The Arab Congregation and the Ideology of Genocide in Darfur, Sudan By: Abdullahi Osman El-Tom, Ph.D.
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The Arab Congregation and the Ideology of Genocide in
By: Abdullahi Osman El-Tom, Ph.D.
This article presents a number of documents bearing the name of the Arab Congregation of
It argues that attempts to annihilate indigenous Darfurians and appropriate their land are backed by Arab supremacist ideology that has been nursed over several decades.
The article further argues that the Arab Congregation operates in close alliance with both national and regional circles that seek to expand what is defined as Arab belt deeper into Sub-Saharan
This article presents 6 documents related to Al Tajamu Al Arabi, loosely translated here as the Arab Congregation.
Other translations are: the Arab Coalition, Arab Gathering, Arab
and Arab Congress.
The Arab Congregation was probably formed in the early 1980s but gained momentum in latter years of the same decade.
has been a major site of operation of the Arab Congregation. This basic fact disguises broader aim and geographic spread of the organisation.
, the Arab Congregation aims at displacing / controlling indigenous populations of the entire country though modestly starting with the six States of the western regions / provinces of Kordofan and
At the broader regional level of Sub-Saharan Africa, tentacles of the Arab Congregation spread as far as Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Niger and possibly beyond.
The geographical spread of the organisation indicates that the Arab Congregation of
is mere small cog within a wider network of national and regional dimensions.
At the national level, the Arab Congregation of western
is sponsored and operates as conduit for Kayan Al Shamal and hence KASH or the Northern Entity in English (El-Tom 2006).
Kash was formed in the 1976 when the government of dictator Nimeiri was nearly toppled by a Kordofan army officer and who is in today’s language in the Sudan be classed as “black” and non-Arab.
KASH was then formed to ensure that irrespective of the ideology behind the government of Khartoum, democratic, fascist, military, socialist, religious fanatic or otherwise, the leadership remains the hands of the Northern Region.
But KASH is an exclusive club, open only for the three elite ethnic groups of the Northern Region.
This is what various circles including the Arab Congregation referred to as
Al Thalooth, i.e. the Tripartite Coalition.
The tripartite Coalition, and which has been ruling the Sudan since independence, encompasses barely three ethnic groups: the Shaigiya Ex-President Sir Alkhatim, current Vice President Taha), the Jallayeen (President Albashir) and the Danagla (Ex-President Nimeiri, Ex-Prime Minister Almahdi and Ex-Vice President Alzibair).
For the last forty years of so, KASH has spearheaded the project of Arab-Islamisation of the Sudan and in their pursuit of their project, they needed foot soldiers supplied by various bodies including the Arab Congregation. The hegemony of the Northern Region over
is so clear-cut and requires no rerun in this article (see JEM 2004, El-Tom 2003 and Ibrahim 2004).
The might of the geopolitical dimension of the Arab Congregation was chillingly demonstrated in
in the early 1980s. Following collapse of Nimeiri’s regime,
government connived with Gaddafi and his disastrous gamble in
into one of their daring crusade to push the so-called Islamic belt into Black
Having been kicked out of
Gaddafi proceeded to locate his Islamic Legion under the command of Acheikh Ibn Omar in the Massalit land, western
. The Legion, whose recruits were sourced in
but equally as far away as
, devastated the area and its indigenous inhabitants.
Settlers of the Islamic Legion in
were later to play prominent role as Janjaweed, effectively executing Musa Hilal’s call: “change the demography of
and empty it of African tribes” (
and de Waal 2005, see also
and De Waal 2006).
Attempts to change demography of
are still going on to this day.
As recently as July 2007,
accused the government of
of “cynically trying to change the demography of the whole region”.
Monitoring the Chadian-Sudanese borders,
“An internal UN report, obtained by the Independent, show that up to 30,000 Arabs have crossed the border in the past three months. Most arrived with all their belongings and large flocks.
They were greeted by Sudanese Arabs who took them to empty villages cleared by the government and Janjaweed forces.
further 45,000 Arabs from
have also crossed over
” (Bloomfield 2007).
At least three conclusions can be drawn so far, each of which connects with a general misconception about the current conflict in
conflict cannot be reduced to a strife that is internal to
and as an outcome of environmentally generated scarcity of resources.
Rather, the conflict is part and parcel of national and regional dynamics as well as aspirations.
Secondly, the Janjaweed are not a by-product of the present
Their current involvement in
war is a mere culmination of decades of atrocities in the region as well as in other parts of the
, such as Abeye in southern
Thirdly, the reading that
government unleashed the Janjaweed following rebellion in
is factually incorrect.
On the contrary,
rebellion took place due to several reasons including atrocities of the Janjaweed against indigenous Darfurians.
In the following pages, I will present several documents, all of them translated by myself.
Notes made by the author on the text are placed between pointed brackets while official translation of Qur’anic verses is used throughout.
Some of these documents have been commented upon in English in other sources but they have never been made available in their entirety to the English reader. Therefore, the value of this article lies in the inclusion of the documents and not in my own analysis as such.
‘In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
– (Holy Qur’an)’
Sayed <[title= Mr>
Prime Minister <Sadiq Almahdi>
The Arab race known today as Arab tribes in
together with the Arab waves that arrived in the 15th century.
Despite their division into numerous groups, these tribes belong to one origin.
These tribes settled in two areas in
One faction settled in an area constituting 88% of the
The other faction settled in the
; namely, the greatest part of its northern, middle, eastern and western territories.
, Arab settlement constitutes 55% of the Province.
The Arab tribes now form more than 70% of the population of
Over the centuries that followed their entry into
and their settlement in
, these Arab tribes have played a pivotal role in the formation of the identity of the Region.
In this part of the nation,
Arabs have been the makers of civilization that formed the real and actual existence of this Region.
That they have done through their involvement in politics religion and language and in a manner that led to the moulding of present
Darfur Arabs have also been instrumental in the Mahdist Revolution, having fought, excelled and died in defence of
Throughout other periods,
Arabs have contributed to political, economic, social, civilisational and cultural advancement of
in particular and
We reaffirm that we have defended and we will continue to defend the unity of
, and with utmost belief and strength. We will remain united and avoid any fragmentation and guard the wholeness of
at all times.
Sayed Prime Minister:
Scholars of political systems define regional governance in different ways.
However, they all concur that regional governance calls for handing over power to the people of the concerned region to undertake political, administrative and economic reforms.
Regional governance stipulates that the tribes of the region take over the running of the region and manage their affairs using their available capable cadres.
In this regard we state with regret that we have been deprived of our right of leadership, representation and participation in decision-making in this region.
We have become a majority but with no weight and subjects but not citizens.
This has been the case despite the following:
We represent 70% of the population of the region
Our educated members constitute 40% of the total educated members of the region.
We have hundreds of university graduates and tens of others who have obtained Masters and PhD Degrees in numerous specializations.
Our contribution to the national budget amounts to no less than 15%
Our contribution to
Region exceeds 90%
We contribute a lion’s share to the army and in sacrifice to the nation
We have contributed 14 Representatives to the Constitutional Assembly (
Jamiya Taseesya) who have effectively represented us, the Arabs.
We have equally contributed 18 members to the Constitutional Assembly (
Jamiya Tasseesia) <note irregularity in the last two sentences>.
Mr Prime Minister:
All that we have said confirms the political, social and economic weight of
Arab tribes. We therefore demand to be represented at a minimum of 50% in the regional constitutional posts and in the regional representation to the central government.
We are worried that should the neglect of representation of the Arab race prevails, things may go out of control and matters may pass the hands of the wise to the ignorant.
Consequences of that will be unpalatable.
Injustice visited by a kin is more painful than a stab of a sword.
Finally, we assure every Sudanese citizen that we are not callers for fragmentation and disunity.
We are callers for justice and equality.
, united and under freedom and democracy.
Interim Committee, Mandated by the Arab Congregation:
Signed: 1. Abdalla Masar; 2. Sharif Ali Jagar; 3. Ibrahim Yagoub; 4. Hesain Hasan Basha; 5. Nazir Hanid Beito; 6. Tajeldin Ahmed Alhilo; 7. Ayoub El Baloula; 8. Mohamed Khawif Alshitali; 9. Zakaria Ibrahim Abu Lehao; 10. Mohamed Zakaria Daldoum; 11. Nazir Alhadi Eisa Dabaka; 12. Altayib Abu Shama; 13. Sindika Dawood; 14. Haroun Ali Sanusi; 15. Dr. Omer Abdel Jabbar; 16. Abdalla Yahia; 17. Sulaiman Jabir Abbaker; 18. Nazir Mohamed Yagoub Alumda; 19. Hamid Mohamed Kheiralla; 20. Mohamed Aldouma Omer; 21. Abdelrahman Ali Abdelnabi; 22. Ahmed Shahata Ahmed; 23. Abubaker Abbo Amin; 24.
Jabir Ahmed Alreyyah; <End of text>”.
Document No. 2
<Document undated; possibly 1987; de Waal says 98/99?>
‘In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
Say: O God!
Lord of Power
To whom Thou pleasest
And Thou strippest off Power
From whom Thou pleasest:
Thou enduest with honour
Whom Thou pleasest,
And Thou bringest low
Whom Thou pleasest:
In Thy hand is all Good.
Verily, over all things
Thou hast power’ (Qur’an- Ali 1983:129)
God, the Almighty is Most Truthful.
In Qoreish 1, we have covered the birth of the new Qoreish and some of its programmes.
However, new political realities, with internal and external dimensions, necessitate taking a moment of reflection to recall objectives, review plans and consolidate achievements for realization of your noble aims.
As you know, the Jaalyeen, the Danagla and the Shaygiya have prevented us ruling
for almost a century.
Despite their adopted Arab cloak, these three ethnic groups are nothing but a hybrid, both racially and culturally and are part and parcel of the Nubian Egyptian fabric.
These groups intend to cling to power forever.
As we have just learnt, these groups have vowed to retain power and rotate it among themselves.
Qoreish is currently passing through a difficult period.
All of us, and especially the two partners in Kordofan and
are requested to rise above opinionated and sectarian divisions so that we can achieve our noble objectives and retain gains that have been realized to date.
To achieve our objectives, it is necessary to hold fast to the following:
Aiming at the year 2020 as the latest date
Objectives are those stated in Qoreish 20 – (i.e. to control
Provisional objective: -to control- the six western States of
Plans, Programmes and Methods:
- Giving special attention to education, both vertically and horizontally; and preparation of highly qualified cadre in all specializations including politics, economics, media, security and military profession.
- Establishment of an economic institution/ foundation.
- Enlightened recruitment into the army and security apparatus.
- Continuation of the plan of pretentious cooperation with the current regime.
- Retention of established working relations with some of the central figures who belong to the ruling tripartite coalition - <Jaalyeen, Danagla and Shaygiya>.
- Coordination with our cousins in central and eastern
- Affirmation of the tribes of the north-south intersection zone, their support, armament and training; making use of Popular Defence Force <at the time, pro-government militias>, Mujahideen and Peace Forces.
- Encouragement of all those who are able to fight to join
- Retention of channels of communication with the Dinka
- Complete commitment to principles enshrined in Shaheen Operation of south Kordofan.
- Containment of friction between Nuhood and Alfula townships (Kordofan) and urging of relatives across the nation to avoid internal strife, which depletes energy.
- Avoidance of raising the Oil issue before its actual extraction
- Containment of consequences of Nyala inter-Arab conflict as far as possible and working for release of detained – Arab – cavalries
- Securing of stuffiest pastures for nomads in
- Fighting traditions of land rights like
hawakeer (indigenous traditional titles to land) and
Dar (tribal land), by all means.
- Projection of our strife against non-Arab tribes in the west as a national defence against extension of southern rebellion into the west.
- Widening the gap and demolition of trust between the centre and the non-Arab tribes. That can be done by pushing leaders of the non-Arab groups to the extreme in expressing their grievances regarding injustice of the central government in the west (
and Kordofan) and by enlightened collaboration with them in their racist and regionalist tendencies.
- Working for an increase of our constitutional posts in the centre and in the States.
- Securing of achievements of Jamous (Bafalo) Programme in western
with all its calculated consequences.
- Continuation of Teraifi 1 and Reraifi 2 in their aim of entrenching members of Qoreish in
- Adequate preparation for elections in the six Western States.
- Remaining vigilant regarding discipline and avoiding callous behaviour like talking about the Nation of the Baggara.
- Payment of attention to positive media by our leaders.
- Necessity of upgrading financial performance of Qoreish.
- Prominent leaders of Qoreish shall remain within the National Congress, three from Qoreish <?> and making decisions as necessitated by daily events.
- Strengthening of coordination and consultation with members of Qoreish in neighbouring countries.
- Promotion of strategic thinking as founded by Albaqalani Aseel and Sheikh Ibn Omer.
- Promotion of Camel Race Programme and using it to strengthen relations with Arab brothers in the Countries of the Arab-Gulf, and with the help of God we will succeed.
‘And We wished to be
Gracious to those who were
Being depressed in the land
To make them leaders (in faith)
And make them heirs
To establish a firm place
For them in the land,
And to show Pharaoh, Haman,
And their hosts, at their hands,
The very things against which
They were taking precautions’ (Qur’an; Ali 1983:1002-1003)
God, the Almighty is Most Truthful.
<End of text>”.
“The Arab Congregation
Administration of Military Operations
‘In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
And hold fast,
All together, by the Rope
Which God (stretches out
For you), and be not divided
… (Qur’an; Ali 1983:149).
All corporate members who have taken oath under leadership of the Arab Congregation are instructed to convene intensive meetings in order to embark on execution of all commitments/ resolutions that have been made and implemented by leadership of the Executive Committee. First meetings shall include all Arab tribes that reside near the areas designated for extermination /
ibada and burning. Umdas and Sheikhs are to commit their subjects under oath of secrecy so that the matter remains completely confidential.
Following initial contacts, general meetings shall be convened to include Arab and non-Arab tribes and volunteers from other groups.
Assistance of non-Arab tribes like the Zaghawa shall be commissioned, thus, making use of them in war procedures, military training, and geographical knowledge < original word: studies> of the area.
In this way, the matter will not be evident for those targeted for extermination /
The following Recommendations have been endorsed:
Dispossession of the Fur of all their cattle and other animals through the use of all available means
Assassination of Fur leaders, representatives and intellectuals and restriction of the remaining Fur in cities, jails and murdering all those who can be killed.
Destruction of all means of transport, including fast ambulance services in order to prevent reporting of incidences to the police and to disrupt communication – of the victims- with the government.
Establishment of camps of the Arab fighters on top of mountains so that they remain beyond reach or entry of the attackers.
Starting military operations in larger and more fortified areas, using disproportionately large number of fighters.
Posting of those who have arrived from western nations / Chad, in particular members of Idris Jamous and Hesain Habri in the following areas: a) Wadi Salih, b) Mukjar and c) Wadi Kaja
Posting of fighters of Popular Defence Force who came from Kordofan, i.e. the Miseiriya in the following locations: a) Jabal Mara, b) South and south-west Kas and c) Wadi Bari
All under oath members are hereby instructed to firmly commit themselves to all agreed resolutions until we achieve victory.
You are to know that our enemies are drawing on the support of the unbelievers and that is why we assigned our forces to different locations and in a way that fits the military situation.
Committee of Arab Congregation in the Region
Administration of Military Operations, 1992.
<End of text>”.
Document No. 4
“<This document appeared in a circular letter format intended to be sent to several officials. No date was affixed to the document, possibly 1993?>
The Arab Congregation
The Executive Committee of the Arab Congregation held a meeting for the purpose of evaluation of activities of all members and for reviewing the situation following appointment of Ministers of Regional Government from among the
Zurga / black population.
The meeting agreed that we never obtain a position in Darfur without recourse to – armed – struggle and unity among ourselves.
This is difficult and critical time and can only be endured by determined men. To achieve objectives of the Congregation, the Supreme Committee of the Arab Congregation made the following decisions:
Committed members of the Congregation and who are under oath are to:
Incite troubles for the Regional Government and use all possible means to subvert implementation of its policies and reform programmes.
Work to paralyse delivery of public services in the areas of the black population and agitate them and make them feel that the government is impotent and incapable of delivering even the minimum life requirements.
Double the number of our volunteers in the areas of the blacks. Our duty necessitates creation of insecurity in these areas, halting of production and liquidation of black leaders.
Work to create tribal conflicts among the black/ zurga so that they will never unite.
Those members of the Congregation who occupy leading positions are instructed to:
Ensure concentration of public services in areas of influence of the Arab Congregation.
Not to appoint children of the Zurga in important posts and at the same time work as opportune as possible to obstruct work of the members of black community who occupy executive and administrative positions.
Work by all ways and means to disrupt stability of schools in areas of the black/ zurga; <End of Text>”.
“The Arab Congregation
Coordination Council of the Arab Congregation
Subject: Report on visits of Political Committee to the localities of Buram, Tulus, Reheid Albirdi and Iddalfursan.
The Committee left for Buram, Monday 10/11/03 and reached its destination at 10.30pm.
The Committee started its work immediately by holding meetings with relevant community and local administration /tribal leaders, politicians, executive officials and notables.
Members of the committee started the meeting clarifying mission and objectives of the visit.
Exploration of views of hosts followed.
Host speakers relayed their satisfaction with the visit and affirmed their agreement with the mission even though the initiative was somewhat late.
Discussion focused on ambiguous issues that needed some clarification by the Committee members.
The Committee was able to make all necessary clarifications.
The following recommendations and points were agreed upon:
That the project of the Arab Congregation must proceed with resolute and effective power so that the end result will be wholly achieved.
Making maximum use of learned people / scientists who command wisdom, prudence and knowledge of economics.
Ensuring just allocation of resources and access to power at both local and national levels, especially under the expected peace agreement -<Later to be the CPA, Comprehensive Peace Agreement>.
Working to speedily overcome inter-tribal conflicts among Arab groups.
Considering the issue at hand within the framework of religion, sharia and reconciliatory Islamic goodness.
Propagating the plan across the Sudan.
Changing the name of the State <meaning Darfur Region or State of South Darfur> to a suitable name.
Being attentive to importance of media, documentation and research.
After issuing of Recommendations, Brother Omer Ali Alghali, Deputy Nazir of Buram Locality was chosen to coordinate between the people of his Locality and the Coordination Council of the Arab Congregation.
That was followed by appointment of the Secretary of the National Congress (the ruling party) to collect signatures of members of the Local
Shura (Consultation) Council and send them to Nyala at the earliest opportunity.
At the end of the meeting, all present attested under oath to work together for the success of the unification concept.
On the following day, the Committee paid a visit to Nazir Salah Ali Alghali to explain the concept in detail and to which he was fully in agreement.
The Committee also paid a visit to the house/also Head Quarters of the Commissioner of the Local Council who gave the project his absolute support. The Commissioner was asked to assist the Secretary of the National Congress in the collection of signatures and in provision of transport for members of the Consultative Commission, whenever requested.
On 11/11/2003, the Committee visited Tullus Fallata Nazirite and held a meeting with tribal administration, politicians and government executive officials. The Commissioner addressed the meeting, thanking the Coordination Council represented by the visiting Committee.
He further elaborated on the dangerous state of affairs and the necessity for unification before presenting the Committee members to the meeting.
After elaborate deliberations, the following recommendations were agreed upon:
All agreed on the idea of unification and the necessity of its implementation.
Setting up of an information committee.
Necessity of working for extended presence in the Republic of Chad.
Publicising the idea among university students.
Opening up of migratory corridors and resting areas/ seasonal camping zones for nomads.
Integration and organization of executive and political work.
Establishment of strong and good relations with the Federal Government.
Formulation of a system of exchange of security plans and intelligence – with the government.
Institution of appropriate economic planning to secure unity.
Activation and development of native administration.
Preparation of clear memorandum of association/ congregation
Abiding by strict secrecy
Umda [Mayor] Yousif Omer Khatir was appointed Coordinator for Tullus Local Council.
The Secretary of the National Congress was nominated to collect signatures of the members of Consultative Commission [Shura] and send them to Nyala as soon as possible.
The Commissioner of Tullus was urged to provide transport for the Consultative Commission members whenever demanded.
The Committee then met with Nazir Ahmed Alsammani Albasher who affirmed the unity project but added further recommendations:
There is a need to bring together all Arab leaders, expose them to the idea of unity and commit them to its implementation.
Urge Nazir Madibbo of the Rezeigat to take this matter seriously with all other leaders in the area.
On 12/11/2003, the Committee visited Reheid Albirdi Locality where they met with tribal leaders, politicians and notables.
The hosts pledged their unanimous support to the unity project and affirmed their willingness to work for its full realization.
The following recommendations were made in the meeting:
Advertise the unity to the public since it is a noble project.
Commit to secrecy of information, particularly with regard to internal local plans.
Give a clear name for the unity.
Give a clear goal/ target and work for its implementation.
Switch from defensive to offensive stance and take initiative to refute gossip, lies and rumours - that harm the Congregation.
Careful study of events in order to secure success of actions.
Cleanliness (self denial, steadfastness) in dealing with others.
Remove Popular <Defence?> Police Force from States of Darfur as they are involved in numerous violations.
Work out a well-studied economic plan to support the project.
Complete taking over authority in South Darfur using mechanical majority.
Change the name Darfur to a suitable one.
Review the issue of the National Service with Khartoum in all aspects.
Encourage the sons of the Arab tribes to get recruited into the Armed Forces, the Police and the Security bodies.
After taking oath, Brother Yousif Mohamed Yousif was elected to act as a coordinator for the Locality, while the Secretary of the National Congress in the area was nominated to collect signatures of the Consultative Commission and send them to Nyala.
It is worth noting that the meeting was attended by all – Arab- families and clans, especially the Salamat who reside in Reheid Albirdi.
On Thursday 13/11/2003, the Committee held a meeting with tribal leaders, notables and politicians in Iddalfursan.
After explaining the purpose of the visit, the Committee listened attentively to views of their hosts.
The following recommendations were then made in the meeting:
Employment of – Arab- University graduates in government institutions.
Setting up of information and research committees.
Guarding and development of the principles embodied in the project.
Protection of politicians of all – concerned/ Arab- tribes by all means.
Changing the names of Darfur States into more logical ones.
Strengthening the social fabric of the Arabs and arrangement of exchange visits among them.
Laying clear economic foundations and principles.
Publicising Arab actions / achievements without reservations.
Organising the Janjaweed for benevolent actions and for protection – of the tribes.
Unreserved obedience to the Arab leaders, especially the Coordination Commission.
Arbitration to solve interstate problems between all races to attain harmony and gain respect of others.
Paying attention to external and particularly border trade.
Committing to secrecy of information.
Utilisation of university graduates and research results.
Employment of graduates in government institutions [repeated, 1]
Improvement of administrative and executive system in the capital of South Darfur and strengthening of native administration at all levels.
Reviewing of planned settlement - <not clear of whom> – to Goz Dongo and also reviewing the water project approved in the name of Iddalfursan.
Reviewing of immigration to Nyala
This was followed by taking oath and by nomination of Dabaka Isa Dabaka to act as Coordinator for the Locality.
The Secretary of the National Congress to the Locality was asked to collect signatures of members of the Consultative Council and send them to Nyala; <end of text>”.
“The Light, the Fast and the Fearful Forces
<Top left is a stamp bearing name “The Light (
El-Khafifa), the Fast (
El-Sariya) and the Fearful (
El-Muriya) Forces, 28/8/2004; Top right is a stamp with government official emblem [Head of a bird?], inscription not legible and no date>.
In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Subject: Intelligence Report No. 310
Head of Intelligence and Security Department.
Greetings of peace and Allah’s blessings.
Reference to your message marked “top secret”, dated 6/8/2004 and concerning removal of 9 mass graves (
maqabir jammaiya) in Darfur States; killing of any who poses a threat to content of this instruction; and possibility of giving evidence to UN, EU and AU delegates coming to investigate mass graves, we hereby inform your Excellency of the following:
8 mass graves have been unearthed, removed and completely burnt under supervision of a committee of the National Security System, Arab Congregation committee and the Secretary General of the State of North Darfur.
The operation was conducted under protection of our forces and for whom nothing under the sun is impossible.
We have not been able to reach the ninth designated mass grave in Wadi Salih, State of West Darfur.
We appeal to your Excellency to address Administration of Military Operations to approve an airplane so that we can remove Wadi Salih mass gave, possibly containing 1200 – one thousand two hundred- remains <extra word illegible>.
We salute your Excellency, the National Salvation Revolution and the Arab Congregation.
<Repeat of Military Stamp as above left- no date inscribed; Signed on left corner as follows>:
Lieutenant: Hajaj Ahmed Rabih <Signature left of name>
Head of Field Division of the Light, the Fast and the Fearful Forces, and member of Implementation Mechanism of the Arab Congregation.
<On the bottom right hand margin, a commentary with different handwriting reads>:
For information of Military and Security Intelligence Instructions:
Graves in Wadi Salih have been unearthed within 24 hours using a plane, Nyala Airport to Wadi Salih.
Relocation and burning shall proceed under utmost secrecy and shall not include … <two words not legible>.
Intelligence Division, 29th August <Signature follows, exact name not legible;
End of Document>”.
The question of authenticity must arise in handling clandestine documents such as those presented in this article. Document 1 which appeared in a form of a letter addressed to the Prime Minster Almahdi went public and was published in national newspapers.
All other documents are meant to be secret and were marked so.
More often than not, participants in the meetings were sworn on the Qur’an to ensure just that.
It is hard to doubt the authenticity of the presented documents.
Excellent, though brief, comments on some of them appeared in Flint and de Waal, 2005.
Harir and Sulaiman have also referred to some of them, although the latter writer relegated his comments to footnotes of his publication (Harir 1993, Sulaiman 2000).
It is difficult to discern consensus of the Arab Coalition on these Documents, particularly the inflammatory and racist Documents 2, 3, 4 and 5.
While it is obvious that these Documents reflect the work of supremacist sector of the Arab Coalition, it is not easy to comprehend the conspicuous absence of their public condemnation among Arab groups.
Moreover, racist principles contained in most of these documents seemed to have enjoyed wide support in the current Darfur conflict and are well in tune with the perception of black people in the Arab culture of northern Sudan (see Mukhtar 2006 and Ibrahim 2005).
I will return to this issue after some comments on the documents.
The appointment of Dreige as a Governor for Darfur during Nimeiri’s rule in 1983 caused a stir among the Arabs of Darfur.
As Dreige belongs to the Fur, the ethnic group that gave the region its name, the Arabs of Darfur saw that as a setback of their dream of dominating the region.
Clandestine inflammatory cassettes circulated among members of Darfur Arabs, some of them were blatantly militant and racists. But the Arab groups were yet to organise into a coherent political force.
That came later during Almahdi’s presidency later in the decade.
In October 1987, a coalition of 27 Arab Groups sent an open letter to Prime Minister Almahdi, addressing him as one of their own and who had in some way betrayed them.
The letter which was signed by 27 people, with three names later withdrawn, referred clearly to the background where the Arabs have assisted Khartoum government in its war against the south, only to be let down by passing over Darfur
governorship to their opponents under leadership of Tigani Seise.
The letter stated that the Arabs constituted 70% majority in Darfur and demands control over the region, together with adequate representation in the central government.
The Arab Groups ended their letter with a clear warning that should their demands be ignored, matters might pass from the wise to the ignorant and with dire consequences.
In some ways, Document 1 can be said to have marked official inauguration of the Arab Congregation.
Exaggeration of the number of Arab population is very clear.
If the Arabs constituted 70% of Darfur population they would have simply controlled the region through the same election that had given power to Almahdi .
Ibrahim, a formidable scholar who has monitored Darfur people over several decades reverses the figures, giving the Arabs 30% as opposed to 70% of African ethnic groups (Ibrahim 2005:11).
But what is more ominous is that the letter indicated a worrying sense of superiority, divine right to monopolize power and readiness to use all methods to achieve stated objective.
Moreover, the letter implied that support of riverine Sudan had been secured but was not delivered (see also Qoreish 2 in Document 2).
Since its letter to Amahdi, the Arab Congregation went from strength to strength but has since passed its leadership to the “ignorant” if we are to use the Congregation’s own expression.
Subsequent communications of the Arab Congregation became steeped into a discourse of racial purity, a term that has long been relegated to the dustbin of history.
Remarkably, and despite its intellectual inaccuracy, race has become central to understanding of Darfur conflict.
In his thoughtful article on Darfur, Lumamba challenges analysts not to avoid the issue of race like a plague and face the ultimate truth that although race is a social construction and has no biological bases, it has been the backbone of the ideology that underpinned the conflict in Darfur and Sudan.
Both, the Arab Congregation and their surrogate parents, the riverine Arabs, share this ideology (Lumamba 2007).
At a different level, Almahdi’s second democracy (1986-1989) shattered the Congregation’s dream in a different way.
Their claim to constitute a clear majority in Darfur was falsified and did not translate into parliamentary seats. To add insult to injury, Almahdi proceeded to appoint a non-Arab Darfurian (Seise) to the governorship of Darfur.
Although organized attacks of members of the Arab Congregation was reported as early as 1982, they became more incessant during the late 1980s (Flint and de Waal 200652).
At the same time, the Arab Congregation intensified release of its edicts that provided ideological backing to their violence.
This period also witnessed renewed emphases on Arab racial purity coupled by lumping together all indigenous Darfurians under the rubric of “Zurga” (black).
So intense was the campaign of the Arab Congregation in this regard that non-Arab Darfuris began to see themselves as an undifferentiated mass of Zurga.
The hybridity of race that was once alluded to by many indigenous people was finally laid to rest.
The ideological campaign of violence of the Arab Congregation became less of clandestine work using available technology of cassettes, photocopying and faxes. As the documents show, the edicts regularly called for destruction of public services aimed at the Zurga, killing of Zurga elites, mobilisation of Arab militias and occupation of land and inciting conflict.
At the organisational level, the Arab Congregation elected its offices in the guise of High Councils, Executive, Political and Military Committees.
Moreover, links began to be forged among all Arabs of western Sudan (Kordofan and Darfur), within Sudan at large and at the geopolitical stage spanning neighbouring countries, North Africa and the Middle East.
This is chillingly demonstrated in what has come to be called Qoreish 2, released in the early 1990s (?), to follow Qoreish 1, which the author has not been able to track down.
Qoreish 2 subscribes to Arab purity that is now exclusively a preserve of components of the Arab Congregation.
Riverine allies, and who championed the project of Arab-Islamisation of the Sudan are dismissed in the edict as no more than hybrid Nubians and Egyptians.
Much worse, they are guilty of depriving the Qoreishi and true descendents of prophet Mohamed of legitimately ruling the Sudan.
In fact, the relationship between the Arab Congregation and particularly the Tripartite Coalition has constituted a marriage of convenience characterised by love and hate.
The Tripartite Coalition sees its members as the civilised heir of the colonial project of modernisation and for which the Arab Congregation is badly suited.
In its most recent form, government propaganda code-named this project “the Civilisational Orientation”.
In the eyes of the Tripartite Coalition, the Arab Congregation is no more than a bunch of nomads, steeped in savagery and only fit for use as foot soldiers.
Nonetheless, they are indispensibe in carrying out full implementation of the Arab-Islamic project.
If phase one of this project has been torpedoed by western powers / international community in the Christain south of the Sudan, the Darfur phase two of it must succeed.
It will be accomplished, even if it takes considerable delaying manoeuvres or to use
’s term “Khartoum’s cat and mouse tactics” with the international community.
In a recent development, Hamdi, guru economist and Albashir’s ex-Minister for Economy and Finance advised that future investment and development in the Sudan should by-pass Darfur and focus on the northern Dongola- Sennar – Kordofan axis. Hamdi concluded that this triangle represents the hard-core of historic and future Arab-Islamic Sudan. Following segregation of the south, taken as given by Hamdi, this triangle guarantees power for the National congress party of Albashir in future democratic Sudan.
The Arabs of Darfur have a lot to contemplate about in their alliance with the riverine people of Sudan (Hamdi 2005).
In examining these documents, one must avoid the temptation of treating them as work of a lunatic fringe that has little impact on what has happened and still happening in Darfur.
For any nation to be able to massacre anything between 200,000 to 550,000 people, mostly non-combatants and in just over four to five years, it requires a sustained ideology and discourse capable of turning a substantial sector of its population into conniving killers.
It is within this context that we should read these documents.
And as long as the carnage in Darfur has called in the interference of the International Criminal Court, it is futile to waste time debating whether we have genocide at hand or not. What is pertinent is that these documents have been part and parcel of a culture that is favourable of committal of genocide.
Comparing Darfur situation with other countries that witnessed genocides, crimes against humanities and other heinous atrocities, one finds similar edicts that were central to formation of an ideology that sustained the killing.
Rwanda, Bosnia, Holocaust Germany, and the Anfal of Iraq, were, all accompanied by similar campaigns.
For the purpose of this article I will restrict myself to Rwanda and whose Hutu ideology mimics, though with some differences, the contents of Arab Congregation Documents.
The Hutu ideology that had led to Rwandan genocide was enshrined in what was publicised as “Ten Commandments of the Hutu”.
Below are the points of convergence between the Congregation documents and the Ten Commandments:
Hutu Ten Commandments:
5 of the Commandments reads:
All strategic positions, political, administrative, economic, and military and security should be entrusted to Hutu.
The Arab Congregation documents read:
Enlightened recruitment into the army and security apparatus (Doc 1, point 1.3)
Encouragement of those who are able to fight to join Popular Defence Force, Mujahideen Force and Peace Force (Doc 1, point 1.8.
Not to appoint children of the Zurga in important posts and at the same time .. (Doc 4, point ‘b’)
Encourage the sons of the Arab tribes to get recruited into the armed forces, police and security bodies (Doc 5, 13)
Hutu Ten Commandments:
Point 6 reads:
The education sector (school pupils, students, teachers) must be majority Hutu
The Arab Congregation documents read:
Giving special attention to education, both vertically and horizontally ... (Doc 1, 1.1).
Work to paralyse delivery of public services in the areas of the Black population (Doc 4, point 3)
Ensure concentration of public services in the areas of influence of the Arab Congregation (Doc 4, point ‘a’)
Work by all ways and means to disrupt stability of schools in areas of the black/ Zurga (Doc 4, point ‘c’)
Hutu Ten Commandment:
Passages in point 9 reads:
-The Hutu, wherever they are, must have unity and solidarity, and be concerned with the fate of their Hutu brothers
- The Hutu inside and outside Rwanda must constantly look for friends and allies for the Hutu cause, starting with their Bantu brothers
The Arab Congregations documents read:
Coordination with our cousins in central and eastern Sudan
Strengthening of coordination and consultation with members of Qoreish in neighbouring countries (Doc 2, point 2.1)
Promotion of Camel Race Programme and using it to strengthen relations with Arab brothers in the Gulf countries (Doc 2, point 2.3)
Working to speedily overcome inter-tribal conflicts among the Arabs (Doc 5, 4)
... under oath to work together for the success of the unification project (Doc5, point 11).
All agreed on the idea of the unification project and necessity of its implementation
Advertise the unity to the – Arab- public since it is a noble project ... Give a clear name for the unity (Doc 5, points 1 and 4)
Hutu Ten Commandments:
Point 10 reads:
-.. the Hutu ideology must be taught to every Hutu at every level.
Every Hutu must spread this ideology widely
Documents of the Arab Congregation read:
Propagating the thought across Sudan (Doc 5, point 6)
Spreading the idea among university students (Doc 5, point 4)
There is a need to bring together all Arab leaders, expose them to the idea of unity and commit them to its implementation (Doc 5, point 1)
Finally, the Hutu Commandment restricts its call for having no mercy on the Tutsi. The Arab documents are much more explicit, referring to killings, assassinations and extermination.
: From culturecide to genocide:
The Arab documents contained in this article did not appear out of a vacuum.
Rather, they are part of a discourse that has characterised the formation of Sudan’s nationhood.
The very constitution of Sudan as an Arab-Islamic entity presupposes that all other cultures, indigenous or otherwise, have to give way to Arab Islamic cultures and in the way defined by the hegemonic power in the country.
Genocides are not new to Sudan. Ignoring distant history, they featured in the Mahdia rule (Berber), in the south of Sudan, the Nuba Mountains the conflictual zone of Abyie and now in Darfur.
While genocides in the Sudan have been intermittent, the destruction of African cultures (culturecide) has accompanied the formation of Sudan since the colonial time.
The British rule protected the south of the Sudan against Arab-Muslim encroachment of north but did not extend same guardianship to other indigenous African cultures.
As far as other parts of the Sudan including Darfur were concerned, they were simply handed over to riverine Sudan to oversee the destruction of their cultures.
If the European and the Islamic Arab World agree on one thing in Africa, it is their conviction that black African cultures have nothing to offer, do not merit survival and the sooner they vanish the better.
Leaving the European aside, Sudan’s Arab-Islamic project has its regional dimension that transcends national borders.
Black Africa, south of the Sahara is all too familiar with the incessant expansion of Arab-Islamic cultures, at the expense of its indigenous counterparts. What is more perplexing is that this process has gone unchallenged for so long. Much worse, it has been taken as inevitable, desirable and has commanded support of national and Arab leaders.
Writing in this respect, Prunier writes:
“.. in the 1980s, Colonel Gaddafi and Prime Minster Sadiq al-Mahdi gave an answer: Darfur was poor and backward because it was insufficiently arabized. It had missed out in the great adhesion to the Muslim Umma because its Islam was primitive and insufficiently Arabic” (Prunier 2005:162; Quoted in Lumamba 2007).
Flawed as it is, this vision also finds support from far a field. Both Mazrui and Mamdani, otherwise respectable writers glorify de-Africanisation of Africa in favour of Arab Islamic culture.
In a clearly racist view that admires Arabisation of Black Africans, Mazrui declares in a Janjaweed style: “ .. under genealogical system of the Arab World [they] become subject to upward genealogical mobility.
They were co-opted upward” (Lumamba 2007). One would wonder whether Mazrui would also include reproduction through mass rape in Darfur within his process of upward mobility.
As Darfur is entirely Muslim, it is the Arabisation of its populations that occupied the minds of Khartoum rulers.
Let us leave the alleged inferiority of Darfur Islam aside and focus on Arabisation.
The machinery of the state was used for that purpose: the school, the judicial system, the media, and the mosque and of course the market.
All these institutions played their roles in disseminating Arab Islamic culture while at the same time denigrating its rival, the indigenous cultures. Even the landscape itself did not escape this cultural onslaught. Towns had to be renamed to please riverine Arab-Islamic taste. Thus Id al-Ghanam became, Id al Fursan, the town Broosh became Uroosh, Kattal became Dar Alsalam, Khoor Mareesa became Zamzam and so forth and.
The fact that these towns acquired their names for historical and cultural reasons is immaterial. Part of the process is of course to rewrite history and obliterate local heritage.
If the indigenous people needed any history, they can look beyond the Red sea and retrieve it from the early Islamic period in the Middle East or the like.
Not surprisingly, schools and class rooms came to be known as A-Zahra, Omer, Osman, Abubakar, Safa, Marwa, Alhumeira and so forth; names that make these establishments indistinguishable from any school nomenclature in the Saudi Arabia.
While there is nothing wrong in drawing on Islamic symbols, it is their exclusivity that makes a mockery of local history.
In looking at symbolic nomenclature, Arabism often transcends Islam. This is bellied by the very fact that the plight of the Muslims in Darfur attracted little sympathy in the Arab Islamic world.
Running the risk of blaming the victim, the locals too have participated in pillaging their culture, a common feature of oppressed groups. Arab politics provided a rich source of names for boys in Darfur but also for Sudan at large, sometimes commensurate with eras in which Arab rulers and dictators lived.
Thus Faisal (Saudi), Najeeb, Jamal, Anwar (Egypt), Sabah (Kuwait) and Gaddafi are now common names in Darfur.
As for girls in Darfur, they are not fortunate.
Male chauvinist gender relations offer them scant opportunity.
Arab soap operas, mostly Egyptian stand ready to fill this void.
Hence you have new popular names for girls like Rania, Hanan, Sameera, Shahr Zad and Nabeela, all uplifted from Egyptian movie stars. These new names rarely feature among older generations in Darfur – more likely to be Khadija, Fatna, Ashsha, Mariam, Zeinab and Kaltuma and their derivatives.
The former category is Arabic while the latter is distinctively Islamic.
Those whose names depicts Darfur accent also have to oblige.
Thus Abbaker became Abu Bakr, Isakha turned into Ishag and Adoama retuned to read Adam.
The Genocide connection:
The connection between the Arab documents and the Janjaweed genocide actions in Darfur is unmistakably evident.
In sociological terms, genocide can be defined as:
“a form of violent social conflict, or war, between armed power and organisations that aim to destroy, in part or in whole, social groups and those groups and other actors who resist this destruction” (adapted from Shaw 2007:154).
In Lemkin’s format, genocide involved destruction of social groups, a fact that challenges popular perception of mass killing as an essential component of genocide.
As Shaw explains, destruction is aimed at uprooting essential foundations of life of such social groups (Shaw 2005:19, Lemkin 1944).
Without exhausting social fields expounded by Lemkin, the assault includes political, economic, social/cultural/ and moral aspects of targeted social groups.
At the political level, the Arab documents were very clear in the intention of the group to destroy the political system of their enemies. To begin with, the target groups were stripped of their legitimacy to rule themselves.
The right to rule the region/s is a divine outcome of the “biological” descent of the Arab groups; the descent that connects them directly with the prophet.
The right of the Arab groups for political domination is further asserted by alleged majority status and by having migrated into the area when it was empty of indigenous population. Both of these claims are factually incorrect. As practical steps towards effecting political control, members of the Arab Congregation are called in the documents to enrol on mass in all relevant strategic institutions like the army, police, Popular Defence and Peace Force, Security, etc.
At a different level, the documents call for assassination of leaders of the target groups, not to appoint their members in high offices and setting them against each other as well as against the government. All these measures are likely to destroy political viability of the indigenous population.
In the economic field, the target groups are to be attacked at various levels.
As the documents show, there is a clear mobilisation for seizing properties of the Zurga, appropriating their land, disrupting public services and creating instability that makes economic advancement impossible.
In the social and cultural fields, the Documents are again instructive regarding destruction of the non-Arab populations.
Many of the points raised above already point to that direction, i.e. social and cultural disruption of the target population.
Denial of political and economic autonomy poses a formidable threat to the social and cultural survival of these groups. Furthermore, the documents call for setting Zurga communities in conflict against each other, killing their leaders, wrecking their educational system and reducing their populations to a state of utter dependency in the guise of landless refugees and IDPs. In short, the aim of the document is to ensure that the Zurga no longer constitute functioning communities.
Those who see mass killings as an essential defining feature of genocide can turn to Documents 3 and 6.
The term “Ibada”, accurately translated as “annihilation”, “extermination” or “eradication” occurs twice in Document 3.
It is noteworthy that the first time the term Ibada (extermination) appeared in the Arab Congregation communication was in 1992, Document 3.
Document 6 refers to a desperate attempt to hide evidence of mass killings prior to visit of international investigators. Interestingly, international institutions and western governments have often been accused of doing so little to protect people of Darfur.
Document 6 shows their actions, no matter how feeble, have thrown Darfur genocidaires into panic.
As such, it is possible to conclude that international intervention must have reduced genocide actions and saved human lives.
In reading through the documents, one is struck by the paramountcy given to secrecy. In fact, these Documents were nothing but secret.
Coordination of the work with government security, army and political machinery made it difficult for these Documents and their contents to remain confidential.
Evil as it may be, destruction of villages and depopulation of entire areas were openly discussed by both government officials and members of the Arab Congregation. The case of Attal Mannan, ex-governor of South Darfur is revealing in this regard.
Attal Mannan is also reputed to be the head of KASH (Northern Entity), referred to earlier in the article.
At the height of Darfur war, 2005, the then Governor roared in a public rally in Sheiryia town: “the Zaghawa have to look for another planet to live on”.
His speech came in an open support for attempts of Arab Janjaweed to drive the Zaghawa out of the area.
Actions and movements of the Arab Congregation cannot be kept secret for another reason.
The intensity of security surveillance in Darfur makes it impossible for the Arab Congregation to operate behind government eyes.
As allies in Darfur war at least, the need for coordination makes secrecy unnecessary if not totally counterproductive.
This article examines a number of documents issued by the Arab Congregation and its branches over the last two decades.
While these documents are available in Arabic, this article presents them to the English reader in their entirety. This is where the value of this article resides.
Hence, the article does not attempt an exhaustive analysis of the documents.
That job is left to the reader as well as for a different work in a different space.
Documents contained in this article should be read as complementary to Sudan’s discourse of genocide.
They provided an ideology that made Darfur genocide possible.
At the same, ideology underlining these documents is not a recent phenomenon.
Rather it has been set in motion ever since Sudan was declared an Arab-Islamic state.
Moreover, Sudan’s project is part of continental project that seeks to expand Arab influence, expressed as Arab Belt further south into Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ali, Yusuf, A
The Holy Qur’an: Text, translation and commentary.
Amana Corp, USA.
Bloomfield, Steve 2007-07-21
Arabs from Chad, Niger pile into Sudan’s Darfur- UN.
-Tom, Abdullahi Osman 2003
The Black Book of Sudan: Imbalance of power and wealth in Sudan”.
Journal of African National Affairs.
Also in Review of African Political Economy. Vol. 30,97:501-511 (joint authorship with M. A. Salih).
El-Tom, Abdullahi Osman 2006
“Darfur people: Too black for the Arab-Islamic project of Sudan”.
Irish Journal of Anthropology.
Vol. 9, 1:12-18.
Flint, Julie and Alex de Waal 2005
“Darfur: Ideology in arms – The Imergence of Darfur’s Janjaweed.
The Daily Star, Augsut 29.
Flint, Julie and de Waal, Alex
Darfur: A short history of a long war.
Hamdi, Abdel Rahim
Future of foreign investment in Sudan: A working paper for the National Congress Party. Sudan Studies Association Newletter, Vol. 24, No. 1:11-14. October – Internet Publication, (Translated from Arabic by Abdullahi El-Tom).
The Arab belt versus African belt in Darfur.
A paper presented to Conference on “Short cut to decay”: The case of the Sudan.
Centre for Development Studies, University of Bergen.
The Black Book: Imbalance of power and wealth in Sudan.
Part I and II. English Translation.
Background to the present conflict in Darfur.
Germany, University of Bayruth.
Ibrahim, Fouad 2005
Strategies for a de-escalation of violence in Darfur, Sudan.
Special Issue of Global Development Options. Vol. 4:29-52.
Lumamba, Harakati Shaja, 2007
“Darfur: A wake up call for Africa”.
Vol. 3, 1, (Forthcoming).
Axix rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of occupation, analysis of Government, proposal for redress.
New York: Carneige Endowment for International Peace.
Mukhtar, Al-Baqir Afif
“The crisis of identity in Northern Sudan: A dilemma of a black people with a white culture”.
In C. Fluehr-Lobban and K. Rhodes (eds.) Race and identity in the Nile Valley: Ancient and modern perspectives.
The Red Press.
“A Problem from hell”: America and the age of genocide.
Darfur: The ambigious genocide.
Cornell Univeristy Press.
What is genocide? Polity Press.
Sudan: Wars of resources and identity.
Cambridge, UK (in Arabic)
(Abdullahi Osman El-Tom is in Charge of the Bureau for Training and Strategic Planning of JEM.
He teaches anthropology at NUIM, Ireland.
Email: [email protected])
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