The long running civil war in the Sudan is just one of a series of wars and civil wars that have ripped through Africa during the last seventy years. It is a legacy of the dash for Empires as European nations grabbed chunks of Africa and created colonies that paid little attention to important local features. The author has provided a comprehensive view of the war in the Sudan and of President Al-Bashir. An important addition to the published knowledge of a seriously troubled region and a very readable account.
NAME: Omar Al-Bashir and Africa’s Longest War
AUTHOR: Paul Moorcraft
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: soft back
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: Sudan, East Africa, Red Sea, Indian Ocean, war crimes, field marshal, Islam, slavery, civil war, military coup, Darfur
DESCRIPTION: The long running civil war in the Sudan is just one of a series of wars and civil wars that have ripped through Africa during the last seventy years. It is a legacy of the dash for Empires as European nations grabbed chunks of Africa and created colonies that paid little attention to important local features. The author has provided a comprehensive view of the war in the Sudan and of President Al-Bashir. An important addition to the published knowledge of a seriously troubled region and a very readable account.
The Sudan has the sad distinction of suffering the longest war in Africa, amongst a series of long running wars, many of which appear to have ended, only to flare up once more. These are some of the most savage battles of modern history where war crimes are a regular part of the conflict and include slavery, abuse and genocide. There seems to be no immediate end to this bloody chapter in history and although international political and military interventions result in various figures being charged with war crimes, it has no real effect on the turbulence. The trial of war criminals may be comforting to European and North American neo-liberals, but they are not consistent, with the most serious war criminals frequently escaping trial and even being regarded as stabilizing forces to be supported.
It is tempting to think of the Africa troubles as being entirely the legacy of colonization, but that is a simplistic view of a very complex and mobile situation.
During the 19th Century, European nations competed to colour large areas of Africa in their colours, some nations were less harmful than others. Arguably, Britain did not just exploit Africa, but introduced legal systems and administration which continues to serve many now independent Africa countries well. Most colonizers laid rail track and then roads across Africa that have survived and continue as benefits. Where colonization was most damaging was that it paid no attention to tribal divisions, religious divisions, and cultural divisions. In some colonies, artificial tribes were created for the convenience of administrators. Conflict in Europe spilled into Africa. New races were introduced to the continent to create new racial tensions. Newly independent nations were most frequently corrupt with their new politicians more interested in lining their own pockets than the welfare of their people. External forces tried to exploit conflict for political purposes and some nations, notably China, attempted to gain control of African resources. More recently, Islam has become the most destructive and corrosive force, with the reintroduction of slavery that was once the financial mainstay of Islamists in Africa, supplying the demand for labour in the Americas.
The author has written the first authoritative biography of a dominant figure who has shaped the Sudan conflict. In-depth interviews with Al-Bashir, his family, and close political, military and intelligence colleagues provides much of the content and is presented objectively, following an introduction that briefly presents the history leading to independence and decent into a lengthy civil war. The basic factors leading to war and maintaining it for decades can be seen in most African conflicts. International intervention achieves at best modest success and fails to produce or enable real solutions. There may be no solid improvements for many years because, as peace appears to be breaking out, the next destructive influence comes into play. Beyond the obvious consequences of conflict, the serious effect is that countries, once able to produce food for their people and to export produce, are now heavily dependent on food aid and other assistance. The massive sums of aid, now flowing into Africa, are not achieving much benefit either as so much is syphoned off into private bank accounts by corrupt politicians and officials.