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An Analysis Of The Sudanese Darfur Conflict Politics Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 5418 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Sudan is the country that spread broad field and has the richest underground sources. Sudan has the different ethnic and religious elements. In Sudan from time to time the conflicts occurred because of the economic and political reasons between these elements. In 80s and 90s South Sudan crisis emerged, but in the 2000s this conflict can solved. But after a short time another conflict, Darfur Conflict, emerged between the government and rebel groups. Darfur conflict can be seen as the ethnic, economic and cultural conflict rather than religious conflict.

In this paper I will mention firstly the background of the conflict. Then I will explain the basic reason of the conflict core parties and third parties and their affect in the conflict. Finally I will evaluate the conflict at the state, regional and international level.

A-) Background of the Darfur Conflict

1- ) Maps of Area

Map of Area- Sudan


Map of Area- Darfur


2- ) Basic Information about Sudan and Darfur

In general perspective, the formal name is Republic of Sudan and it is the largest country in Africa, located in northeastern Africa. Sudan is counted as an undeveloped country but lastly because of the natural gas and petrol reserves its importance increased in the international arena. Sudan’s economy based on mainly agricultural and stockbreeding. Muslims which located in the North are compromised the %70 of whole population. In the South African blacks and Christians are compromised the other part of the population (%30). Also in Sudan there are 570 clans and there are 595 different languages in Sudan. Sudan country separated 57 different ethnic groups. It is neighboring the countries of Egypt, Libya, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Eritrea. [3] 

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Darfur located in the Western Sudan. Its population includes different ethnic groups and clans and its population is 6 million. Its neighboring states are Libya, Chad and Republic of Middle Africa. Darfur separated in 3 regions, west, north and south. Khartoum government appointed a governor to the each region. In general in Darfur there are two ethnic groups, Arabs and black Africans. Because of the marriage between the different ethnic groups borders between regions became undefined. [4] 

3- ) Outline and Background of the Conflict

26 February 2003 Darfur Liberation Front attacked to highlands which name is Gulu. (The headquarters of Jebel Marra District)

25 March 2003 The rebels usurped the garrison town of Tine along the Chadian border and captured the huge quantities of supplies and arms. [5] 

25 April 2003 Sudan Liberation Movement (SLA/M) and Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) attacked the region. With this attack 75 soldiers, pilots were killed, also many buildings and helicopters were destroyed. [6] 

May 2003 Janjaweed entered the conflict. [7] 

8 April 2004 Negotiation about the cease-fire between JEM and SLA. [8] 

May 2004 International Crisis Group declared that over 350,000 people were effectively debarred from the aid. Also in this year United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan made an attention the situation of genocide risk in the Darfur.

December 2005 Chad- Sudan Conflict. An attack was actualized in Chadian region in the border of Sudan and 300 hundred people were dead. Sudan was blamed for the attack and death of people. Government of Chad declared their hostility to Sudan government. [9] 

5 May 2006 Sudan government and SLA (Minni Minnawi) signed an agreement. [10] 

July 2006 18,000 international peacekeepers wanted to deploy in Darfur instead of 7,000 African Union force. [11] 

24 August 2006 Government of Sudan declared their rejection about the deploying 20,000 UN peacekeepers about conflict. Instead of this Sudan government took a decision about sending 10,000 Sudanese soldiers to region. [12] 

31 August 2006 United Nations Security Council sent 17,300 peacekeepers to the region. (Resolution 1706) [13] 

October 2006 UNSC sent 200 UN troops to strength the African Union force. Darfur Peace and Accountability Act was signed. [14] 

April 2007 African Union peacekeepers were killed in attacks to Tiero and Marena. US government threatened the Sudanese government to apply sanction. [15] 

May 2007 Sudan government and Chad Government signed an agreement about the peace. [16] 

May 2008 JEM protectors attacked the cities of Khartoum and Omdurman. And ICC filed about 10 issues of war crimes against the Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir. These 10 charges consisted of three counts of genocide, five of crimes against humanity and two of murders. [17] 

February 2009 African Union – United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur tried to make an agreement between Sudanese Government and JEM. [18] 

May 2010 JEM protectors and Sudanese government clashed and 27 police officers and 30 JEM rebels were dead. [19] 

4-) Short Background and Reasons of the Conflict of Sudan

Political Reasons of the Conflict

Before and after the independence of the Sudan, Northern Arabs dominated in the government. Other regions which include non-Arabs rise against the government because of government’s attitude. Also these non-Arabs were stay away from the military mission. South’s education level was low in compared with the North’s level. Thanks to this including Darfur region not take part in the centre government position. [20] 

Sudan was governed by the %5 elites. These elite groups consist of president of the country and high level bureaucrats and military commanders. Also petrol income was shared between these elites. It is thought that because of the petrol the other low-level society in the South was forgotten by the government. [21] 

Another important reason caused the conflict was fertile land and resources. As we know Sudan people suffer from the drought, so sharing resources between the clans or regions was one of the reasons. These all reasons caused the conflict in political ways in Darfur. [22] 

Economic Reasons of the Conflict

Firstly it is declared that centre governments passed over the region and they did not any investment to the Darfur. Centre government made their investment especially the Nile region and social services were provided in this region. So Darfur region was not neglected. [23] 

Secondly in 70s and 80s because of the drought people were affected in bad way in agricultural and stockbreeding. Because of the bad conditions people in Darfur had to immigrate to the North Darfur. This caused the conflict between clans also. [24] 

Finally, the countries which have economic interest in the region affected the Darfur. Especially natural gas, petrol and pure uranium took other countries’ interest into this region. Because of the American blockage, companies did not enter the Darfur. Also Darfur has an agreement with the China. So it is declared that these two groups America and china formed the conflicted parties. [25] 

Ecologic and Demographical Reasons

At the last years in Darfur because of the ecologic and demographical changes affected the relations among the clans. Large part of the Darfur has desert climate. With the parallel of these ecologic changes, the balanced is destroyed between the settled clans and migrant clans. Because of the drought conflict among the clans started to occurred. [26] 

Short Background of the Conflict

Since the independence of the Sudan from the UK in 1956 Islamic based governments dominated the political agenda. Sudan was faced two civil wars in its history. These conflicts were rooted in northern economic, political and social domination of largely non-Muslim, non-Arab southern Sudanese. The first civil war ended in 1972 and started again in 1983. Because of the second civil war and famine more than 4 million people displaced and more than 2 million people were dead. [27] 

Since 2002 very important steps has been took to resolving the conflict. In 2003 and 2004 Framework Peace Agreement was signed. But in February 2003 the conflict emerged in the Sudan. SLM (Sudan liberation Army) and JEM (Justice and Equality Movement) attacked the government. They asserted that government of Sudan (GOS) was failure to protect local villagers from foreign economy. After this time in 2004 African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) began deployment. On September 18, the UN Security Council declared Resolution 1564, which called for a Commission of Inquiry on Darfur to assess the conflict. [28] 

In 2005 UN Secretary-General’s Commission of Inquiry released a report about the conflict. According to this report 1.6 million people displaced as a result of violence. Also 200,000 people displaced in neighboring Chad. The Commission also asserted that Janjaweed militia took logistical support from the GOS’s armed forces. [29] 

In 2006, Darfur Peace Agreement was signed between the Government of Sudan and Sudan Liberation Army/ Minni Minawi (SLA/MM). After that time UN Security Council declared a resolution about the sending a new peacekeeping force to the region but GSO refused it. [30] 

In 2007 International Criminal Court indicted Janjawid militia leaders about the humanity crimes, but Sudan government refused the cooperation with ICC. In July UN Security Council approved the Resolution 1769. According to this resolution 26,000 peacekeepers and police were deployed in Darfur. (UN-African Union-UNAMID) after this resolution UNSC approved the Resolution 1778. [31] 

B-) The Conflict Parties and Issues

Who Are the Core Conflict Parties?

Government of Khartoum

The main actor in the region is Khartoum Government. Their leader was Omar al-Bashir. It has military forces that used them against the two main rebel groups. Also government supported the Janjaweed. I will mention this group in the other part. Government of Khartoum based on the Islamic notions.

Sudanese Liberation Movement/Army

Sudanese Liberation Movement formed by the African clans which names are Zaghawa, Fur and Massaleit. These clans located in the west, north and south Darfur. SLM is the biggest organization in the Darfur. Their member number and their geographical position demonstrate their importance in the region. SLM declared that their struggle is about the democratic and unified Sudan. They called all nations, ethnics in the Darfur for showing struggle against the government and their exclusionist policies. [32] 

Justice and Equality Movement

In 2003 black rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement came to prominence in Darfur. [33] JEM and SLM are against the government and Arabs. Justice and Equality Movement led by Khalil Ibrahim. The JEM is a member of Eastern Front, a rebel coalition in east of Sudan. In 2002 Abdul Wahid al Nur (lawyer), Ahmad Abdel Shafi Bassey (student), and a third man founded the Darfur Liberation Front. After that it was renamed the Sudan Liberation Movement, and claimed to represented all of the oppressed in the Sudan. [34] 

JEM and SPLM are fighting against the Sudan government and their proxy militia, Janjaweed.

What are their internal-subgroups and on what constituencies do they depend?


Janjaweed is the main internal-subgroup of the Government of Sudan. As I have already mentioned there are over 30 ethnic tribes in Sudan. But the main ethnic groups are Arabs and Africans. Arab Muslims in the north try to suppress the black African Christians in the south. So because of this diversity government support the “Janjaweed” to fight with the JEM and SPLM. [35] Also government of Sudan denied their support to Janjaweed but national humanitarian aid commissioner, Dr. Sulaf al-Din declared in 2004 that;

“We asked all the people of Darfur that they should help in protecting themselves against the rebellion. This standard practice which we do in this country. Whenever there is an attack on a community we ask the local community to also support, to help.” [36] 

Who are the Janjaweed?

The Janjaweed is a term that in short means a “jinn” or devil on horseback. It is not a new term; it has been in use for the last two decades. Originally it was a term to define a highway robber, riding a horse or camel, carrying a gun or a rifle. Before this tragedy it had no ethnic or racial significance. Anyone, African, Arab, or whatever could be a Janjaweed – if he is on a horseback or camelback carrying a rifle and attacking people on highways. Part of the recent propaganda campaign has been to give this term a new dimension, confined to Arab nomads in the Region who are deliberately provoked by the rebels (by stealing their live stock) to focus their wrath against the tribes the rebels are drawn from. This is how burning, looting and other crimes have been committed. The “Janjaweed” have no political organization or agenda, and included many who have exploited the conflict for their criminal end. It is very difficult to track them, since they included elements from all cultural groups in the area. Once they concluded their criminal attacks, they disappeared into their respective communities. Complicating this was the fact that decades of inter-marriage had made nonsense of any clear ethnic distinction between the so-called Arab and African in Darfur. It must be noted nevertheless that many Janjaweed had been caught, convicted and jailed. [37] 

Janjaweed was accused for the death of 30,000 black Africans; also they were accused of raping women and girls, destroying villages and crops, and polluting water supplies. So government rejected their support to Janjaweed with the cease-fire agreement which had been made between the Sudanese government and SPLM. [38] 

Third Parties

United Nations (UNAMID)

United Nations Human Rights Commission expressed their views about the Darfur conflict. Security Council also adopted Resolutions. Also United Nations sent their peacekeeping forces to Darfur. I will explain in details in the title of Global-Level factors.

United States

United States helped the Sudanese Darfur region with economic and humanitarian aid package. Also US visited the Sudan for peace and take an action in the region. I will explain the US’s role in the conflict in title of Global-Level Factors.

Besides them African Union, Arab League and Chad tried to bring peace in the region with their support.

Is it possible to distinguish between positions, interests (material interests, values, relationships) and needs? It is possible that their interests are very different in the region. SPLM and JEM accused the government to oppressing the black Africans in favor of Arabs. Their interest is about the power on Sudan. Both sides declare their justice about the governing of Sudan. Because of this their interest is always crashing. [39] 

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Different perceptions of the causes and nature of the conflict among the conflict parties and their relationship; Sudan People Liberation Movement and Justice and Equality Movement defend that “the central government in Khartoum which mainly from northern Arabs that they ignore the development in the Darfur region with a highly developed north”. Also these two groups claimed that the government of Sudan discriminates against Muslim Africans ethnic groups in Darfur. So these groups are fighting against the government and the Arabs militias- Janjaweed- since 2003. Because of these ethnic war “450,000 people have been killed and 3,000,000 people have been displaced. [40] 

On the other hand government of Sudan and their militia groups Janjaweed dismisses the SPLM and JEM as terrorist. But the current conflict is about the struggle for the control of the resources. Fighting over resources is one of several factors that have led to intense infighting in Darfur over the years. Government of Sudan has systematically pursued a discrimination policy against the African communities in Darfur, and has given support to the Arab militia to suppress non-Arabs, whom it considers a threat to its hold on power. [41] 

What is the current behavior of the parties? (is the conflict in an ‘escalatory’ or ‘de-escalatory’ phase?) In 2004 Sudan government and SPLM and JEM signed a Humanitarian Cease-fire Agreement. But Janjaweed and rebels continued the attacks. Also in Chadian attack Sudan government was accused. So after the peace negotiation the both side became enemy again as I mentioned before. [42] 

Also very important bodies just like United Nations took step in the conflict but now Sudanese government and Darfur rebels continued the clashing. JEM and the government signed and cease-fire in February. The other rebel group Liberation and Justice Movement signed a cease-fire with the government also. On the other hand Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) led by Abdul Wahid is still against peace talks. [43] As compared with the first years of the conflict, Darfur conflict displays de-escalatory slope.

Who are the leaders of the parties? At the elite/individual level, what are their objectives, policies, interests, and relative strengths and weakness? Khalil Ibrahim is the leader of the Justice and Equality Movement. He is against the Sudanese government and Janjaweed. In 2006 Khalil Ibrahim and SLM united in an Alliance of Revolutionary Forces of West Sudan. But after a time they negotiated to separating each other and they continued their peace talks with the government individually. [44] In 2008 JEM attacked the Khartoum and declared their victory. [45] Finally in February 2010 JEM and Sudanese government signed a cease-fire agreement. [46] So JEM wants to peace in Darfur.

Another rebel group is Sudan Liberation Movement. It divided into two. Their leader is Abdul Wahid al Nur and Minni Minnawi. Abdul Wahid al Nur as I mentioned before with Ahmad Bassey founded Darfur Liberation Front and it was renamed the Sudan Liberation Movement. Minni Minnawi signed the Darfur Peace Accord. But Abdul Wahid did not signed the Acoord. [47] 

Sudan People’s Liberation Army, its leader is Salva Kiir Mayardit. He is President of the Southern Sudan. The main aim of the SPLM is establishing a democratic Sudan. SPLM and Sudan government signed an agreement. Thanks to this agreement Sudanese government recognized the SPLM. SPLM is the political party of the Sudan. [48] 

National Islamic Front, its leader is Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir. He ended the Second Civil War in Sudan in 2004. It is declared that he supported the Janjaweed, but ht e government always rejected this. In 2008 ICC accused al-Bashir of genocide, humanity and war crimes in Darfur. In April 2010 he was declared as a President of Sudan again. [49] 

The other sub-group is Janjaweed. Their leader is Sheikh Musa Hilal. As I mentioned before they were formed by the support of the government. Their main aim is fighting with the rebel groups of the Sudan. After that this groups were accused of raping women and girls, destroying villages and crops, and polluting water supplies.


a-) State Level

Since 2003 nature of State in Darfur was contested. Because at the first years of the conflict SPLM and JEM accused the government for discrimination in the Muslim Africans and also they asserted that they supported the Janjaweed. Because of this state legitimacy since the beginning of the conflict was challenged.

There is not any institution in the conflict. Or any regime changes not actualized in the conflict time. On the other hand government of Sudan used the Janjaweed as a channel to access or to suppress the rebels in the conflict. Also there is not any economic development in the Darfur. Only the government supported the Janjaweed and the third parties economic and humanitarian aid improved the life conditions.

b-) Regional Level

Sudan has the same border with Chad government. At the both sides of the borders African clans were living. For example Zaghawa and Massaleit clans were living in this border. In the 1960s opponent groups in Chadian government were organized in the Darfur, and opponent groups in Darfur provided their weapon and their needs from these Zaghawa and Massaleit clans. It is declared that Janjaweed arranged the cross-border operation to stop this flows of weapons. [50] 

It is also declared that Israel plays a great role in the Darfur conflict. Because Israel thought that the only way of strengthening the Eretria and Kenya is wearing out the Sudan. [51] 

Libya has also interest in Sudan. Kaddafi wanted to prevent any intervention of the ABD, France and NATO. Kaddafi also arranged the peace building negotiations among the clans’ leaders, armed groups and representative of civil-society organizations. He became a mediator between these groups. [52] 

Eretria is the one country that supported the rebel groups in the Darfur. They supported the SLM, JEM and opponent groups. Also Eretria is the one of the country that participate the peace negotiations in Darfur. [53] 

c-) Global Level


China made huge investment to Sudan for searching and production of petrol. SLm and JEM accused the China for selling weapons to Sudan. Because of this it is declared China did not obey the arms embargo.

United States

United States has the bad relation with Sudan since 1967 Arab-Israel war. When the war started Sudan cut their relations with United States. In 1997 America counted Sudan as a terrorist state, so Sudan cut their relations as a whole. In present day US tries to develop their relations with Sudan because of petrol, natural gas and pure uranium. So US tries to develop approaches policy towards to Sudan. [54] 

“On June 24th the US Congress approved a humanitarian aid package for Sudan’s western Darfur region as an amendment to a defense spending bill. The measure included $70 million for the US Agency for International Development’s disaster and famine programs in Darfur, and $14 million to assist refugees in Chad. A few days later, on June 29th US Secretary of State Colin Powell visited Sudan to urge Khartoum authorities to reign in Arab militiamen accused of human rights abuses in the Darfur region. He met with President Omar el-Bashir and visited displaced people in Darfur, threatening unspecified UN Security Council action unless the government brought an end to militia violence. The United Nations has described the 15-month Darfur conflict as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, and UN relief groups estimate that up to 2 million people are in need of food, while a million more have been forced to flee their homes. The US government claims that the casualties of fighting between the Janjaweed and black Africans range from 10,000 to 30,000 people thus far.” [55] 

African Union

African Union declared that Sudan’s government militias-Janjaweed- burned civilians alive. On 24th July African Union announced that they will expand their military observers to disarming of the Janjaweed if the Sudan government does not take any action against the Janjaweed. This was the first military intervention of the AU in a member state. The African Union also expanded their cease-fire-observer mission. [56] 

United Nations

UN Security Council declared its concern over the human rights situation in the Darfur region of Sudan. Security Council also took an attention to sexual violence, forced displacement and acts of violence. [57] 

“Security Council adopted Resolution 1769 on 31 July 2007. This Resolution authorized the establishment of the African Union/UN Hybrid operation in Darfur, referred to by its acronym UNAMID, under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, for an initial period of 12 months. UNAMID formally took over from AMIS on 31 December 2007. The mandate was extended on 31 July 2008 with the adoption of Security Council resolution 1828 for a further 12 months, until 31 July 2009”. [58] 

“UNAMID actualized their one of the largest UN peacekeeping operations in Darfur with the 20,000 troops, more than 6,000 police and a significant civilian component.” [59] 

UN declared that there were mass murders and killing the Sudan civilian. Because of this UN described this as”genocide” in January 2005. In 2006 United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 1706. According to this resolution; 26,000 troop sent in Darfur as a peacekeeping force. [60] 

In February 2009, UNAMID tried to make an agreement between government and Justice and Equality Movement and these sides signed a peace agreement. [61] 


As a result of the conflict about 450,000 people have been killed and over 2,5 million people have been displaced. Government and the SLM and JEM signed a peace agreement in 2005. But after a year conflict is started again. UN and other third parties wanted to take an action about the


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