Sudan genocide 1: Israel to blame, says Sudanese foreign minister

August 09, 2004

CONTENTS

1. Killed and raped
2. Sudan foreign minister blames Israel for escalation of Darfur situation.
3. The European Left is silent as Arabs commit genocide on Black Africans. If they can’t blame America, then death, rape and torture don’t matter.
4. “Sudan foreign minister blames Israel for escalation of Darfur situation” (Al Bawaba, August 8, 2004)
5. “Silence on Sudan” (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal Europe, August 6, 2004)
6. “Silence on the Arab Street” (By Kamel Labidi, July 2, 2004)

 



KILLED AND RAPED

[Note by Tom Gross]

The anti-Semitism creeping into the coverage of the Sudan situation is found on two levels:

(1) The overt anti-Semitism of the Arab world, such as the statement yesterday in Cairo by the Sudanese Foreign Minister in advance of the meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers, in which he blamed Israel for the fighting in western Darfur.

(2) The more subtle anti-Semitism of western Leftist media. For example, the BBC World Service radio main evening world news (August 3, 2004) played an unchallenged recorded interview concerning Sudan, in which it was stated that “the West under the influence of Zionism is pressuring Sudan while ignoring the dozens of people Israel massacres every day.” Israel, of course, does not massacre dozens of people every day, but the BBC likes to leave its hundreds of millions of worldwide listeners with the impression that it does even in the context of (finally) running reports on Sudan.

There are an estimated 1.2 million internal refugees in Darfur and 200,000 who have crossed the border into Chad. Tens of thousands have been killed and raped on ethnic grounds, sometimes in the most horrific circumstances.

I attach various items concerning Sudan, with summaries first. This is a follow-up to previous references to Sudan on this email list. Today’s dispatch is split into two for space reasons. The second dispatch can be read here.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

SUDAN FOREIGN MINISTER: ISRAEL BEHIND DARFUR SITUATION

1. “Sudan foreign minister blames Israel for escalation of Darfur situation” (Al Bawaba, August 8, 2004). “Sudanese Foreign Minister Musstafa Osman Ismail said Israel was escalating the situation in the western area of Darfur, stressing that his country had information to confirm latest media reports that insurgents there were supported by Israel. Ismail made the statement to reporters upon arrival in Cairo Sunday to attend an extraordinary meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers to find a solution to the Darfur crisis...”

 

A CHILLING SILENCE FROM EUROPE’S USUALLY VOCIFEROUS ANTIWAR CROWD

“Silence on Sudan” (Editorial, The Wall Street Journal Europe, August 6, 2004).

“As the killing in the western Sudanese region of Darfur unfolds, there is nothing but chilling silence from Europe’s usually vociferous antiwar crowd. The conspicuous silence vis-a-vis the killing fields in Sudan betrays more than just the usual selective concern for world peace. Yes, for the progressive left, it is only the participation of the U.S. that makes a war really objectionable.

... not even the most elastic post-colonialist theory can explain the war in Sudan, where Arabs are massacring black Africans... What’s more, in Sudan (Arab) Muslims are ethnically cleansing (non-Arab) fellow Muslims. How do you explain that if you believe in a conspiracy between a right-wing American President and Christian fundamentalists to launch a crusade against the Muslim world?

... Equally, anti-globalization activists have a hard time explaining the Darfur massacre under the template of their bizarre trade theories... so it’s best to ignore the dying or even better rewrite history to make it fit the movement’s ideology... The real reason for any potential military intervention by the U.S. or Britain would be you guessed it to grab Sudan’s vast oil fields. John Laughland was allowed to present this theory Monday in the Guardian, Britain’s flagship paper for opponents of the Iraq war...”

[This Wall Street Journal editorial was written by a subscriber to this email list. I recommend reading this article in full, below.]

 

SILENCE ON THE ARAB STREET

“Silence on the Arab Street” (By Kamel Labidi, July 2, 2004)

(Mr. Labidi, a Tunisian journalist based in Cairo, is former director of Amnesty International-Tunisia.)

“Colin Powell’s visit this week to Sudan where he denounced the government-backed ethnic cleansing in the western region of Darfur and warned of a Rwanda-like genocide in the making made one thing perfectly clear: The present cycle of horror and devastation in Sudan continues to prompt more concern in Western countries than in the Arab world.

“The victims of this new African tragedy of ethnic slaughter which erupted more than a year ago but until recently attracted little international attention are hundreds of thousands of civilians of the Muslim faith. Though Muslim, they are not of the same ethnic origin as their Arab oppressors in Sudan.

“Appalling scenes of torture and killing of civilians, including in mosques; the rape of women of all ages, often in front of relatives; the burning to the ground of scores of villages, and the destruction of water sources in the drought- and poverty-stricken region of Darfur, have for months now been reported by international human-rights groups.

“So far, however, only a few Arab voices, most of them in the beleaguered human-rights community, have warned against these large-scale crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Sudanese military government and the Janjaweed militiamen whom it backs and arms. Unfortunately, these voices have little influence in a region where the media is still in the tight grip of entrenched autocrats and most people are mired in illiteracy, prejudice, poverty and injustice.

“... Arab reaction to the plight of the hundreds of thousands dispossessed, abused and displaced Darfurians is reminiscent of the shocking silence both of the Arab media and civil society that followed the gassing of thousands of Kurds by Iraqi troops led by former dictator Saddam Hussein more than 15 years ago. Such atrocious campaigns of ethnic cleansing in Iraq at the end of the last century and in Sudan today would have prompted deafening official and popular protests in Arab capitals had the victims been of Arab descent and the perpetrators non-Arabs...”

 



FULL ARTICLES

SUDAN FOREIGN MINISTER BLAMES ISRAEL FOR ESCALATION OF DARFUR

Sudan foreign minister blames Israel for escalation of Darfur situation
Al Bawaba
August 8, 2004

Sudanese Foreign Minister Musstafa Osman Ismail said Israel was escalating the situation in the western area of Darfur, stressing that his country had information to confirm latest media reports that insurgents there were supported by Israel.

Ismail, in a statement to reporters upon arrival in Cairo Sunday to attend an extraordinary meeting of Arab Foreign Ministers to find a solution to the Darfur crisis, said, "I'm sure the next few days would reveal that there is lot of contacts between Israel and the rebels."

Moreover, he said that Israel had recently sought seriously to involve itself in the Darfur issue either through its extensive presence in Eritrea or activities of its missions in the hot regions that emerged lately.

The Sudanese Foreign Minister added that Khartoum was looking for political backing from Arab countries to block the way to any attempt to harm Sudan or to impose any sanctions on it.

 

SILENCE ON SUDAN

Silence on Sudan
Editorial
The Wall Street Journal Europe
August 6, 2004

As the killing in the western Sudanese region of Darfur unfolds, there is nothing but chilling silence from Europe's usually vociferous antiwar crowd.

The conspicuous silence vis-a-vis the killing fields in Sudan betrays more than just the usual selective concern for world peace. Yes, for the progressive left, it is only the participation of the U.S. that makes a war really objectionable. But when the self-declared champions of human rights don't speak up in the face of what the United Nations calls "the world's worst humanitarian crisis," then the movement's moral bankruptcy is fully exposed.

In Sudan, the progressive movement is trapped in the absurdities of its own ideology. Conflicts that involve the U.S. are usually squeezed into a Weltanschauung that sees "American imperialism" as the root of all ills and racism as an exclusively white phenomenon. But not even the most elastic post-colonialist theory can explain the war in Sudan, where Arabs are massacring black Africans.

What's more, in Sudan Muslims are ethnically cleansing fellow Muslims. How do you explain that if you believe in a conspiracy between a right-wing American President and Christian fundamentalists to launch a crusade against the Muslim world?

Progressives' usual allies are also only too happy to ignore events in Sudan. The many Islamic organizations that have been collaborating with Europe's peace movement in the anti-Iraq war demonstrations naturally have little interest in turning the spotlight on an Islamic regime.

Equally, anti-globalization activists have a hard time explaining the Darfur massacre under the template of their bizarre trade theories; nor can they blame it on the spread of U.S. capitalism. Unlike Europe, the U.S. long ago slapped an embargo on Khartoum for its 20-year campaign against African Christians and animists in the south.

So it's best to ignore the dying or -- even better -- rewrite history to make it fit the movement's ideology. And so what's happening in Darfur is simply the result of a "civil war," for which the regime in Khartoum can't be held responsible. The real reason for any potential military intervention by the U.S. or Britain would be -- you guessed it -- to grab Sudan's vast oil fields.

John Laughland, otherwise famous for defending Slobodan Milosevic and criticizing the revolution that restored democracy in Georgia, was allowed to present this theory Monday in the Guardian, Britain's flagship paper for opponents of the Iraq war.

"As oil pipelines continue to be blown up in Iraq," he writes, "the west not only has a clear motive for establishing control over alternative sources of energy, it has also officially adopted the policy that our armies should be used to do precisely that." Mr. Laughland's article has been reprinted on many antiwar and Islamic Web sites.

The prominent "Not In Our Name" antiwar movement has already spoken out against any possible intervention in Sudan. It does not specifically mention oil, but calls on supporters to "resist the U.S. government's global grab for unlimited power."

"No Blood for Oil" was the antiwar crowd's rallying cry opposing the liberation of Kuwait during Desert Storm and during the recent Iraq war to dispose of the butcher of Baghdad. It looks like it could also become the slogan of the "peace movement" to prevent the end of a genocide.

 

SILENCE ON THE ARAB STREET

Silence on the Arab Street
By Kamel Labidi
July 2, 2004

CAIRO -- Colin Powell's visit this week to Sudan -- where he denounced the government-backed ethnic cleansing in the western region of Darfur and warned of a Rwanda-like genocide in the making -- made one thing perfectly clear: The present cycle of horror and devastation in Sudan continues to prompt more concern in Western countries than in the Arab world.

The victims of this new African tragedy of ethnic slaughter -- which erupted more than a year ago but until recently attracted little international attention -- are hundreds of thousands of civilians of the Muslim faith. Though Muslim, they are not of the same ethnic origin as their Arab oppressors in Sudan and the majority of their neighbors in North Africa and the Middle East.

Appalling scenes of torture and killing of civilians, including in mosques; the rape of women of all ages, often in front of relatives; the burning to the ground of scores of villages, and the destruction of water sources in the drought- and poverty-stricken region of Darfur, have for months now been reported by international human-rights groups.

So far, however, only a few Arab voices, most of them in the beleaguered human-rights community, have warned against these large-scale crimes against humanity perpetrated by the Sudanese military government and the Janjaweed militiamen whom it backs and arms. Unfortunately, these voices have little influence in a region where the media is still in the tight grip of entrenched autocrats and most people are mired in illiteracy, prejudice, poverty and injustice.

It is not the first time the state-run Arab media and even civil-society advocates have remained tight-lipped as death, devastation, and human-rights abuses unfold in a "brotherly" Arab country. Sudan is member of the Cairo-based club of Arab autocrats known as the Arab League of States. The immensity of the crimes committed under the watchful eye of Gen. Omar Al-Bashir, who toppled a democratically elected government in June 1989 with the backing of radical Islamists and offered refuge in the early 1990s to Osama bin Laden, led even the toothless Arab League to send, amid international pressure, a fact-finding mission to Darfur in May. The result was an unprecedented press release -- the first of its kind since the Arab League's establishment in 1945 -- acknowledging "gross human-rights violations" committed in a member state. Sadly, the League soon yielded to pressure from the Sudanese government and quietly turned its back on the press release.

Life in Darfur

But even the hint of a reprimand from another Arab state was enough to spark outrage within the Sudanese government. At the end of May, Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustafa Othman Ismail erupted in anger during a memorable news conference in Tunis following the Arab Summit, which Gen. Al-Bashir boycotted apparently to protest his counterparts' meddling in Sudan's business. Ismail said Sudan expected Western organizations to make "unfounded allegations," but not the Arab League.

Arab reaction to the plight of the hundreds of thousands dispossessed, abused and displaced Darfurians is reminiscent of the shocking silence both of the Arab media and civil society that followed the gassing of thousands of Kurds by Iraqi troops led by former dictator Saddam Hussein more than 15 years ago. Such atrocious campaigns of ethnic cleansing in Iraq at the end of the last century and in Sudan today would have prompted deafening official and popular protests in Arab capitals had the victims been of Arab descent and the perpetrators non-Arabs.

The majority of Arabs will be inclined to continue to turn a blind eye to crimes against humanity and gross human-rights abuses against their non-Arab neighbors or other minority groups in the region as long as they live in police states where freedom of association, assembly and expression are still severely curtailed.

Human-rights education is badly needed in the Arab world to combat injustice, prejudice and tribalism. But it will have an insignificant impact in police states where schools and universities are still run by the cronies of Arab autocrats and where the most independent-minded intellectuals continue to be silenced by the political police and radical Islamists.

Mr. Labidi, a Tunisian journalist based in Cairo, is former Amnesty International Human Rights Education Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa, and former director of Amnesty International-Tunisia.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.