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The state of the Sahel

September 8, 2009

is awful. That’s the conclusion to draw from Alex Thurston’s post on the Sahel Blog. He describes the mushrooming of internicine conflict throughout the Sahel region, from Somalia to Mali, and connects it to the ever-present resource/environment factor, and the infectious effects of refugee crises. Darfur is of course the most well-known example — the racism angle aside, it has a lot to do with tribal competition for scarce land, drought etc, and it is now effectively perpetuated by having 2 m refugees locked into camps — but far from the only one. Mostly Eastern Sahel, but the dynamics are not really different back West.

Oh, and speaking of Darfur, you might also want to read this thought-provoking description of center-periphery relations in Sudan, over at Alex de Waal’s blog. A Marxist analysis, basically, but readers need not be to find it useful. It describes some of the dynamics in how local protest movements have gradually abandoned their stake in the center of the state, and the modern national identity as such, to instead turn increasingly inwards to ethnocentric and parochial identities, fuelling separatism, tribalism etc. Obivously relevant to other countries as well.

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