Washington expected to shift policies toward Sudan
www.chinaview.cn 2009-08-27 23:24:49   Print

    by Shao Jie

    KHARTOUM, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Special Envoy of U.S. President Barack Obama to Sudan Scott Gration will hand over to the U.S. president and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, on Saturday a report suggesting the next steps to be taken by the U.S. administration to address the problems in Sudan, the independent Al-Sahafa daily reported Thursday.

    Gration have been touring Sudan, Ethiopia and Egypt since last week amid wide speculation that Washington was considering a shift of its policies toward Sudan, which could include an ease of sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Sudan over one decade, or lifting the African country's name from the blacklist of states sponsoring terrorism as what Khartoum is hoping for.

    The Arabic-language Al-Sahafa quoted an adviser of Gration as saying that the U.S. president's envoy would "submit a good report" no mater whether on the 2005 peace agreement between northern and southern Sudan, or the general elections scheduled for April 2010 in Sudan or the democratic transition in this country.

    On Aug. 17, the same day that Gration was leaving for Africa, the U.S. administration announced that it was finishing up its comprehensive policy review of Sudan that would determine its conflict resolution strategy for the largest country in Africa.

    "I think we are getting close to the point where we will announce a new policy approach on Sudan. I would expect that in the next couple of weeks," the Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Philip Crowley told reporters at a daily press briefing in Washington.

    In a testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on July 30, Gration said that there was no evidence to back up the U.S. designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, adding that Khartoum had been helpful in stopping the flow of weapons and in dealing with key members of the terror group al-Qaida.

    Calling the U.S. sanctions on Sudan a "political decision", Gration noted that the sanctions hurt the work he and others were trying to do to rebuild and help people suffering in the war-torn country.

    Two weeks before the testimony, Gration told reporters at a briefing in Washington that the Sudanese government was no longer engaging in a "coordinated" campaign of mass murder in Darfur, saying that "what we see is the remnants of genocide."

    The Sudanese government immediately responded, warmly and unsurprisingly, to Gration's remarks, and called on the U.S. administration to make out a timetable for formalizing its ties with Khartoum.

    However, Gration revised his position some one week later after the testimony, claiming in a press interview that the remarks he made to the lawmakers had been misunderstood and that he was only suggesting limited changes to sanctions that would contribute to the development of southern Sudan.

    U.S. media said the revision came because of differences inside the administration on the policies toward Sudan, while Sudanese officials believed that Gration had been subdued by lobby groups which were hostile to Khartoum.

    But Gration was apparently not the only person in Washington proposing changes of the U.S. policies on Sudan.

    In a more implicit manner, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry also called for a comprehensive approach in dealing with Sudan.

    "When I visited Sudan in April this year, I came away convinced that we need to build a strategic framework that moves beyond simple oppositions like carrots versus sticks or the South versus Darfur. Instead, we need a nuanced, comprehensive strategy for Sudan as a whole," Kerry said.

    "Our primary goals in Sudan are: helping to achieve peace and security in Darfur and the surrounding region; maintaining and strengthening peace between North and South Sudan; expanding cooperation on counter-terrorism; and promoting democracy and conflict prevention throughout the country," said Kerry, the former presidential candidate of the Democratic Party.

    The so-called "comprehensive review" on the Sudan policies in the U.S. administration came in view of a background that since the '90s of last century, the U.S. had been stuck in a self-designed trap which it was unable to extricate itself.

    Washington froze its normal contacts with the Sudanese current regime after Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in a military coup overthrew the former government which had been backed by the Western countries.

    In 1993, the U.S. administration added Sudan's name to the blacklist of states sponsoring international terrorism, and in 1997 imposed the comprehensive economic sanctions on Sudan.

    On Aug. 20, 1998, the U.S., in retaliation for repeated terrorist attacks on its overseas diplomatic establishments, bombed a pharmaceutical factory in central Khartoum under the pretext that the factory had been involved in making chemical weapons.

    In recent years, the U.S. has accused the Sudanese government of committing so-called "genocide" in Darfur, and in March this year, after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant against Bashir, Washington immediately announced that Bashir was persona non grata.

    Local analysts believed that the first reason why the U.S. had to conduct a review of its policy toward Sudan was that Obama changed the tough diplomatic style of his predecessors in dealing with the Islamic world including the Arab countries and the African continent as a whole.

    The second reason was that the U.S. realized that its long-term Sudan policies of containment and sanctions had not achieved the desired results but Sudan had made remarkable achievements in the political, economic and social fields for nearly 10 years to become an example of achieving success without the U.S. influence.

    Only by a radical adjustment of its policies, the U.S. could resume its influence on Sudan, the analysts believed.

Editor: Yan
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