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The Crisis in Darfur as seen by the Communist Party

Tuesday 12 June 2007

View of the Communist Party of Sudan on the causes of the conflict in Darfur:

The conflict in Darfur is decades older than the date of its recognition by the media and the international community. It is considered as one of the manifestations of the Sudanese crisis which started conjoined with independence and continues until now. According to our perception in the Communist Party of Sudan the main direct causes of this conflict can be grouped under the following two categories:

1. The historical roots of the conflict.

2. The role which was played by the different consecutive political regimes that governed the Sudan, and which eventually resulted in the escalation of the crisis till it was transformed into an international humanitarian tragedy, largely due to the atrocities committed by the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime, which took power in the Sudan on June 30, 1989.

1. Historical roots of the conflict

This conflict has a traditional tribal nature, resulting from dependence of these tribes on deteriorating natural resources, and the use of these resources by both nomads and farmers. In these terms, the conflict is as old as the existence of these tribes and their co-existence together. It was clear that the Darfur tribes did not lack awareness and wisdom to face and solve these conflicts. During the period from 1957 until today more than 20 tribal conferences had been convened in Darfur. These conferences had summarized the main points of the problem in the following: (a) respect the historical rights of these tribes regarding their Hawakeers[1]; (b) agreement on determination of the routes of movements of these tribes (some routes are western to "Jabal Marra" mountain, and other routes are eastern to the mountain) with a very accurate and precise citation of the fixed natural land-marks for each movement; (c) determination of the time of movement; (d) respect towards and adherence to the tribal norms for resolving the intertribal conflicts, and to the traditions of hosting or providing a safe haven for other tribes.

The participants in these conferences always came out with sound and practical recommendations. But these recommendations remained only on paper without implementation by either the central or the local authorities. And, as usual, under the present regime these conferences were transformed into some sort of political and public relations show, targeted towards the media! However, if the authorities had implemented only part of these recommendations, the security, political, and social situation in Darfur would not have deteriorated to the current level.

Despite the total black-out and tight control over information and media imposed by the government of the NIF since taking power, there were always prominent warnings in the media related to tribal conflicts in Darfur. For years, Sudanese newspapers have been covering the news about killings, burning villages, and the stealing of cattle and property, etc., in Darfur, but what the newspapers could not publish at that time were the most violent crimes committed by the pro-government militias resulting in increasing numbers of victims: the use of highly advanced artillery in the conflict by the government army, mass rape, etc. And so, it early became clear that the conflict in Darfur is not between the Arab and the African tribes (Arab vs. Zurga[2]), but it was very clear that Arab fights Arab and Zurga fights Zurga, and that no tribe or ethnic group is safe from this dangerous situation.

However, it is very important to state that the tribal conflicts in Sudan have gone beyond their traditional nature and form, and have changed from conflicts only over the deteriorating natural resources into conflicts involving natural aspirations towards real participation in power and administration as well as political decision-making, and also towards just wealth sharing, noting that these tribes live in the wealth producing areas of the country.

2. The role of the successive governing regimes in the escalation of the crisis

Despite the special characteristics and the geographical space, the Darfur crisis is regarded as an extension of the general national crisis existing in Sudan since its independence. This general national crisis is a direct result of the wrong policies and maltreatment pursued by the successive governments that ruled Sudan during the previous decades, since these authorities had focused only on their control over power while neglecting the constitutional issues related to the building of the newly independent Sudan. Among these most distinctive constitutional issues are:

1. The suitable form of governance which realizes just power sharing in the Sudan between the various national and tribal components, and which could lead to healthy political practices.

2. Reviewing the sharing of wealth and development plans so as to alleviate negligence and unfairness from the underdeveloped areas in the South, West and East, giving priority to areas of ethnic and social conflicts; and all this to be carried out within the context of a scientifically planned economic project which aims to stop the deterioration in the economic surplus-producing areas, without exhausting the center.

3. Introduction of political democratic practice that takes into consideration the political reality of the Sudan.

4. The issue of the relationship between state and religion.

5. The issue of the Sudanese identity, etc.

The National Islamic Front regime has played a great role in escalating the conflict in Darfur, transforming it into a real tragedy and grand disaster. This role is connected to the strategic plans of the National Islamic Front, which aim to build an Arab-Islamic entity in Darfur that extends to Western Africa, and constitutes the first line of defense for the Arab-Islamic state in Sudan, the everlasting dream of the National Islamic Front. This role of the National Islamic Front regime can be seen in the political practices of the regime as well as in its developmental plans.

The political practices include:

1. Establishment of new administrative bodies without consideration for the conflicts over land ownership.

2. Division and strife of some local administrations which were against the central authority; and imposition of new administrations by the authority.

3. Distribution of weapons brought by what the government calls "Mujahideen"[3] from South Sudan to be used in the tribal conflicts.

4. Discrimination between the tribes in disarmament procedures and weapons distribution.

5. The situation further deteriorated because of the atrocities committed by the "Walis"[4] who wanted to use the tribal historical conflicts to realize political gains for the ruling party, so, they awarded their friendly tribes a province or an administrative area at the expense of other tribes.

6. Conflicts with the neighboring countries and the tribes’ integration in the area resulting in the flow of weapons and warriors.

7. The government policy of soliciting the support of the tribes in neighboring countries; and in return granting their members the Sudanese nationality.

8. Adoption of a clear cut racial policy through direct involvement of the regime leaders in recruitment, finance, and armament of the pro-government Janjaweed[5] gangsters. These gangs have committed severe atrocities against Zurga, including mass murders and massacres, mass rapes, burning down of houses and villages, ethnic cleansing, etc. The aim of these crimes is expulsion of millions of Zurga from their very fertile homelands and then transformation of these lands to be owned by the class[6] of big businessmen who are either part of the regime or loyal to it. All these crimes have led to the intervention of the international community to fetter the hands of the culprits, as well as to enhance solidarity with the Darfur people from all over the world. In this regard, the Security Council has adopted many resolutions including the submission of the case to the International Criminal Court to prosecute the Janjaweed leaders and the government ranks responsible for those crimes.

The development aspect of the causes of the Darfur conflict includes:

1. It is very true that reversing the economic backwardness of the region represents the basic solution for the Darfur problem. But, at the same time, it is very difficult to deceive the people of Darfur by repeating the same slogans of development programs while not implementing them. The people of Darfur have suffered from the failure and collapse, as well as the corruption of tens of programs such as: Jabal Marra mountain project, the Savanna project, Khor Ramla and Sag anneam projects, the closure of Nyala tannery, the neglect of the seasonal maintenance of the successful clean water streams project which was technically aided and financially funded by the German state of Saxony, the abolishing of the mobile medical and veterinary clinics project, the suspension of schools and hospitals due to the delay in salary payments, etc. In other words, there were no development projects (in addition to the total collapse and failure in the services sector).

2. Darfur tribes which had historical rights of land ownership were always very generous in providing their lands for development and revenue-generating projects for the benefit of all the population in the region, whether nomads or farmers. And, despite the scarcity of the natural conditions, Darfur can still maintain all its people and animals. The development issue remains a pressing priority since the October Revolution[7] of 1964, and uncountable feasibility studies and project files have been accumulated, but the missing factor remains the political will to take decisions and to mobilize the human and financial resources for the implementation of the plans and projects.

The National Islamic Front regime believed that it could reformulate the Darfurians and their social fabric, norms and traditions according to its engineered designs of its so called "Islamic Project," but this project has exploded from within itself. The explosion was clear even before the NIF coup and the appearance of foes of the regime. The first indicator of the failure of the project was highlighted when two parliamentarians, both from Darfur, resigned from the National Islamic Front bloc during the democratic period 1986-1989. The second indicator came after the NIF coup of June 30, 1989, when a prominent leader of the Islamic Front, a native of Darfur, organized an armed uprising in Darfur, but he was caught and executed by his fellow brothers in the NIF. The third indicator was the increase of tribal polarization within the NIF into two groups: 1) Quraish: the symbol for Arab tribes and 2) The Black Book: the symbol for African tribes! Then, as a fourth indicator, the volcano erupted in the large rift in the leadership of the NIF which divided it into a ruling National Congress party and the opposing Peoples Congress party led by Dr. al-Turabi!

However, the best summary and assessment of the crisis of the "Islamic Project" in Darfur was offered by one of the founders of the Islamic Front[8] when he wrote:

"The security situation in Darfur is deteriorating gradually from bad to worse. The acts of armed robbery have started because of poverty, unemployment and drought. But then this developed into a tribal conflict between some tribes because of the bankrupt policies of some governors who wanted to use the historical tribal conflicts to achieve political profits for the benefit of the ruling party. The current situation marks the beginning of a civil war in the region under the slogans of political injustice represented in the absence of developmental projects in the region and the lack of education and health services, besides the isolation of the natives of Darfur and preventing them from holding positions of authority in their homeland."

The continuous marginalization of Darfur since independence, and the letdown by the traditional political forces who failed to fulfill the demands of the people of Darfur, in addition to the policies of the Islamic Front government which are marked with violence and suppression: all these factor encouraged the youth of the tribes in the region to organize themselves and rebel against the status quo through the waging of armed resistance to achieve the rights of the Darfurian people to an equitable sharing of power and wealth, within the frame of a united Sudan.

On the other hand, the policy of the partial approach to the problems of the Sudan which was imposed on the country by the international community through concentrating on the civil war in Southern Sudan and recognizing as the only negotiators the armed group SPLA and the Khartoum government encouraged other regions to wage rebellion since it was seen as the only way to attract attention to their demands. Thus the region of Darfur witnesses a true civil war that raises the slogans of genuine political, social and economical equality and justice.

The position of the Communist Party on the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA)

On May 5, 2006, in the Nigerian capital of Abuja the government of the Sudan and the Sudan Liberation movement (Mr. Mani Arko Manawi Faction) signed the Darfur Peace agreement (DPA) — also called the Abuja agreement. The agreement was signed after the international community — mainly the U.S.A, and the African Union — exerted great pressure on the negotiating parties.

However, many observers are still wondering about the enthusiastic interest of the United States and the West regarding the Darfur issue. In our view, this can be explained through the following points:

First: The Darfur region has a strategic position that lies bounded by Chad, Cameron, Ivory Coast and Central Africa and all the nations of West Africa until the Atlantic Ocean. This region has become a battlefield for the transnational monopolies trying to gain possession of Africa’s petroleum and other raw materials with the aid of organizations such as the NEPAD and others. The United States of America plays a major role in this conflict. Also the boundaries of the region extending from Libya passing by Chad to Central Africa has its strategic role in the conflicts of the Great Powers in that area. In addition the civil war in Darfur casts a shadow of danger of spreading the conflict to other regions of the continent.

Second: The developments following the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan forced the United States to present a new face of peace and reconciliation and attempting to look more humanitarian than the way it dealt with Iraq.

Third: The international community is still in a state of shock and guilt due to its silence and inaction about the horrible crimes committed in the conflict in Rwanda and Burundi. Therefore the Darfur crisis obtained priority in the agendas of regional and worldwide administrators in the form of the United Nations and the Security Council.

Fourth: The international community that supported the peace process in the southern Sudan fears that the continuation of fighting in Darfur could lead to failure of the peace process in the south of the country.

Fifth: There are studies indicating the presence of rich mineral resources of petroleum and uranium and other minerals in Darfur.

In spite of its reservations and remarks on this DPA, the Communist Party of Sudan considered it as a base or starting point for the peace process in Darfur. However, the Party reaffirmed that the agreement can only succeed if annexes and additions are made to satisfy the demands of the factions which did not sign it, saying that it does not fulfill the basic demand of the people of Darfur. Now, it is well known that in spite of that agreement, the situation in Darfur has deteriorated and the military conflicts increased in number of victims, severity and destructiveness. Also the Communist Party verified its refusal and condemnation of the attempts to threaten the non-signatory parties, and instead, the Communist Party insisted on the importance of listening to their demands again and searching for means and ways to reach an agreement with them.

In that context the Communist Party’s reservations on the agreement are as follows:

1. The negotiations in Abuja, and therefore what the agreement entailed, was governed by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) [January 9, 2005] between the Sudan people’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the government of Sudan which created an inescapable frame and ceiling /limit which could not be crossed. It is known that the protocols of Machakos and Naivasha extended beyond the issue of the civil war in the South to deal with all aspects of the Sudanese crisis represented in issues such as: peace, identity, unity, democracy, system of government, development and division of resources, the army, security, foreign affairs, etc. Also the CPA strived to create basic changes in the structure of the current political system including self determination (a single united state or two states) during the transitional period. These issues were decided on by two parties only: the Islamic Front government and the SPLM, while all the other political and social forces including the armed factions in Darfur were not involved. Therefore it is not logical to commit the factions of Darfur and confine them within a framework or ceiling they did not contribute to.

2. The Communist Party believes that to solve the national problems and to stop armed confrontation in the country, it is necessary to achieve a comprehensive national consensus which deals with all aspects of the national crises. This can only succeed provided that all political forces will be actively engaged in this process, both at the level of decision making and implementation.

3. In the Abuja negotiations, the international community used the same methodology that it adopted at the Naivasha talks. The methodology of the partial approach to the conflict without paying attention to the fragility of the resultant solutions which in all cases will remain as temporary solutions and under real threat of collapse at any time. It was the same approach used in Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, and Chad, etc. This approach does not look at the Sudanese crisis as a whole, or as one crisis that manifests in many conflicts, but breaks it up into partial solutions imposed under increased pressure. We believe that this approach is not successful in the case of the Sudan.

4. The international community and the African Union have exerted great pressure with the aim of obtaining signatures of the movements of Darfur. In this regard the agreement does not differ much from what had happened at Naivasha. But, here, the result was the signing of only one faction of one movement of the warring movements. We wonder, concerning this approach, if the mediators did not notice, or had noticed but did not care and did not take into consideration the composition and the structural nature of the armed movements of Darfur, being connected to the tribal divisions in the region. For everybody, it is clear that the way the agreement was signed will only encourage the continuation of bloody tribal conflicts in the area.

The position of the Communist Party on the deployment of United Nations troops in Darfur.

The position of the Communist Party of the Sudan on the deployment of the United Nations troops in Darfur[9], is based on the following factors:

1. The key point is that the deployment of UN troops has become a general and essential demand of the people of Darfur, especially the inhabitants of the displaced camps, to protect them against the constant attacks of the Janjaweed. The African Union troops have failed to provide such protection, and the government troops are considered as a party in the conflict with a very hostile attitude towards the people of Darfur. What is at stake here is the safety of the people of Darfur and their protection from killing and physical liquidation, and on such issues there is no room for a compromise. Hence, the Party does support the deployment of the UN troops.

2. The deployment of the UN troops in Darfur should take place through wider consultation between the UN on one side, and the Government of Sudan and all the Sudanese political forces on the other side. These consultations should deal with all details related to the tasks including the composition of these troops.

3. The role of the United Nations does not end by providing protection to the people of Darfur but should be extended to achieve the political settlement for the crisis.

Searching for all means to resolve the crisis.

On September 2006 the Communist Party sent an envoy to meet the leadership of the Darfur armed factions that did not sign the Abuja agreement. Our idea is to discuss with these factions the possible means to overcome the severe tension and the acute polarizations in the country, and to explore the possibilities of laying down the foundations for a sustainable and equitable peace that can prevent the fragmentation of the country.

In the meetings with the leadership of the movements, we put the following points as a basis for discussions and consultations:

1. Darfur is sustaining a real tragedy. This tragedy and disaster have brought about broad international support and interaction. Does not this international support require that the Darfur armed movements try to unify their efforts and forces around a united program, or at least a unified negotiating position which serves the aspiration and demands of the people of Darfur?

2. The Abuja agreement did not stop the war. Not only that, but some figures of the international community have started to warn against its collapse. Also, the issue of deploying international forces in Darfur increased the polarization between the Sudan government and the international community which is badly reflected on the country. But on the other hand, the public statements of some officers of the international community, and specially the UN representatives in the Sudan, paved the way for adding annexes to Abuja agreement which may satisfy those who had rejected the agreement in the first place. However, these statements found a reluctant response from some leaders of the Sudanese regime. As to the Communist Party, despite its public reservations on the Abuja agreement, the Party is not rejecting it, but it can see the possibility of improving the agreement by adding new annexes. The Party strongly rejects any attempt to threaten or stigmatize the factions that refused to sign with treason. On the contrary the Party can see the importance of listening to the demands of those factions and looking for common ground with them. However, a question remains here: To what extents are those factions ready to react to the positive signals from the UN regarding the possibilities of adding annexes to the agreement? What are their proposals and suggestions in this aspect?

3. At the end of the day, the Sudan is not a government property, nor a property of any of the opposition forces. It is for all. And for that reason the main task shall be to exhaust all means and measures to continue the peace process and to reach a national consensus which is capable of stopping the bloodshed and laying the foundations for an equitable peace and democratic transformation in response to the demands of the people of Darfur as well as of all other marginalized territories in the country.

The points raised by the Darfurian factions that met the Party envoy were as follows:

1. On the basis of the fact that the Darfur problem is a part of the overall crisis of the Sudan, all Darfur factions showed their readiness to join any project for national unity which could be agreed upon by all Sudanese parties aiming at paving the way for peace, unity, democracy and equitable development in the country.

2. Their readiness to negotiate annexes with the government to be added to the Abuja agreement.

3. Their negotiating position includes:

a) To agree upon a mechanism that disarms the Janjaweed and secures protection for the civilians.

b) To agree upon compensations for the affected population including compensations for the loss of life, psychological impact, loss of property and provision of shelter.

c) That Darfur shall continue to be one region (not divided into three regions as it is now) under a real federalism of four levels: the federal, regional, state, and local levels.

d) That the people of Darfur shall participate in all the state central institutions, both the civil and the military, and that the representation should be according to population density and the parameters of positive discrimination. Some of the factions suggested the formation of a Presidential Council with a rotating chairmanship or a vice-president from every region.

e) That 36% of the state general budget should be allocated to Darfur, and over and above establishing a fund of 6% of the national income for ten years to be allocated for the development of Darfur.

f) Darfur factions should keep their troops during the transitional period and that troops should be financed from the central budget.

Also, the Communist Party held several meetings with the representatives of the international community and the UN which discussed the Darfur problem and the peace process in the country. In these meetings the Party confirmed that consultations between the international community and all the Sudanese political parties are necessary and important for the purpose of reaching effective solutions for the country’s problems. For such consultations to be useful and of value they should take place at the time of developments and not thereafter. For example, through the early consultations the issue of a referendum on having one Darfur state or three states could have been avoided on the basis that Darfur originally was one united region. Equally true, it was possible to find an acceptable solution for the Abyei problem if, before the resolution of the committee of experts, serious consultations were carried out with all the political parties and with the people of the region, especially the local leaders.

The search for means to resolve the Darfur crisis is not limited to the Communist Party only. There are other efforts including many popular forums in Sudan like "Darfur Forum," "Darfur Lawyers," etc., national and international NGOs, etc. All these bodies are working hard and steadily for the sake of the Darfur issue in terms of launching initiatives that reject the military option, organizing seminars and workshops, helping in the attempts to convene the Darfur-Darfur dialogue or conference, looking at the crisis in its national perspective, trying to unify the Darfurian movements, launching campaigns addressing the grave human rights violations and atrocities in Darfur, providing legal protection for the activists working in Darfur, etc.

The vision of the Communist Party towards the comprehensive settlement of the crisis

First: The top priority should be given to address the disastrous and the tragic situation in the region through immediate measures under the auspices of the UN and African Union as agreed to in Addis Ababa. These measures include the following:

Deployment of international troops in the region to assist the already deployed African troops in prohibiting all military operations, protecting refugee camp dwellers and the displaced, ensuring the delivery of aid, food, and medication through safe corridors, imposing a no fly zone as well as international and regional supervision of the cease fire, introducing an effective mechanism to disarm the region, and supervising all means of land transport and entrance points to prevent the smuggling of arms into the region.

To introduce effective mechanisms to disarm the Janjaweed, and bring them to justice.

To activate the international mechanism which was assigned to investigate the atrocities and ethnic cleansing, genocide, etc. and to identify the criminals and forward them to justice.

To work towards the return of the refugees and the displaced to their home lands and to ensure their protection and compensation for their losses.

Second: To bring the factions that did not sign the Abuja agreement to the negotiating table with the government. This should be done under the supervision of the UN and the African Union with the purpose of adding annexes to the Abuja agreement.

Third: To organize a Darfurian-Darfurian conference forh the purpose of giving the people of Darfur the chance to address the Abuja agreement and the possible annexes that may be added to it. The resolutions of the conference should be annexed to the peace agreement. The conference should be held in a free and democratic environment, away from the government and with the help of the UN.

Fourth: The Communist Party believes that the right approach to the Darfur problem is to recognize it not as just a tribal conflict, but as a result of the general crisis of the Sudan which is characterized by the continuous marginalization of the peripheries, and Darfur is one of these peripheries. Consequently, the problem is political and requires a national political solution. Hence, the idea of convening a national political conference on Darfur becomes a necessity. Such conference is to be attended by all the political forces in the country including the Darfurian armed movements as well as all sectors of Darfur’s people. The conference must embrace all the initiatives attempting to resolve the conflict.

Fifth: Darfur bears the effects of the demographic changes and the geopolitics of the Sudanese State in the western border of the country. This border is a vast open and unprotected boundary with three African countries: Chad, Central African Republic, and Libya. During the Libyan-Chadian conflict the factions started their attack from Darfur in Sudan and the losers took refuge in Darfur to reorganize their troops before re-attacking again. The Central African Republic launches frequent attacks through Darfur in revenge for the intervention of the Khartoum government in Bangui conflicts. These vast open and unprotected boundaries can only be protected through the policy of good neighborhood, and the Sudan should see to it that Darfur not to be used as a bridge for the ambitions of this nation or that ruler to cross to Africa under the name of Islam and Arab Nationalism.

Last: The Communist Party of the Sudan believes that the final solution to the problems of the country can only be achieved through addressing these various problems in a comprehensive approach. The best mechanism for such an approach is convening a national conference attended by all Sudanese political forces. In this conference, all the agreements — Naivasha, Abuja, The East, Cairo, etc. — should be tabled not to open them for re-discussion, but to accommodate the other opinions aiming at further improvements of these agreements, and to participate in the implementation and the monitoring of the implementation of these agreements. This will pave the way for the political forces in the conference to adopt a national consensus project which is the only tool that can save the country. The project considers the multi-ethnicity and the development disparities in the different parts of the Sudan and confronts, through democracy and the participation of all the Sudanese, the problems of imbalanced development and equitable and just share in power and wealth so that the Sudan can be preserved united and secured for all of its peoples.


1. The land of a particular clan or tribal group.

2. The local name for the tribes of African origin.

3. Holy fighters

4. Governors.

5. A local word in Darfur which means a Satan mounting a horse, carrying a G3 Gun and then arousing terror and destruction. The government recruited the Janjaweed from some pro-government tribes, mostly Arabs, but also from mercenaries & criminals who had escaped from justice in the countries of the west of Africa.

6. Our Party calls this class "The Islamic parasitic capitalist class."

7. The popular uprising that overthrew the military dictatorship during the period 1958 — 1964 in the Sudan.

8. Dr.Eltayeb Zein Alabdeen: "Darfur and the Political solution" in Al Bayan Newspaper, the Emirates, 18/9/2002.

9. On 1/7/2006 the Party issued a statement supporting the deployment of the international troops in Darfur.