IS A CHANGE GONNA COME in DARFUR?
PRESIDENT OBAMA HAS NOT HAD HIS EYE ON THE BALL
and his appointed U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, has been a disaster.
He needs to step down and President Obama needs to put enough attention on his administration's policy on Sudan
and appoint someone who is effective.
The one for the job would perhaps be Susan Rice, the U.S. UN ambassador.
It isn't Scott Gration.
Read the statements of those quesitoned July 30, 2009
Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. Strategy on Sudan
US should not normalize relations with Sudan now – SPLM
US policy shift on Sudan becomes more vivid
Friday 31 July 2009
July 30, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — The US presidential special envoy to Sudan Scott Gration criticized the decade long sanctions imposed by his country on Khartoum saying it is undermining the diplomatic efforts being carried out to resolve multiple conflicts in the East African country.
Gration, testifying at the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, said that “the consequences of the sanctions that result from that, and other sanctions, are preventing us from doing the development we absolutely need to do,".
“At some point we’re going to have to unwind some of these sanctions so that we can do the very things we need to do,” he said.
He said that the sanctions are “hurting the very development” needed for South Sudan such as bans on heavy equipment for road-building and computer equipment useful for educational purposes.
The former US administration has exempted South Sudan from some sanctions but those on oil are still in place.
Gration also decried Sudan being on the list of countries that sponsor terrorism saying there was “no evidence” to support that designation saying that Khartoum helped US efforts against key member of Al-Qaeda extremist group.
Since the beginning of the millennium, Sudan and the US have acknowledged their counterterrorism cooperation even as their political relations deteriorated.
He also said that Sudan has been cooperating in stopping the weapon smugglers heading towards Gaza through Egypt.
Earlier this year it was revealed by US officials that Israel bombed a Gaza bound arms convoy in East Sudan. Egypt, upon complaints from Washington, has reportedly warned Sudan about the growing activity of Iranian backed arms smuggling to Gaza strip ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas.
The statements by the senior US official appear to signal the direction taken by Obama’s administration and the comprehensive policy review on Sudan that is due to be completed in the upcoming weeks.
It was reported that different factions within the US administration have prevented the finalization of the Sudan policy review particularly on the usage of sticks versus carrots.
The Washington Post said that Obama’s national security advisers have been locked in dispute over the right mix of rewards and penalties to persuade the Khartoum government to pursue peace in those regions.
Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has been pressing for a tougher approach, citing Khartoum’s history of violating previous agreements.
But Gration while rejecting ideas of rift with Rice, suggested that engagement with Khartoum is the way forward.
“Engagement is not something we pursue for its own sake, and it is not about accommodating the status quo. Engagement does not mean the absence of pressure, or doling out incentives based on wishful thinking. On the contrary, it is about working to change conditions on the ground,” he said.
Asked after the hearing about concerns that the Obama administration was not taking a hard enough approach to Khartoum, Gration replied: “You know, carrots and sticks are great for leading donkeys. This is much more complicated.”
The Sudanese ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Abdel-Mahmood Abdel-Haleem welcomed Gration’s in remarks to official news agency (SUNA) saying that his country has suffered from the “unjust” sanctions that he said violated UN charter and its resolutions that “condemn unilateral sanction”.
Abdel-Haleem said he hoped Washington would take practical steps to lift sanctions and remove Sudan from list of countries that sponsor terrorism.
The special envoy’s opening remarks focused on the objectives of Washington with regard to Sudan including the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the 2011 referendum in South Sudan, Darfur peacekeeping and the peace process the war ravaged region.
Gration said he wants to unify the positions of the Darfur rebel groups and is also seeking to defuse tension between Sudan and Chad that fuels the conflict.
He acknowledged that both neighbors are backing each other’s rebel groups creating across the borders military movements and said that deploying monitors can help curtail that.
Gration expressed dissatisfaction with the UNAMID mandate describing it as “weak” hinting that it could be changed down the road as well as the command control of the peacekeepers despite Khartoum’s likely resistance to such a step.
To correct this situation the US envoy disclosed that to protect IDP’s he is working with the African Union-United nations (UNAMID) peacekeepers to create “secure sectors and corridors” through which people can move safely which according to him may require aerial capabilities, working more closely with local law enforcement authorities and rebel groups in the region.
The US envoy said that specialized intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities will be needed as peace process progresses that could be coordinated with United States African Command (AFRICOM).
Gration said that the violence and insecurity encountered by the IDP’s is “unacceptable”. He also proposed allowing UN peacekeepers in South Sudan to assist in Darfur and vice versa another idea that Khartoum is unlikely to accept.
The US official said that his government is working closely with other international players including UK as well as China which has huge economic stakes in Sudan saying that the latter shares the same agenda as Washington but for the purpose of protecting their investments.
Asked about the upcoming elections Gration said that he believes that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) are reluctant to have the already delayed poll scheduled for April 2010.
Gration warned that if elections are skipped it would be very difficult to hold credible referendum in Abyei and South Sudan in 2011.
Obama’s envoy refused to comment on his boss’s characterization of the situation in Darfur as being genocide on whether it was something from the past or ongoing.
Gration said last month that Darfur is witnessing “remnants of genocide” drawing criticisms from advocacy groups. The same day the US State department distanced itself from Gration’s statements.
“I am not saying the genocide is over. What I am saying though is that my focus is on recovery,” he said in response to one of the senators question.
Washington has also been grappling with how to deal with Khartoum over violence in Darfur, where UN estimates say up to 300,000 people have died and 2.7 million have fled their homes amid violence the United States has labeled genocide
Bigger screen at:
Change Is Gonna Come
Playing For Change is going to be aired all through the month of August on PBS
A 57 minute version of the feature length documentary film, "Playing For Change: Peace Through Music," is going to air nationally on PBS throughout August! Over the course of this film, you will not only have the chance to see and hear new amazing performances from around the world, but you will also get to meet the musicians who make them so special.
Additional screenings are being scheduled by PBS daily, so for the most up to date listing check with your local station. To see a list that is current as of July 30th, click here.
The Boston area dates and times
You can also write to the President at:
The White House
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Washington, DC 20500
President Obama can be called:
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9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. weekdays
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My favorite is Lullaby