Heading Towards Genocide: Darfur’s Desperate Situation

Darfur, Sudan is once again teetering on the edge of genocide, and this time, the world is witnessing the violence under President Biden’s watch. Despite the urgent need for intervention, the Biden administration’s response has fallen short. However, there are two crucial actions Mr. Biden can take immediately to make a real impact on the situation.

Paramilitary Rampage: A Grim Reality in Darfur

Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (R.S.F.), operating as a mercenary-commercial entity, have recently seized control of four out of five major cities in Darfur. Unfortunately, each takeover has resulted in massacres and pillaging, particularly targeting darker-skinned communities. The town of Ardamata, seized on Nov. 4, witnessed the slaughter of around 1,500 people, according to a Darfur human rights group. The demoralized Sudan Armed Forces in Darfur, facing a mobile and ferocious adversary, seem incapable of halting the R.S.F.’s campaign.

Ethnic Cleansing Unfolding: A Bleak Future for Darfur

The ongoing violence suggests that the R.S.F.’s brutal campaign will persist until all cities are pillaged, and Darfur’s non-Arabic-speaking communities are either ethnically cleansed or reduced to underpaid laborers on their own land. Hundreds of thousands of terrified civilians are seeking refuge in the North Darfur capital, El Fasher, the last city not yet overrun by the R.S.F. This grim reality marks the second wave of Janjaweed-style violence in the region.

Historical Context: The Return of Janjaweed

The Rapid Support Forces represent the next-generation Janjaweed, a militia responsible for rampaging through Darfur two decades ago. In that earlier episode, orchestrated by President Omar al-Bashir, Janjaweed militiamen burned, killed, raped, and looted, causing the death of tens of thousands of civilians and leaving hundreds of thousands in dire circumstances.

Global Response to the First Crisis

The international community, led by figures like George Clooney, successfully raised awareness about the Darfur crisis in 2004. The Save Darfur Coalition pressed President George W. Bush to deploy international troops, resulting in humanitarian operations and peacekeeping efforts. The International Criminal Court pursued charges against al-Bashir, although the peace process was slow. The situation eventually improved after al-Bashir’s ouster in 2019.

Missed Opportunities and Current Unrest

Despite these efforts, a timely peace deal wasn’t achieved, and the recent power struggle between R.S.F.’s General Hamdan and Sudan Armed Forces’ Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan triggered renewed violence in Darfur. The absence of international peacekeepers exacerbated the crisis after the shutdown of the U.N.-African Union Mission in Darfur in mid-2021.

Biden’s Role: Urgent Actions Needed

As Darfur faces another potential genocide, President Biden must take immediate steps to prevent further bloodshed. The first crucial action is to prevent America’s Middle Eastern allies from arming the perpetrators. Additionally, supporting a Kenyan-led African initiative to end the violence could be a decisive move. The urgency of the situation demands robust intervention to avert a humanitarian catastrophe in Darfur.

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