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By Basil Davidson

This article is designed for college kids getting ready for O point historical past, delivering an exam of a few of the most important traits and occasions in West African heritage from advert 1000-1800.

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In 1977, after the failed invasion, he performed a volte-face and made peace with Nimeiri. Back in Khartoum, he infiltrated Islamist cadres into the armed forces, including elite units such as the air force. (One such cadre was Mukhtar Mohamadein, an air-force pilot who was the nominated leader for a coup, should it be necessary. ) Tayeb ‘Sikha’, now a qualified physician, joined the medical corps. And, in what was possibly the most disastrous decision of the entire Sudanese civil war, the Islamists backed the ‘militia strategy’ – the use of tribal militias as frontline counter-insurgency forces.

He flirted with Nimeiri’s single party, the Sudan Socialist Union, and accused the Muslim Brothers of racism, a charge that the more thoughtful of his peers concede. ‘The majority of the Islamists are from the Nile,’ Ghazi Salah al Din later reflected, explaining that treating non-Arab Muslims as equal ‘is not ingrained in their thinking. ’ As Bolad lost his way, Ali al Haj remained a linchpin of the Islam­ist movement, and later the regime. When the Darfur protests forced Nimeiri to hold an election for the governorship, Ali al Haj stood for election.

Bashir and Ali Osman were much weakened by the split among the Islamists and needed allies. The option they chose was reaching out to the SPLA and seeking international respectability – not least, to attract investment and find a way of paying Sudan’s $22 billion debt. In 2001, a serious peace process began at last, seeking a negotiated settlement to the civil war with the South. The first step was taken by the US, which changed policy in the first eight months of the Bush presidency to support the peace process run by the north-east African inter-state organization, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

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