Alex de Waal – England

Linked with Sudan and the International Criminal Court: a guide to the controversy, and with Social Science Research Council SSRC. Added Aug. 25, 2008: and linked with Justice Africa, London.

Alex de Waal is a British writer and researcher on African issues. He is a fellow of the Global Equity Initiative at Harvard University, as well as program director at the Social Science Research Council SSRC in New York City. De Waal is also a co-director of Justice Africa, London. De Waal received a D.Phil. in social anthropology at the University of Oxford for his thesis on the 1984-5 Darfur famine in Sudan. The next year he joined the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, only to resign in December 1992 in protest for HRW’s support for the American military involvement in Somalia / Unified Task Force. He was the first chairman of the Mines Advisory Group at the beginning of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. From 1997 to 2001, he focused on avenues to peaceful resolution of the Second Sudanese Civil War. In 2001, he returned to his work on health in Africa, writing on the intersection of HIV and AIDS, and poverty and drought. In 2004, he returned to his doctoral thesis topic of Darfur as the conflict there worsened. During 2005 and 2006, de Waal was seconded to the African Union mediation team for Darfur … (full text).

He says: ” … I joined the peace process late, as an adviser. The Sudan government objected to me and I was smuggled in as a personal advisor to the chief mediator, Salim Salim. I didn’t dictate that process. My advice was sometimes followed, more often not. I declined the invitation to join the last mediation in Sirte [Libya] because the advice I have been giving was not followed at all. I and others involved have scrutinized and criticized every aspect of the process. Knowing how agonizingly close we came to an agreement in Abuja, and looking at the small things that might have made the difference, I search my memory and conscience every day to examine what I might have done differently … (full interview /debate text, 7 pages, 2007).

His blog: Making Sense of Darfour.


Alex de Waal – England

The CCI accusation of Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir:

Alex de Waal, a former adviser to the African Union and co- author of “Darfur: A Short History of a Long War,” said an indictment of al-Bashir may jeopardize the country’s peace process. In 2005, Muslim northern Sudan and the mainly Christian and animist south signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement that ended a 21-year civil war … (full text, July 15, 2008).

It is said: There are many who live by writing, which is brave enough, but few who write to keep people alive. Alex de Waal is in the latter category, an indefatigable writer with an urgent message: There are tribes in mortal danger, whole populations marked for genocide … (full text, June 22, 2008).

He writes: … Over long months of negotiation, we in the Mediation could not find a consensus. The warring parties were too far apart. The Movements, especially, hardly shifted from a maximalist negotiating position. Instead we proposed a position in between. There was an intense debate within the Mediation on how to handle this and what positions to propose. The first reaction of the Movements and their sympathizers is that the AU proposals fall well short of their legitimate demands and are a sell-out to Khartoum. I urge them to read the text carefully, to examine what actually they gain … (full text, May 4, 2006).

Justice Off Course In Darfur, June 28, 2008.

Sudanese President Omar al-Beshir, the first sitting ruler named for war crimes by the International Criminal Court, is a fiery and defiant professional soldier who seized power 19 years ago in a coup … “As an individual, as a member of the Jaali tribe, as a military officer and as head of state, he is intensely proud,” said Sudan analyst Alex de Waal … (full text, July 15, 2008).

His Biographies:

… Alex de Waal, a Darfur analyst, summed up the salience of the study: “Darfur’s markets will undoubtedly be a more important factor than relief programmes in the survival and livelihoods of the Darfurian people,” he wrote in a 2 July blog entry, “and it is crucial that they are studied, understood and supported”. (full text, July 11, 2008).

Who are the Darfurians? Arab and African Identities, Violence and External Engagement, Dec. 10, 2004.

He tells: … Estimates for the numbers who have died in Darfur range from 63,000 to 400,000. As is common in such disasters, the higher figures tend to get most airtime and the lower figures tend to be more credible. Recent figures show that death rates are now below the threshold that counts as an “emergency.” The people of Darfur are a long way from an end to their tragedy, and their intractable conflicts will continue to create serious problems both for Khartoum’s new government and for Chad. But at least they are not dying in large numbers, and that is something. Let’s give credit where it is due: to the Sudanese relief professionals and volunteers who have struggled against formidable odds to make feeding and health programmes work in some of the world’s most difficult terrain, the international relief agencies, and the foreign donors … (full text, August 2005).

Former US special envoy to Sudan warns against ICC Darfur indictments, June 27, 2008.

No Such Thing as Humanitarian Intervention: Why We Need to Rethink How to Realize the “Responsibility to Protect” in Wartime … he ends his article: Let us be very wary of developing any doctrine for humanitarian intervention. Any principle of intervention can readily be abused – as by the French in central Africa – or become a charter for imperial occupation. There may be cases in which imperial rule is the lesser of two evils, perhaps to end genocide (a current preoccupation) or to end slavery (a late 19th century one), but philanthropic imperialism is imperial nonetheless. As Harcourt noted, ethics can sometimes override law, and invasion, like revolution, can sometimes bring about a better state of affairs. But chasing the chimera of humanitarian intervention distracts us and impedes the search for real solutions to crises such as Darfur. (full long text, March 21, 2007).

The Writing Life, June 22, 2008.

He tells also: Three of the suspects in the attempted bombings in London on 21 July were born in the Horn of Africa. One, Yasin Hassan Omar, was born in Somalia; a second, Osman Hussein, in Ethiopia; and a third, Muktar Said Ibrahim, in Eritrea. Ten years ago, when Osama bin Laden lived in Khartoum, the Horn of Africa could plausibly have been described as both the headquarters and the front line of international jihadism … A century ago, the first fundamentalists saw their task as challenging the imperial powers and their modern rationalism. Hassan al-Banna, the Egyptian schoolteacher who invented Islamism as a socio-political movement in the 1920s, saw his Muslim Brothers as a party comparable to the Fascists and Communists he contended with. For the next generation, the struggle was with secular pan-Arabism, Communism and, in Africa, leftist liberation movements. For Muslims in the Horn, 9/11 came at a moment when the Islamist project had been overtaken by the politics of exhaustion. By declaring his War on Terror, President Bush provided a convenient new enemy, but resisting America is so remote from the real problems faced by ordinary Muslims as to be meaningful only to a handful of misfits and criminals. Luuq was a real and courageous attempt to build an Islamic community in Somalia’s ruins, though it was fatally hijacked by al-Qaida. Ayro’s murders, by contrast, are utterly meaningless. Today, East African Muslims are more likely to be radicalised in Finsbury Park or Brixton than in Khartoum or Luuq. Personal bitterness, a search to find affirmation in membership of small exclusive groups, and the endless news stories about Muslims being victimised in Palestine, Iraq and Europe are all more significant influences on young Muslims in England than al-Itihaad or Eritrea Jihad. What we have learned so far about Yasin Hassan Omar, Hussein Osman and Muktar Said Ibrahim suggests that this is their story. (full text, Sept. 1, 2005).

The Wars of Sudan, March 01, 2007.

He concludes: Review of Gerard Prunier, Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide, Hurst and Co. … International efforts to find a solution to Darfur’s agony are now in the hands of the African Union. Prunier dismisses this as ‘the politically correct way of saying “We do not really care”.’ But American, British and other international support to the Kenyan-headed North-South peace process, followed a similar formula of ad hoc multilateralism, and did bring an end to twenty years of comparably vicious war. Darfur’s peace process is in some respects more challenging. There is no cohesive leadership on either side and the political issues that divide the belligerents have yet to be thrashed out—the agenda for negotiations is itself a matter of acrimony. Meanwhile, the best hopes for a settlement may come from connecting external peacemaking to internal initiatives. Darfur’s own provincial aristocrats, the paramount chiefs—including the ruling Arab families—are seeking an exit from their predicament, one that restores a conservative social order and salvages their tribes’ reputation. If the Janjawiid are to be politically decapitated, it may be through the efforts of these hardened old tribal chiefs, arguing that for the government and its allies to submit to their mediation is a better option than extradition to The Hague and a cell in a Dutch basement. (full text, Sept. 01, 2005).

The book was closed too soon on peace in Dafur, Sept, 29, 2006.

And he writes: … It is hard to find a news account of the present war in Darfur that does not characterise it as one of ‘Arabs’ against ‘Africans’. Such a description would have been incomprehensible twenty years ago, when Darfurian conceptions of ethnicity and citizenship were still cast in the mould inherited from the Sultanate of Dar Fur and the string of comparable Sudanic states that stretched westwards to the Atlantic. The short but dramatic political career of one Fur politician, Daud Bolad, illustrates the way in which the terms ‘African’ and ‘Arab’ took such a hold … (full long text, August 5, 2004).

Darfur’s fragile peace, May 07, 2006.

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Military intervention won’t stop the killing. Those who are clamouring for troops to fight their way into Darfur are suffering from a salvation delusion. It’s a simple reality that UN troops can’t stop an ongoing war, and their record at protecting civilians is far from perfect. Moreover, the idea of Bush and Blair acting as global moral arbiters doesn’t travel well. The crisis in Darfur is political. It’s a civil war, and like all wars it needs a political settlement. Late in the night of 16 November Kofi Annan chaired a meeting at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa at which he, the AU and the UN Security Council reaffirmed this basic fact. When he promised to bring the government of Sudan and the rebels who are still fighting around the table within weeks, the outgoing UN secretary general was adopting a simple and correct rationale: fix the politics first and the peacekeeping will follow. It’s not a distant hope: the political differences are small … (full text, Nov. 30, 2006).


The ICC, on Course in Darfur, July 1, 2008;

On drug wars and opium fueled insurgencies;

7 international peacekeepers killed in Darfur ambush, July 10, 2008.

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