Wednesday, March 24, 2010


General Scott Gration has been a disastrous choice by President Obama for Special Envoy to Sudan from the time he opened his mouth. It is hard to imagine Obama has paid any attention to what Gration has been saying for a year now. The statements, one after another, are such ridiculous statements. They are untrue and simply the opposite of helpful.

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 have not unified 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 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 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 the full article: www.washingtonpost.com

U.S. Envoy Gration Denies Present-Day Conflict in Darfur as “Genocide”


June 17, 2009- According to multiple news sources, The U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan, General Scott Gration, referred to the situation in Darfur in a U.S. State Department briefing as merely “remnants of genocide” and “unlike the coordinated effort [characteristic of the genocide] between 2003-2006”.

Damanga Coalition for Freedom and Democracy is very disturbed by Gration’s statements and find it extremely unfortunate that Mr. Gration was deliberately and intentionally, trying to undermine the Darfur genocide by describing the violence as merely a “usual conflict” and also comparing the genocide the dissimilar Southern Sudan conflict. Gration is clearly ignoring the massive killings, rapes, air force raids, and the Janjaweed attacks that plague Darfur daily, allowing the systematic destruction to continue in the region.

It is becoming increasingly apparent from such statements that the Obama administration’s promises to end the genocide in Darfur are empty. Instead, Gration, Secretary of State Clinton, Vice President Biden, and even Obama himself seem to be turning a blind eye to the situation while they enjoy the recent peace within the Southern Sudan region. Gration’s statement that “violence in the south is greater than that in Darfur” seems unfounded in light of the recent ICC arrest warrant for President Al-Bashir in regards to the violence in Darfur that has killed over 450,000 people since 2003 and has destroyed countless other lives. Of course, the total causalities from 1993 up to 2003 are excluded from most data but amount to over 100,000 (Please visit www.damanga.org for more archived information and facts since the early 1990's).

It is very clear that this administration may have alternative motives: perhaps this double standard between campaign rhetoric and tangible action is rooted in religious motives (Muslim Darfur vs. Christian South), political interests (oil in south Sudan), or economic interests (once again, oil, China, and cost of intervention). As Darfuris, we are disheartened by the Obama’s administration inaction and cheap rhetoric.

Damanga hopes and urges Obama and his Envoy Gration, to reconsider their undermining statements concerning Darfur and restore justice to the Darfur region by enforcing the ICC arrest warrant for President Al-Bashir; their statements and inaction only allow the violence to continue. For real change to occur, Damanga urges that the following actions and policies be immediately implemented by the U.S., Europe, Canada, and the U.N:

- Immediate implementation of the UNSC Resolution number 1769 that has been passed since 2007 demanding the following:

-Deployment of 26.000 multinational peacekeepers to Darfur, with full mandate of chapter 7 to stop violence in Darfur and Sudan.

- Application of a non-fly zone over Darfur and Chad boarders.

- Disarmament of all the Janjaweed Arab militia killers.

- Application of a trade embargo against Sudan's import of weapons from China, Russia, India and other Arab countries.

- Sanctions against the Sudanese government, and companies doing business with Sudan. Force all American and foreign companies that
have standing business ties with President Al-Bashir’s administration to divest immediately from Sudan.

- The Freezing of all international assets of the Sudanese government and Janjaweed personnel.

- Support for the ICC work and arrests of those already indicted beginning with Bashir, Ahmad Haroun, Salih Kusheeb.

- Return of the lands that were confiscated by the Sudanese government and given to recruited Janjaweed militiamen to their Darfuri owners.

- Security for the safe return of IDP's and Refugees so that they may go back home to rebuild their villages, schools and other facilities.

Darfur displaced reject Gration’s statements on genocide

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

June 20, 2009 (KHARTOUM) — The spokesperson of Darfur internally displaced people slammed the statements made by US envoy to Sudan over the issue of genocide in Darfur and criticized his policy of constructive engagement with Khartoum.

Hussein Abu Sharati regretted remarks made by Scott Gration last Wednesday about genocide in Darfur. “What happened and still is happening in Darfur is genocide and it is regrettable to see the envoy of President Obama speculating over such sensitive issue,” he said.

“Gration was in Darfur and the IDPs he met explained to him their suffering, the precarious security situation and the attacks that the government militias still carry out against them.” “So we are deeply hurt and extremely disappointed,” further added Abu Sharati.

Bahar Idriss Abu Garda, the leader of the rebel United Resistance Front in an interview with Sudan Tribune today echoed Abu Sharati statements and underlined the contradiction of his remarks with what President Obama had said earlier this month in Germany.

The IDPs representative said their demand for security and the disarmament of the government backed militias before the peace talks finds its root causes in the genocide and attacks committed on daily basis against the civilians.

“This is what he had heard from the IPDs but unfortunately he is working now in his constructive dialogue with Khartoum and this approach could lead easily to this position,” he said.

“…The people living in IDP camps and refugee camps have the opportunity to move back to a place of their own choosing and to be able to live in safety and security and dignity,” said Gration in a press briefing on Wednesday June 17.

Abu Sharati criticized this remark by the US envoy saying he seems forgetting that the essence of the conflict in Darfur was the control of land.

“The militias are engaged in this genocide because the government had promised them our fertile land that they are now occupying illegally after changing its features.” …”So what we want is our land not any other land because what Gration is saying is exactly what the government is trying to implement: settle the IDPs in other places while their lands are given to the pro-government militias and we will never accept this issue.”

The IDPs spokesperson stressed they want the international community to take in consideration that the Darfur people have been killed for their land and no solution for this conflict could be sealed without taking into account this demand.

“This is why we ask for security and to evict these people from our land.”

Abu Sharati also minimized the importance of the Qatari process saying they do not feel “concerned by the issues discussed there or represented by the rebel movement (JEM) involved in the process.”


Darfur's Stubborn Realities

Thursday, August 6, 2009

from The Boston Globe, August 6, 2009


(Published as “The Phony Optimism on Darfur”)

In Senate testimony last week, US special presidential envoy for Sudan Scott Gration offered a peculiarly upbeat assessment of the crisis in Darfur and the prospects for peace throughout Sudan. He argued that we should move toward normalizing relations with the regime in Khartoum, including lifting sanctions and removing Sudan from the State Department list of terrorist-sponsoring nations. This would be a grave mistake—and would reward, at precisely the wrong moment, a regime comprising the very men who have orchestrated genocide in Darfur and continue to renege on key elements of the 2005 north/south peace agreement.

There was little policy detail in Gration’s testimony because debate within the Obama administration continues to be intense. But Gration is close to Obama and seems determined to set the tone and establish the substance of US Sudan policy. He clearly went a step too far in declaring on June 17 that genocide had ended in Darfur, and that there were only “remnants of genocide,” a characterization disowned by the State Department, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice—and President Obama himself, who used the word “genocide” in the present tense during speeches in Germany and Ghana.

More troublingly, Gration has said too little about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the consequences of Khartoum’s March 4 expulsion of 13 key international humanitarian organizations; he has demonstrated little appreciation for what was lost, and the difficulty in generating new capacity. Stop-gap measures are beginning to fail at the height of the rainy season, and a number of camps report grave health and sanitation crises.

Gration also appears excessively optimistic about the moribund Darfur peace process. He repeatedly declared to Darfuris and humanitarians during a recent trip to the region that peace in Darfur would be achieved by the end of this year. But any meaningful peace agreement will first require an effective cease-fire, with robust monitoring of a sort that cannot be provided by the current UN/African Union peacekeeping force, which is badly under-equipped, under-manned, and has lost the confidence of most Darfuris.

Humanitarians were dismayed at Gration’s insistent talk about the “voluntary” return of some 2.7 million displaced persons languishing in camps throughout Darfur. There is no humanitarian capacity to oversee such returns and ensure their voluntary nature; Khartoum refuses to provide security in areas it controls; and Darfuris in the camps complain bitterly that they are being asked to return to lands without protection, and which have oftentimes been taken over by Arab tribal groups. The notorious Janjaweed have not been disarmed and pose a constant threat. Even in the camps themselves security is tenuous; women still face rape, men are tortured and murdered, and looting is commonplace. In the past, it has been Khartoum that has pushed for returns under these threatening conditions; now, perversely, it is the US special envoy.

In his Senate testimony Gration suggests that his travels to Cairo and Beijing enabled him to meet “leaders who share our common concern and want to work together toward shared objectives.” This ignores the long and resolutely obstructionist role both Egypt and China have played in Sudan over many years. Shortly after Gration’s testimony, a senior Egyptian official described Darfur as an “artificial” crisis directed against the people of Sudan. Beijing’s continued shipment of advanced weaponry to Khartoum; its opposition to the role of the International Criminal Court in pursuing atrocity crimes in Darfur; and its relentless support of Khartoum at the Security Council leave one wondering what Gration means by “common concern.”

Most disturbingly, Gration gives no evidence in any of his public comments of understanding the ruthless nature of the security cabal that rules Sudan and is determined to retain its stranglehold on national wealth and power; like many before him, he is convinced that the National Islamic Front is controlled by men who can be reasoned with, cajoled, rewarded, made to do “the right thing.” He ignores the basic truth about these men: during their twenty years in power they have never abided by any agreement with any Sudanese party—not one, not ever. Any rapprochement that is not preceded by clear and irreversible actions to establish unimpeded humanitarian access, create freedom of movement and deployment for peacekeepers, and meet the critical benchmarks of the north/south peace agreement is doomed to fail.

[Eric Reeves is author of “A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide”]

US Darfur envoy criticized by refugees

By The World September 15, 2009


Darfur refugees are criticizing US envoy Scott Gration for reportedly downplaying the scope of the crisis in the Sudanese region. Anchor Marco Werman finds out more from human rights lawyer, Rebecca Hamilton, who accompanied Gration on part of his tour through the region this past weekend.

Read the Transcript
This text below is a phonetic transcript of a radio story broadcast by PRI’s THE WORLD. It has been created on deadline by a contractor for PRI. The transcript is included here to facilitate internet searches for audio content. Please report any transcribing errors to theworld@pri.org. This transcript may not be in its final form, and it may be updated. Please be aware that the authoritative record of material distributed by PRI’s THE WORLD is the program audio.

MARCO WERMAN: We go next to another East African trouble spot. Darfur, a region in Sudan. Darfur became the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in 2003. That’s when rebels there took up arms against the Sudanese government. An estimated 2.7 million people were driven from their homes and many still live in camps. U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration visited some of them over the weekend. He was not always welcomed. Human rights lawyer Rebecca Hamilton accompanied Gration. She’s in The Hague at the moment. So General Gration was appointed by President Obama, who was seen as kind of a champion of Darfur during last year’s election campaign, even using the word genocide to describe what happened there. So what kind of reception did General Gration get, Rebecca?

REBECCA HAMILTON: Among the displaced population in the camps there was, I think, it’s said it’s a very strong reaction against Gration coming to visit. There was one gentleman in the room who had this U.N. paper luggage tag effectively taped to the one eye. And at first you looked at him, and you were thinking, “This is someone we need to get medical care urgently because this is what he’s using for an eye patch.” But in actual fact it was a protest. When he stood up, he said, “I’m wearing this on my one eye because I cannot look to you, Scott Gration, with both eyes after what you said. And this is due to a set of misunderstandings and miscommunications over the testimony that Gration gave recently before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

WERMAN: What was the misunderstanding?

HAMILTON: Yeah, well, it’s over some statements that he made. So he basically spent 85% of the first day there saying three points to all these groups that he spoke with. He said, “I never said Sudan should be removed from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. I never said that sanctions should be removed from Khartoum, and I never said that the displaced had to leave their camps now.” And the displaced listened to this. They were sort of ranging from polite to moderately receptive in these groups, but a lot of the times afterwards, I had women come up to me and say, “You know, we heard him apologize but we don’t accept it because we simply don’t believe him.” They at this point perceived him as being … not acting in the interests of the displaced.

WERMAN: Now we should clarify that. You were not there as a member of the special envoy delegation, correct?

HAMILTON: No, and yeah, that’s an important clarifier. I’m writing a book on Darfur policy and the impact of advocacy, and I was really just getting to be a fly on the wall to see the special envoy in action on the ground.

WERMAN: This was his first trip to Darfur, correct?

HAMILTON: No, it’s actually, I think four …

WERMAN: I mean, under the Obama Administration.

HAMILTON: … it’s his fourth trip into Darfur. He’s been extremely active as a special envoy and that’s something that is … I mean, this man is 200% committed to the job, and I would say that having had off-the-record conversations with him, he has a much more nuance of understanding of the government in Khartoum than I perhaps had given him credit for, and that he perhaps gets credit for in the media. So there’s a lot of positive things that you can say, but the fundamental take-away that I got from this trip this weekend was about this really disconnect between him and the displaced population at the moment.

WERMAN: And so with this rather sort of bumpy trip to Darfur, I mean, how does that actually taint the White House policy regarding Darfur at this point? How do the Darfuris feel about, you know, Obama’s policy?

HAMILTON: Well, I think it’s a huge challenge because there was, as you mentioned, so much hope with the Obama Administration coming in. People said very specifically we had a lot of hopes that the change in administration would deliver results for us on the ground in Darfur, and we’re feeling that our hopes are being dashed.

WERMAN: Human rights lawyer, Rebecca Hamilton, is writing a book about the Darfur Advocacy Movement, and she’s just back from a trip to Darfur with U.S. Envoy Scott Gration. Thank you very much for your time indeed.

HAMILTON: Thank you.

U.S. envoy pushes for Darfur peace deal before Sudanese elections

Washington Post

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 10, 2010; 8:39 PM

NAIROBI -- The U.S. special envoy to Sudan warned Wednesday that efforts to bring peace to the country's troubled Darfur region could become less of a priority for the Obama administration if a full-fledged peace agreement is not reached before Sudanese elections scheduled for mid-April.

"There are going to be a lot of things that are keeping us from focusing on Darfur," retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration told reporters here. "That's why we have this little window where we really need to get the framework solidified."

Gration's comments came as the Sudanese government and one of Darfur's main rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement, resumed talks Wednesday in the Qatari capital, Doha, in a bid to conclude a formal peace accord by a March 15 deadline. But since the two sides signed a preliminary treaty last month, violence has flared in Darfur and some disagreements have emerged. Moreover, none of Darfur's other main rebel groups are engaged in peace talks with the government.

Further complicating matters are the upcoming elections, Sudan's first multiparty vote in nearly a quarter-century. Afterward, Gration said, the focus will be on reaching agreements and enacting other measures ahead of a January 2011 referendum in which South Sudan will vote on whether to secede.

"In the next two weeks I think we are going to see a real big focus on the election," Gration said. "There is not going to be a lot of bandwidth to be doing Darfur and negotiations."

The possibility that Darfur -- a top U.S. priority since the Bush administration declared in 2004 that a genocide was unfolding there -- could be placed on the back burner reflects Sudan's tenuous state as the country enters one of its most decisive periods since achieving independence in 1956. It is also likely to displease influential American activist groups that have urged Washington to end the violence and hold the Sudanese government accountable for alleged war crimes.

The conflict in Darfur has claimed an estimated 300,000 lives, and more than 2.7 million people have been driven from their homes, according to U.N. figures. It began in 2003 when rebels rose against the government, accusing it of politically and economically marginalizing the sprawling western region. The government retaliated by unleashing its army and proxy Arab militias known as the Janjaweed, which targeted Darfur's mostly black African population, razing villages and raping women.

Last year, the International Criminal Court in The Hague indicted Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir for committing crimes against humanity in Darfur -- the first sitting head of a nation to face such charges.

On Wednesday, Gration said Bashir should respond to the charges, but he stopped short of labeling the violence genocide. Until last year, he said, the international community's focus on Darfur had taken precedence over the 2005 peace deal between North and South Sudan, which ended a 20-year civil war that killed an estimated 2 million people.

"Frankly, we were pulled off message and off focus when Darfur happened, and Darfur sort of overshadowed what was happening in terms of implementation of the" north-south peace agreement, Gration said.

Gration, who heads to Doha this week partly to help bring other Darfur rebel groups to the table, said the current treaty has a better chance of success than previous failed peace deals. A key reason, he said, is a rapprochement between Chad and Sudan, which have accused each other of backing rebel groups. "This is one of the first very serious agreements we've had," he said.

Still, there are major differences to bridge. The Justice and Equality Movement, for instance, wants next month's elections postponed so that the group ands its supporters in Darfur can participate -- a move the government is unlikely to support.

Gration acknowledged that even if a full-fledged agreement is reached, it would only partially solve Darfur's problems.

"If there's going to be a comprehensive and lasting peace, all of the rebel groups really need to be involved," he said.


Gration on Darfur: inside a meeting gone wrong

by Josh Rogin March 2, 2010

The Cable Foreign Policy

While the Sudanese government was busy striking a peace deal with the Darfuri people of western Sudan, back in Washington, Obama's point man on the issue was holding a tense meeting with members of the Darfuri diaspora that has since touched off a fierce controversy.

A coalition of Sudan groups has been complaining that inside the Jan. 26 meeting, which was held off the record at the United States Institute of Peace, Special Envoy Scott Gration -- who outraged Darfur campaigners last September when he said the Khartoum regime was more likely to respond to incentives than threats -- made several statements that veered far from the Obama administration's official policy. Others deny that account.

While the exact content of his remarks are in dispute, "clearly the meeting between Gration and the Darfuris was a disaster," according to one Washington-based advocacy leader, who was not in the meeting but communicated with several attendees.

"Every time Gration speaks, he seems to churn up a whole damage-control exercise," the advocacy leader said.

An open letter (pdf) sent to President Obama in mid-February by 35 mostly smaller Sudan-related groups alleges that, inside the Jan. 26 meeting, Gration said the Sudanese government didn't intentionally kill civilians in Darfur and that the U.S. government is planning to shift some $2 billion in funding from that region to South Sudan. The letter calls for Gration's removal as Sudan envoy.

But according to multiple sources, those groups are twisting Gration's words to make them seem more out of step than they actually were. The Cable spoke with several of the participants in the meeting, all of whom asked for anonymity because they had agreed to keep Gration's remarks off the record. The consensus was that the letter to Obama mischaracterized much of what the special envoy actually said.

It may be impossible to determine exactly what Gration did say, since no transcript exists and there were language and communications difficulties to boot. Only four of the 35 groups in the letter actually had a representative in the meeting, the Washington-based advocacy leader pointed out. Gration's office did not respond to requests for comment.

Several attendees acknowledged there was palpable frustration at the end of the meeting, however, due to a perception that Gration chose mostly to explain his own thinking rather than have a genuine exchange of views.

The differing accounts of the meeting highlight a growing divide among Sudan groups over how to deal with Gration. One faction mostly outside Washington wants to force his ouster, whereas another faction, mostly consisting of larger institutions inside the Beltway, assumes that he's not likely to be thrown overboard any time soon and worries that his sacking would only create a vacuum at a critical time in U.S. diplomacy.

These larger groups hope that before 2011, when the autonomous South Sudan region is due to hold a referendum on whether to secede altogether, the White House will assign ownership of this issue to senior officials in the State Department and the National Security Council, wresting some control away from Gration.

Advocacy leaders worry what might happen if the fragile truce in Sudan falls apart, the South votes for independence, and the U.S. is forced to take sides. They see Gration's reaction to the latest agreement as an indication he is too inclined to give Khartoum the benefit of the doubt.

"We have had agreements in the past; most have failed," Gration said last week in Doha, the Qatari capital. "I think this is different."

Last week, however, U.N. officials accused the government of Sudan of increasing its attacks on Darfur civilians, despite the new truce.


"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

See 50 days of actions
running up to the Sudan April 11-13, 2010 Elections
at the website:


Our leaders have taught us this

Tweet this button to read: @JimLangevin Call for a Intelligence Committee special hearing re: #Sudan policy review and demand pressures and consequences #SudanSham

Contact links:

President Obama:
or for organizations at

Secretary of State Clinton:

State Department Facebook:

Ambassador Susan Rice:

Vice President Biden:
or for organizations at

And at http://sudansham2010.org/page3/page3.html
do the tweets but replace any reference to Senate Resolution 404 with something important like "Gration has got to go"
in words of your choosing.

* Action to take: US RI Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Call (401) 453-5294 or Email

I would like to thank Senator Whitehouse for his continued efforts for Darfur and Sudan. The Sudan Policy’s quarterly review just happened. Sudan has clearly violated benchmarks, and Obama’s policy promised consequences and pressures if and when this happens. Senator Whitehouse, as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, should hold a hearing about the Sudan Policy quarterly review. The Senate Intelligence Committee members should ask about the specific benchmarks, pressures, and incentives in the policy, holding our administration to their word.

If you want peace, work for justice
إذا كنت تريد السلام ، أعمل من أجل العدالة

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