Misleading the world on the Darfur conflict
By Frank Salvato
Recently, a group calling itself Save Darfur initiated a media campaign calling for President Bush to "stop the genocide now" referring to the ethnic cleansing that is currently taking place in Darfur, Sudan. While any movement to halt the slaughter of innocents in Darfur should be considered a noble endeavor, the message conveyed in the commercial now running in the mainstream media is decidedly misleading in that it infers President Bush either has more power over the situation than he actually has or is doing nothing to stop the slaughter, both notions factually false. One has to question whether this is intentional and, then, whether it is political in nature.
The facts on the ground in Darfur are disturbing. Almost half a million people have been slaughtered and over two million people have been displaced. To say that genocide is taking place – no matter what the official definition provided and accepted by the United Nations – would be an accurate statement.
The situation is exasperated by the fact that the Sudanese government is, to date, refusing to allow the United Nations to replace African Union troops, charged with keeping the peace, with UN peacekeeping troops. Further, Khartoum not only refuses to disarm or effectively demilitarize the Islamist jihadi group Janjaweed, they support them, thus allowing their continued aggression toward the innocents in the Darfur region.
Many in the international community consider the ongoing conflict in Darfur a result of political discontent. Save Darfur identifies the catalyst for the unrest as stemming from, "the rebels…[compelling] the government of Sudan to address underdevelopment and the political marginalization of the region."
But this situation is being facilitated by more than just an ongoing conflict between the government of Sudan and rebel forces calling for government accountability. It is no coincidence that the Islamist jihadi Janjaweed is involved and supported by the Sudanese government, a government controlled by the National Islamic Front since 1989.
In a recent symposium conducted by Dr. Jamie Glazov for FrontPage Magazine, Dr. Walid Phares, a professor of Middle East Studies and Religious Conflict at Florida Atlantic University and a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies stated:
When identified correctly, the conflict in Darfur can be recognized as another front in the battle against Islamofascism and terrorism, a notion validated by an April 2006 statement by Osama bin Laden:
"I call on the mujahedeen [Islamic fighters] and their supporters, especially in Sudan and the Arabian peninsula, to prepare for a long war against the crusaders and plunderers in western Sudan. Our goal is not defending the Khartoum government but [to] defend Islam, its land and its people."
This leads me back to the issue of Save Darfur's commercial and its plea to have people implore President Bush to show "leadership" by "stopping the genocide now."
As far back as September of 2004, President Bush has been leading the charge against the genocide currently taking place. His administration was labeling the slaughter facilitated by the Sudanese government and perpetrated by the Islamist jihadi Janjaweed as genocide even before the United Nations and special interest groups took notice.
In a statement published on September 9, 2004, President Bush decried:
In light of the fact that President Bush has been pro-active in the pursuit of an end to the jihadi aggression against the innocents of Darfur and a driving force in the dissemination of humanitarian aid to those affected, and in light of the fact that the government of Sudan is the primary cause of the suffering that millions continue to endure, it would seem that the people at Save Darfur, for all their intentions, are petitioning the wrong leader for action when they ask for President Bush to "stop the genocide now." They should instead be petitioning the Islamist leaders in Khartoum.
I have no problem with the overall goal of Save Darfur; in fact I applaud them for their efforts. I just wish those who support Save Darfur had been as adamantly opposed to the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the Iraqi Kurds, when President Bush named these atrocities as two of the four primary reasons for going into Iraq.
By using their commercial to single out President Bush on the matter of Darfur, the folks at Save Darfur have injected an air of political partisanship to their message. They have effectively cast a shadow of suspicion over their motives and intentions. Then again, that shadow was born when they selected George Clooney to be their spokesman.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Copyright © 2006 Frank Salvato