grow" ideology caused more poverty and more hunger. They wanted to cripple the civil society but they couldn't get rid of all the opposition groups.
This man spoke up only to lose his job.
Two daughters and an unemployed husband, my mother was even more eager to leave the country. We stayed there for a while and finally, we left.
It was hard but there was no other way out. This man couldn't find a job anywhere but then one of his good friends offered him a job. He travelled there only to be told to leave immediately. They were looking for him and his friend. There is nothing worse than feeling unwanted in your own country.
We started our journey abroad and my father was lucky when it came to jobs. He did well and I was always pivileged.
Most of his friends who left with him did well too. Professors in the United States. Doctors in England and Saudi Arabia. Writers.Scientists.
Although most if not all the Sudanese in the diaspora contribute to the economy
through remittances sent to families or friends, Doesn't Sudan really need their skills more than their money?

I was thinking about the skilled diaspora a few days ago. My father. His friends. The educated individuals who were forced to leave.
Do you think that the university of Khartoum deserves better Sudanese professors?
If professors in the US,Europe or the Gulf came back and taught at U of K, it would be better.
Since the government of Sudan doesn't appreciate any skills, talents or intelligence, people are tempted to leave. Many musicians,painters and writers work abroad because the government doesn't appreciate any form of art.

Why was my father forced to live nearly 20 years of his life abroad? He would've contributed allot to his country.
Why is Rasha, a very talented Sudanese singer forced to live in Spain?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

100 posts!

Yes, you heard me...100 posts!

Keeep on reading.....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Darfurian Diaries: Contested Identities

“Sudan is an arab country and whoever doesn’t feel Arab should quit” Ali Abdel Rahman, first minister of interior
In the 1980’s, the Arab gathering, the first organization or group to harbor racist arab ideologies was formed.
They distributed cassettes and pamphlets arguing that the blacks ruled Darfur long enough and now it was time for the Arabs to rule. People ignored them for a while.

Things started happening. People were killed.

"Fight-or lose your land and be destroyed" Musa Hilal-leader of Janjaweed and a member of the Arab Gathering.

In 1982, a market near Awal was attacked. People were separated according to their tribe.
The Arabs had the chance to leave unharmed but the non-Arabs were brutalized. Other attacks were carried out as well; the victims were always “Non-Arabs”.

In 1987, the Arab gathering wrote a letter to the president asking him to stop neglecting the Darfur Arabs. They argued that they are the majority and they should rule Darfur.
This is how the letter ended. Threatening?
“Should the neglect of the Arab race continue, and the Arabs be denied their share in government, we are afraid that things may escape the control of wise men and revert to ignorant people and the mob. Then there could be catastrophe, with dire consequences. ” (De Waal)
They were honest.

Note:-I’m guessing the president didn’t; take their letter seriously because a Fur was assigned governor of Darfur after this letter.
The Arab gathering decided to take action. Qoreish 1 (a group with similar ideas)
was born out of the Arab gathering.
They had 2 immediate goals
1- Cripple the new non-Arab governor’s regional government
2- Recruit volunteers to create problems between black tribes.
-This was a battle plan for the Janjaweed.
In the late 1990’s, their plan was expanded and it was published in more detail. The date for completing this plan was 2020.

As some of you know, the name Qoreish is the prophet’s tribe. They chose this name because they believe that they (The Baggara Arabs)are descendants of the prophet’s tribe. This supposedly gives them the right to rule Muslim lands. Their ancestors crossed from Libya to Darfur a long time ago and they should rule from the Nile to Lake Chad.

Darfurian Diaries:- very brief history of Darfur

Very brief History of Darfur, enough to understand the history of the conflict.

It’s common knowledge that Darfur has one of the longest histories of human existence in the Sudan. Some time before carnage and inequality became the new law of order; Darfur was peaceful and ruled by sultans who exchanged letters with Napoleon and traded with Egypt.

Ethnic division
Like many parts of Sudan, Darfur is home to many ethnic groups.
The Africans are divided into two groups:-
1-settled groups such as the “Fur”, the largest African ethnic group.
2-Non settled ones such as the Zaghawa
Dar means homeland and fur refers to this ethnic groups. Darfur takes its name from this ethnic group. There also other African tribes such as the Zaghawa etc..

Arabs arrived in Darfur between the 14th and 18th century, they are also divided into two groups
1-traders who arrived from the East and the West
2-Juhaynas who arrived from the North-West.
Juhayna Arabs: - a group of people who trace their lineage to the prophet’s tribe (Qoreish)
Juhayna Arabs fall into two groups:-
Baggara (cattle herders/cattle-people) or Abbala or (Camel-men)
The Fur sultans granted land to the Baggara however, the Abbala were not given any land. This is how they believe they are involved in the conflict now. They’ve been looking for land for the past 250 years.

Marginalization of Darfur
Surprisingly, Darfur wasn’t only marginalized by current Sudanese governments, the underdevelopment and marginalization of Darfur started from the colonial times.
Developing Darfur was not considered until 1945.
“The file economic development, Darfur province in the Khartoum national archives, contains just five entries for the entire period 1917-50” (De Waal)

Education was limited to the children of local chiefs.
The governments of Sudan continued neglecting Darfur after independence. There was no investment in Darfur whatsoever. Healthcare facilities and Education didn’t improve much.
Many promises were dishonored.

Water and migration
Water in Darfur is scarce. Lake Chad is drying up at an alarming rate and every season, tribes such as the Baggara migrate south to spend the long summer.
Note: - It is believed that they used to take back slaves and stolen cattle with them back in the days.
In the autumn, the Baggara escape African Sleeping Sickness and heavy rains and go to the North. If they found African tribes there, they sometimes pay them to stay in their land but sometimes fighting is better than paying.

In the next part, I will explain
1- How the Darfur conflict is not entirely restricted to Sudan, it involved and still involves Chad, Libya and other countries
2- The conflict didn’t really start in 2003

How Libya and Chad are involved
After Chad got its independence from France, they were under the leadership of Francis Tombalbaye, a president mostly hated by the Chadian Muslims for his policies and dictatorial rule.
After the civil war started in Chad, the Sudanese and the Libyans supported Hissene Habre to become the next president of Chad. Habre was Muslim and possibly Arab. According to Sudan and Libya, he was the perfect candidate.
The Americans and the Egyptians also provided military and financial support to Habre. The Sudanese provided him with lands in Darfur for training his army which was made up of Chadians and Sudanese. Habre took over the capital and the late Tombalbaye (who was removed in a coup d’état earlier) had nowhere to go but the Sudan. During the years of civil war and insurgency in Chad, unthinkable amounts of arms were smuggled to the Sudan. Most of the arms stayed in Darfur.
Like all the borders in Africa, the Chadian-Sudanese border is porous. Refugees crossed the borders freely and arms crossed even more freely.
Clashes between tribes especially settled (mostly Fur) and unsettled tribes (mostly Arabs) were common. Instead of fighting with knives or even rifles, they now had Kalashnikovs. The Arab tribes armed themselves. The age-old conflicts involving land and water started becoming more intense and bloody.
After supporting Habre, Sudan and Libya decided they don’t like him after all. In 1975, Libya invaded Chad and Libyan troops fought Chadian troops for the next 10 years or so. The military aid given to Chad by the United States and France was used to win the war against Gaddafi’s Libya. The Sudanese government supported Libya’s war against Chad. They didn’t provide military or financial aid but they just gave Libya the permission to use Darfur as a “rear base”.
Many lives were lost in the following years because of this stupid move.
“Thousands of Islamic legion troops and Chadian Arabs crossed the desert to Darfur. Given the increasing local tensions, this sparked a conflagration in Darfur: an Arab-Fur war between 1987 and 1989 in which thousands were killed and hundreds of villages burned” (De Waal)
The civil war started.

Darfur Civil war (1987-1989)

The civil war in Darfur was simply tribal conflicts. Arms were still being smuggled from Chad and it was fought during the second Sudanese civil war.
The government decided to take advantage of the Arabs in Darfur and started arming them. This was primarily to help them fight the wars they waged against the South but it was used for the internal conflicts too.
For example: - In 1987, Arab militia from the Baggara tribe killed and burned over 1,000 dinka’s in “El-Daíen”. They were heavily armed from the government to fight the SPLA and their supporters (the 1,000 innocent people they killed I suppose!).

Note: - about a month before the Islamist regime/National salvation government took over the country, peace talks ended the civil war in Darfur. Not once and not for all.

Deby’s Chad
In 1990, Chad was close to having a new president. Idriss Deby(an ethnic Zaghawa, one of the largest tribes in Darfur).
For the tenth time, Darfur was being used as a training area for training Deby’s men and rearming them. Libya and Sudan armed Deby’s new group, The Patriotic Salvation.

“Khartoum assisted him by remobilizing 1,200 Chadian Arabs militia, and France looked the other way. In December, Deby counterattacked and swiftly occupied N’Djamena”. (De Waal)

Years later, Chad and Deby will be part of the picture again.

Kalashing the famine
“The Kalash brings cash, without a kalash you’re trash”
In 1990, the price of a Kalashnikov in Darfur was 40 dollars.

In the late 80’s, Darfur made headlines when it was hit by a horrible drought resulting in a famine.
There is an untold story about the famine. Darfurians weren’t only starved, they were also robbed. Arms were smuggled from Chad or handed out by Libya. The political instability in Chad leaked through the porous Chadian-Sudanese border in the form of “Armed Robberies”.
Sadly, tribes participated in this (especially settled ones). The arms intensified small tribal conflicts over water (a scarce source in Darfur).

References :):-
Darfur: A Short History of a long War, Alex De Waal and Julie Flint
Notes from Darfur, my father personal diary from his work in Darfur (I lived 6 months in Darfur)
Covering Darfur (Arabic book) Ibrahim Al-Sadiq Ali attia

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Random Though- Is Sudan racist?

Is the name of our country racist?
Sudan means land of the blacks

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

To be discussed soon- IDP's

While I was writing my Darfurian diaries, I kept tinking about the shantytowns around Khartoum. Sudan has the highest number of IDP's in the world.
I must discuss this problem very soon because IDP's shouldn't be as invisible as they are right now.
Evey time I go outside the capital, I notice the small mud houses scattered in desert-like areas. I never got the chance to properly interview any of them but I will include the experience of one of my grandma's maids.

Monday, August 13, 2007

George Ayittey: Cheetahs vs. Hippos for Africa's future

Yes, I'm taking a break and I'm going to travel but I wanted to keep you guys entertained:)

George B.N. Ayyitey gave a great talk at the TED Global. Listen to him and let me know if you are a cheetah or a hippo african. For non-Africans who do you prefer?

Sudan is the first black african country to become independant, GET OVER YOURSELVES!

Last March, Ghana turned 50. I read this everywhere, African websites and blogs. People were proud. Africans were proud. Ghana was the first black African country to become independant.

of course
I emailed and told them Sudan is , Ghana followed!
Last time I checked we were a black African country and we got our Independence first. 1956! we will turn 52 next January!
Are they on a mission to piss me off?

Friday, August 10, 2007

Darfur Diaries and my state of mind

I'm going to take a few days off
1- to write a series of Darfur posts called Darfur Diaries where I will introduce readers to one of Africa's most complex conflicts
I wil discuss 1-History of the conflict 2-The Janjaweed 3-The role of everybody in Darfur(governement,Janjaweed and so-called rebels) 4-The rape stories and violence 5-The role of the AU 6-The role of the international community and China 7-Reporting Darfur
i'm not writing a book, my posts will be sweet and short however, I'm doing some research now because I want to present all sides.
2-I'm going through rough times and I need some peace of mind. No biggie, I just have some personal problems but I'm glad I have some great friends.
A very good friend of mine offered to take me with her to a very popular resort here. I'm going to enjoy the beach, great company and staying up till 6 am for a few days.

I hope you like the Darfur posts:)

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Exciting...weird..interesting...hollywoodish...darfurian news

A few days ago, Darfur peace talks were held in Arusha,Tanzania(obviously). Everybody was there from rebels to international envoys to Darfur however, Suleiman Jamous, a co-ordinator for the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA) was absent. It's not a big problem since a celebrity offered to "take his place". Mia Farrow,a goodwill ambassador for Unicef and the ex-wife of Frank Sinatra wrote a letter to Beshbesh, the Sudanese president and offered a Darfur Exchange. Since Jamous is getting medical care and can't attend the peace talks, she might as well take his place. I mean an actress can be in the shoes of a Darfurian rebel once in a while.

She seems like a great person but a Hollywood celebrity taking the place of Jamous is just too much!

ps:- great idea for a Hollywood movie!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Random thought

In about 4 years, the Sudan will no longer be Africa's largest country.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Why Such poor Arab journalism when it comes to Darfur?

Question:-"Arab mass media talk about journalists being killed in Iraq. But why don't you send journalists to be killed in Darfur?" a representative from the Darfur Liberation Front.
Answer:- " The nature of the crisis is different from Iraq or Palestine, In Darfur, you can walk a long time in the desert to reach the news, but in Palestine it's easy."
Good question. Bad answer.
The Arab coverage of Darfur is pathetic. Only recently did Al-Arabiya started doing some proper reporting on Darfur. Only recently did they add Darfur to the list of Arab countries we should pray for, donate money to. Only recently did people find out about a conflict which started nearly 4 years ago.udan is a member of the Arab league. It is considered an "Arab" country. If a crises happens in an Arab country, the Arab world rushes to help.They donate money to rebuild Lebanon. They send money to help Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. This is not done to Arab countries only. When the massacres happened in Bosnia, they had donation boxes in every supermarket in Qatar. They had to help the Bosnians, they are not Arabs but they are "Muslim". If this is the case, then Sudan should be helped not because it is Arab but because it is a Muslim country. Many western journalists travelled long distances to report in Darfur but where are the Arabs who are suppose to help the so-called Arab country called Sudan?
Nabil Kassem went to Darfur. Great job. Who else?

Samantha Power went to Darfur. She even convinced Barack Obama to go there . Nicholas Kristof went there many times.Paul Salopek of the Chicago tribune went there. There is more Jewish money going to Darfur than Muslim money.

Palestine,Lebanon and Iraq are the priority. I comprehend that, but just don't preach about how Arab countries should "help" Sudan because it is an Arab country because they simply don't care.Only in such a situation is the real status of Sudan within the Arab world noticed.
The Senegalese president once said " the Sudanese could've been the best Africans but they chose to be the worst Arabs". We didn't choose to be the worst Arabs, we chose to be the trash of the Arab world! We don't exactly look Arab but the fact that we speak the Arabic language fluently makes them compelled to accept us.

Nabil Kassem is one of a kind. An Arab journalist who travelled to Darfur and created an eye-opening documentary about the conflict. Too bad the documentary was killed. If you want to watch the documentary named "Jihad on Horseback" you have to watch it online.

The documentary was killed and the cries of Kassem about what the Arabs should do in Darfur were ignored. The situation in Iraq is constantly deteriorating and sometimes, you have to make a choice about what's more important to the audience. The choice was clearly made.

Iraq matters. What is happening in Iraq breaks my heart, I sympathize equally with Palestine but people are dying in Darfur too. Religion or ethnicity doesn't matter when people are dying.

I'm still looking for a good answer to the question why such poor Arab journalism when it comes to Darfur?
Answer proposed:- " The Arabs see the victims are not Arabs, and we don't care" Khaled Ewais, a political producer from Al-Arabbiya- an important news channel in the Arab world.
Good Answer.
The victims in Darfur are not Arabs, they are Africans. The Arabs are playing another role in Darfur. Definitely not the "victims".The Darfurians are Muslims but they are not "Arabs". Enough said." Sudan is a marginal country when it comes to the Arab region", Khartoum correspondant of Al-Hayat. Well Said.We shall collect the rest of our dignity( If there is any left!)and join the East African world. I don't think Africans will refuse to embrace Sudan. The problem is Sudan will rather be the trash of the Arab world than be considered African. Most of Darfur and the South/North peace talks (if not all) were in African countries(Only Libya hosted some peace talks). Did Arab countries ever hold peace talks in their country? No, we are non of their business.
This post is not anti-arab or anything but I just couldn't suppress my anger any longer. If the Arab world cares about the Sudan, they should do the minimum to ensure the final peace talks go well and support the peace-keeping forces. I'm not asking for alot.
Currently, Al Jazeera is reporting on the Darfur peace talks . Progress is happening:) or so it seems.

A new sudanese blogger

My sister joined the blogosphere.
She is a biology major and a psychology and enviromental science minor. Last summer, she worked in Kenya in HIV/AIDS peer education. She is a diver and is very interested in conservation work and coral reefs. Her blog will be very different than mine mainly because our interests are different.
If you want to read a sudanese blog about the enviroment,science etc...., visit her blog

Friday, August 3, 2007

My next post...hesitation

I'm writing a post about Arab coverage of Darfur. I'm just worried my post is too angry.

It will be finished soon.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Meeting Najwa- a Sudanese refugee in Cairo

Leaving Things To God

Less than three years ago ,Najwa Ibrahim- a Sudanese woman in her early forties -was living comfortably in her house located in the peaceful town of "Hasahesa" in central Sudan. Central Sudan is one of the few places not directly affected by Africa's longest-running civil war. Her life was stable. Although her husband taught at a local school ,this didn't stop her from pursuing her own dream of getting a job and contributing to her family's growing needs. she is also the mother of three teenagers who received what she described as "good education" at a local school back home. Although living in her country made her feel comfortable among her family and loved ones, her sense of security was shattered by her husband's constant detentions, harassment's and interrogations by government officials. Her husband is like many Sudanese who are politically involved and are aiming at restoring the crippled Sudanese civil society. Sadly, his political involvement forced his family to leave the country for an undetermined period of time in October 2004. Their destination was Cairo, mainly because of its proximity to the Sudan and the family's fluency in the Arabic language. Accustomed to having a job back home and wanting to provide reasonable living conditions for her family, Najwa started looking for work. She was hoping to work for the UNHCR but she ended up working with a group called the "African Group". The group meets in a classroom at the American University in Cairo where they produce handicrafts and make things then sell them for some money. Najwa attends English classes at All Saints Church in order to improve her chances of getting a better job in the future.
Luckily, her husband was able to find a job too. He is currently working for "CARITAS", an organization that helps refugees.
Shortly after Najwa's family arrived in Cairo, Najwa tried taking her children to an Egyptian school but she had problems with her visa so she was forced to take them to a school based in St. Andrews church .That, Najwa's family are Muslims going to a Church school is a sign of the special relations between Muslims and Christian refugees in Cairo. In Cairo, all religions and tribes stand together as one and support each other unlike in the Sudan.

Najwa considers the many friends she made while working with the African group or attending English classes the main reason for tolerating living in Cairo, but her facial expressions, tone of voice and words express her unhappiness about living here. Najwa doesn't stop herself from telling me that living in Cairo is the worst thing that happened to her.
Najwa gets many harassment's here so she limited her life to work and attending English classes. apparently, her family stopped going out after being mistreated and called names by random people in the streets of Cairo. she recalls an incident last Eid where she went to a park with her family to have a nice time only to come back depressed. They were called several derogatory names, they left and never returned again.
Even though Najwa's story is bittersweet, she is optimistic about her family's future.
Recently, her son started going to Townhouse gallery where he meets other artists like himself and will soon be able to have his own exhibitions. Like many other refugees, Najwa is hoping to be resettled to a third country. Nevertheless, she expressed her willingness to move back to the Sudan if the government was changed.
Recently, she was issued a yellow card but her papers are taking a long time. while she is in Cairo, she is trying to make the best out of her time living here. when it comes to everything else, she helplessly exclaimed " I'm Leaving things to God"