Strife in Sudan

A slight woman wearing a blue shawl over her head, Najwa Gadaheldam is beautiful, and seems quiet, almost docile. But as she took the podium, a powerful voice rang out through a thick Sudanese accent and took hold of the room, which enthralled everyone in the seats. The lecture room in the Art section of campus was crowded, and looking to the left of the lecture hall, even the superintendant of Santa Monica College, Dr. Chui L. Tsang was in attendance.

Gadaheldam is the industrial development officer for the United Nations and was at SMC discussing Sudan, in particular the conflicts, natural resources, and effects of global intervention.

While many are aware of the dire situation in Darfur, in Gadaheldam's lecture she revealed that the Sudanese situation is much more complex than people may have previously thought.

Over the last seven years, two million Africans have been killed and four million have been displaced due to the various conflicts in Sudan, Africa's largest country. While there have been efforts to retain peace in the area, Gadaheldam made it clear that these efforts have not helped the situation and the global intervention in the area is leading the Sudan to become a second Iraq.

The problems in the Sudanese area are abundant, Gadaheldam said. According to her it is a combination of historical problems, climate issues and political struggles.

While the climate problem is an issue everywhere in the world, Gadaheldam says that it is even worse in Africa, where the overall temperature is a couple of degrees higher than the rest of the world. This is leading to terrible drought in the country, causing people to fight and even kill for land and resources.

"In times of insecurity, people cling to their ancestral tribes," Gadaheldam said as she talked about the historical problems that the Sudan faces. As with all over Africa, the problems of centuries old feuds between tribes plague the citizens of today. Not only the feuds between tribes throughout the country, but Sudan has to deal with the fight over the Khartoum government, who are the Muslim government in Sudan, and the pro and con groups fighting over them.

Politically, once there was a discovery of oil in the south of Sudan, it became a location of great interest for the major nations of the world. But this led to the separation of the North and the South, and a civil war between the two, as bigger countries came in, pretending to help in order to get oil, leaving the north of Sudan out of any deals that were struck between nations. All this, according to Gadaheldam, only "inflamed the conflicts" that were already present, especially amongst an already feuding population.

Unfortunately the national Security Council and the U.N. are doing very little to help, and according to Gadaheldam, they are not working with the people of Sudan's interest but instead for the pocket books of the big countries.

Gadaheldam said that as people of the world, "we have to get involved" because "without the people we can't go anywhere else." She said that right now there is an "incapacity of the international community to think beyond the U.N.," and that while it is important that larger nations lend their support, we must let the people of Sudan decide what is best for Sudan.