A New History of a Long War

Written by two authors with unparalleled first-hand experience of Darfur, this book is the definitive guide to the Darfur conflict. Newly updated and hugely expanded from the original A Short History of a Long War, this edition details Darfur’s history and traces the origins, organisation and ideology of the infamous Janjawiid and rebel groups. It also analyses the brutal response of the Sudanese government. The authors investigate the resopnses by the African Union and the international community, including the halting peace talks and the attempts at civilian protection. Flint and de Waal provide and authoritative and compelling account of contemporary Africa’s most controversial conflict.

War in Darfur and the Search for Peace

Alex de Waal (editor), 2007

Since 2003, the Darfur region of Sudan has been the locus of a hideous war that has aroused the outrage of millions of ordinary people across the world. But despite a high level of media coverage and activist mobilization, Darfur’s society and politics remain poorly understood. War in Darfur and the Search for Peace brings together essays by noted Sudanese scholars and international experts on Darfur, containing much new historical and contemporary research. The first part of the volume examines the causes of the war, including chapters on how the Sudanese state functions, how disputes over land rights and local government helped spark conflict, the origins and development of the infamous Janjawiid militia and the rebel movements, and how Darfur’s war is entangled in the ongoing political crisis in Chad. The second part turns to the international efforts to achieve peace in Darfur. Three chapters, written by participants in the African Union’s mediation effort, document and analyze the attempt to mediate between Khartoum and the rebels. Contributions also examine how Darfur has been represented in the American press and how it has been the basis for an enormous advocacy campaign.

Aids and Power: Why there is no political crisis – yet

Alex de Waal, 2006

HIV/AIDS, Africa’s greatest human tragedy for over a century, is an immense challenge to democrats and activists. This book looks at whether governments can survive an epidemic that has cut life expectancy in half, further burdened fragile economies, and created millions of orphans. It explores why, twenty years into the crisis, democratic governments are performing so poorly in tackling the disease. It argues that existing approaches to the epidemic are driven by interests and frameworks that fail to engage with African resilience and creativity. Already, African communities have confounded some of the worst predictions of disaster, and if adequately supported, can find ways of sustaining development and democracy in the midst of HIV/AIDS.

Darfur, A Short History of a Long War

Julie Flint and Alex de Waal, 2005

Sudan’s westernmost region, Darfur, sprang from oblivion into sudden notoriety early in 2004, when a war of hideous proportions unleashed what the United Nations called ‘the world’s worst humanitarian crisis’ and the United States labelled ‘genocide’. For the last two years, the conflict has been simplified to pictures of immense sprawling refugee camps and lurid accounts of ‘Arabs’ murdering ‘Africans’.

Behind these images lies a complex and fascinating story of a remarkable and remote region of Africa, home to Muslim peoples with a unique history. In the 20th century, Darfur became synonymous with poverty and neglect, culminating in famine and a series of undeclared and unacknowledged wars in the 1980s and 1990s. This book details the history of Darfur, its conflicts, and the designs on the region by the governments in Khartoum and Tripoli.

Much of the story of the war in Darfur has remained untold until now. This book investigates the identity of the infamous ‘Janjawiid’ militia, tracing its origins, organization and ideology. It inquires into the nature of the insurrection launched by two rebel groups, the radical Sudan Liberation Army and the more Islamist-oriented Justice and Equality Movement. It charts the unfolding crisis and the confused international response, including the African Union’s first major venture into peacemaking and peacekeeping. The book concludes by asking what the future holds in store for Darfur.

See a joint review of Darfur: A Short History of a Long War, and Darfur: The Ambiguous Genocide by Gérard Prunier, in the New York Review of Books

This publication can be ordered from

Famine that Kills; Darfur, Sudan

Alex de Waal

In 2004, Darfur, Sudan was described as the “world’s greatest humanitarian crisis.” Twenty years previously, Darfur was also the site of a disastrous famine. Famine that Kills is a seminal account of that famine, and a social history of the region. In a new preface prepared for this revised edition, Alex de Waal analyzes the roots of the current conflict in land disputes, social disruption and impoverishment. Despite vast changes in the nature of famines and in the capacity of response, de Waal’s original challenge to humanitarian theory and practice including a focus on the survival strategies of rural people has never been more relevant. Documenting the resilience of the people who suffered, it explains why many fewer died than had been predicted by outsiders. It is also a path breaking study of the causes of famine deaths, showing how outbreaks of infectious disease killed more people than starvation. Now a classic in the field, Famine that Kills provides critical background and lessons of past intervention for a region that finds itself in another moment of humanitarian tragedy.

Islamism and Its Enemies in the Horn of Africa

Africa is central to the ‘global war on terror.’ But political Islam in Africa has received little scholarly attention. Islamism and its Enemies in the Horn of Africa , by Alex de Waal, in collaboration with A.H. Abdel Salam (Justice Africa), M.A. Mohamed Salih (Institute of Social Studies, the Hague) and Roland Marchal (CERI, Paris), is a seminal study of the social and political manifestations of militant Islam in northeast Africa.

Northeast Africa has been a crucible for political Islam, and the site of one of the fiercest struggles between Islamists and their enemies. While the terrorist attacks by al Qa’ida on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998, and the retaliatory cruise missile strike on Khartoum that same month, garnered most international attention, there was in fact a major conflict in the region throughout the 1990s, pitting political Islam against secular states in the region and the United States. The Sudan government, which hosted Osama bin Laden for several years, was at the hub of this conflict, which affected countries stretching from Egypt to Somalia to Congo. Domestically, the Sudanese Islamists designed far-reaching programs for comprehensive social transformation.

This book documents the Islamist agenda in northeast Africa, its ambitions, its successes, and its ultimate failure. Chapters examine the theory and practice of jihad , the transformative Islamist project in Sudan, political Islam in Somalia, the rise of Islamic philanthropy, and the undeclared regional war between the Islamist militants and their foes. It places the U.S. agenda in a regional context, explaining how it is refracted through local political struggles. Throughout, the study of jihad and militancy is placed in the framework of the study of conflict and humanitarian action.

Who Fights? Who Cares? Who and Humanitarian Action in Africa

Alex de Waal

Africa faces huge political and humanitarian challenges. Sixteen countries are stricken by war or serious instability; the shadow of genocide looms over central Africa; while natural and man-made disasters threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of Africans. International structures for peace and security and the delivery of humanitarian assistance have so far failed to prevent enduring crisis across the continent. Hopes of new models for ‘African solutions to African problems’ have suffered severe setbacks in the last few years.

The essays in this collection address this range of challenges:
* Why war persists in Africa – is the continent caught in a ‘war trap’ whereby conflict is generating more conflict?
* What are the causes, implications and solutions for genocide, especially in the Great Lakes?
* What structures for regional peace and security are required for an effective international security order in Africa?
* What is the future of humanitarian intervention in Africa – and in particular, do African forces now require a specifically African doctrine for intervention?
* Certain forms of democratic political process can help prevent famine – how can these be made a reality in Africa?
* What institutions and capacities can be effective in preventing and relieving humanitarian crises?
* What is the role for international humanitarian law – is it an irrelevance, or is it central to any effective response to humanitarian crises?
* What mechanisms for humanitarian accountability can be developed?

The Phoenix State: Civil Society and the Future of Sudan

A. H. Abdel Salam, Alex de Waal

Sometime in the coming months and years, Sudan will face a transition to peace and democracy. This will be time of immense opportunity for the country: how will it respond to the enormous challenges of building a society based on equality, democracy and human rights?

This book represents the efforts of Sudanese civil society organizations to come to terms with these challenges. Each chapter deals with a basic issue for the future of sudan. some of the basic questions addressed include:

* How is sudan to develop a constitution that guarantees the rights of its citizens, overcoming the problems of division, inequality and militarism in the country?
* How is free expression and religious equality to be guaranteed, ina country scarred by religious extremism and bigtory?
* Women in Sudan have long suffered oppression and discrimination. What is the agenda for women’s emancipation?
* How is self-determination to be implemented so that the Southern sudanese can achieve their rights? What constitutional framework is appropriate for Southern Sudan?
* How are the rights of ethnic minorities in Northern Sudan to be guaranteed? What race relations laws are needed?
* What form of accountability for past human rights abuses should there be? Should there be prosecution and punishment, a truth commission, or should bygones be bygones?
* What judicial reforms will be necessary so that the law in sudan can serve the people, and no longer be an insturment of division and repression?

Demilitarizing the Mind: African Agendas for Peace and Security

Alex de Waal

Africa’s wars are hideous, complicated and intractable. Long-running wars have defied the best efforts of African and international mediators. Demilitarizing the Mind develops fresh approaches to these challenges, based on new research and discussion among some of the key actors in Africa’s conflicts. The book highlights a central theme: the pervasive role of militarism in African political life. Across the continent, militarized political parties and liberation fronts create ‘militaristic governance’ and a propensity for leaders to resort to violence-plunging countries into conflict and turmoil once again. This book addresses a number of pressing issues:

*Can Africa establish peace through the establishment of ‘security communities’ among neighbouring states, or across the whole continent? Can South Africa, Nigeria or the East African Cooperation lead the way?
*Is the African Union a feasible project for creating peace and security?
*Can national constitutions be designed to prevent conflict and political violence? Can they manage ethnic and religious diversity and prevent abuse of democratic rights carried out under the guise of ‘emergency measures’?
*What forms of militarism exist in Africa? Is it possible for former liberation movements, now in power, to transform themselves into civilian constitutional governments?
*How can civil society and social groups mobilise for peace? How can women, young people and the poor and marginalised make their voices heard? What roles can outsiders play to support them?
*What is the role of mercenaries in Africa’s wars? Are we seeing the emergence of an African ‘military-commercial complex’?
*How can peace settlements and post-conflict transitions be designed and managed to minimise the risk of a resumption of war? How can we ‘demilitarize the mind’?


Foreign Affairs review of AIDS and Power

This publication can be ordered from

Join the international policy discussion of this book at the Social Science Research Council’s AIDS and Power Book Blog.

In Preparation

  • Tajudeen Abdul Raheem, The African Union: Fresh Start in Africa?
  • Richard Dowden and Simon Maxwell, Aid to Africa: Solution or Millstone?