When Neighbors Become Killers: From Murahaleen to Janjaweed in Darfur
The arming of local militias and using them as counter-insurgency in Darfur crisis by President Omar al-Bashir administration was not a new strategy. In the 1980s, Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi used the same old strategy to fight the South Sudan Liberation Army. The chapter explores the Murahaleen militia—the precursors to the Janjaweed—of the 1980s and early 1990s. It draws attention to the link between the government and the militia, the recruitment strategy, and reasons why people joined it. A combination of factors necessitated the organization of militia forces. As indigenous dispute solving mechanism broke down, local conflicts between the Arabs and Fur escalated. The easy availability of weapons and the lure to loot and restock lost animals boosted militia recruitments. Raiding could be a lucrative business especially when there is a limited availability of food resources and weak government control.