Doom-wishers should abstain; Sudan-US Rapprochement Rolls On (2)

Sun, 14.05.2017 11:18

Circles and lobbies that have been unabatedly manipulating for years, to stymie and frustrate all prospects of normalization between the U.S. and the Sudan, being unable to digest the fact that Sudan is drawing nearer and nearer to be ultimately relieved from the yoke of sanctions, are mobilizing energies and their reservoir intrigues, spewing their venom here and there, in a frenzied race against time, to impede an impeding rapprochement, the signs and clues of which started to loom large on the horizon.

These lobbies, in fact, are frantic with worry, as the significant political reforms Sudan is steadily making, signifies marked headway towards Obama's five benchmarks, which warrants in return the complete lifting of sanctions by next July.

Besides, they are increasingly dismayed on one other hand, by compelling domestic, regional and international political transformations - as shall be reviewed hereinafter- which in one way or another, reinforce and encourage and ultimately pave the way for Trump’s administration, to move ahead with the process of normalization and completely lift Sudan's sanctions by July 2017.

Perhaps what haunts and preoccupies these disgruntled circles at this stage, is how to buy more time, exerting by way or another, mounting pressure on Trump’s administration, in order to reverse Obama's executive orders, that already relaxed the two decades of U.S. embargo on the Sudan, or at least delay them for six months if not another year, in an apparent contempt for all the rationale and the new realities that warranted Obama's decision in the first place. 

As focusing on human rights issues, have become by and large, one of the most influential actor in the international politics, it was not surprising that “ the human rights card” has been recalled and escalated at this very juncture, against the government of the Sudan, utilizing  reservoir literature of monotonous phony and sweeping generalizations.

 The current mounting hypocritical campaign in anti- Sudan media does not stem necessarily out of concern for human rights as such, but as a means to “demonizing” Khartoum and ultimately “torpedoing” the presumably imminent deadline of sanctions-lifting, and the ongoing process of rapprochement with the Sudan. However, despite all this hue and cry, facts remain facts, at the end of the day, compared with all the countries of the region to say the least, Sudan still enjoys one of the best human records.

Indeed Trump's new administration's subsequent statements on this issue has been relatively scant, however, it is equally true as well, that the new administration has not manifested hitherto at least, any official objecting to Obama’s move on Sudan in particular.

As a matter of fact, however, and contrary to the perceptions or delusions of many doom-wishers, the Obama administration's preliminary decision to ease sanctions on Sudan has come about - in the first place - as a result of direct consultations, and purportedly the full approval of the incoming Trump administration.

It should equally appreciated the  first 100 days of Trump’s mandate has been marred with increasingly tough and pressing domestic and international issues such as healthcare reforms and the investigation on presumed Russian interventions in the American politics, just to name a few, besides other pressing and hot international situations in  Syria and North Korea.

These priorities and  challenges  have presumably left the new administration, at the end of the day, with a little incentive to reverse Obama’s policies of easing sanctions on Sudan, as long as the latter is not retracting or infringing on the political and security commitments, under which the sanctions has already been eased by the subsequent Obama’s administration. Luckily enough, the facts on the ground increasing indicate and validate the other way round.

In fact, Sudan continued to react responsibly, even when President Donald Trump, against all expectations, added Sudan to his list of travel ban order, amongst other six Muslim nations. In his message to his American counterpart Rex Tillerson, Sudan's Foreign Minister, Prof. Ibrahim Ghandour, pointed out that Sudan and the United States, have many goals in common, including fighting terrorism jointly in the region and internationally.

Indeed, as millions have followed, President Trump has made tremendous statements during the campaign period, regarding his intentions and plans to reverse many of Obama administration’s policies including sanctions. However, today, after more than hundred days in office, the fact remains, as it has always been in the typical nature of all the consecutive American election campaigns, it is much easier said than done.

The saying “it is much easier said than done” becomes more evident in the fact that, due to the  ensuing and unfolding serious considerations, have reportedly warranted the White House for instance, to officially scrap plans of the controversial move of the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem, after perhaps months of delay.

In yet another stroke of luck for Sudan perhaps, amongst all Trump’s foreign policy priorities, the most prominent folder, where President Trump has immediately and tangibly translated his campaign pledges, was Trump’s position toward Tehran.  President Trump has showed strong determination to counter contain, what has been envisaged, as Teheran's expansionist ambitions in the Middle East, including their Houthis affiliates in Yemen (militarily if necessary).

From the very outset, the new American administration has exhibited mounting concern, that Iran is becoming too hegemonic, destabilizing the region by supporting militia groups, weakening states and increasing the chance of producing vacuums in which terrorism can grow. Therefore, to have a balance of power in the region, the US has opted to revive its old classical alliance in the region.

Conceivably, the newly unfolding policy toward Iran comes as part and parcel and corollary of the Trump’s new American foreign policy toward the Middle East, mainly premised on the revival and rebuilding of U.S. old traditional alliances, with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. This policy has signified in return, a complete departure from Obama's foreign policy of (The Asian Pivot) announced in the year 2011; whereby East Asia, has been envisaged by Obama, as the first priority region for the American policy globally.

Contemplating recent history clearly reveals that from the very perspective of the US foreign policy, many external strategic and ideological considerations have changed by the end of Cold War; however, the global war on terrorism has gradually replaced the Cold War as the keystone of United States policy in Africa.

In fact, the terrorists' attacks of 11 September had altered US global priorities; fight terrorism has become a new benchmark, and the cooperation in this domain has increasingly become the new criteria of measuring countries relationship with the United States.

Since fighting terrorism has turned into a battle against shadowy figures, that don't fight with conventional methods, has made it quite impossible for a single state to act alone as sealed unit. In other words, experiments have shown beyond any doubt, that war on modern terrorism cannot be won unilaterally.

That perhaps what made the US to have a dialogue and collaboration with the Sudanese government, since the year 2001, increasingly vital. Sudan's cooperation on the war on terrorism signaled a new turn in US-Sudanese relations, which have led to the gradual softening of the prevailing tension between the two nations.

Again in the context of fulfilling his pledges in fighting terrorism, comes the announcement which President Donald Trump has recently made concerning his intention to attend what he called a truly historic gathering in Saudi Arabia with the leaders from all across the Muslim world (including President Al-Bashir perhaps) in order to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the war-ravaged Middle East.

For the utmost dismay of Sudan doom-wishers, Sudan and out of the blue in fact,   hands of destiny alone put Sudan in the right side and time of history; Trump’s qualitative transformation of US foreign policy, reinstating the issue of countering terrorism, as his administration highest priority, has timely come about to give more ground, validity and impetus, for the already unfolding rapprochement between the Sudan and the U.S.

As a matter of fact, President Trump arrives in the region - Saudi Arabia being the first stop overseas since assuming the presidency in January - where a lot of water has already passed under the bridge, with increasingly significant changes in the regional political landscape.

Trump’s historic visit comes to the Middle East, and Sudanese armed forces play today a decisive role in the Saudi-led coalition against the very same Huthis terrorists in Yemen. In fact, Sudan is the only country from outside the Gulf States, which is fighting with GCC's forces on the ground side by side and shoulder to shoulder in Yemen.

By the same token,  the U.S. forces in the region has been for years restricting their direct attacks in Yemen against al-Qaeda element, until However the Huthis rebels in Yemen were recently held responsible for firing a missile on an American destroyer patrolling the Red Sea in October 2016. The U.S. in return realized the danger of these terrorist elements and started on directly attacking their positions with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

 Arguably, the above qualitative military shift in turn, has engendered new realities on the ground for the Sudan; after years of unpublicized intelligence cooperation, Sudan and the U.S. eventually find themselves on the same side of the battle, fighting a common enemy. Isn't it high time for such a protracted bilateral security collaboration between the US and Sudan, to bear fruit on the political and diplomatic level?

By Mubarak M.Musa Diplomat;

Embassy of Sudan in Ukraine, Kiev

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