On Friday, December 16, Act for Sudan sent a letter to Presdient Obama explaining why we hope that the U.S. is not about to reward the Government of Sudan by removing it from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. We believe that removal from this list which would conflict with U.S. interests and policy on international terrorism, present additional dangers for the already endangered people of Sudan, and be incompatible with a “comprehensive strategy” for addressing the ongoing crises in Sudan. With the Government of Sudan continuing to oppress its people and even use food as a weapon in its war against its people, there are millions of Sudanese under attack, in camps without adequate aid, in prison, and enslaved. Now is hardly the time to reward and encourage the regime in Khartoum. We ask the Administration to adopt a “whole of Sudan” policy rather than conflict-specific approaches as all conflicts arise from the same source: Khartoum.
Full text of letter below:
December 16, 2011
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500
Dear Mr. President,
We, Act for Sudan, wrote to you on November 3, 2011, expressing deep concern about the ongoing government-sponsored genocide in Sudan which spans more than two decades and has resulted in the death and displacement of millions of people. Its targets have included the tribes of Darfur, South Kordofan, Blue Nile, Nubian North, Beja East, and South Sudan. The situation in Sudan has continued to be dire, not only in Darfur, but particularly for the Nuba people and throughout the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions. Aerial attacks are accompanied by the denial of access to vital humanitarian aid for hundreds of thousands of people.
We continue to believe that strong leadership by the United States government is essential to ending the violence, protecting civilians and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
For some time, the U.S. has been considering removing Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. During November, while the Government of Sudan continued its attacks on its own people, the Embassy of Sudan in the U.S. retained The Law Office of Bart S. Fisher “to counsel and assist the Republic of the Sudan in satisfying appropriate U.S. conditions to reduce and to eliminate the sanctions currently imposed on the Sudan; [and] in satisfying appropriate U.S. conditions to have Sudan removed from the list of State Sponsors of Terror of the U.S. Department of State…” Also during November, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough and Special Envoy Princeton Lyman visited Khartoum for high level meetings on U.S.-Sudan relations.
We write to you today to explain why we hope that the U.S. is not about to reward the Government of Sudan by removing it from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Removing the Government of Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list would conflict with U.S. interests and policy on international terrorism, present additional dangers for the already endangered people of Sudan, and be incompatible with a “comprehensive strategy” for addressing the ongoing crises in Sudan. With the Government of Sudan continuing to oppress its people and even use food as a weapon in its war against its people, there are millions of Sudanese under attack, in camps without adequate aid, in prison, and enslaved. Now is hardly the time to reward and encourage the regime in Khartoum. We ask the Administration to adopt a “whole of Sudan” policy rather than conflict-specific approaches as all conflicts arise from the same source: Khartoum
First, even if the recent increased U.S. focus on the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) resulted in clear confirmation that the Government of Sudan (GOS) has ceased support for this international terrorist organization, it is still clear that the GoS continues to support international terrorism in its relationship with and support for Hamas and Iran.
The leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, recently visited Khartoum, Sudan. Ahmadinejad and Bashir announced their increased partnership and continuing mutual support, including military cooperation. Bashir announced Sudan’s support for Iran’s right to develop nuclear technology, and their joint communiqué ominously declared that Iran was “ready to transfer its experience in the science and manufacturing sectors.” Iran has long been recognized as an arms supplier to Hamas and to Sudan. Recent news reports confirm that Sudan continues to be a major delivery route for arms to Hamas. The leader of Hamas, Khalid Mishaal, visited Khartoum and spoke at the annual Al Quds conference on Hamas continuing jihad against Israel. Mishaal and Bashir announced their continuing strong mutual commitment and support. Mishaal visited Khartoum again in November. These close and growing ties of both Hamas and Iran with Sudan are troubling, not only because of the implications for terrorism, but also in the larger strategic context of the realignment of radical forces in the Middle East.
In addition, the U.N. confirmed reports of Sudan bombing the refugee camp in Yida, South Sudan. Sudan’s deliberate attack across a recognized international border, against a civilian camp of refugees from Sudan’s earlier attacks in South Kordofan, must be recognized as an international version of the terror tactics Sudan has employed for years within its own borders.
Second, keeping the GoS on the State Sponsor of Terror (SST) list has real impact and importance.
The U.S. policy on Sudan, published on October 19, 2009, clearly stated the need for a “comprehensive approach” designed to work for progress in three areas: ending human rights abuses and conflict, implementing agreements such as the CPA and stopping support for international terrorism. That policy rejected the idea that the U.S. use the possibility of removing Sudan from the SST list as a “bargaining chip” that allowed Sudan to avoid its responsibility to stop human rights abuses. “We have to see significant, tangible, concrete progress across the board. It is not a quid pro quo for completion in one area. We have to see progress in all three areas for that to occur.”
Since 2009, human rights crises have not only continued in Sudan, but the GoS has created and pursued new, wide scale abuses by attacking its people in South Kordofan and Blue Nile and denying access to humanitarian aid workers.
Valerie Amos, U.N. Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, stated on December 6, 2011, “Given the continued denial of [humanitarian] access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile States, we must now plan for a major deterioration in the condition of people there, including rising malnutrition, food insecurity and the dangers of unexploded ordnance and landmines.” Sudanese Air Force bombing continues in the New Guffa and Yida areas, entry points into South Sudan for escaping refugees. On December 3, 2011, the GoS blocked Ms. Amos from visiting Khartoum to discuss access for humanitarian aid workers. The NCP is skilled and experienced in “negotiating” agreements they have no intention of honoring while it continues to slaughter its people.
The U.S. must adhere to the lessons it stated in 2009. Rather than reacting to the GoS in a piecemeal way, focusing only on the latest crisis, the U.S. and the international community must deal with Sudan as a whole.
Sixty-two members of Congress, including the co-chairs of the Sudan Caucus, recognize that this Sudan policy is not working and ask for a “whole of Sudan” approach:
“The current model of addressing Sudan’s conflicts through individual mediation processes – effectively stove-piping each conflict – is not working. The Government of Sudan has successfully pitted conflict areas against each other. This cynical tactic has allowed it to avoid making any broader, more comprehensive changes. Constitutional reform and inclusive governance are central to the prospect of real and lasting change. Longtime Sudan watchers assert that U.S. policy should immediately press for a central, comprehensive process that pulls in all parties in conflict across Sudan to seek peace and structural democratic reform.”
We respectfully request that the Administration implement as urgent matters:
Impose draconian financial sanctions against officials (and their associated businesses) responsible for attacks against civilians.
Thank you for considering our views. We respectfully ask that the National Security Council and State Department focus on both the urgent and longer term matters summarized in this letter. We note that each day countless lives are lost and people displaced without the means to sustain themselves. We hope that this Administration promptly takes the actions necessary to end this decades-long approach to “governing” Sudan and to avoid war between Sudan and South Sudan.
Act for Sudan, Co-founder
Secretary Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State
Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor, National Security Council
Ambassador Princeton Lyman, U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, U.S. Department of State
Karen E. Richardson, Assistant Director, Office of Public Engagement, The White House