Title: Prolonged Wars: The War in Sudan

Subject: Case study of prolonged conflict in post-World War II Sudan.

Author(s): Barnabas L. Wama; John R. Reese (Faculty Advisor)


Abstract: The Sudan is a country which is rich in human and natural resources, with great potential for national development and economic contribution to the region. Independent since 1956, Sudan has had a difficult political history, in which its leaders have failed to provide for the political enfranchisement of the people or, in the case of democratically elected governments, simply mismanaged the country. In 1989 a military junta aligned with the National Islamic Front (NIF) overthrew the last democratically elected government. The NIF strongly advocates Islamist programs and sharia (Islam law), not only in Sudan, but throughout the region. Like many of its predecessors, the NIF-led government allows little or no meaningful popular political participation and represses the political opposition.

Sudan is a nation of numerous ethnic groups, but there has historically been a distinct division in the country; between the predominately Arab/Muslim north and the predominately African/Animist/Christian south. The North-South conflict predates independence. However, since independence in 1956, except for the ten years between 1972 and 1983, there has been a bloody civil war in the Sudan, with Southerners seeking increased autonomy and freedom from the imposition of Islamic (sharia) law. Over one million people have died in the civil war, which has created in the Southern Sudan one of the world's largest humanitarian crises. Over 500,000 Sudanese have fled the country and are refugees, dependent on the international community and Sudan's neighbors for survival.

The internal war that began in the Sudan in 1983 fits the patterns of a protracted conflict. The struggle has become prolonged far beyond either side's desire to continue, with polarization so profound that neither side can end the contest without admitting defeat. No resolution would then be possible short of the total defeat of one side by the other.

Last updated 1998 Jan 12