A host of factions

As the Darfur peace talks continued, even without the key rebel leaders, the Herald Tribune takes note of the fact that hoping to bring both “sides” of this conflict together is an utter misnomer. The fact is, the rebel groups themselves have fractured and splintered into so many different factions that it’s almost impossible to tell who should be at the negotiating table.

It’s not easy being a Darfurian rebel, especially if you’re a member of the B team. Instead of being praised for coming here in the interests of peace, as the world begged them to do, they have been gaped at, criticized for being ineffective and dogged by questions about where the big guys are, like Abdel Wahid el-Nur, a founding father of Darfur’s rebellion, and Khalil Ibrahim, the commander of one of the strongest rebel armies, both of whom are boycotting the talks.

But the reality that international negotiators are beginning to grudgingly accept is that the rebels here in Sirte, Libya’s government center, represent the facts on the ground. After years of fragmentation and isolation, Darfur’s resistance movements have broken down into a fractious bunch of men, many of whom have never met before, who hail from different corners of the land and who belong to different tribes and command their own little armies.

According to the United Nations best estimate, the rebels have fractured from two main groups into twenty-eight separate causes. This recent Libyan attempt at peace talks only managed to bring seven of those leaders to the table.

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