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War in Darfur
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History of Darfur



The starting point of the conflict in the Darfur region is typically said to be 26 February 2003, when a group calling itself the Darfur Liberation Front (DLF) publicly claimed credit for an attack on Gulu, the headquarters of Jebel Marra District. Even prior to this attack, however, a conflict had erupted in Darfur, as rebels had already attacked police stations, army outposts and military convoys, and the government had engaged in a massive air and land assault on the rebel stronghold in the Marrah Mountains. The rebels' first military action was a successful attack on an army garrison on the mountain on 25 February 2002 and the Sudanese government had been aware of a unified rebel movement since an attack on the Golo police station in June 2002. Chroniclers Julie Flint and Alex de Waal state that the beginning of the rebellion is better dated to 21 July 2001, when a group of Zaghawa and Fur met in Abu Gamra and swore oaths on the Qur'an to work together to defend against government-sponsored attacks on their villages.[1] It should be noted that nearly all of the residents of Darfur are Muslim, including the Janjaweed, as well as the government leaders in Khartoum.[2]

On 25 March 2003, the rebels seized the garrison town of Tine along the Chadian border, seizing large quantities of supplies and arms. Despite a threat by President Omar al-Bashir to "unleash" the army, the military had little in reserve. The army was already deployed both to the south, where the Second Sudanese Civil War was drawing to an end, and to the east, where rebels sponsored by Eritrea were threatening a newly constructed pipeline from the central oilfields to Port Sudan. The rebel tactic of hit-and-run raids to speed across the semi-desert region proved almost impossible for the army, untrained in desert operations, to counter. However, its aerial bombardment of rebel positions on the mountain was devastating.[3]

At 5:30 am on 25 April 2003, a joint Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) force in 33 Land Cruisers entered al-Fashir and attacked the sleeping garrison. In the next four hours, four Antonov bombers and helicopter gunships (according to the government; seven according to the rebels) were destroyed on the ground, 75 soldiers, pilots and technicians were killed and 32 were captured, including the commander of the air base, a Major General. The success of the raid was unprecedented in Sudan; in the 20 years of the war in the south, the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) had never carried out such an operation.[4]


The Janjaweed enter the conflict (2003)

The al-Fashir raid was a turning point both militarily and psychologically. The armed forces had been humiliated by the al-Fashir raid and the government was faced with a difficult strategic situation. The armed forces would clearly need to be retrained and redeployed to fight this new kind of war and there were well-founded concerns about the loyalty of the many Darfurian non-commissioned officers and soldiers in the army. Responsibility for prosecuting the war was given to Sudanese military intelligence. Nevertheless, in the middle months of 2003, the rebels won 34 of 38 engagements. In May, the SLA destroyed a battalion at Kutum, killing 500 and taking 300 prisoners; and in mid-July, 250 were killed in a second attack on Tine. The SLA began to infiltrate farther east, threatening to extend the war into Kordofan.

However, at this point the government changed its strategy. Given that the army was being consistently defeated, the war effort depended on three elements: military intelligence, the air force, and the Janjaweed, armed Baggara herders whom the government had begun directing in suppression of a Masalit uprising in 1996-1999. The Janjaweed were put at the center of the new counter-insurgency strategy. Though the government consistently denied supporting the Janjaweed, military resources were poured into Darfur and the Janjaweed were outfitted as a paramilitary force, complete with communication equipment and some artillery. The military planners were doubtlessly aware of the probable consequences of such a strategy: similar methods undertaken in the Nuba Mountains and around the southern oil fields during the 1990s had resulted in massive human rights violations and forced displacements.[5]

The better-armed Janjaweed quickly gained the upper hand. By the spring of 2004, several thousand people — mostly from the non-Arab population — had been killed and as many as a million more had been driven from their homes, causing a major humanitarian crisis in the region. The crisis took on an international dimension when over 100,000 refugees poured into neighbouring Chad, pursued by Janjaweed militiamen, who clashed with Chadian government forces along the border. More than 70 militiamen and 10 Chadian soldiers were killed in one gun battle in April. A United Nations observer team reported that non-Arab villages were singled out while Arab villages were left untouched:

Destroyed villages as of August 2004

The 23 Fur villages in the Shattaya Administrative Unit have been completely depopulated, looted and burnt to the ground (the team observed several such sites driving through the area for two days). Meanwhile, dotted alongside these charred locations are unharmed, populated and functioning Arab settlements. In some locations, the distance between a destroyed Fur village and an Arab village is less than 500 meters.[6]

In 2004, Chad brokered negotiations in N'Djamena, leading to the April 8 Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement between the Sudanese government, the JEM, and the SLA. One group which did not participate in the April cease-fire talks or agreement — the National Movement for Reform and Development — splintered from the JEM in April. Janjaweed and rebel attacks continued despite the ceasefire, and the African Union (AU) formed a Ceasefire Commission (CFC) to monitor its observance.

The scale of the crisis led to warnings of an imminent disaster, with United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan warning that the risk of genocide was frighteningly real in Darfur. The scale of the Janjaweed campaign led to comparisons with the Rwandan Genocide, a parallel hotly denied by the Sudanese government. Independent observers noted that the tactics, which included dismemberment and killing of noncombatants and even young children and babies, were more akin to the ethnic cleansing used in the Yugoslav wars, but warned that the region's remoteness meant that hundreds of thousands of people were effectively cut off from aid. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group reported in May 2004 that over 350,000 people could potentially die as a result of starvation and disease.[7]

On 10 July 2005, Ex-SPLA leader John Garang was sworn in as Sudan's vice-president.[8] However, on 30 July, Garang died in a helicopter crash.[9] His death had long-term implications and, despite improved security, talks between the various rebels in the Darfur region went slowly.

An attack on the Chadian town of Adré near the Sudanese border led to the deaths of three hundred rebels in December 2005. Sudan was blamed for the attack, which was the second in the region in three days.[10] The escalating tensions in the region led to the government of Chad declaring its hostility toward Sudan and calling for Chadian citizens to mobilise themselves against the "common enemy".[11] (See Chad-Sudan conflict)

May Agreement (2006)

Minni Minnawi was granted a press opportunity with U.S. President George W. Bush after signing the May agreement.

On 5 May 2006, the government of Sudan signed an accord with the faction of the SLA led by Minni Minnawi. However, the agreement was rejected by two other, smaller groups, the Justice and Equality Movement and a rival faction of the SLA.[12] The accord was orchestrated by the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick, Salim Ahmed Salim (working on behalf of the African Union), AU representatives, and other foreign officials operating in Abuja, Nigeria. It called for the disarmament of the Janjaweed militia, and for the rebel forces to disband and be incorporated into the army.[13][14]

July-August 2006

July and August 2006 saw renewed fighting, with international aid organizations considering leaving due to attacks against their personnel. Kofi Annan called for the deployment of 18,000 international peacekeepers in Darfur to replace the African Union force of 7,000 (AMIS).[15][16] In one incident at Kalma, seven women, who ventured out of a refugee camp to gather firewood, were gang-raped, beaten and robbed by the Janjaweed. When they had finished, the attackers stripped them naked and jeered at them as they fled.[17][18][19]

In a private meeting on 18 August, Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, warned that Sudan appeared to be preparing for a major military offensive in Darfur.[20] The warning came a day after UN Commission on Human Rights special investigator Sima Samar stated that Sudan's efforts in the region remained poor despite the May Agreement.[21] On 19 August, Sudan reiterated its opposition to replacing the 7,000 AU force with a 17,000 UN one, [22] resulting in the US issuing a "threat" to Sudan over the "potential consequences" of this position.[23]

On 24 August, Sudan rejected attending a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) meeting to explain its plan of sending 10,000 Sudanese soldiers to Darfur instead of the proposed 20,000 UN peacekeeping force.[24] The UNSC announced it would hold the meeting despite Sudan's non-attendance.[25] Also on August 24, the International Rescue Committee reported that hundreds of women were raped and sexually assaulted around the Kalma refugee camp during the last several weeks[26], a practice that the Janjaweed were reportedly using rape to cause women's humiliation and ostracisation.[27] On 25 August, the head of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of African Affairs, Assistant Secretary Jendayi Frazer, warned that the region faces a security crisis unless the proposed UN peacekeeping force is allowed to deploy.[28]

On 26 August, two days before the UNSC meeting, and on the day Frazer was due to arrive in Khartoum, Paul Salopek, a U.S. National Geographic Magazine journalist, appeared in court in Darfur facing charges of espionage; he had crossed into the country illegally from Chad, circumventing the Sudanese government's official restrictions on foreign journalists. He was later released after direct negotiation with President al-Bashir.[29] This came a month after Tomo Križnar, a Slovenian presidential envoy, was sentenced to two years in prison for spying.[30]

New proposed UN peacekeeping force

See also: United Nations Security Council Resolution 1706

On 31 August 2006, the UNSC approved a resolution to send a new peacekeeping force of 17,300 to the region.[31] Sudan expressed strong opposition to the resolution. [32] On 1 September, African Union officials reported that Sudan had launched a major offensive in Darfur, killing more than 20 people and displacing over 1,000.[33] On 5 September, Sudan asked the AU force in Darfur to leave the region by the end of the month, adding that "they have no right to transfer this assignment to the United Nations or any other party. This right rests with the government of Sudan."[34] On 4 September, in a move not viewed as surprising, Chad's president Idriss Déby voiced support for the new UN peacekeeping force.[35] The AU, whose peacekeeping force mandate expired on 30 September 2006, confirmed that its troops would leave the region.[36] The next day, however, a senior US State Department official told reporters that the AU force might remain past the deadline.[37]

Implementation failure (September 2006)

On 8 September, António Guterres, head of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said Darfur faced a "humanitarian catastrophe".[38] On 12 September, Sudan's European Union envoy Pekka Haavisto claimed that the Sudanese army was "bombing civilians in Darfur".[39] A World Food Programme official reported that food aid had been cut off from at least 355,000 people in the region.[40] Kofi Annan told the UNSC that "the tragedy in Darfur has reached a critical moment. It merits this council's closest attention and urgent action."[41]

On 14 September, the leader of the Sudan Liberation Movement, Minni Minnawi, stated that he did not object to the UN peacekeeping force, in opposition to the Sudanese government's view that such a deployment would be an act of Western invasion. Minnawi claimed that the AU force "can do nothing because the AU mandate is very limited".[42] Khartoum remained sternly against the UN's involvement, with Sudanese president Al-Bashir depicting it as a colonial plan and stating that "we do not want Sudan to turn into another Iraq."[43]

Deterioration (October-November 2006)

On 2 October, with the UN force plan suspended indefinitely because of Sudanese opposition, the AU announced that it would extend its presence in the region until 31 December 2006.[44][45] Two hundred UN troops were sent to reinforce the AU force.[46] On 6 October, the UNSC voted to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Sudan until 30 April 2007. [47] On 9 October, the Food and Agriculture Organization listed Darfur as the most pressing food emergency out of the forty countries listed on its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.[48] On 10 October, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, claimed that the Sudanese government had prior knowledge of attacks by Janjaweed militias in Buram, South Darfur the month before, an attack which saw hundreds of civilians killed.[49]

Children in the camps are encouraged to confront their psychological scars. The clay figures depict an attack by Janjaweed.

On 12 October, Nigerian Foreign Minister Joy Ogwu arrived in Darfur for a two-day visit. She urged the Sudanese government to accept a UN formula. Speaking in Ethiopia, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo spoke against "stand[ing] by and see[ing] genocide being developed in Darfur."[50] On 13 October, US President George W. Bush imposed further sanctions against those deemed complicit in the Darfur atrocities under the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006. The measures were said to strengthen existing sanctions by prohibiting US citizens from engaging in oil-related transactions with Sudan (although US companies had been prohibited from doing any business with Sudan since 1997), freezing the assets of complicit parties and denying them entry to the US.[51]

The AU mission's lack of funding and equipment meant that aid workers' work in Darfur was severely limited by fighting. Some warned that the humanitarian situation could deteriorate to levels seen in 2003 and 2004, when UN officials called Darfur the world's worst humanitarian crisis.[44]

On 22 October, the Sudanese government told UN envoy Jan Pronk to leave the country within three days. Pronk, the senior UN official in the country, had been heavily criticized by the army after he posted a description of several recent military defeats in Darfur to his personal blog.[52] On 1 November, the US announced that it would formulate an international plan which it hoped the Sudanese government would find more palatable.[53] On 9 November, senior Sudanese presidential advisor Nafie Ali Nafie told reporters that his government was prepared to start unconditional talks with the National Redemption Front (NRF) rebel alliance, but noted he saw little use for a new peace agreement. The NRF, which had rejected the May Agreement and sought a new peace agreement, did not issue a comment.[54]

In late 2006, Darfur Arabs started their own rebel group, the Popular Forces Troops, and announced on December 6 that they had repulsed an assault by the Sudanese army at Kas-Zallingi the previous day. In a statement, they called the Janjaweed mercenaries who did not represent Darfur's Arabs. They were the latest of numerous Darfur Arab groups to have announced their opposition to the government's war since 2003, some of which had signed political accords with rebel movements.

The same period saw an example of a tribe-based split within the Arab forces, when relations between the farming Terjem and nomadic, camel-herding Mahria tribes became tense. Terjem leaders accused the Mahria of kidnapping a Terjem boy, and Mahria leaders said the Terjem had been stealing their animals. Ali Mahamoud Mohammed, the wali, or governor, of South Darfur, said the fighting began in December when the Mahria drove their camels south in a seasonal migration, trampling through Terjem territory near the Bulbul River. Fighting would resume in July 2007.[55]

Proposed compromise UN force and Sudanese offensive

On 17 November, reports of a potential deal to place a "compromise peacekeeping force" in Darfur were announced,[56] but would later appear to have been rejected by Sudan.[57] The UN, nonetheless, claimed on 18 November that Sudan had agreed to the deployment of UN peacekeepers.[58] Sudan's Foreign Minister Lam Akol stated that "there should be no talk about a mixed force" and that the UN's role should be restricted to technical support. Also on November 18, the AU reported that Sudanese military and Sudanese-backed militias had launched a ground and air operation in the region which resulted in about 70 civilian deaths. The AU stated that this "was a flagrant violation of security agreements".[59]

On 25 November, a spokesperson for UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accused the Sudanese government of having committed "a deliberate and unprovoked attack" against civilians in the town of Sirba on 11 November, which claimed the lives of at least 30 people. The Commissioner's statement maintained that "contrary to the government’s claim, it appears that the Sudanese Armed Forces launched a deliberate and unprovoked attack on civilians and their property in Sirba," and that this also involved "extensive and wanton destruction and looting of civilian property".[60]

January - April 2007 cease-fire agreement and its rapid dissolution

According to the Save Darfur Coalition, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and President al-Bashir have agreed to a cease-fire whereby the Sudanese "government and rebel groups will cease hostilities for a period of 60 days while they work towards a lasting peace."[61] In addition, the Save Darfur press release stated that the agreement "included a number of concessions to improve humanitarian aid and media access to Darfur." Despite the formality of a ceasefire there have been further media reports of killings and other violence.[62][63] On Sunday 15 April 2007, African Union peacekeepers were targeted and killed.[64] The New York Times reported that "a confidential United Nations report says the government of Sudan is flying arms and heavy military equipment into Darfur in violation of Security Council resolutions and painting Sudanese military planes white to disguise them as United Nations or African Union aircraft."[65]

The violence has spread over the border to Chad. On 31 March 2007 Janjaweed militiamen killed up to 400 people in the volatile eastern border region of Chad near Sudan. The attack took place in the border villages of Tiero and Marena. The villages were encircled and then fired upon. Fleeing villagers were later subsequently chased. The women were robbed and the men shot according to the UNHCR. There were many who, despite surviving the initial attack, ended up dying due to exhaustion and dehydration, often while fleeing.[66]

On 14 April 2007, more attacks within Chad were reported by the UNHCR to have occurred again in the border villages of Tiero and Marena.[67] On April 18th President Bush gave a speech at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum criticizing the Sudanese government and threatened the use of sanctions if the situation does not improve. Sanctions would involve restriction of trade and dollar transactions with the Sudanese government and 29 Sudanese businesses.[68]

International Criminal Court charges

Sudan's humanitarian affairs minister, Ahmed Haroun, and a Janjaweed militia leader, known as Ali Kushayb, have been charged by the International Criminal Court with 51 counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ahmed Haroun said he "did not feel guilty," his conscience was clear, and that he was ready to defend himself.[69]

May 2007

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Chad president Idriss Deby signed a peace agreement on 3 May 2007 aimed at reducing tension between their countries.[70][71] The accord was brokered by Saudi Arabia. It sought to guarantee that each country would not be used to harbor, train or fund armed movements opposed to the government of the other. The Reuters News Service reported that "Deby's fears that Nouri's UFDD may have been receiving Saudi as well as Sudanese support could have pushed him to sign the Saudi-mediated pact with Bashir on Thursday". Colin Thomas-Jensen, an expert on Chad and Darfur who works International Crisis Group think-tank has grave doubts as to whether "this new deal will lead to any genuine thaw in relations or improvement in the security situation". Additionally The Chadian rebel Union of Forces for Democracy and Development (UFDD) which has fought a hit-and-run war against Chad President Deby's forces in east Chad since 2006 stated that the Saudi-backed peace deal would not stop its military campaign. Thus the agreement may end up hurting the Sudanese rebels the most, leaving the Sudanese government with a freer hand.[72] Also in May, locations related to the conflict were added in Google Earth.[73]

Russian and Chinese undermining of sanctions

Amnesty International issued a report[74][75][76] accusing Russia and the People's Republic of China of supplying arms, ammunition and related equipment to Sudan. This hardware has been transferred to Darfur for use by the government and the Janjaweed militias and thus violating a UN arms embargo against Sudan. In its report it showed a photo of Chinese-made Fantan fighters that have been seen at Nyala, Darfur and a Ukrainian Antonov-26 aircraft (painted white). The report provided evidence (including eyewitness testimony) that the Sudan Air Force has been conducting a pattern of indiscriminate aerial bombings of villages in Darfur and eastern Chad using ground attack jet fighters and Antonov planes. The report contained an image of a Russian made Mi-24 attack helicopter (reg. n° 928) at Nyala airport in Darfur in March 2007. For several years the Sudan Air Force has used this type of attack helicopter for operations during Janjaweed attacks on villages in Darfur. The report also showed evidence that the government has been camouflaging military aircraft and helicopters by painting them white and in doing so, tried to cover up their military use by claiming that they were civilian in nature. The white Antonov-26 aircraft was reported to have been used in Darfur in bombing missions. Recently it has been confirmed by Airforces Monthly Magazine for June 2007, that China and Iran have financed and delivered "newer" aircraft for Sudan. The most recent additions have been 15-20 A-5 Fantan ground attack aircraft. Also confirmed by Airforces Monthly is the use of Mil Mi-24 Hind gunships and Mil Mi-171 Assault Helicopters. They have been photographed painted in UN markings and white color for disguised use in illegal attack missions into the Darfur Region. The base in which they have been seen is at Nyala Airport in the Darfur Region. 8 Hinds have been confirmed operating in the Darfur region. One An-26 transport has been also confirmed delivered from a Russian civil aviation corporation. This aircraft is modified with bomb racks, and painted in U.N. white for illegal bombing missions into Darfur. The aircraft serial 7705 is used, but actually confirmed as 26563. Training for Sudanese crew has recently been confirmed to have been conducted and ongoing at Dezful-Ardestani Air Base in southern Iran. China and Russia denied they had broken UN sanctions. China has a close relationship with Sudan and increased its military co-operation with the government in early 2007. Because of Sudan's plentiful supply of oil, China considers good relations with Sudan to be a strategic necessity that is needed to fuel its booming economy. It must be noted that India also has oil interests in the country. [77][78][79] China also has direct commercial interests in Sudan's oil. China’s state-owned company CNPC controls between 60 and 70 percent of Sudan’s total oil production. Additionally, it owns the largest single share (40 percent) of Sudan’s national oil company, Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company.[80][81][82] China has also consistently opposed economic and non-military sanctions on Sudan.[83][84][85][86] Recently, however, a Small Arms Survey research paper suggested that China may be changing its stance on Darfur due to international pressure.[87]

June 2007

Oxfam announced on June 17 that it is permanently pulling out of Gereida, the largest camp in Darfur, where more than 130,000 have sought refuge. The agency cited inaction by local authorities from the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM), which controls the region, in addressing security concerns and violence against aid workers. An employee of the NGO Action by Churches Together was murdered in June in West Darfur. There have been ongoing hijackings of vehicles belonging to the UN and other international organizations—something that is also making them think twice about staying in the region.[88]

July 2007

BBC News reported that a huge underground lake has been found in the Darfur region. It is suggested that this find could help end the war as it could eliminate the existing competition for precious water resources.[89] France and Britain announced they would push for a UN resolution to dispatch African Union and United Nations peacekeepers to Darfur and would push for an immediate cease-fire in Darfur and are prepared to provide "substantial" economic aid "as soon as a cease-fire makes it possible."[90]

A 14 July 2007 article notes that in the past two months up to 75,000 Arabs from Chad and Niger crossed the border into Darfur. Most have been relocated by Sudanese government to former villages of displaced non-Arab people.[91]

The hybrid UN/AU force was finally approved on 31 July 2007 with the unanimously approved United Nations Security Council Resolution 1769. UNAMID will take over from AMIS by 31 December 2007 at the latest, and has an initial mandate up to 31 July 2008.[92]

On 31 July, the ongoing conflict between the Terjem and the Mahria tribes (former partners in the Janjaweed) heated up, with Mahria gunmen surrounding mourners at the funeral of an important Terjem sheik and killing 60 with rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and belt-fed machine guns.[55]

August 2007

From 3 August 2007 until 5 August 2007, a conference was held in Arusha, Tanzania, to unite the different existing rebel groups to make the subsequent peace negotiations with the government of Sudan more streamlined. Most senior rebel leaders attended, with the notable exception of Abdul Wahid al Nur, who — while not in command of large forces, but a rather small splinter group of the SLA/M he initially founded in 2003[93] — is considered to be the representatives of a large part of the displaced Fur people, and there have been concerns that his absence would be damaging to the peace talks.[94] International officials have stated that the difficulty lies in the fact that there is "no John Garang in Darfur", referring to the leader of the negotiating team of South Sudan, who was universally accepted by all the various South Sudanese splinter groups.[95]

The leaders who arrived on Friday were Gamali Galaleiddine,[96] Khalil Abdalla Adam, Salah Abu Surra, Khamis Abdallah Abakar, Ahmed Abdelshafi, Abdalla Yahya, Khalil Ibrahim (of the Justice and Equality Movement) and Ahmed Ibrahim Ali Diraige. The schedule for Saturday consists of closed-door meetings between the AU-UN and rebel leaders, as well as between rebel leaders alone.[97] In addition to those eight, eight more arrived there late on 4 August (including Jar el-Neby, Salah Adam Isaac and Suleiman Marajan[98]), whereas the SLM Unity faction also boycotted the talks as the Sudanese government had threatened to arrest Suleiman Jamous if he left the hospital.[99] The rebel leaders aimed to unify their positions and demands, which included compensation for the victims and autonomy for Darfur.[96] They eventually reached agreement on joined demands, including power and wealth sharing, security, land and humanitarian issues.[100]

In the several months up through August, Arab tribes that had worked together in the Janjaweed militia began falling out among themselves, and even further splintered into factions. Terjem fought Mahria as thousands of gunmen from each side traveled hundreds of miles to fight in the strategic Bulbul river valley. Farther south, Habanniya and Salamat tribes clashed. The fighting did not result in as much killing as in 2003 and 2004, the height of the violence. United Nations officials said the groups might be trying to seize land before U.N. and African Union peacekeepers arrived.[55]

September 2007

On 6 September 2007, the next round of peace talks was set to begin on 27 October 2007.[101] On 18 September 2007, JEM stated that if the peace talks with Khartoum should fail, they would step up their demands from self-determination to independence for the Darfur region.[102]

On 30 September 2007, the rebels overran an AMIS base, killing at least 12 peacekeepers in "the heaviest loss of life and biggest attack on the African Mission" during a raid at the end of Ramadan season.[103]

October 2007

SLM combatants

Peace talks started on 27 October 2007 in Sirte, Libya. The following groups attended the talks:[104]

  • Justice and Equality Movement splinters:
  • Revolutionary Democratic Forces Front, led by Salah Abu Surrah
  • United Revolutionary Force Front, led by Alhadi Agabeldour
  • Sudan Liberation Movement–G19, led by Khamees Abdullah
  • Sudan Federal Democratic Alliance, led by Ahmed Ibrahim Diraige

The following groups didn't attend:

  • Justice and Equality Movement, led by Khalil Ibrahim; they object to the presence of rebel groups they say had no constituency and no place at the table.
  • Sudan Liberation Movement (Abdel Wahed), led by Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur; the group has few forces, but its leader is highly respected; refused to attend until a force was deployed to stem the Darfur violence.
  • Sudan Liberation Movement–Unity, originally led by Abdallah Yehya, includes many other prominent figures (Sherif Harir, Abu Bakr Kadu, Ahmed Kubur); the group with the largest number of rebel fighters; object for the same reason as JEM.
  • Ahmed Abdel Shafi, a notable rebel enjoying strong support from the Fur tribe.

Faced with a boycott from the most important rebel factions, the talks were rebranded as an "advanced consultation phase", with actual talks likely to start in November or December.[105]

November 2007

On 2007-11-15, nine rebel groups — six SLM factions, the Democratic Popular Front, the Sudanese Revolutionary Front and the Justice and Equality Movement–Field Revolutionary Command — signed a Charter of Unification and agreed to operate under the name of SLM/A henceforth.[106] On 2007-11-30 it was announced that Darfur's rebel movements had united into two large groups and were now ready to negotiate in an orderly structure with the government.[107]

February 2008

A fresh Sudanese offensive by government soldiers and Arab militiamen against Darfur rebels has trapped thousands of refugees along the Chadian border, the rebels and humanitarian workers said 20 February 2008.[108] As of February 21, the total dead in Darfur stands at 450,000 and displaced totals somewhere around 3,245,000

May 2008

On May 10, 2008 Sudanese government soldiers and Darfur rebels clashed in the city of Omdurman, opposite the capital of Khartoum, over the control of a military headquarters.[109] A Sudanese police spokesperson said that the leader of the assailants was Mohamed Saleh Garbo and his intelligence chief Mohamed Nur Al-Deen were killed in the clash.

Witnesses said that heavy gunfire could be heard in the west of Sudan's capital and helicopters and army vehicles rushed through the streets towards Omdurman. After seizing the strategic military airbase at Wadi-Sayedna, the Sudanese soldiers eventually defeated the rebels, and by late afternoon Sudanese TV told that the rebels had been "completely repulsed", while showing live pictures of burnt vehicles and bodies on the street.[110]

The government imposed a curfew in Khartoum from 5 p.m. to 6 a.m., and aid agencies told their workers living in the capital to stay indoors.

Some 93 soldiers and 13 policemen were killed along with 30 civilians in the attack on Khartoum and Omdurman. The military confirmed that they recovered the bodies of 90 rebels but said that the rebel death toll could have been as high as 400. The rebels denied this.

August 2009

General Martin Agwai, head of the joint African Union-United Nations mission in Darfur, says the war is over in the region, though low-level disputes remain. "Banditry, localised issues, people trying to resolve issues over water and land at a local level. But real war as such, I think we are over that," he said.[111]


  1. ^ Julie Flint and Alex de Waal, Darfur: A Short History of a Long War, Zed Books, London March 2006, ISBN 1-84277-697-5, p. 76-77
  2. ^ Ibid., Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to the United Nations Secretary-General (PDF), United Nations, 25 January 2005, p. 129.
  3. ^ Flint and de Waal, p. 99
  4. ^ Flint and de Waal, pp. 99-100
  5. ^ Flint and de Waal, pp. 60, 101-103
  6. ^ United Nations Inter-Agency Fact Finding and Rapid Assessment Mission: Kailek Town, South Darfur, United Nations Resident Coordinator, 25 April 2004
  7. ^ 'Dozens killed' in Sudan attack (BBC) 24 May 2004
  8. ^ Sudan ex-rebel joins government (BBC) 10 July 2005
  9. ^ Sudan VP Garang killed in crash (BBC) 1 August 2005
  10. ^ Chad fightback 'kills 300 rebels' (BBC) 20 December 2005
  11. ^ Chad in 'state of war' with Sudan By Stephanie Hancock, BBC News, N'Djamena, 23 December 2005
  12. ^ Kessler, Glenn and Emily Wax (2006, May 5). "Sudan, Main Rebel Group Sign Peace Deal". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ "Main parties sign Darfur accord". BBC News. 2006, May 5. 
  14. ^ "Main points of the deal". Aljazeera.Net. 2006, May 6. 
  15. ^ "Annan outlines Darfur peace plans", BBC, 2 August 2006
  16. ^ "Disagreements Over Darfur Peace Plan Spark Conflict", Voice of America, 9 August 2006
  17. ^ "In a Darfur town, women recount numbing tale of their hell of rape and suffering". 2007-05-27. 
  18. ^ "The horrors of Darfur's ground zero". The Australian. 2007-05-28.,20867,21803054-2703,00.html. 
  19. ^ "Darfur women describe gang-rape horror". Associated Press. 2007-05-27. 
  20. ^ "U.N. Official Warns of Major New Sudanese Offensive in Darfur", Washington Post, 18 August 2006
  21. ^ "UN Envoy Says Sudan Rights Record in Darfur Poor", Voice of America, 17 August 2006
  22. ^ "Sudan reiterates opposition to replacing AU troop with UN forces in Darfur", People's Daily, 19 August, 2006
  23. ^ "US threatens Sudan after UN resistance", Independent Online, 19 August, 2006
  24. ^ "Khartoum turns down UN meeting on Darfur peace", Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 24 August, 2006
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