ABSTRACT

Sudan is a country that has been at war with itself since the dawn of its independence from the British in 1956. These conflicts erupt systematically, in the form of low-intensity conflict, and are costly in terms of destruction of wealth and lives. While the northern political elites in the center have the power and wealth, the peripheries in the south, Darfur, and the east are struggling to obtain their fair share of national wealth. The northern political elites, in their quest to maintain power and wealth, have used tactics of divide and rule, as well as sheer force, to consolidate their power base. Further, over the last 50 years the military has abandoned its professionalism and become a tool in the hand of the elite. In 2003, while the Government of Sudan (GoS) was closing one of its

chapters of brutal war in southern Sudan with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), it was also engaged in waves of counter-insurgency tactics against the people of Darfur. This was done under the banner of “fighting terrorism,” but in reality the innocent people were the victims of a gruesome atrocity. Satellite imagery reveals patterns of destruction of villages in Darfur, which led to a human-rights and humanitarian disaster (Amnesty International 2004). The pattern in the south and Darfur has been that these conflicts arise as

low-intensity conflicts, beginning as a mutiny of army units or a protest vote against the center, and then escalate, resulting in tremendous human and material cost. The toll of the war always falls on vulnerable civilian sectors of the population; by the time it reaches the stage of full-blown conflict, it has already consumed millions of lives. An understanding of the underlying power structure of center versus per-

ipheries can explain the beginning and the persistence of the struggle of the

marginalized regions of the country. These low-intensity conflicts in Darfur could have been averted if the parties had been able to find a just and fair mechanism to devolve power and wealth to the peripheries and to curb military involvement in the nation’s political affairs. Breaking the political center of the unitary state would have been in the best interests of the whole country. The causes of the Darfur conflict can be understood in terms of a center/

periphery framework. Visitors to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, can see highrise buildings, luxury hotels, malls, and the best schools and hospitals; heading south, to Darfur and beyond, they see misery and the lack of basic human needs for survival. Darfur, a region the size of France, has never had a single major highway linking this vast area to the rest of the country, while in the capital every single road is paved. Looking further north, there are two major highways, one on either side of the Nile River, linking a population of 500,000 to the capital, whereas the roads stop before they reach Darfur. It is clear that the conflict in Darfur is deeply rooted in an economic mar-

ginalization of many decades duration. The disparity of wealth distribution and the lack of opportunity for development reached a pivotal threshold and caused an eruption of violence in 2003. Moreover, the policy change on the part of the Government of Sudan to end the civil war in southern Sudan, along with generous offers to the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement known as the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), have encouraged the marginalized areas in the western and eastern parts of the country to demand their share of the national wealth as well. In principle, the Government relies on brute force as its weapon. For

example, Vice-President Ali OsmanMohamed Taha instructed Musa Hilal, the first leader of the Janjaweed, to mobilize his tribesmen into the force that became known as the “Quick, Light, and Horrible Forces of Misteriha.”1 Hila’s forces and the national army waged a co-ordinated attack with the army on villagers-the above explains the instrumental role of Vice-President Taha in mobilizing the Janjaweed. Computing the cost of war, particularly an ongoing conflict, is never an easy task. The importance of the present study stems from the fact that settling the conflict at an early stage is less costly in terms of wealth and human capital. The perpetuation and deepening of the conflict makes it harder to settle and increases its cost. Even when the cost of the war exceeds the benefits of settling the conflict, the parties will continue to fight until the society’s resources are depleted. This is one reason why the conflict between south and north Sudan has continued for decades, consumed more than 2m. lives, and depleted the country’s meager resources, and is likely to continue until the international community and the parties to the conflict find a fair and just formula for peace in Darfur. The prospect of eliminating the causes of the war is the one bright hope for those who are suffering because of it. This chapter will provide an assessment of the cost of the Darfur war.

There are no prior studies on the economic cost of war, only a few studies on its causes (Reeves 2005). The present study will thus be a baseline study for future examination of the war cost in Darfur.