U.S. Interference Aimed at Prolonging Conflict in Sudan

Category: World Affairs Topics: Foreign Policy, Sudan Views: 871

In Sudan's recent history, events that provoke optimism are very few. In the last two months however, talks about political reconciliation between major parties, the national elections, economic reforms and the integration of Sudan's economy with neighboring countries, have all managed to foster a ray of hope in the country's seemingly grim reality.

But even that cautious hope is now in danger, now that the U.S. has launched a diplomatic effort to further isolate Sudan from the international community and to cripple its efforts for national unity by fortifying its relationship with the country's rebels.

Earlier this month, Sudan ordered the expulsion of U.S. diplomat, Glenn Warren, giving him 72 hours to leave the country, after he, along with seven other Sudanese opposition leaders of meeting secretly and "planning an uprising to be backed with armed action," according to Foreign Minister Mustafa Ismail.

Not surprisingly, Washington mocked such allegations, insisting that Warren was taking part in "nothing more than a discussion of the political situation in Sudan. But considering the notorious US bombing of a Khartoum pharmaceutical factory in 1998, as well as the generous military and financial support of the country's rebels, Warren's political "discussion" with leading rebels warranted legitimate reasons for worry.

But there is another dimension to increased U.S. involvement in the Sudan. In recent months, Sudan has successfully achieved both internal stability and an improved image in the regional and international arenas. Successful reconciliation is actively taking place between Sudan and its African neighbors, which was partly a result of Khartoum's role in ending the bitter war between Ethiopia and Eritrea.

On the economic level, Sudan is embarking on perhaps its greatest challenge yet -- economic rehabilitation and reform. In addition to gaining ground in Africa, favorable promises and decisions made at the recent Islamic Development Bank conference in Lebanon, and the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Qatar, were encouraging signs. If carried out, this would contribute greatly to Sudan's nearly crippled infrastructure. Moreover, such integration could serve as the beginning to the restoration of Sudan's membership to the International Monetary Fund, and possibly create conditions for serious negotiations with the World Bank.

On the domestic political scene, the divided national front took a great leap forward when the country's main opposition leader, the head of the Ummah Party and former Prime Minister, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi returned to Sudan. On November 23, after four years of self-imposed exile, al-Mahdi returned to thousands of cheering supporters, bringing with him a glowing chance for an urgently needed national unity.

But just one day after al-Mahdi's return, a top American diplomat, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Susan Rice, met with main rebel groups, in areas held by Sudan's People Liberation Army (SPLA). The SPLA is the main perpetrator of the civil war in the south of Sudan, and is openly aided by the United States and its allies.

Despite the international recognition of Sudan's territorial sovereignty, Rice entered the country illegally without a visa or any other official permit. Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir stated in a press conference in Khartoum that Rice's visit without obtaining a visa and her meeting with a major rebel group "is a behavior indicative of disregard to all conventions and rules of international conduct."

But Rice is more than a mere diplomat. The London-based Crescent International magazine recently published an investigative report by the Executive Intelligence Review in November 20, 1998, which sheds light on Rice's style of diplomacy. The report indicates that Rice has been involved in a covert arms supply network with the SPLA with "long-time operative for the Israeli Mossad" Michael Harari, under the instruction of the U.S. State Department. But the US role in fueling the civil war in Sudan does not need investigative reports, as it is actively and openly pursued.

It is uncertain what the US's next move in Sudan will be. Nonetheless, the timing of these moves is unquestionably aimed at breathing life into the weakened National Democratic Alliance (NDA), an opposition party coalition lead by the SPLA. The Ummah Party, although it boycotted the elections, split from the NDA and has reached an understanding with the Sudanese government to restore national unity.

While the world is opening its doors to Sudan, which has been ravaged by war, poverty and disease, the United States is clearly working to prolong the conflict and destroy any chance that the country might have at achieving national unity.

With a war that cost Sudan nearly 2 million people in less than two decades, devastated the economy and dashed the hopes of many Sudanese, one must ask, why the US won't just let Sudan be?


Ramzy Baroud is a freelance journalist in Seattle, Washington and a regular contributor to iviews.com.

  Category: World Affairs
  Topics: Foreign Policy, Sudan
Views: 871

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