The Save Darfur Coalition continues to view the war in Darfur from a narrow Arab v African perspective and as a result fails to really grasp the complexities of the situation. Animated by ideology, Christian zeal or a sense of humanitarianism, most of the people associated with the Save Darfur Coalition have simply placed the crisis within the optic of the anti-Arabism and Islamophobia that gripped the US after 9/11. What they have failed to grasp most of all is that the victims of the Darfur crisis are 1. Muslims themselves; 2. have seen themselves as Arabized and a part of the wider Arab world for some centuries and following from this point; 3. see themselves as Sudanese. Since America is permeated by the politics of race and by racism, the American Save the Darfur Coalition cannot understand a conflict between putative Arabs and Africans without the war being about being Arab or African.
So, if the war is not about being Arab or African, what is it about? This is a complex question and a question partially answered by studies such as Flint and De Waal (2007), Daly (2007) and Mamdani (2009). While these studies allude to the problem of the Sudan’s failed politics and failing state, none of them go far enough in laying the balance of the blame for events in Darfur on the incapacity of the Sudanese state and the problems that accrue from a state that is ineffective and from a government that is unable to act except in the interests of a narrow ruling elite. Sudan’s economic crisis began with independence and became even worse after the global recession of the 1970s. By the 1980s, Sudan was a major defaulter of loan repayments and was only propped up by the US and the IMF because of its strategic importance in fighting communism in Africa. With the end of the cold war and the rise of an anti-US Islamist government in the 1990s, Sudan’s economic crisis worsened and Sudan was, and remains, the only country expelled from the IMF for non-compliance. In the 1990s, the Sudan was a basket-case and the state fell into complete ruin. The result of this was that the people of Darfur received very little from the Sudanese government and in 2003 rebelled in the hope of securing access to some state resources and funds. The rebellion turned into a civil war and the civil war turned into a humanitarian crisis.
So, from this brief outline it is clear that the best way to deal with the crisis in the Sudan is to assist in rebuilding the capacity of the Sudanese state, especially in Darfur where access to medical care, education and employment are urgently required. This would require the assistance of international financial institutions and the members of the G8/G20. What then does the Save Darfur Coalition recommend for ending the crisis in Darfur?
Who would benefit from such a move? The people of Darfur or International creditors and the IMF? We all want the crisis in Darfur to come to an end and for people to be able to return to their homes and to be able to start to rebuild their lives. The most effective way to achieve this is by investing in a strong and stable Sudanese state that can provide its population with employment, education, health care and security. The Save Darfur Coalition and other organisations of similar ilk have missed the point all together on Darfur, and cannot come to terms with the reality that the best way of resolving the crisis is by rebuilding Sudan and not by punishing the Sudanese which only end up punishing the people of Darfur because after all Darfur is a part of the Sudan. Until Save Darfur see this basic fact they will never really understand what the crisis in Darfur is truly about or how to resolve it.