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Sudan: Darfur and the failure of an African State, Dr. Richard Crockett, Yale University Press, 2010

Feb 25, 2011, 1:51 PM

This book gives a candid and vivid account of one of the breaking news stories of Africa in the past decade: the wars in Sudan including the Darfur conflict. Since 1983, Sudan, Africa’s largest country (although from next July when South Sudan goes it alone, this will no longer be true) has been embroiled in internecine wars, mostly of irredentist nature in the South and Darfur. These wars have made Sudan one of the famed failed states of Africa, despite its vast oil resources, pre historic cultures and civilizations such as Kush and a well educated population.


Crockett who edits Africa for the famous journal the Economist of London explores the reasons for Sudan's failure and instability. He blames it on foreign interference and the insincerity of some of its political class.


Foreign powers cannot leave Sudan alone because it has oil. China, Russia, UK, USA, etc are all involved in Sudan in their bid to have their share of its oil wealth. This has led to overt and covert interference in its political sphere. The author reminds us that since the colonial times, countries ranging from Egypt to UK have sought to control Sudan (p.13-140 and this desire for control and exploitation has never stopped even after independence in 1956. As most of its political elite since 1956 have never shied from colluding with foreign powers, Sudan has found it difficult to get it self out of a vicious cycle of poverty and war.


The political class are divided into the Northern and Southern factions. The North consisting of Arabs control the reins of power, while trying to always exclude the South which is predominantly black and non Muslim. This discrimination forced the South political class to wage war first from 1956-1972, the Anya Nya war, and later from 1983 to 2005 under the SPLA of John Garang (p.111). Even before the war was ended in peace accords signed in Kenya in 2004, the Darfur region also erupted into violence which is still raging. The author also blames this war on internal neglect and foreign interference..


He shows that western countries were initially complicit in Darfur, and explains how NGOs and right wingers in USa have all contributed to the Darfur imbroglio. The author also explores the accusations of genocide in Darfur and warns the reader that there is so much self serving propaganda from so many selfish parties that it is very hard to remove the truth from the lies. One thing is clear: the humanitarian situation remains the worst in the world, and Sudan cannot be saved from disintegration as the South has voted for independence.


This is an excellent book written by an expert of the region who writes impassionedly and tries to give voice to all the sides in the conflicts which are the hallmark of this vast African country.


Highly recommended.


Available at Timbooktoo.