Another Which-Side-Is-Obama-On Alert. Whether officials believe it or not, the Obama administration is thus validating Sudanese feelings of having been wronged by prior reactions from the civilized world to the genocide in Darfur and the institutionalized abuse in the south of the country.
It is highly likely that Sudan will get something for nothing (or for a token gesture), and all the U.S. will get out of it is another cycle of obfuscation, equivocation, and broken promises, not unlike the cases of Iran and North Korea. “U.S. to shift Sudan policy, pursue greater engagement,” from CNN, October 19:
WASHINGTON (CNN) – The United States will change its policy on Sudan to pursue greater engagement with the Sudanese government and less isolation, senior U.S. officials said Monday.
“Our conscience and our interests in peace and security call upon the United States and the international community to act with a sense of urgency and purpose,” President Barack Obama said in a written statement.
The revised strategy aims to end conflict and genocide in the western region of Darfur. It also seeks to ensure the effective implementation of a 2005 peace treaty that ended a civil war between mostly Muslim northern Sudan and the country’s Christian and animist south, which killed more than 2 million people.
The United States also wants to keep Sudan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists.
More than 300,000 people have died in Darfur while over 3 million more have been displaced, according to U.N. estimates, in a campaign of killing and rape that the United States has denounced as genocide.
The shift towards greater engagement comes after an “intensive review across the United States government,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
“Sudan today is at a critical juncture,” and while achieving peace and stability will not be easy, “sitting on the sidelines is not an option,” she added.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Obama administration will “employ calibrated incentives as appropriate and exert real pressure as needed.”
The U.S. government will seek verifiable consequences and ensure “significant consequences for parties that backslide or simply stand still,” she said.
The new policy represents a shift for Obama, who indicated a preference for greater sanctions during last year’s presidential campaign. At the time, he also backed the possible establishment of a no-fly zone to protect residents of Darfur from the Sudanese air force.
White House advisers have been divided over the proper approach towards the government in Khartoum. Retired Air Force Maj. J. Scott Gration, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, was lambasted by liberal critics for suggesting wooing the Sudanese government with “cookies” and “gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk (and) engagement.” Rice has reportedly pushed for a tougher, more confrontational position.
Violence in Darfur erupted in 2003 after rebels began an uprising against the Sudanese government. To counter the rebels, Arab militias with ties to the government went from village to village in Darfur, killing, torturing and raping residents, according to human rights organizations.
This is the leader we’re “engaging”:
Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has been indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes.