Khartoum’s Next Jihad
Posted By Faith J. H. McDonnell
Sudanese President Omer Hassan al-Bashir is under indictment by the
International Criminal Court on three charges of genocide, as well as
war crimes, in Sudan’s western region of Darfur. But in every other part
of Sudan – north, south, and east, Bashir’s National Islamic Front
regime has also committed genocidal-level crimes against humanity that
demonstrate the regime’s absolute contempt for Sudan’s black, African
people. When it is not committing outright genocide as in South Sudan
and the Nuba Mountains  where over 2.5 million died and over 5
million were displaced, or as in Darfur’s genocide by attrition , the
regime perpetrates its racist agenda of total Islamization and
Arabization in Sudan through a multitude of devious maneuvers whose
significance never seems to be fully comprehended by the U.S.
One such maneuver may occur this November 2010, when Kuwait will host
the International Donors Conference for the Development of East Sudan.
Eastern Sudan, actually the northeast corner of the country, consists of
Red Sea, Gedaref, and Kassala states, and borders Egypt and Eritrea.
The Beja, the indigenous people of the region, fear that the conference
is just one more of Khartoum’s schemes for displacing them from their
traditional homeland. The Beja believe that Khartoum and its Arab allies
intend that all financial and political support raised in the donors
conference will benefit not the Beja, but the Rashaida Arabs.
The Rashaida are Bedouins originally from Saudi Arabia, who moved
into eastern Sudan about one hundred years ago. They have strong
familial ties to Kuwait, which, “coincidentally” is hosting the
conference. Khartoum has been importing more and more Rashaida into Beja
land in recent years. A further empowered Rashaida, taking more and
more of eastern Sudan, with easy access to the Egyptian border, would
not only be injurious to the Beja, but would be a further terrorist
threat in the region. The Rashaida are already notorious for smuggling
Iranian weapons to Hamas (when they aren’t blown to Kingdom Come  by
the Israelis, that is!). The U.S. government should heed the warnings of
the Beja and ensure that the aid coming from the donor conference is
distributed equally to all of the people of eastern Sudan.
The Beja are one more African people group that inconveniences the
National Islamic Front government by existing and giving the lie to the
idea that Sudan is an Arab country. They have survived a hardscrabble
life in Sudan’s Red Sea Hills for some 6,000 years. Originally
worshippers of Isis at Philae, an island in the Nile, the Beja became
Christians in the 6th century, due to the influence of the Nubian
Christian kingdoms that ruled the Nile Valley. Then in the 13th century,
when Nubia was conquered by Muslim invaders, the Beja, along with the
Nubians, were forcibly converted to Islam. They survived, and continued
their customary, nomadic life as camel herders and traders, as well as
farmers. They even survived fighting on behalf of the Sudanese Mahdi
against the British. The Beja, also known then as “Blemmyes,” were
honored for their valiant military prowess in Rudyard Kipling’s poem
“Fuzzy-Wuzzy.” Kipling calls the adversary Beja “first-class fighting
men” because against all odds they “broke the British square,” the
four-sided defensive infantry formation considered impregnable.
Only time, and the response of the international community,
particularly the U.S. government, will tell if the Beja are able to
survive Khartoum’s devices. Although they constitute fifteen percent of
the entire population of Sudan, and number upwards of two million
people, they have been marginalized by the Islamists. Eastern Sudan
contains gold mines , oil, natural gas, and other resources. Sudan’s
main port city of Port Sudan also lies in the region. It is a strategic
harbor location on the Red Sea. But the Khartoum regime does not want to
share this great wealth of resources and revenue with black, African
Sudanese. Since Sudan’s independence in 1956, successive Sudanese
governments have completely neglected the Beja and attempted to suppress
their culture and identity. They prohibited the Beja language in favor
of Arabic and viciously they have cracked down on dissenters and
protestors . In addition, Khartoum has prohibited humanitarian relief
and development organizations from entering the area to help the Beja.
As a result, the Beja suffer  severe rates of poverty, illiteracy,
malnutrition, and high infancy and maternal mortality, as well as
anemia, tuberculosis, meningitis, dengue fever, and other diseases
engendered by Khartoum’s “jihad of neglect.” There is actually less
access to potable water for the Beja than there is in Darfur.
By neglecting the needs of the Beja and increasing the number of
Rashaida and other supporters of radical Islam in the region, Khartoum
has slated the Beja for extinction. The regime is colonizing eastern
Sudan with outsiders from the Islamic world that support its efforts to
Islamize and Arabize Sudan, as well as its aspirations for a thoroughly
Islamized African continent. In October 2006, the Beja and the Rashaida
came together as The Eastern Front and signed the Eastern Peace
Agreement with the governments of Sudan and Eritrea. Although purported
to be an equitable settlement, the peace agreement gave all of the
positions of political power to the Rashaida. The agreement also enabled
Khartoum to sell the Beja’s land – or at least the resources found
therein – to foreign investors. In a January 2009 appeal  to U.N.
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the Congress of Beja Intellectuals wrote
that “the racist policy of the ruling Arab elites in the Central and
Regional Governments is destroying the life of the indigenous
populations of the eastern Sudan.” The peace agreement, they said,
“deprived the Beja of the right of self determination, denied them their
land and its resources and a proper share of power as well.”
One of Khartoum’s greatest advantages in its genocidal jihad to
Islamize and Arabize all of Sudan is that the West in general and the
United States in particular have never paid close enough attention to
Khartoum’s overall agenda regarding its marginalized peoples. The world
community had a very important, but very myopic focus on western Sudan
ever since the first “Save Darfur” ads began to appear circa 2005. Its
attention was finally forced upon South Sudan when it appeared that the
2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement was being torpedoed by Khartoum. But
most of the government’s available Sudan energy is expended in these two
regions. And when the U.S. government has expressed concern about the
people of eastern Sudan, it has failed to make any distinction between
the Beja and the imported Rashaida Arab allies of Khartoum.
It would appear that this is the kind of lack of attention that
Khartoum is banking on for the upcoming International Donors Conference
for the Development of East Sudan. On July 28, 2010, Relief Web 
reported that the Jeddah-based Islamic Development Bank (IDB) agreed to
participate in the conference after Sudanese Presidential Advisor Dr.
Mustafa Osman Ismail met with the IDB director in Saudi Arabia. Ismail,
who is considered a war criminal along with President Bashir by Sudan’s
marginalized people, said that the Sudanese government was “looking
forward to the role that can be played by IDB to support and make the
conference a success.” Khartoum would consider the conference a success
if funds secured were dedicated to bolstering their Rashaida allies and
if the attention-disordered U.S. government accepted at face value that a
conference report detailing the financial support given to “East Sudan”
actually describes aid given to the beleaguered Beja.
As Arab nations, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Sudanese
government prepare for the November donor conference, the Beja ask the
U.S. government to pay attention, not only to their plight, but to the
pattern of Arabization and Islamization in Sudan of which it is a part.
They urge the members of Congress who have championed the causes of
South Sudan and of Darfur to recognize the Beja as a like-wise
marginalized people group and to plead their case to President Obama,
Sudan Special Envoy Major General Scott Gration, and Secretary Clinton.
They also request that the U.S. lead the global community in pressuring
Khartoum to allow free and safe access to Beja areas for humanitarian
relief and development organizations and to ensure that the funds from
the donor conference will not be used to prosecute a war against the
Beja or to empower the Rashaida to take control of Beja land.
Sadly, in over ten years of U.S. government Sudan policy, it has not
been the practice to even admit to the pattern of Arabization and
Islamization imposed by Khartoum. Hopefully, in the months to come,
Congress will renew its efforts against Islamic terrorism, concentrate
more on the radix of terrorism in Africa, and pay attention to
Khartoum’s war against all its marginalized people. And hopefully, it
won’t be too late for the Beja.
Faith J. H. McDonnell directs The Institute on Religion and
Democracy’s  Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New
Sudan, and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern
Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).
First published in FrontPageMag.com on August 17, 2010.