The basic rule of water supply in semi-arid lands is that whoever controls the water, controls the people. New water resources provide as many perils as hopes depending on the politics of how the water is controlled. The recent discovery of a vast underground lake in the far north of Darfur has been acclaimed by commentators as a Godsend—a potential solution to Darfur’s war. The lake was discovered by the geologist and specialist in remote sensing, Dr Farouk El-Baz of Boston University, who is confident that, based on similar discoveries of fossil water in other parts of the Sahara, there are vast reserves under the desert. In adjoining Libya, the "Great Man-Made River Project" is irrigating millions of acres of agricultural land and providing water to cities and industry. In Egypt, the Toskha project has pumped water from Lake Nasser (behind the Aswan Dam) to create an oasis akin to a second Nile Valley that could provide land for as many as six million people, resettled from densely-populated parts of the country. Could Darfur’s aquifer provide a similar solution to the region’s poverty and under-development? Could we be more ambitious still and hope that more water can actually help resolve […]
During last night’s CNN-YouTube debate among Democratic hopefuls, the candidates were asked what they would do to make Darfur safe. So which one (if any) has it right?
With the current controversy in the U.S. over the idea of a no-fly zone in Darfur, it’s worth reflecting briefly on the role of the Sudan airforce in the Darfur conflict and the measures taken thus far to restrict air attacks against civilians. My argument: a no-fly zone is inefficient, nearly pointless, and almost sure to be counterproductive–and there are other options worth trying. The first point is that air attacks have never been the most important element in the government’s war. Ground attacks have been far more significant, and they have only intermittently been coordinated with air assaults, chiefly during the major offensives of 2003 and 2004. Sudan has a relatively small airforce: according to the most recent Defence and Foreign Affairs handbook it has 23 attack aircraft, 12 attack helicopters and 10 bombers (five of them Antonov transport planes, used for bombing by dint of rolling the bombs out of the cargo doors). The Antonovs have been the favored air weapon, because they are simple to use, though inaccurate. They kill a lot more livestock than they do human beings. There are no reliable figures for fatalities from air attacks this year, but it is likely that they […]
Last week, Dr Majzoub al Khalifa Ahmed, advisor to the President of Sudan, was killed in a car accident on the road to his hometown, Shendi, on the Nile north of Khartoum. His brother also died. I express my condolences to his family, who are mourning the death of the two men. Majzoub was in charge of implementing the Darfur Peace Agreement on behalf of the ruling National Congress Party, and was earlier the government’s chief negotiator at the Abuja peace talks that led to the DPA. In both capacities I knew him. In its condolence message, the African Union described Majzoub as a "formidable" negotiator. That is a tactful way of describing his immense capacity for frustrating any forward movement on the talks and then implementing the deal on his own terms. Majzoub was relentless. His command of detail was extraordinary. He kept a file on every individual in the Chida Hotel, where the talks were held, and no piece of gossip escaped his ears. He knew every dot and comma in the text and exploited every tiny loophole. I coined the term "retail politics" to describe how Majzoub operated. He tried to calculate the price of every individual […]
(This entry originally appeared as a comment in the thread “Is Climate Change the Culprit for Darfur?“.)
Social Psychologists have defined aggression as either instrumental or hostile. Instrumental aggression is impersonal and strategic. It’s business. Hostile aggression is hateful. [...]