“The world would have been a different place had the US accepted to work with Sudan.” -Paul Moorcraft
From Sudan Media Centre, Khartoum
By Professor Paul Moorcraft
Professor Paul Moorcraft, the director of the Centre for Foreign Policy Analysis in London, presented a paper at the Sudanese European Relation Forum on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, titled “Out of step with Hyperpower? The European Union and Sudan.”
The paper addressed Sudan’s political and diplomatic relations with the European Union. In it, Dr. Moorcraft emphasized the difference in approaches between the EU and the US toward Sudan.
“We can describe the US as a ‘hard power’ while Europe is a ‘soft power’,” he said, emphasizing the tough approaches the US adopts against Sudan while the European approaches tend to be more diplomatic.
“European policy toward Sudan is less ideological than the US,” Moorcraft added.
One of the major differences according to Moorcraft was the evident impact of lobby groups.
“You don’t see the impact of lobby groups in Europe like in the US,” said Moorcraft, using the example of the Black Caucus and the Christian Right’s influences in the US in shaping US foreign policy toward Sudan.
“European foreign policy is not hijacked by lobby groups,” Moorcraft said comparing it to US foreign policy.
Moorcraft also pointed to the fact that while the US imposed economic sanctions and closed its embassy in Khartoum in 1996 after the attempt on Egyptian President Mubarak’s life in Addis Abba and accused Sudan of involvement; Britain kept its embassy fully opened.
“Europeans tend to take a more relaxed attitude towards these developments.”
On intelligence gathering, Moorcraft also compared how the US refused to co-operate with Sudanese intelligence on the Usama bin Ladin file, but the French on the other hand accepted Khartoum offer on Carlos the Jackal.
“The world would have been a different place had the US accepted to work with Sudan,” Moorcraft said.
Moorcraft went on to describe how Khartoum’s cooperation with the US after the attacks of September 11 against terrorism was well received in Europe.
“The British were impressed by Khartoum’s actions,” he said.
This led to Europe seeking gradual improvements in its relations with Sudan, explained Moorcraft, which became tied to Sudan reaching an end to the North-South civil war. When the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) was signed, it resonated well in Europe.
“Nivasha altered Sudan’s image in Europe,” he said.
But the conflict in Darfur, and the influence of the anti-Sudan lobby, especially in the US, had delayed a full normalization of relations with Europe. Moorcraft, however, was critical of media coverage of Darfur and of those calling for UN and foreign intervention in Darfur without a political solution to the problem.
“I have publicly written that Darfur is not a genocide…the US has 130,000 troop in Iraq and can’t control the insurgency there. How than can a UN force with less numbers enforce peace in Darfur where there is no peace to keep?”
Moorcraft also called on Europe and the US to help with a peace process for Darfur similar to the CPA.
“Darfur is primarily a political crises that can be addressed in months…My view is the Western powers should replicate the time, energy patience and leverage displayed at Naivasha in persuading the rebels to accept the Darfur Peace Agreement, perhaps with some modifications.”
Moorcraft also praised the eventual handling of the Gillian Gibbons “teddy-bear affair,” the British school teacher who was accused of insulting Islam be allowing her class pupils to name a teddy-bear Muhammad. Lord Nazir Ahmad, a British Muslim MP, was able to intercede with the Sudanese government to ensure Gibbons’ release.
“If this had happened in Saudi Arabia, things would have been very different.”
Moorcraft ended on a positive note, stating that “Sudan has a lot to look forward to.”
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