Thursday, June 10, 2010


The largest conventional war on the face of the earth in 2011 will occur in Sudan unless bold diplomacy led by the U.S. prevents it. The most dangerous tripwire will be in seven months, when southern Sudanese will vote to determine whether the South splits off and forms a new country. Some ruling party officials don't want to give up the oil-rich South without a fight. Southerners spilled a great deal of blood to win the right to opt out of Sudan, and they will keep fighting until they have their own state.

The last North/South war that ended in 2005 cost more than 2 million lives, and the Darfur conflict in Sudan's West has claimed over 300,000 more. Massive death tolls are the result of war tactics — principally by the government — that target civilians. Communities throughout Sudan have fought an authoritarian government to share in the country's power and wealth.

The good news is that this path to all-out war is unfolding in slow motion, and there is time to prevent it. The U.S. has a history of leading international efforts in Sudan, including helping to broker the 2005 peace deal. But the Obama administration has not taken a direct, leading role in the negotiations to avert renewed war in the South or to end the Darfur conflict. Furthermore, some U.S. officials believe that the United States has no leverage in Sudan.

Because of international sentiment that opposes sanctions and other forms of pressure, the U.S. shies away from creating any real consequences for Sudan's war crimes. And because activists and Congress strongly favor imposing such consequences, U.S. officials avoid serious discussion of peace incentives. We know; we've been a couple of those activists.

U.S. officials can break out of this box and build leverage in support of peace by presenting a Door 1 vs. Door 2 scenario, in which good outcomes would result from peace, and serious consequences would be triggered by war. Parallel carrots and sticks are the key to this approach.

On the carrots side, the U.S. should present a quid pro quo with an expiration date by the end of the year: In exchange for peace in Darfur and the South, the U.S. would move to normalize relations with Sudan and work in the U.N. Security Council to suspend the war crimes indictment of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir under Article 16 of the International Criminal Court charter. On the sticks side, a U.S.-led initiative should build international support for severe consequences for anyone promoting war, whether they are ruling party officials, militias, rebels, or southern Sudan's leaders.

Sudan's ruling party spoilers are supported by Egypt and China, which are interested in the uninterrupted flow of the Nile River and oil, respectively. President Obama should send a senior envoy to Cairo and Beijing to develop a strategy to influence officials in Khartoum and Juba to support peace, ensure oil investments and keep the Nile waters flowing.

Obama should deploy a team of experienced diplomats to revitalize negotiations in support of peace in Darfur and on the issues that continue to divide the North and South, particularly oil wealth sharing.

We believe the challenge in Sudan — with its major humanitarian implications — is precisely the kind of problem that requires the president's direct and imaginative engagement. Helping to shepherd a new state in southern Sudan and a peace deal in Darfur would be a defining achievement of the Obama presidency. Failure in the form of renewed war and hundreds of thousands more deaths — conservatively — is not an option. We often find ourselves looking at humanitarian crises and wondering what we can do to help. This is a moment where we can contribute to stopping one before it happens.

George Clooney is an actor and co-founder of Not On Our Watch. John Prendergast is co-founder of the Enough Project and co-author with Don Cheadle of the forthcoming book The Enough Moment.


Darfur In the News

AFP: US assails Sudan for repression, lack of rights. The United States voiced new criticism Tuesday against Sudan for an increase in repression and a "deteriorating environment" for civil and political rights in the African nation. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said a number of incidents in recent weeks have increased US concern, including the arrest of opposition leaders, the censoring of opposition newspapers and violence against its employees. Also, worrisome has been a government ban on human rights workers leaving the country to participate in a Kampala conference on the International Criminal Court, and violence against demonstrators.

Reuters: Renegade militia flees south Sudan oil state--army. South Sudan's army said on Wednesday it had chased a renegade militia commander out of his base in oil-producing Unity state, but warned he could be planning a counter-attack backed by Khartoum. Galwak Gai is one of at least three militia leaders who are angry at alleged fraud in the April national election and have taken up arms against south Sudan's government, raising fears for the stability of the territory and surrounding region.

Sudan Tribune: White House moving more aggressively on Sudan policy: report. The tour by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden in Africa is aimed mainly at discussing the issues facing Sudan particularly relating to the 2011 self-determination referendum, a major milestone in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) brokered by Washington, according to a news report today. The senior U.S. official is scheduled to meet with Sudan's First Vice President and president of South Sudan government (GoSS) Salva Kiir on Wednesday and with former South African President Thabo Mbeki to discuss CPA implementation and the situation in Darfur.

AFP: Western aid worker kidnapped in Chad: ministry. Armed men seized a Western aid worker with the British charity Oxfam in eastern Chad, officials said Tuesday. The aid worker was snatched while leaving a restaurant on Sunday in Abeche, the main city in eastern Chad, where aid groups and UN agencies work with refugees, a humanitarian source said on condition of anonymity. Aid workers have long complained of widespread insecurity and Oxfam said in March last year there were 25 attacks on NGOs in the area every month.

BBC: Uganda backtracks on invite for Sudan's Omar al-Bashir. Uganda has backtracked on comments suggesting Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir was not invited to July's African Union conference in Kampala. Over the weekend, Sudan demanded an apology after Uganda's president was quoted as saying he was not coming.

BBC: Darfur death toll rises to two-year high in Sudan. About 600 people died in fighting in the Sudan region of Darfur in May, the highest monthly toll since peacekeepers were deployed in 2008, officials say. The joint UN-African Union peacekeeping force said most had died in fighting between Sudan's army and rebels of the Justice and Equality Movement (Jem). The number of deaths has risen sharply since Jem walked out of peace talks last month.

AFP: Darfur rebel group 'preparing to free 35 prisoners'. Darfur's main rebel group, the Justice and Equality Movement, is preparing to free 35 captured members of the Sudanese army, JEM officials said on Tuesday. "We have 35 prisoners of war who we are ready to return to the government, nine of whom are wounded," senior JEM commander Mohammed Ali told AFP, speaking by satellite phone from South Darfur. "ICRC stands ready to facilitate any handover should it be requested by both parties, the government of Sudan and the JEM," said ICRC spokeswoman in Khartoum Aleksandra Matijevic, without elaborating.

VOA: UNICEF Pressing to End Recruitment of Child Soldiers in Central Africa. The United Nations Children's Fund is pressing to end the recruitment of child soldiers in Central Africa. The campaign also seeks to improve educational opportunities for former child soldiers. UNICEF has officials from Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Niger, and the Central African Republic meeting in N'Djamena to discuss cross-border issues relating to the exploitation and forced recruitment of child soldiers.

New CD from Enough Project and Mercer Street Records Benefits RAISE Hope for Congo

Curated by music expert Nic Harcourt, the compilation features exclusive tracks from renowned artists such as Norah Jones, Mos Def, Sheryl Crow, Angelique Kidjo, Damien Rice, Amadou & Mariam & Bat For Lashes


Today, Mercer Street Records and the Enough Project released a special digital compilation album dedicated to help stop the violence against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Curated by leading music expert Nic Harcourt (Los Angeles Times, KCRW Radio, A&E Network), the compilation, titled "RAISE Hope For Congo," brings together many of contemporary music’s leading artists in solidarity with Congolese women who have been the target of violence and rape amidst war in the region fueled by the demand for conflict minerals used in electronics from cell phones to computers. The incredible genre-spanning album includes exclusive tracks from Norah Jones, Mos Def, Damien Rice, Angelique Kidjo, Bat For Lashes, Rodrigo y Gabriella, Amadou & Mariam and more as well as a special reading from Sheryl Crow.

DOWNLOAD the digital album.


Genocide will not end

enough people
pressure our elected officials to take a stand

Contact President Obama

For organizations

For everybody

You can also call or write to the President:
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
They request that you include your e-mail address

Phone Number
Comments: 202-456-1111

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