Saturday, February 24, 2007

Darfur Heroics: Truth to Arabs by Lebanon Star

It's time to put a halt to the Arab world's homegrown disaster
Saturday, February 24, 2007

Any long-time observer of events in the Arab world is familiar with the tendency of our politicians, religious leaders and intellectuals to blame all of the region's woes on "the West" or other external factors. There is a worthwhile point to be made in saying that centuries of colonialism, military intervention and Western-backed occupation have created distortions that have contributed to instability and turmoil in the region. But while foreign powers have had a clear hand in creating the crises in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, not all of the Arab world's disasters can be attributed to outside aggression. Indeed, one of the most grave calamities in the region - Darfur, a tragedy that has been called the first genocide of the 21st century, but which has been permitted to drag on for almost four years now - is a disaster largely of our region's own making.

The conflict in Darfur, where at least 200,000 civilians have been killed and more than 2 million made refugees, is one that exposes multiple layers of hypocrisy. Much has been said about the lack of international will to address the crisis, even though many of the same superpowers have supported military and heavy-handed diplomatic intervention in other countries under less clear-cut circumstances. But Arab leaders themselves are among the ranks of the world's hypocrites on this issue. A savage form of terror has been unfolding in our own backyard for four years, yet until now, neither the Arab League nor any individual Arab government has sought to do much about it. Many of our political and religious leaders have strongly denounced what are arguably lesser crimes - such as the awkward and insensitive remarks made by the pope during an academic lecture - but have turned a blind eye as their fellow Muslims are slaughtered in Sudan. Where are the cries of outrage over Darfur?

As we approach the four-year anniversary of the start of the conflict, the catastrophe is continuing to escalate. The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross has said that violence is now at its worst levels since the fighting began four years ago - and it is also spilling over into neighboring countries. Each day that the conflict drags on makes it harder to reach a resolution. Rebel groups have splintered into dozens of warring gangs, making it increasingly difficult to identify parties with whom mediators can even begin to negotiate a viable peace treaty.

Regional leaders are currently making a belated and half-hearted attempt to address this four-year-old crisis, with the Arab League meeting on the issue next week. But there is every reason for observers to doubt whether the talk of doing something will materialize as decisive action. The Arab League, several of whose members are drowning in petrodollars, has only paid $15 million of its $150 million pledge to the near-bankrupt African Union peacekeeping force. Each day that our leaders ignore Darfur marks a political and moral failure and a contribution to a calamity of our own making.

1 comment:

mark said...

Arabs ar racist what do u expect