While many cite the February 2003 outbreak of violence in the Darfur region of Sudan as the beginning of what a chorus of international actors are now calling genocide, the conflict in Darfur has quite complicated historical roots. This essay examines the regional, ideological, and historical factors that have helped form the modern Darfur states, focusing particularly on the rise of the Islamist movement in Khartoum. It asserts that understanding these factors is necessary to devise an effective international response to the current crisis in the Darfur region.

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