A historical pattern is being echoed in tragic fashion.

These points of contact between strong ethnicidentities, whether Arab or African, were also the areas of frictionand potential for low or high intensity conflict.

The Southern Sudanese, who also amount to 30 per cent of thepopulation, consist of two main groups.

To pacify and govern the North, the new rulers promoted the politicaland economic influence of Sayyid Ali al-Mirghani, head of the Khatmiyyasect and Sayyid Abd al-Rahman al-Mahdi, head of the Ansar sect.

The mainanimal wealth comes from cattle, sheep, goats and camels.

Islam and Christianity have had a greaterimpact on these people than on their Nilotic neighbours.

In 1898 a coalition of British and Egyptian forces overthrew theMahdists and reconquered Sudan, setting up a colonial condominium statewhich sought to establish "the rudiments of a modern capitalist economywhilst at the same time opposing its full blown indigenous development,since this would create a political threat to itself...

Failure to do someant joining the millions of newly asset-less poor.

Low-technology agro-pastoralism began to collapse across the centralclay plains of northern Sudan, and a new and burgeoning category ofimpoverished people emerged who were dependent on selling their labourto survive.

The fragility of the arid and semi-arid lands is evident.

However,neither Turco-Egyptian rule (1821-1885) nor the Mahdist regime thatfollowed (1886-1898) effected any fundamental change in the basicstructure of the economy.

Foreign debt was growing, as were repayments and servicingdues.

Unlike the migration of the European peasantry during the IndustrialRevolution, this move was not towards centres of higher economicproduction, but to areas of greater food availability - mainly throughfood aid.

Even in the towns these people were treated as third class citizens.

Another consequence of the rapid impoverishment of the northernSudanese traditional peasants and pastoralists is the abandonment ofrelatively benign methods of exploitation of nature and theirreplacement with aggressive methods which assume that natural resourcesare limitless.

Once again the plans of the Jellaba were frustrated.

In creating a class of local resource-extractors, the inclusion ofSudan in the global market economy has directly impoverished both theenvironment and the rural people who depend on it for survival.

They have a strong anti-ruralbias.

When the imperial powers intervened against the slave trade in the1870s and 1880s, it caused an economic crisis which helped precipitatethe Mahdist uprising which overthrew Turkish rule in 1885.