Features

Too little, too late

"Too little, too late" Continued...

Issue: "Tough love," Aug. 18, 2007

WORLD: You repeatedly cite the government of Sudan's unwillingness to disarm the janjaweed militias. How did the janjaweed take hold in the first place? Will the latest UN resolution do more to disarm and disengage them?

REEVES: The janjaweed were recruited by Khartoum from some-not all-of Darfur's Arab tribal groups. Many have been mercenaries in the past. Many have been pressed into service. Many are eager to take over the lands and water of non-Arab or African tribal populations in Darfur. Khartoum has armed the janjaweed, coordinated with them militarily, and has "paid" them in the form of booty from the villages they have destroyed by the thousands-80 percent to 90 percent of all African villages in Darfur. That figure is the consensus among my Darfuri contacts.

The janjaweed tend to be the most racist, most ideologically driven of the Arab population in Darfur-they have been described (I think suggestively) as the "Ku Klux Klan" of Darfur. They often express contempt for the devotion of their African co-religionists (all are Muslim in Darfur).

WORLD: Explain your distinction between "peacekeeping" and "peace-enforcing."

REEVES: Peacekeeping implies that there is a peace to keep. Peace-making, on the other hand, required armed confrontation with any combatants who threaten the mission of the peacemaking force, e.g., protecting themselves, protecting civilians, protecting humanitarians.

WORLD: What about the role of rebel groups in Darfur?

REEVES: They must be united for there to be a peace process. Rebel divisions along multiple lines-political, ethnic, personality-are now a very serious obstacle to a coherent negotiating presence in talks.

WORLD: You write of leaders-Kofi Annan, Tony Blair, Condoleezza Rice, others-who seem determined to say the right things about Darfur but, you say, leave the real work to others. Who is doing the real work?

REEVES: The African Union, for all its failings, has at least put about 7,000 or so personnel in the field in Darfur. No one else has.

Pressure on China-which resulted in the recent UN resolution (albeit with China playing a key role in weakening the resolution)-has derived from grassroots advocacy efforts, not from international actors or governments. Humanitarian and human-rights groups have performed, when it comes to Darfur, magnificently.

WORLD: How can most of us, average citizens in America, help alleviate the crisis?

REEVES: Support humanitarian efforts; demand more of the Bush administration in supporting Resolution 1769 and in pressuring China; demand that congressional folks do more to highlight China's obstructionist role.

Mindy Belz
Mindy Belz

Mindy travels to the far corners of the globe as the editor of WORLD and lives with her family in the mountains of western North Carolina. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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