Prendergast's Enough Project discussing U.S. relations with Sudan
Sudan in the Senate
Posted by Enough Team on Feb 13, 2009:
Enough co-Chair John Prendergast spent yesterday afternoon on Capitol Hill discussing U.S. relations with Sudan during a roundtable discussion with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Prendergast was joined by Sudan experts Roger Winter, Jerry Fowler, Michael Gerson, and Timothy Carney, as well as by U.S. Senators on the foreign relations committee. Below are a few highlights:
The back and forth between senators and regional experts quickly moved to address the increasingly likely issuance of an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. In particular, the discussion focused on the internal politics of Bashir’s National Congress Party, or NCP, and the stalled progress in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, or CPA.
John Prendergast noted that regional politics in the Arab world—particularly Sudan’s relationship with Egypt, which has been on ice for a while now— as well as tensions within the NCP itself could push Bashir out of power in the wake of an indictment.
All of the experts further underscored the necessity of looking at Sudan holistically and emphasized the fact that the recurrent tensions between the North and South and the crisis in Darfur are symptoms of the same problem: the hoarding of wealth and power by ruling elites in the capital, Khartoum, to the exclusion of everyone else.
Roger Winter stressed that the next six months will be crucial for the implementation of the CPA, which he feels is in dangerous risk of collapse.
Senator Feingold wisely connected the dots, not only between peace in Darfur and throughout Sudan, but between the region’s numerous and interconnected conflicts.
Jerry Fowler of the Save Darfur Coalition noted that UNAMID cannot do what it needs to do unless it is accompanied by a comprehensive peace process to end the Darfur conflict.
Senator Kerry ended the hearing by asking each expert to pull together a summary of what they think the key U.S. policy priorities should be for Sudan.
Carney and Winter discussed the importance of American security interests and the regional dimensions of the crisis respectively.
Prendergast asserted that the bottom line for U.S. policy should be a peaceful and democratic Sudan. Fowler told the group that the United States has a practical interest in “addressing the fundamental disparity between the center and periphery,” in Sudan.
Gerson agreed with Fowler, and noted that whenever there are attempts to change the rules of the game, there are complaints that these steps will destabilize the situation, but such changes to the status quo are necessary when the current situation is “deeply unjust.”
Kerry himself mentioned previous American leadership failures in relation to Sudan policy as well as his and Secretary Clinton’s interests in the no-fly zone and American engagement with Africa generally. He told the assembled group that this is, “a moment for serious people to buckle down and find serious responses,” to Sudan’s crises.
Rebecca Brocato and Maggie Fick contributed to this post.