Monday, September 28, 2009


This IS outrageous. U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, needs to spend some time with his family. And President Obama needs to find some resolve on this "Defining" Issue. We need some of the hope we all fought so hard to be manifested when we campaigned for our new President.

U.S. Envoy's Outreach to Sudan is Criticized as Naive
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

EL FASHER, Sudan -- The volatility of this East African nation -- from the Darfur conflict to the threat of renewed civil war in the south -- is becoming a test of how President Obama will reconcile a policy of engagement with earlier statements blasting a government he said had "offended the standards of our common humanity."

Top administration officials are scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss a major review of the United States' Sudan policy. But even as that document is being finalized, U.S. diplomacy has remained mostly in the hands of Obama's special envoy to Sudan, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, who is pushing toward normalized relations with the only country in the world led by a president indicted on war-crimes charges.

Although Gration describes the approach as pragmatic and driven by a sense of urgency, his critics here and in the United States say it is dangerously, perhaps willfully, naive. During a recent five-day trip to Sudan, Gration heard from southern officials, displaced Darfurians, rebels and others who complained uniformly that he is being manipulated by government officials who talk peace even as they undermine it.

Still, at the end of the visit, Gration maintained a strikingly different perspective. He had seen signs of goodwill from the government of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, he said, and viewed many of the complaints as understandable yet knee-jerk reactions to a government he trusts is ready to change.

"We've got to think about giving out cookies," said Gration, who was appointed in March. "Kids, countries -- they react to gold stars, smiley faces, handshakes, agreements, talk, engagement."

Gration's approach has supporters, including Eltyeb Hag Ateya, a Sudanese professor and critic of Bashir's ruling party. He said Gration is "completely different" from previous envoys, who succeeded only in alienating the people who hold the levers of power in Sudan.

Gration's detractors say his approach is based on a misunderstanding of how Bashir's ruling party works. John Prendergast, co-chairman of the Enough Project, a human rights group advocating tougher, multilateral sanctions against Sudan, said Bashir and his top advisers respond only to pressure. "They do not respond to nice guys coming over and saying, 'We have to be a good guest,' " he said. "They eat these people for dinner."

Adam Mudawi, a Sudanese human rights activist who has seen envoys come and go, put it more bluntly: "In six months, he'll find out," he said. "They are liars."

But in interviews during the trip, Gration said that Sudanese government officials have not lied to him. He spoke of new realities in Darfur, where a brutal government campaign has given way to banditry and fighting among rebel factions and tribes. Although many say the government has orchestrated the chaos, Gration spread the blame. Rebels have turned into criminal gangs and failed to unify for peace talks, he said. And many displaced Darfurians are dealing with "psychological stuff" that is leading to unhelpful mistrust of the government, he said.

Gration said that in his view, the ruling party deserves some credit lately for allowing some foreign aid groups to return after Bashir expelled others following his March indictment by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in Darfur. Gration said economic sanctions, first imposed against Sudan in 1997, have thwarted development that would help marginalized parts of Sudan.

And as distasteful as it may seem, he said, engaging the ruling party is the only way to get a settlement in Darfur and to avert a potentially devastating war ahead of the semiautonomous southern region's 2011 vote on independence.

Ghazi Salahuddin, a close Bashir adviser, praised Gration for "trying to be evenhanded." During a stop in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur state, Gration was greeted like a rock star by hundreds of cheering Bashir supporters in a conference hall plastered with posters of Bashir and Obama, poorly photo-shopped together.

Read page 2 at www.washingtonpost.com

Read page 3 at www.washingtonpost.com

Darfur Conflict


Remember Darfur

No More Empty Promises

Whatever you did for one of the least of these
I don't consider myself a religious person at all.
Spiritual person, yes. Religious, no.
However, I love this passage of the Bible at the above link.

We are visitors on this planet.

We are here for ninety or one hundred years

at the very most.

During that period,

we must try to do something good,

something useful, with our lives.

If you contribute to other people’s happiness,

You will find the true goal, the true meaning of life.

H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama



"The Most Important Office is That of Private Citizen"
Louis D. Brandeis

Comments to President Obama:

202-456-1111 or 1-800-GENOCIDE

Dear President Obama - A letter sent March 12, 2009

Join the Fast for Darfuris

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,
committed people could change the world.
Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

Margaret Mead





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Click my post title for Human Rights First site


If We Only Have Love

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