conflict analysis - bangladeshi liberation war vs crisis in the darfur

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A comparative analysis of the Bangladeshi Liberation War and the Crisis in the Darfur.




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Conflict analysis allows observers and researchers to gain a deeper understanding of the sources of conflict; the undercurrents that determine the characteristics of the violence; and perhaps most importantly, ways of preventing and reducing the prevalence of conflict. According to DfID Guidance Notes (2002) it is also critical to determining the policy and humanitarian programmes that are established to address the sources and dynamics of conflict. He proposed a framework for the Department of International Development that was adopted by the Swisspeace Institute as its preferred model of conducting conflict analysis. This framework focuses on three main components of global conflicts; the structures in place, the actors involved and the dynamics of the conflict. The aim of this paper is to produce a succinct investigation into the comparisons and contrasts between two conflicts that differ in their location and period, yet share a similar character in that the belligerents represented a perceived ruling class versus an underclass. For this reason, the analysis will compare the cases of and the Bangladesh Liberation War [BLA] (March-December 1971) and the Crisis in Darfur [CID] (2003-present).DfID/Swisspeace ModelStructuresThis segment of the model investigates the sources of tension that develop into forthright acts of conflict. For this, it is necessary to conduct as contextual analysis of the features that have given rise to the existing tensions. DfID notes (2002) suggests a sub-model that is akin to a business SWOT analysis whereby the facets are probed based on their exposure to politics, the economy, security and social factors. The aim of this is to provide as wide a conflict map as is possible.Political FactorsIn the BLA, this was perhaps one of the most critical issues that gave rise to the conflict. The misrepresentation of Bengali interests on the national stage had been an outstanding problem with three democratically elected Prime Ministers of Bengali descent lasting a total of 5 years between them, whilst a fourth, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was rejected by the political powers in W.Pakistan. To further exasperate this issue, the four provinces of W.Pakistan were merged into a single geo-political unit to counter-balance the population advantages of E.Pakistan. This One Unit structure was perceived as a deliberate way of subjugating the political powers in the East and was therefore a key contributing factor to the declaration of independence that initiated the conflict. The Darfur crisis, as with the Sudanese Civil War, was predominantly focussed on the marginalisation of Black-Africans in the region by the political powers in Khartoum. Despite being economically critical to the existence of the north (which relied on it for agriculture, cattle and minerals), the black civilians argued that they were subjected to a regime of marginalisation so profound that it amounted to Arab apartheid (Lasaga, 2006). This sentiment is supported by academics and political figures in both the region and further afield (Diallo, 1993; Ayittey, 1999; Wamwere, 2003). Both cases demonstrate the importance that political representation and acknowledgement play in the identities of ethnicities. In both cases, they have been used as a tool of manipulation of those out of the political loop, who in turn have turned it into a security issue that warrants armed response/defence. Inversely, it is notable that one conflict saw the victims respond with armed rebellion (Darfur) whereas the other saw the victims opt for an equally political response, id est, declaring independence.

Economic FactorsThe common budget of Pakistan was another tool used to enforce the skewed application of policy in E.Pakistan in comparison to W.Pakistan. As is illustrated in table 1, despite having a larger population, the economic disparities were outlined by E.Pakistan receiving 40.5% of the budget designation over a 20-year period. Another factor was the perceived indifferent response by the W.Pakistan government to the 1970 Bhola Cyclone which killed between 300,000-500,000 people, marking it as the worst tropical storm of the 20th Century. Whilst the President acknowledged that there had been slips in the response (New York Times, 1970); General Niazi summed up the attitude of the time: Its a low-lying land, of low-lying people (Nabi, 2010). YearSpending on West Pakistan (in millions of Pakistani rupees)Spending on East Pakistan (in millions of Pakistani rupees)Amount spent on East as percentage of West






Source: Reports of the Advisory Panels for the Fourth Five Year Plan 197075, Vol. I,published by the planning commission of Pakistan.

The economic factors of the Darfur are often overlooked by the desperation of the humanitarian crisis; however, it could be held that they form the significant motive of the Sudanese governments involvement in the conflict. Far from being the sand-swept land where the refugee camps are located, Darfur is actually the bread-basket of Sudan with swathes of arable land and a concentration of minerals in the southern part of the province. As such, it could be deducted that the government in Khartoum feared a repeat of the secessionist wars in the oil-rich Southern part of the country, and responded to SLM/JEM aggression with equally counter-insurgent measures, id est, employing the Janjaweed. Similarly, the nomadic pastoralist Arab communities of the Sahel region rely heavily on their livestock for their livelihood, and the threat of desertification has led to persistent clashes over land and water with the agriculturalist Black-African tribes in Darfur.Again, it stands to be deducted that economics play a critical role in the escalation of tension to the development of violence. The BLA case illustrates how economic misrepresentation can give rise to separationist sentiment, whilst the CID situation demonstrates how resource scarcity can trigger violence with the patronage of wealthy, concerned parties.Security FactorsThe military composition of the Pakistan forces circa 1965 shows that only 5% of commissioned officers were of Bengali descent, and of these, majority were employed in administrative roles (LOC, 2011). This was fuelled by a W.Pakistani notion that Bengalis werent as martially inclined as those of W.Pakistani origin (LOC, 2011). To further emphasise this feeling of lack of security in E.Pakistan, there was scant spending on defence in E.Pakistan during a period when overall Pakistani spending was escalating. For instance, during the Kashmir war between India and Pakistan, only an understrength infantry and small fleet of combat aircraft were deigned sufficient to defend E.Pakistan from any Indian retaliation during the conflict (Jahan, 1972).Furthermore, as Bengali sentiment spread throughout E.Pakistan, the military command in the West ordered all the E.Pakistan forces be disarmed, whilst it covertly increased the presence of W.Pakistani forces in the region. This further emphasised the feeling of insecurity that Bengalis and certain minority groups (particularly Hindus) felt.The government of Sudan was accused of favouritism towards Arab-pastoralist tribes in Sudan long before the CID became a humanitarian problem. These included turning blind-eyes to instances of land encroachment and violent skirmishes on lands belonging to the Fur peoples. This issue became further complicated by allegations that the government was supporting the armed raids by Arabic tribes on Fur villages. As the crisis escalated, civilians caught in the conflict reported a disturbing pattern of violence whereby Sudan military aircraft (painted white to imitate UN/AU relief aid planes) would bomb villages and hideouts in the mountains, after which the Janjaweed would arrive on horseback and camelback to burn down and loot whatever was left; whilst killing any male survivors and kidnapping any female survivors (Washington Post, 2004). Both cases exhibit instances of marginalised and often isolated groups being vulnerable to the whims of more powerful groups that wield this power for their own purposes. It also illustrates the acceleration of tension to conflict in areas where insecurity is a genuine concern of one of the groups present in the region.

Social FactorsThe perception of Bengalis as an inferior ethnic group was widespread throughout the Pakistani establishment prior to the engagement in hostilities. In February 1952, several activists and students were killed during demonstrations against the forced implementation of Urdu as the official language of all of Pakistan, despite the fact that the language was only spoken natively by minority groups in both East and West Pakistan. This was all part of a strategy of forcefully assimilating the Bengalis to the culture of W.Pakistan in an attempt to address the impurity, inferiority and unreliability of co-religionists in the Bengali culture (Mookherjee, 2006). The disparity between social classes in Darfur is perhaps even more pronounced than it was in E.Pakistan. The Arabic tribes are wealthier and hold more sway with the political classes in Khartoum and the Port of Sudan, who are overwhelmingly Arabic. Black-African tribes along the West and in the South of the country were constantly the victim of night-time raids by nomadic tribes on horseback with many survivors being taken north and sold into a life of slavery. Similarly, many tribes were forced to surrender their lands to nomadic tribes from