The difference, for example, between (pause, now take a breath) the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the Democratic JEM or the Justice and Reform Movement (JRM)?
Or why then the optimistically sounding United Resistance Front (URF) may not be all that united?
Or what really is the Sudan Liberation Army-Abdul Wahid (SLA-AW), compared to the SLA-FREES, the SLA-Historical Leadership/Command, SLA-Khamis Abaker (SLA-KA), SLA-Juba, SLA-Mainstream ('General Line'), SLA-Minni Minawi (SLA-MM), Democratic Sudan Liberation Movement (DSLM) ('SLA-Carabino') or the SLA-Field Leadership?
Or, again, why given all those men with guns, SLA-Unity may not represent all that much unity after all?
Then the Small Arms Survey's new 'facts and figures' resource listing Darfur rebels is a very useful tool. It has got timelines and explains Chadian groups too, and even includes links to the map above.
Many I knew from long cafe days when we lived in the Eritrean capital, Asmara. The new list is not quite facebook, but it is good to know what they are up to these days.
Back then my 'fact and figures' list was a little less well ordered than the Small Arms Survey's effort, scribbled on a paper glued above my desk. But it did have useful hints for less analytical memory tips to ensure one never made that embarrassing guerilla faux pas of confusing one rebel with another.
Mine more went along the lines of:
- Abdul Wahid: SLA, lives down the street from the cafe with good macchiato, the one who uses two sat-phones at the same time.
- Ahmed Diraige, former governor, opposition, the one who also lives in Swiss Cottage.
- Abdul Shafie: own breakaway SLA, the one with sharp suits and funky cowboy boots.
The Monty Python Life of Brian comparison ("The Judean People's Front? Splitters") has been made before...