The New War in Darfur : ethnic mobilization within the disintegrating state

Coetzee, Wouter Hugo (2009-12)

Thesis (MA (Political Science. International Studies))--Stellenbosch University, 2009.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: In the context of the present conflict in Darfur, and in the years preceding it, the distinction between so-called African and Arab tribes has come to the forefront, and the tribal identity of individuals has increased in significance. These distinctions were never as clear cut and definite as they are today. The ‘Arab’ and ‘African’ distinction that was always more of a passive characteristic in the past has now become the reason for standing on different sides of the political divide. What then are the main factors which contributed to this new violent distinction between Arab and African? How is it possible for people and communities who have a positive history of cooperation and tolerance to suddenly plunge into a situation of such cruelty and hate towards one another. The thesis uses the New War framework to look at the current situation in Darfur. The most definitive version of this new framework is presented by scholars such as Mary Kaldor (2006), Martin van Creveld (1991) and Helfried Münkler (2005). The thesis then shows how the war in Darfur, exactly in line with the new war argument, has political goals with the political mobilization occurring on the basis of identity. Kaldor (2006) argues that the political goals in the new wars are about the claim to power based on seemingly traditional identities, such as Arab or African. Defining identity politics as “movements which mobilize around ethnic, racial or religious identity for the purpose of claiming state power” (Kaldor, 2006: 80), it becomes apparent that Darfur has become subject to this these kind of new war politics. The study therefore questions the popular argument that ethnic conflict arises out of an “ancient hatred” or “tribal warfare”. Chapters three and four illustrates how this new distinction between Arab and African should rather be seen as the cumulative effects of marginalization, competing economic interests and, more recently, from the political polarization which has engulfed the region. Most of the factors leading to the current Arab/African antagonism were traced to contemporary phenomena. The study also looks at factors such as loss of physical coercion on behalf of the state, loss of popular legitimacy and effective leadership, underdevelopment, poverty, inequality, and privatization of force. The study then concludes that politics of identity should more often be seen as a result of individuals, groups or politician reacting to the effects of these conditions then as the result of ethnic hatred.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: In die konteks van die huidige konflik in Darfur, en die jare wat dit voorafgaan, het die verskille tussen sogenaamde ‘Afrikaan’ en ‘Arabier’ stamme na vore gekom. So ook het die stamverband van individue kenmerkend toegeneem. Hierdie onderskeid was nooit so noukeurig afgebaken en bepalend soos wat dit vandag is nie. Die ‘Afrikaan’ en ‘Arabier’ onderskeid wat in die verlede meer van ’n passiewe kenmerk was, het ontaard in die rede waarom beide kante hulself vandag in ’n politieke skeiding bevind. Wat dan is die hoof faktore wat bydra tot hierdie nuwe gewelddadige onderskeid tussen ‘Afrikane’ en ‘Arabiere’? Hoe is dit moontlik vir mense en gemeenskappe met ’n positiewe geskiedenis van samewerking en verdraagsaamheid om skielik ’n toestand van soveel onmenslikheid en haat teenoor mekaar te ervaar? Die tesis maak gebruik van die Nuwe oorlog denkrigting in ’n poging om die huidige oorlog in Darfur te beskryf. Die mees bepalende weergawe van hierdie denkrigting word voorsien deur akademici soos Mary Kaldor (2006), Martin Creveld (1991) en Helfried Münkler (2005). Die tesis fokus op hoe die oorlog in Darfur (in lyn met die Nuwe Oorlog denkrigting) politieke doelwitte aan die dag lê, met die gepaardgaande politieke mobilisering wat geskied op grond van identiteit. Kaldor (2006) argumenteer dat die politieke doelwitte in die nuwe oorloë berus op die aanspraak tot mag op grond van skynbare tradisionele identiteite of stamwese, soos ‘Afrikaan’ en ‘Arabier’. As ’n mens identiteitspolitiek definieër as ’n beweging wat mobiliseer rondom etnisiteit, ras of geloof, met die doel om aanspraak te maak op staatsmag, dan blyk dit of die konflik in Darfur wel onderhewig is aan hierdie nuwe vorm van Nuwe Oorlog politiek. Die studie bevraagteken dus ook die gewilde aanname dat etniese oorloë ontstaan uit ‘stamoorloë’ of ‘antieke vyandskap’. Hoofstuk drie en vier verduidelik hoekom hierdie nuwe onderskeiding tussen ‘Afrikaan’ en ‘Arabier’ eerder beskou moet word as die kumulatiewe effek van marginalisasie, kompeterende ekonomiese belange en die politieke polarisasie wat die streek in twee skeur. Meeste van die faktore wat gelei het tot die etniese polarisasie van die streek word hier beskou as kontemporêre verskynsels. Die studie kyk ook na faktore soos: die verlies van populêre legitimiteit en effektiewe leierskap, onderontwikkeling, armoede, ongelykheid en die privatisering van mag. Die studie sluit af met die gedagte dat identiteitspolitiek in Darfur beskou moet word as die uitkoms van individue, groepe of politieke leiers wat reageer op die bogenoemde omstandighede, eerder as die resultaat van ‘antieke vyandskap’ of aggresiewe ‘stamoorloë’.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/1537
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