World View: United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Darfur, Sudan to Be Cut Almost in Half

Deployed in 2007, the United Nations-African Union Mission has a mandate to curb violence in Darfur, a region the size of France

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur, Sudan to be cut almost in half
  • Violence continues as before in Darfur
  • Brief generational history of the Darfur civil war in Sudan

United Nations peacekeeping force in Darfur, Sudan to be cut almost in half

One of the many huge refugee camps that house millions of displaced Darfurians
One of the many huge refugee camps that house millions of displaced Darfurians

The United Nations Security Council is expected to vote unanimously on Sunday to approve a resolution to make a substantial reduction in the Darfur, Sudan peacekeeping mission known as UNAMID. Some 8,000 personnel will be withdrawn. According to the resolution:

Resulting in the reduction of the strength of the military component by 44% and that of the police component by 30%, the closure of 11 team sites in the first phase and the withdrawal of the military component from another 7 team sites in the second phase, it being understood that the Mission shall retain adequate and mobile quick response capabilities to be able to respond to security challenges as they arise.

Darfur is a large western province of Sudan containing numerous dark-skinned ethnic groups usually referred to collectively as “Africans.” While the “Africans” are mostly farmers, the attackers have been the Janjaweed Militias, recently renamed the Rapid Support Force (RSF) for political reasons, consisting of light-skinned “Arabs,” from herder ethnic groups. The Janjaweed militias are controlled by Sudan’s government in Khartoum and have been accused of massive atrocities and genocide. An international arrest warrant has been issued by the the International Criminal Court on in the Hague for Sudan’s president Omar al Bashir, who has been indicted on war crimes for the Darfur civil war and the actions of the Janjaweed militias. The UN estimates that some 300,000 have been killed in the Darfur conflict so far, with 2.7 million people displaced from their homes, living in refugee camps under the protection of UNAMID.

The reason being given for the decision to cut the UNAMID force is that the amount of violence has gone down, as a result of a successful and brutal military operation last year by the RSF (Janjaweed militias) in the region of Jebel Marra in central Darfur.

Actually, there are numerous reports that the violence is continuing as before. The Jebel Marra offensive was extremely bloody, as reported by Amnesty International after interviewing hundreds of witnesses. According to the report:

In January 2016, Sudanese government forces launched a large-scale military campaign in Jebel Marra, Darfur. Coordinated ground and air attacks targeted locations throughout Jebel Marra until May, when the seasonal rains in Darfur intensified, making ground attacks impractical throughout most of the area; air operations continued through mid-September…

Amnesty International interviewed over 200 witnesses of abuses carried out by government forces in Jebel Marra between January and September 2016. Through these interviews, Amnesty International has documented a large number of serious violations of international law committed by Sudanese government forces, including scores of instances where government forces deliberately targeted civilians.

The violations included the bombing of civilians and civilian property, the unlawful killing of men, women, and children, the abduction and rape of women, the forced displacement of civilians, and the looting and destruction of civilian property, including the destruction of entire villages.

An estimated 250,000 people have been displaced by violence in Jebel Marra. Many remain inaccessible to humanitarian actors and vulnerable to further attacks.

The instances of indiscriminate attacks and direct targeting of civilians documented in this report amount to war crimes and may constitute crimes against humanity.

Sudan Tribune and US State Dept. (18-Feb-2016) and Amnesty International (29-Sep-2016)

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Violence continues as before in Darfur

I have sympathy for the decision to cut back on the UNAMID peacekeeping mission, but not because it has already been successful. Rather, it has been so unsuccessful that it has been shown to be a waste of money and resources. The Jebel Marra operation by Sudan’s RSF (Janjaweed militias) last year was a huge bloody disaster for UNAMID, because it has shown how useless UNAMID is. The same is true, as we have described elsewhere for the peacekeeping missions in Central African Republic and South Sudan.

Eric Reeves, a Sudan expert from Harvard University, was interviewed on RFI and provided the following analysis (my transcription):

The security situation hasn’t improved at all. The nature of insecurity has changed quite a bit with the military victory by the Khartoum regime, in Darfur with the Jebel Marra offensive of last year.

But as several reports have recently indicated, what’s happened is that Darfur has been turned into what is called a “malicious state.” While there is no active rebellion by organized rebel forces, the militias that opposed them, as well as the regular army, the Sudan armed forces, continue to attack civilians, and are bent on emptying camps for internally displaced persons, which hold 2.7 million overwhelmingly African non-Arab Darfuris, and there are 300,000 Darfuri refugees, again overwhelmingly non-Arab African in Eastern Chad, too fearful to return to what were their homes.

A detailed report from the Sudan Liberation Movement, covering the period from Dec 15, 2016, to March 15, 2017, confirms this assessment:

The absence of security and the increasing levels of violence against civilians in Darfur manifests in many ways. As the facts and figures contained in this report show, the rate and pattern of violence, such as killings; rapes; abductions; torture; looting; burning of villages, market places, and farms; and attacks on IDP camps, have increased such that they now occur on daily basis. This deteriorating situation was also quite aptly reflected statement made by the US Ambassador Nikki Haley during a UNSC briefing on Darfur (May 4, 2017) as well as in the press release issued by the U.N. Secretary General following that meeting.

The report goes on to document recent uses of chemical weapons, recent use of systematic rape as a weapon, and attacks on UNAMID by the Sudanese forces. Sudan Tribune and Nuba Reports

Brief generational history of the Darfur civil war in Sudan

About ten years ago, during the mid-2000s decade when much of the development of generational theory was going on, the Darfur war was of intense interest, because it was one of only two generational crisis wars going on in the world at the time, the other one being the war in Sri Lanka that climaxed in 2009.

The big picture, that I’ve described many times in Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya, Sudan, South Sudan, and even America in the 1800s, is that in country after country, there a classic and recurring battle between herders and farmers. The farmers accuse the herders of letting the cattle eat their crops, while the herders accuse the farmers of planting on land that’s meant for grazing. If the farmers put up fences, then the herders knock them down.

Darfur’s previous generational crisis war was World War II. During the Awakening era of the 1970s, conflicts between the farmers and herders began to appear, but at that time they could always be resolved by the tribal elders, who had vivid memories of the horrors of the previous war, and were dedicating their lives to making sure that it never happens again.

When a drought occurred in 1983-85, and there was a scramble for arable land, the incidents of conflicts increased, resulting in brief periods of violence.

By the 1990s, the government in Khartoum decided it needed a police force in Darfur, and that job was assigned to the Janjaweed militias. They were from herder tribes, but at that time they really were just performing police functions, and were not committing war crimes. In 2003, there were a couple of regeneracy events, and the low-level violence between dark-skinned farmer “Africans” and light-skinned herder “Arabs” turned into a full-scale generational crisis war.

The next few years were like a comic tragedy. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan recalled the Rwanda genocide of ten years earlier (1994) and vowed “Never again,” calling for the United Nations and the world to take steps to avoid a repeat in Darfur. I wrote that in the Darfur genocide, the UN is completely irrelevant, and that the war would not end until it had run its course.

Another highlight of the time were a statement by Democratic senator Joe Biden who announced that he wanted to move the American troops from Iraq to the Darfur civil war. That was during President George Bush’s “surge” into Iraq, which turned out to be successful. If we had listened to Biden, then American troops would have been embroiled in a disastrous war in Darfur.

Yet one more laughable highlight was the statement by the new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who blamed the Darfur war on the United States for causing global warming. His reasoning was that the war was caused by the weather, and the US was responsible for the weather.

Finally, in August 2007, the United Nations voted to send peacekeepers to Darfur to stop the war.

Now I’ve explained generational theory many times in my articles, so I’m going to repeat some theory now. Generally speaking, wars never end except in one way: a generational crisis war ends with a crisis war climax, a series of genocidal acts so horrible that they traumatize both the perpetrators and the victims. Until that climax, there may be peace agreements that stop the war for a year or two, but it always resumes. When the climax occurs, the traumatized survivors then vow that nothing so horrible can ever happen again, and it doesn’t – until the survivors die off and a new generational crisis war can begin.

So there was never any chance that the United Nations was going to end the Darfur civil war, as I said repeatedly ten years ago, and it hasn’t. As I’ve said, we have seen peacekeeping forces fail miserably in numerous countries, including Darfur, so it is not surprising that UNAMID is being cut almost in half. A smaller UNAMID will permit the government in Khartoum and the Janjaweed militias to complete their objective of massacres, systematic rapes, systematic torture, burning down villages, destroying crops, and so forth. Only when there’s been enough mass bloodshed and horror will the Khartoum government and the Darfurians decide that the war has to stop.

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KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Sudan, Darfur, United Nations, Unamid, Janjaweed militias, Rapid Support Force, RSF, Jebel Marra, Amnesty International, Eric Reeves, Sudan Liberation Movement, Nikki Haley, Kofi Annan, Joe Biden, Ban Ki-moon
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