The Letter Signed by 35 Congress Members to Extend Sudan Sanctions Old Lies Cannot Become New Truths

Sun, 09.07.2017 21:15

The letter signed by 35 US Congressmen on the 31st of June, asking President Trump to delay lifting of US sanctions against Sudan for one year, not only holds no water, but also lacks the necessary reliability and credibility, and at best could be described as a pack of lies, juxtaposition of empty rhetoric and deliberate bending and twisting of truth.
The timing of this letter was by no means innocent, it should be construed as yet another last-ditch attempt by anti-Sudan circles, implacably opposed to any rapprochement or cooperation between Sudan and the US, frantically racing against time nowadays, in order to pre-empt and torpedo the evolving prospects of a towards the complete lifting of sanctions by July 12th.
Old lies cannot become new truth, as I already mentioned, the letter by and large, plays fast and loose with the facts and purposefully spreads misinformation at this very crucial time frame, when repealing the sanctions is just around the corner, as we approach the deadline of July 12th.  Such premediated misinformation and despicable slanders, warrant in my perspective, a point-by-point rebuttal and refutation.   
First and foremost, the claim that there has been substantial fighting in Darfur in recent month is at the end of the day, a desperate attempt to capitalize on the momentum of suicidal attacks by remnants of the insurgency in Libya and South Sudan, aimed to bring about a media pang, however and the world have seen they were mauled and devastated in no time.
More importantly this claim is simply refuted and utterly discredited by the historical Security Council's decision last week, to downsize the UN-AU peacekeeping Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), in conformity with African Union decision earlier this month, which is by all means, an explicit international recognition of the realization of considerable peace and security in Darfur, mandating the gradual reduction of the mission.
By the same token, on 15th May 2017, The 15 members of the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) have ended a five-day visit to Sudan, which took them to Darfur, where they hailed the significant improvement in the overall situation in Darfur as well as the cooperation between the government and the council.
Again the letter falsely claims that evidence is unavailable or inconclusive in particular on the two tracks that most affect the Sudanese people, namely unimpeded humanitarian access and cessation of hostilities.
 However, the letter tends to ignore the stunning fact, that it is the SPLA-N's – not the government of the Sudan-through its typical elusiveness, procrastination and other buying time tactics, is the one and the only impediment, hitherto blocking the delivery of life-saving assistance to innocent civilians in the two areas.
As a matter of fact, despite the repeated and the ongoing appeals by the members of the Troika, the African Union’s AUHIP and the international community, for the SPLA-N to follow the footsteps of the government of Sudan, and accept the American compromising proposal, the SPLA-N's position till this very moment however, is still marred by confusion and elusiveness.
The typical SPLA-N's evasiveness was met with a reciprocal resentment worldwide; in yet the sternest criticism ever of the rebel movement, the former U.S. envoy to Sudan Donald Booth has castigated SPLA-N's “tactical moves”, criticizing their unwarranted refusal of the humanitarian proposal saying that, they should put their people first not their political ambitions.
The letter should have been courageous and objective enough, not to conceal the fact that, the current leadership feuds and discord amongst the SPLA-N, is what is actually impeding the resumption of the peace process, and thereby exacerbates the suffering of civilians in the two areas. In fact, due to the splits and the explosion of conditions within the armed movement, the SPLM-N has unilaterally asked the AU’s chief mediator, Thabo Mbeki, to postpone peace talks with Khartoum till this July.
In contrast, history shall authenticate how that Khartoum continued undeterred, to approach the European Troika and the international community to practice pressure on the remnant armed holdouts to commit themselves to the peace track. Manifesting good faith, Khartoum kept offering initiatives for an immediate and unilateral cessation of hostilities, the last of which has been promulgated early this month until October 2017.
Ironically, these respected Congress members should have been instead, currently aligning with the Troika and the EU and rest of the international community, strongly condemning the rebels’ recent military escalation in North and East Darfur, crossing borders into the Sudan from both South Sudan and Libya, as a barefaced breach to the cessation of hostilities and destabilization of peace and security in Darfur and the region.
With the respect to human rights, the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Khartoum, Steven Koutsis, has brushing aside such (hypocritical and politically-motivated) calls to delay the removal of economic sanctions on Sudan next July purportedly till the improvement in the record of peace human rights and reforms. Ambassador Koutsis made it clear, human rights issue was not essentially one of the five sets of criteria for the assessment of the performance of the Sudanese government concerning a permanent revocation of the sanctions in July, therefore, it should not be linked to the lifting of sanctions.
 Nevertheless, despite all such hue and cry, facts remain facts, compared with all the countries of the region to say the least, Sudan is a pioneer in the region in making giant advances in jurisprudence; in terms of political, civil and moral rights, rights of children, women to name a few. Besides, Sudan still enjoys one of the best human rights records. free press, free media, freedom of speech, without fear or intimidation.
On the other hand, to strengthen its weak argument and incapacitated logic, this letter in question, wickedly and with endless malignance, tries to summon and revisit some old terrorist accidents; namely, the bombing of USS Cole in 2000 and the US Embassy bombing in Kenya and Tanzania.
Beside the fact that, it has not been hitherto proven, that Sudan has any connection of whatsoever, with both terrorist acts, which Sudan promptly condemned, however, it makes it incumbent to draw the truth-seeking’s attention that, it is no longer a secret, that since early 1990s the CIA has had to burn, discard and dispose of with thousands of similar fabricated reports of Sudanese purported involvement in terrorist activities against the US.
As a matter of fact, in his landmark testimony before the Congress in 2009, of General J Scott Gration, the US's former presidential envoy to Sudan, was more revealing. Early that time, General Gration courageously, called upon his Administration to remove Sudan from the US state department's state sponsor of terrorism list. The General noted unequivocally, that there was "no evidence" for Sudan's inclusion on the list, which he called a "political" (rather than a national security-related) decision; reminding the Congress that, the CIA has already, referred to Sudan's strong record on counterterrorism co-operation as having "saved American lives".
On the other hand, charging Sudan with supporting illegal armed groups in Africa sounds ridiculous. It’s utterly refuted by contradicting facts on the ground; last April for instance, Sudan was invited to attend for the first time, US Africa Command (AFRICOM) in Germany. Since this unit of combat forces run by the US Department of Defence is responsible for military operations and military relations with 53 African nations, Sudan is thereby expected to contribute troops to the command group to support the fight against terror groups in the region.
In fact, since the announcement of the planned lifting of US sanctions, Sudan has been reconsidered as worthy for participating in its meetings. some intelligence officials disclosing that Sudan will allow the opening of the largest Central Intelligence Agency office in Khartoum to boost American investments in the oil and agriculture sectors.
In fact, premised on the fact that cooperation with Khartoum is crucial for American strategic interests, sources in Washington say the main security agencies; the CIA, the FBI and the US Army strongly back the complete repeal of sanctions. The resumption of military cooperation between Sudan and the US, with the military attachés of both countries returning to their respective embassies in Khartoum and Washington reinforces and substantiates this perspective.
In fact, these allegations could be construed as a backlash to Sudan’s gradual however confident regaining and reinstating of its political and diplomatic role and status in the region. To name but a few examples; Sudan today is not only in the heart of the “Decisive Storm Operation” for reinstatement of the legitimacy in Yemen, Sudan today is also, part and parcel of the regional consultations on reconciliation in Libya. Besides, Sudan has proved to be the unique expert-home, for the prospects of peace and stability in South Sudan. Last not least, experience has shown and proven that Sudan is inescapable, in serious and genuine regional efforts, of combating both terrorism and human trafficking.
Recently praising Sudan’s role in mitigating the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, Secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres, thanked Sudan for opening three humanitarian corridors to transport relief to South Sudan. Mr. Guterres stressed that he is “counting heavily on the Sudanese government to support regional and international efforts to pressure the conflicting parties in South Sudan to stop the fighting”.
This role was further validated, when the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Khartoum Steven Koutsis, in his Independence Day remarks early this month in Khartoum, confirming that Sudan has shown it is a willing partner in resolving regional issues and has taken credible steps toward peace.
According to Peter Pham the director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Centre, sanctions has also exacted a heavy toll on some very vulnerable groups unfortunate enough to be caught in the middle of the crossfire of its economic war. Since then, additional evidence from a number of international agencies and other organizations has not only confirmed the negative impact of the sanctions on the Sudanese population, but also how the embargo has adversely affected key U.S. foreign policy objectives with regard to human development.
Likewise, in his historical report, the United Nations Human Rights Council's special rapporteur on unilateral coercive measures, Ambassador Idriss Jazairy, made a long critique of the sanctions regime against the Sudan, stating that The reality on the ground has proved that these measures do not have a negative impact on officials or on any elite group. Their full impact is on innocent citizens and on a deepening of the gap in income distribution within the Sudanese society and between provinces. It also resulted in broadening the black market and breaking away from the control of financial transactions.
Again and again, it is worth mentioning in this regard that the Security Council now avoids resorting to comprehensive sanctions in view of their negative unintended impact on important segments of the innocent populations of the targeted countries.
It goes without saying, that in almost in all American administrations, American experts, ambassadors and presidential envoys inter alia, are normally sought and listened for shaping US foreign policy. Thus, there is no moral justification for the Sudanese case today to be an exception to this rule
Having stating the above, it’s quite important to redraw the attention of the Trump administration that this letter It in question, in a way or another contradicts, and in an apparent dichotomy - in both letter and spirit- with the joint letter sent recently to the members of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs at the House of Representatives, by the supposedly, the most qualified experts on Sudanese issue, namely former American envoys to Sudan.
In their joint letter on the 30th of June 2017, Princeton Lyman, Ambassador Donald Booth, along with the former U.S. Chargé d’Affaires to Sudan Jerry Lanier, call on the Congress to support the five-track engagement plan with the Sudanese government and urging legislatures to not take actions that could undermine the plan.
The former American presidential envoys to Sudan have sternly warned that any delay in the implementation of the five-track process “would damage U.S. credibility and squander the opportunity now before the U.S.
The trio further urged caution in rushing any new legislative action that might undermine progress on the strategy. They stressed that progress on the agreed tracks, in this first phase of engagement, and lifting the agreed sanctions, shall move the U.S and Sudan to the next phase of engagement, which include more steps toward respect for human rights, sustained humanitarian access, and a lasting peace.
By the same token, testifying couple of weeks ago before a Congressional Committee Ambassador Lyman, called for objective engagement with the Sudan. He put it clearly that sanctions are no longer the optimum pressure card on the Sudanese government; as according to him, the government of Sudan, is and shall continue to be the biggest actor, in shaping the political scene in Sudan, at least for the near future.
To conclude this argument, let me ascertain that and despite the (despicable thought expected) such campaigns of misinformation and facts-twisting, the bottom line is that Sudan has made the required progress to all the tracks agreed with the American side.
 According to Foreign Ministry Under-Secretary Abdel-Ghani al-Nai’m, Sudan has made the required progress to all the tracks agreed with the American side, confirming that the government and Sudanese citizens, do not constitute a threat to the national security of the U.S.
 The undersecretary added that the government of Sudan is hoping that this decision should not affect the lifting of sanctions. Sudan looks forward to co-operation with the US in regional peace and security and all issues discussed in the five tracks.
Less than three days to go, on July 12th, the Trump’s government is on the threshold of yet another important and historical opportunity. Trump administration has a golden opportunity to proof that diplomacy can also work and deliver, even with adversaries. The long awaited repealing Sudan’s sanctions, would be good not only for the people of the Sudan, who had enough of two decades long of unwarranted suffering and deprivation, it would be good for a region that has known too much conflicts. It would be good for the world.

By Mubarak M.Musa Diplomat;

Embassy of Sudan in Ukraine, Kiev

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