Friday, October 27, 2006

The latest edition of Africa Confidential (, has a short subscription-only piece, "An astonishing attack on Sudanese President Omer Hassan Ahmed el Beshir in the Saudi press signals a crack in Arab solidarity over Khartoum's policy on Darfur".

It raises hope that the one big lacuna in criticism of Khartoum - the Arab world - could shortly change its tune. We shall see if this is in fact merely a forgettable diplomatic gambit and minor variation in proxy Saudi diplomacy.

The victims in Darfur are mostly Sufis from the West African tradition; their oppressors, followers of Qutb's austere neo-conservative Islam, the Islam of the Muslim Brotherhood. But opposition to intervention has come from not only from the Arab world, but also from Western intelligence agencies.

Africa Confidential reported earlier this year that at a meeting in December 2005, British, French and US intelligence agencies lobbied against indictments against senior personalities in the National Congress (National Islamic Front) regime, presumably because Khartoum is co-operating with the West in hunting down Al-Qaeda remnants.

Western policy over Darfur has been deeply schizophrenic, with all the talk of pressure and opposition to ethnic cleansing often quietly voided when the public is not paying attention, by diplomatic concerns and fears of taking on another contretemps with a Muslim-majority state.

I'm not a human rights professional, and can only throw in the odd daring theoretical point or political-intelligence tidbit. I'd like to hand the blog now, as it were, back to the people who really make a difference, the active campaigners.

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