“Sudan Said to Revive Notorious Militias”
The New York Times, June 25, 2014, p.A5
“The Sudanese government has reconstituted the janjaweed, notorious militias that terrorized the restive Darfur region for years, making them an official, uniformed force that has recently burned down huts and attacked civilians, according to a new report prepared by the Enough Project, an activist group that aims to prevent genocide. The report, which will be released publicly this week, includes satellite imagery of hundreds of burned down huts, describing the growing crisis as a replay of the conflict in Darfur that exploded in 2003, when militias laid waste to villages of certain ethnic groups. But what is different this time, the report’s authors say, is that the government’s role in fomenting the violence is hardly secret, with the culprits wearing state-issued uniforms, complete with little Sudanese flags, and even bragging about their exploits on Facebook. … United Nations officials say the trouble started a few months ago when thousands of members of the new militias, called the Rapid Support Forces, showed up in Darfur after rampaging in a nearby state. Their job was supposed to be fighting the rebels who have been seeking autonomy for the region. Instead, United Nations officials say, the new militias began to raze villages, rape women and kill civilians, burning down a displaced persons camp right in front of a United Nations base in March. … Sudan’s many internal conflicts often overlap and intertwine. A possible reason Darfur is heating up again is that the leading Darfurian rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, has been roped into the emerging civil war in South Sudan, helping the South Sudanese government. The Justice and Equality rebels are considered Darfur’s most capable fighting force. Their absence has created a sudden opening for government-sponsored militiamen to operate virtually unopposed. … The Sudanese government denies this, touting its new recruits as patriots battling back the various threats to the Sudanese state, of which there is no shortage: the smoldering resentments in Darfur, tens of thousands of rebel fighters dug into the Nuba Mountains, others hiding out in Blue Nile state, and student protesters calling for an immediate end to the rule of Mr. Bashir, in power since 1989.”
Quickie Analysis: So many problems. Rampaging militias tend not to be part of the solution.