Vital Signs

Sudan, Ethiopia, and the American Empire

Sudan and Ethiopia are neighboring countries that are both ruled by authoritarian regimes; each is engaged in a brutal counterinsurgency operation against rebel forces—the former, in Darfur; the latter, in Ogaden.  Curiously, these countries are treated quite differently by Washington; and this difference reveals a great deal about the current modus operandi of the American Empire.

In Darfur, war erupted in 2003.  The rebels initially consisted of two groups: the Sudanese Liberation Army (SLA), originally called the Darfur Liberation Front, supported by Eritrea; and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), thought to be receiving aid from Chad as well as Eritrea.  Each rebel group has since split into several factions.  The result is a kaleidoscopic war pitting Muslim against Muslim, Arab against African, black against black, ethnic group against ethnic group, tribe against tribe, and agriculturalist against nomad.  An estimated 200,000 people have died, while another two million have been made refugees.

The response of the U.S. government has been to accuse Sudan of “genocide” in Darfur, to support a U.N. resolution calling Sudan’s actions there “crimes against humanity,” to demand that Khartoum agree to the deployment of a foreign peacekeeping force of up to 26,000 troops in Darfur and allow the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations unfettered access...

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