In 2007, Senator Obama promised that “as president of the United States I don’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.” In August 2011, President Obama declared that the prevention of mass atrocities and genocide was a “core national security interest and core moral responsibility” of the United States. And yet, President Obama continues to oversee a disastrous approach to ongoing genocide in Sudan. This approach has failed to prevent the tragic loss of countless lives and the mass displacement and starvation of countless more innocent people.
The Obama administration has frequently expressed grave concerns, but has pursued a policy of engagement, employing conciliatory diplomacy rather than confronting the regime in Sudan with consequences for genocide and crimes against humanity. Despite the attention of multiple Special Envoys, the U.S. policy has failed. Over the years, Sudan’s President Bashir and the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) have learned that there are few or no real consequences for their actions, that there are no consequences for breaking commitments, and no action beyond condemnation in response to continuing and expanding mass atrocities and genocide.
Act for Sudan Positions
U.S. policy on Sudan must change in order to change the political calculations of the government of Sudan. The U.S. must implement a new pro-democracy and civilian protection-oriented policy that holistically addresses the root cause of Sudan’s multiple conflicts: the repressive and genocidal Sudan regime.
The U.S. can and should do more to provide strong leadership to end the government-sponsored violence in Sudan, protect civilians in Sudan and South Sudan, ensure unhindered humanitarian access for those in need, and bring the perpetrators of genocide and mass atrocities to justice at the International Criminal Court.
Specifically, the U.S. should:
- Deliver sufficient humanitarian aid to the starving Sudanese civilians in the Nuba Mountains/South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, with or without agreement from the government of Sudan or the U.N. Security Council, with multilateral partners or unilaterally, and with the urgency required to save starving people. Cargo planes should be dispatched immediately to airdrop food to areas in need.
- Build the capacity of Sudanese groups on the ground to become partners in humanitarian relief, including working with groups aligned with the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF).
- Not only enforce all current U.S. sanctions, but also oppose debt relief and cash transfers to the government of Sudan, discourage investments in Sudan and trade missions to Khartoum, and work to increase economic pressure on Sudan both unilaterally and multi-laterally, thereby strengthening the effects of U.S. sanctions.
- Support an end to the NCP’s control of the government of Sudan and support the movement within Sudan for democratic transformation. This support need not require the deployment of U.S. forces, and the risk is less than that taken when the U.S. supported regime change in Libya and less than the current U.S. support for regime change in Syria.
- Support the SRF rebels who are under attack by their government, are fighting for regime change, and are united with a vision for a democratic, secular, inclusive Sudan and a program for democratic transformation.
- Help protect Nuban, Blue Nile, and Darfuri populations from attacks by making at least some selective effort to destroy Sudan’s offensive aerial or other military assets and air control towers that coordinate military attacks.
- Recognize, respect and help implement the decision of the Abyei community to join South Sudan, as expressed in the nearly unanimous vote of the October 2013 referendum.
- Assist South Sudan in developing an alternative means of getting its oil to market so that oil and revenues need not flow north to Sudan.