I previously wrote about the theoretical concepts of responsibility as it applies to the conflict in Sudan, Rwanda, and even the Syrian refugee crisis. Just within the colonial history, responsibility is an influential concept that is being codified to promote governmental action and intervention in these conflicts and situations similar to it. It is crucial to recognize these trends and act upon them, yet, the United Nations and the western, previously colonial, world is not acting upon their responsibilities to areas plagued with conflict because they do not see it as their responsibility. I have also heard the argument that if the United States, Britain, or France (and others) did intervene in these situations it would great more conflict from the vacuum it would leave. Looking at the Iraq war, and consequential creation of Islamic State, due to a power vacuum and disarray after the war, it is easy to see the reasonable apprehension that UN states have toward settling conflicts or going to war in general. It may also not be feasible to intervene due to a lack of funding or resources, which is honestly absurdity which I will explain shortly.
The main issue, contemporarily, within the realm of the genocide, is the influence that other nations are having on the genocide, specifically potential world powers. I mentioned in a previous post that Israel has been dealing weapons to the Sudanese, fueling the genocide and the civil war (Khalek). At the same time, Israel is refusing Sudanese refugees and encouraging Egyptian authorities to turn back those who are traversing to Israel across the Sinai Peninsula (Harcombe, Rothschild). They are refusing the responsibility they have towards Sudanese refugees as a catalyst of the conflict. They surely have resources to give Sudan, yet when confronted with the issue of housing asylum seekers and feeding them, they cannot find an adequate amount.
The Israeli move to sell arms to Sudan has been attributed to earlier Iranian involvement in the region; they hoped to combat the influence. Iran had hosted and trained military officers as well as provided arms and the knowledge to create more weapons to the Sudanese government (Evers). Israel filled this relationship momentarily until earlier this year (2016). Iran’s probable motive for aiding and training Sudan was to create a situation in which they would be more likely to engage in the proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen. Since Sudan does border the Red Sea, it is reasonable to assume that they could plausibly provide naval aid to Iran, given the resources of course.
Even more recently, Sudan has chosen to side with Saudi Arabia, and consequently will receive aid from them. This has been argued to be a purely fiscal relationship since Sudan has been lacking financially (“Why has Sudan ditched Iran…”). Saudi Arabia probably has the same intentions as Iran, to use the military and political support of Sudan to gain something in the proxy war, or Sudan itself is part of this proxy war. All of these allegiances have devastating implications when talking into consideration the historical context of the region. Although this seems beneficial for Sudan as well, it has potentially devastating consequences for the nation.
I mention a historical context because of the history of colonialism, and neocolonialism, in the region. This includes the previous proxy war in the MENA region, known as the Cold War. It is referred to as the Arab Cold War by some scholars, and when I first heard about the modern proxy war in Yemen I immediately saw the connections. Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel are all previously supported (and continuously in some cases) nations in the Cold War era. These countries were used as weapons to combat ideologies and armies. Although as Americans we are taught that the Cold War was essentially a stale-mate between the West and East, Capitalism and communism, the reality is much grimmer. We did not go to war with Russia or China for these ideas but we sacrifices lives in the Vietnam war, which was never won. And we used our political, economic, and technological influences to control countries around the world and to use those countries, militarily and geographically, to our benefit.
This is a place where responsibility comes into play. Our educational institutions, mandatory k-12 systems and not college, have a responsibility to update their curriculum to better teach our youth of their responsibility and guilt. It is not, of course, their individual guilt but the role that people will see them in as American. It is the discourse that surrounds the American we must be responsible for, and a basic education of the actual events of the cold war and the repercussions of it can prepare us, as a nation, to be responsible for our actions by holding those in power responsible.
In addition to this, Mass Media is at fault. Although much of this information is available through the internet, it is not synthesized with the concepts of the responsibilities and actions of world powers, although their success is largely based on human rights violations (another need for more comprehensive education). The only action we see taken on these human rights violations is by the United Nations and its many organization such as the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Program, which was just running out of funding for refugee aid in Jordan just last year (“Lack of funds: World Food Programme drops aid”). This is why the role of education and media is so crucial; a well-informed public is one that can hold their leaders accountable for what is written in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and for the human species in general.
United Nation governments pay into this fund, so they cannot be blamed for their lack of action entirely, but it is not enough. The root of these conflicts must be addressed, but at the very core of them previous colonizers know they are responsible for the systems they have enacted. It is by their example that the region carries out its affairs. That may seem strange to say, but allow me to explain.
In Sudan, like Rwanda, the social order has been completely disrupted by the coming of colonial rule. A new order was established, creating intense cultural, and racial, variation, or differences (using a more sectarian term), where there had previously been nearly one hundred distinct cultures (“Genocide in Darfur”, Cheadle 52). This alone is enough to cripple the nation with internal strife for decades. Yet the tendencies that I have listed, with the proxy war in Yemen and the allegiances with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Israel, spell out a depressing trend which I hope I am wrong about. It appears that these nations, which were once proxies of either the U.S. or Russia, are now using nations as weapons militarily, geographically, and demographically. It seems that the example set forth by the world powers is now being played out in this new proxy war. I believe that it is great that these countries are trying to protect Yemen and Sudan for what they believe to be the right cause, but this is possible through their own part in the Cold War and subsequent funding from the U.S. and Russia. I am just afraid that the conflicts taking place now will just prolong the Cold War, which arguably continues until today through Western influence in MENA region politics.
This is completely speculation, but the trends are there. It is concerning that a lack of stability is spreading across the MENA region due to past interferences by world powers and that a proxy war is potentially moving its scope of interested towards the horn of Africa. In the most complicated sense the West has a responsibility to step in and at least voice worries of this trend and to encourage and act on ideas of intervention. In the most basic sense the human species has an obligation unto itself to stop fueling conflict through base interests and essentially let people be people.
The genocide in Darfur is just a symptom of these trends, from past colonial involvement to Cold War tendencies. Sadly, I must say, that it is important to address the situation from its source, which is where responsibility comes into play. Yet that responsibility and guilt is ignored or deflected often by political establishments, either by the Sudanese government or by British parliament, which has not recognized its role in the hostilities. At the same time, atrocities around the world must not be allowed to continue, no matter the cause. I personally believe that if someone is being oppressed, starved, or killed, it is the duty of anyone to intervene. For that I have to applaud the only group doing anything in the genocide and civil war, which would be the rebel factions in Darfur and the United Nations for trying to contain the violence. It is not enough however. The true way to address these issues is to have consensus among some countries to define what a human right violation is and how to act upon these violations. This of course has already been drafted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Cheadle, Don & Prendergast, John. Not On Our Watch: The Mission To End Genocide In Darfur and Beyond. New York: The Write Element, Inc., 2007. Print.
“Genocide in Darfur.” United Human Rights Council. Web. 4 May 2016. <http://www.unitedhumanrights.org/genocide/genocide-in-sudan.htm>
Harcombe, Kathy. “Israel’s Unwanted African Migrants.” BBC News. 3 Feb. 2016. Web. 28 April 2016. <http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-35475403?SThisFB>
Rothschild, Brad, dir. African Exodus: Not Their Promised Land. Red Shield Pictures. 2015. Film.
Khalek, Rania. “Israeli Arms fuel Atrocities in Africa.” The Electronic IntifadaI. 16 Sept. 2015. Web. 4 May 2016. <https://electronicintifada.net/content/israeli-arms-fuel-atrocities-africa/14844>
“Lack of funds: World Food Programme Drops Aid to One-third of Syrian Refugees.” The Guardian. 4 Sept. 2015. Web. 4 May 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/sep/05/lack-of-funds-world-food-programme-drops-aid-to-one-third-of-syrian-refugees>
Evers, Cameron. “Iran’s Other Shadow War Is in Africa.” Geeska Afrika Online. 2 May 2016. Web. 4 May 2016. <http://geeskaafrika.com/irans-shadow-war-africa/>
“Why Has Sudan Ditched Iran in Favour of Saudi Arabia?” The Guardian. 12 Jan. 2016. Web. 4 May 2016. <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/12/sudan-siding-with-saudi-arabia-long-term-ally-iran>