SUDAN WATCH: Darfur Sudan activists' reactions to US Gration's statements (Enough Project, Jerry Fowler, Eric Reeves)

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Darfur Sudan activists' reactions to US Gration's statements (Enough Project, Jerry Fowler, Eric Reeves)

Surely US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration should not be criticised for acting boldly, wisely and positively while suggesting that US sanctions on Sudan ought to be lifted. How many more years do the Darfur rebels and activists expect the poor people of Sudan to endure living in concentration camps and being dependent on hand-outs, I wonder.  If the rebels and activists get their way, and manage to stop US sanctions on Sudan from being lifted, imagine what future is in store for the Baby Mogo's of Sudan who were born around the same time as Sudan's Comprehensive Peace Agreement, almost five years ago.

Ruthless rebel group leaders spinning the media to discredit Mr Gration in an attempt to stop US sanctions on Sudan being lifted shows how much they genuinely do not care about the defenceless women and children of Sudan.  But what is in the mindset of American humanitarians such as Save Darfur Coalition's president, Jerry Fowler and John Prendergasts' Enough Project and Boston based activist Eric Reeves, is beyond my comprehension.   Their hearts seem to be in the right place with respect to humanitarian issues but confusingly (to me anyway) when it comes to the lifting of US sanctions on Sudan, they all start singing from the same hymn sheet as JEM and all the other self serving mercenary gun toting rebel groups in Sudan.

Considering the privileged background and education of the people leading the Darfur activist groups, they must know that their statements embolden the rebels and contribute towards holding the whole of Sudan to ransom and marginalising poor people in Sudan who are in need of drinking water, food, healthcare, shelter, education, jobs and independent living.

For the record, here below is a link to Jerry Fowler's recent statement on YouTube followed by a copy of recently published commentary from Enough Project and Eric Reeves.

Jerry Fowler's meeting with US Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration

From Save Darfur Coalition's Blog for Darfur:
My Meeting With The Special Envoy
By SDC President, Jerry Fowler, Friday 07 August 2009
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to meet with U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration. We discussed his recent testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the United States’ role in promoting peace in Sudan. Here is a quick video about the meeting:

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From John Prendergast's Enough Project:
Gration's "Phony Optimism on Darfur"
By Laura Heaton, Friday 07 August 2009
Marking one week since Sudan Special Envoy Gration’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sudan scholar Eric Reeves wrote an excellent op-ed for the Boston Globe that summed up well the sentiments of many Sudan watchers who fear that the direction of the Obama administration’s Sudan policy is misguided. In particular, Reeves describes strong concern about the administration’s apparent reliance on incentives to negotiate with Khartoum, rather than a clear set of consequences for Khartoum’s continued intransigence. Reeves, like other activists and experts, thinks that the starting point for negotiations with Khartoum should be to prepare for a continuation of Khartoum’s pattern of stalling and reneging, rather than approach Bashir and his allies with the expectation of a sea change in behavior. Reeves suggests that perhaps the Sudan special envoy doesn’t fully understand the calculus that drives Khartoum’s actions.
“[L]ike many [diplomats] before him, [Gration] is convinced that the National Islamic Front is controlled by men who can be reasoned with, cajoled, rewarded, made to do ‘the right thing.’’ He ignores the basic truth about these men: during their 20 years in power they have never abided by any agreement with any Sudanese party.”
Reeves is particularly frustrated by the “excessively optimistic” tone Gration takes when discussing resolution of Darfur conflict and the emphasis the special envoy places on the return of displaced people, a point that others have also recently picked up on. Reeves writes:
The notorious Janjaweed have not been disarmed and pose a constant threat. Even in the camps themselves, security is tenuous; women still face rape, men are tortured and murdered, and looting is commonplace. In the past, it has been Khartoum that has pushed for returns under these conditions; now, perversely, it is the US special envoy.
Expect to hear Reeves’ arguments and noticeable frustration echoed and amplified by Sudan watchers as the Obama administration finalizes its strategy for engaging Sudan. With all that is on the line in Sudan today – including the integrity of the country, on which the southern Sudanese will vote in 2011 and the well-being of the 2.7 million Darfuris who cannot return home – the Obama administration can’t afford to get this strategy wrong.

Technorati Tags: Advocacy Darfur and Southern Sudan Genocide Protection
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From Boston Globe's opinion section
The phony optimism on Darfur
By Eric Reeves, August 6, 2009:
IN SENATE testimony last week, the US special presidential envoy for Sudan offered a peculiarly upbeat assessment of the crisis in Darfur and the prospects for peace throughout Sudan. Envoy Scott Gration argued that the United States should move toward normalizing relations with the regime in Khartoum, including lifting sanctions and removing Sudan from the State Department list of terrorist-sponsoring nations. This would be a grave mistake - and would reward a regime comprising the very men who orchestrated genocide in Darfur and continue to renege on key elements of the 2005 north/south peace agreement.

There was little policy detail in Gration’s testimony because debate within the Obama administration continues to be intense. But Gration is close to Obama and seems determined to set the tone and establish the substance of US Sudan policy. He clearly went a step too far in June when he declared that genocide had ended in Darfur, and that there were only “remnants of genocide,’’ a characterization disowned by the State Department, the US ambassador to the United Nations, and President Obama, who used the word “genocide’’ in the present tense during recent speeches in Germany and Ghana.

More troubling, Gration has said too little about the humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the consequences of Khartoum’s March 4 expulsion of 13 key international humanitarian organizations; he has demonstrated little appreciation for what was lost, and the difficulty in generating new capacity. Stop-gap measures are beginning to fail at the height of the rainy season, and a number of camps report grave health and sanitation crises.

Gration also appears excessively optimistic about the moribund Darfur peace process. He repeatedly declared to Darfuris and humanitarians during a recent trip to the region that peace in Darfur would be achieved by the end of this year. But any meaningful peace agreement will first require an effective cease-fire, with robust monitoring of a sort that cannot be provided by the current UN/African Union peacekeeping force, which is badly underequipped, undermanned, and has lost the confidence of most Darfuris.

Humanitarians were dismayed at Gration’s insistent talk about the “voluntary’’ return of some 2.7 million displaced persons languishing in camps throughout Darfur. There is no humanitarian capacity to oversee such returns and ensure their voluntary nature; Khartoum refuses to provide security in areas it controls; and Darfuris in the camps complain bitterly that they are being asked to return to lands without protection, and which have oftentimes been taken over by Arab tribal groups. The notorious Janjaweed have not been disarmed and pose a constant threat. Even in the camps themselves, security is tenuous; women still face rape, men are tortured and murdered, and looting is commonplace. In the past, it has been Khartoum that has pushed for returns under these conditions; now, perversely, it is the US special envoy.

In his Senate testimony, Gration suggests that his travels to Cairo and Beijing enabled him to meet “leaders who share our common concern and want to work together toward shared objectives.’’ This ignores the long and resolutely obstructionist role both Egypt and China have played in Sudan over many years. Shortly after Gration’s testimony, a senior Egyptian official described Darfur as an “artificial’’ crisis directed against the people of Sudan. Beijing’s continued shipment of advanced weaponry to Khartoum; its opposition to the role of the International Criminal Court in pursuing atrocity crimes in Darfur; and its relentless support of Khartoum at the Security Council leave one wondering what Gration means by “common concern.’’

Most disturbing, Gration gives no evidence in any of his public comments of understanding the ruthless nature of the security cabal that rules Sudan and is determined to retain its stranglehold on national wealth and power; like many before him, he is convinced that the National Islamic Front is controlled by men who can be reasoned with, cajoled, rewarded, made to do “the right thing.’’ He ignores the basic truth about these men: during their 20 years in power they have never abided by any agreement with any Sudanese party. Any rapprochement that is not preceded by clear and irreversible actions to establish unimpeded humanitarian access, create freedom of movement and deployment for peacekeepers, and meet the critical benchmarks of the north/south peace agreement is doomed to fail.

Eric Reeves, a Smith College professor, is author of “A Long Day’s Dying: Critical Moments in the Darfur Genocide.

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