Sending Mixed Signals from Washington
The Confusion regarding the Sudan Policy Review by the Obama Administration was not an accident. It appears to be a very thinly designed outlet to give Sudanese President Bashir a chance to show to the United States that He is a Democrat. And He has failed.
Shortly after President Obama took Office there were inklings that a change in the Policy in Sudan was in the works. One of the proposed actions was to remove Sudan from the List of Countries that are State Sponsors of Terrorism. Early last year the Israelis struck at Sudan on two different occasions targeting convoys that were reportedly sending Arms to support Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Also the Sudanese Government has supported the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army) a Militia seeking to overthrow the Ugandan Government. As long as these issues remain Sudan cannot be removed from that list.
Another point of contention was the Comprehensive Peace Accord between Khartoum and the Rebels in the South. This accord which was negotiated with the assistance of the Bush Administration and signed in 2005 set forward the motions that would allow for Presidential and Parliamentary Elections that are currently occurring. Another Critical aspect would allow for Southern Sudan to have the opportunity to vote to secede from the Country this coming January.
During the last critical days prior to the Elections once again the Administration was sending out mixed signals regarding this critical event. First of all the Diplomats were not speaking to each other. The US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice was concerned over the reports of increasing violence in the Country. The Special Envoy to Sudan Gen Gration said that these were “minor difficulties” in what was expected to be a free and fair election. A similar statement also came from the State Department itself. This is not a good return for the $100 Million that the US Government allocated to defray some of the costs of the poll as part of the CPA.
Candidates for the two main Opposition Parties decided to Boycott the Elections. This is disheartening as it now appears that the reelection of President Bashir will be a fait accompli now. This will raise questions regarding whether or not this was planned by the Government. But if the poll results are as what many pundits believe what will be the result? Better yet what will occur in the United States?
First of all a new administration has the right and privilege to conduct what ever Foreign Policy it deems will advance the interests of the United States. The appearance of the administration to support the Government of Bashir will anger not only those from Darfur who have suffered for a decade but will also been seen as a slap in the face of those from the South. The United States helped negotiate the CPA as an Honest Broker. The actions of this Administration have undermined the CPA as much as the Sudanese Government. There are also reports that some of the Northern Resistance Groups will launch new operations if President Bashir is reelected.
Currently the LRA Disarmament Bill is in the House of Representatives. It is seen by some as supporting the Efforts of President Museveni to remain in Power to fund his Military Machine. In the Past the Sudanese Intelligence services have used the LRA as a proxy force to exert influence. Earlier this week there were reports of a series of attacks in Ezzo County which is in Western Equateur Province. Relations with the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo can be influenced by this Legislation as well as Uganda.
Although there is a Peace Deal with Chad there are now reports that the followers of Khalil Ibriham who was driven out of Chad earlier this year are regrouping in Darfur. Kenya has close ties with the Southern Sudanese as well. On Friday some Kenyan nationals began leaving the region as well. How will the Administation support these key allies?
This also has the potential for becoming a Huge Issue for the Republicans in the Mid-Term Elections this fall. There are some conservatives who are upset with the fiasco regarding Missile Defense. Angry Activists who have been working on Darfur or other Sudan related issues could form a coalition to punish the Democrats this fall for the glaring weakness in Foreign Policy. There is also a small US Military team in Southern Sudan training the GOSS Army in small unit tactics. Its possible that in the near future that these troops will soon be in Harm's Way.
Indecision does breed crisis. And in Sudan it appears that shortly there will be one erupting very soon. Hopefully this is not what the Administration wanted.
The Author Publishes Confused Eagle on the Internet and comments on US Policy on Africa. Confused Eagle can be found at confusedeagle.livejournal.com