We need to fight this idea, without slipping into stereotyping and simplistic views ourselves. No, this is not about farmers and nomads, nor is it about blacks and "Arabs"--nor even about the imposition of Sharia law. All of these things play a role, but the core of the situation is simple:
1. A military government in the capital of the country faces the challenge of controlling increasingly rebelious populations in other parts of the nation. These other populations have long been neglected by the central government.
2. The government's means of controlling rebelious regions has been honed for more than a decade, and amounts to genocide by low-tech means:
a. Identify local groups that are in conflict, and incite and arm at least one group to attack others.
b. Support these attacks with military force--in the case of Darfur, with helicopter gunship raids and bombing of villages.
c. Time and direct the attacks to undermine the livelihood of the local people. Poison wells, destroy crops at planting time, and create mass migrations from one area to another. Terrorise the population by killing boys and men and even children, and raping women. Allow the subsequent famine and disease to take its massive toll.
3. The government avoids responsibility by telling the world that its situation is "out of our control." The government asks the world for "help" but doesn't actually allow it the freedom to do so. Where help is accepted, the government controls where food and other aid is distributed, to ensure that it only goes to pacified people.
4. Delay, delay, delay. This is the main tactic of the government in relation to the international community. Each day that the process continues, the genocidal and rebelion-suppressing plan gains more ground and destroys more families and lives.
The government of Sudan says it is "weak" and invokes comparison to failed state Somolia--arguing that a slip into lawlessness is worse than the status quo. This despite the fact that the status quo in Sudan is supported by active military air strikes, attacks by army troops, concentration-camp-like "aid camps," as well as armed bands of terrorising militias paid by the government. This despite the fact that the status quo government is richly economically supported by Chinese oil investments and trade, and armed by Russia.