U.S. Sudan Policy Continues to be Defined by Disingenuousness and Distortion: Radio Dabanga’s interv
In a wide-ranging interview with Radio Dabanga published a week ago, the Obama administration’s third and final Special Envoy for the Sudans, Donald Booth, offered a reprise of much that has been reported about the decision by President Obama to lift longstanding U.S. economic sanctions on the genocidal Khartoum regime. The sanctions were originally imposed by President Bill Clinton in 1997 and modestly strengthened by President George W. Bush.
I append the interview in its entirety below, edited only very slightly for formatting; however, I’ve also interpolated by own comments at various junctures, always in [brackets], blue italics, and followed by my initials, ER].
I would begin by noting the preposterous nature of the claim in the title to the Radio Dabanga dispatch: far from being “a start to address Sudan's human rights issues,” sanctions relief has produced nothing in the way of an improvement in the rights of Sudanese, or a diminishment in what is in fact intensifying repression. In the more than four months since President Obama signed the Executive Order lifting sanctions (pending a review of Khartoum’s adherence to various stipulations in July 2017), there continue to be massive human rights abuses, daily restrictions of freedom of the Sudanese press, and incarceration of human rights and civil society leaders, often in conditions that amount to torture under International Humanitarian Law. The most prominent human rights and human development leader currently incarcerated (at the notorious Kober Prison) is Mudawi Ibrahim, arrested in December 2016. Indeed, rather than releasing Mudawi, officials of the Khartoum regime brought capital charges against him one week ago, the day before Booth’s interview.
Human rights defender and human development advocate Mudawi Ibrahim was charged with capital crimes by Khartoum regime officials the day before Booth's interview with Radio Dabanga---does he care?
I have twice offered “report cards” on Khartoum’s behavior, judged on the basis of terms stipulated by the Obama administration for a permanent lifting of economic sanctions; on both occasions, the summary grade was a well-deserved “F” – failing.
A Permanent Lifting of U.S. Sanctions on Khartoum? Report Card Number One | April 8, 2017 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-22o
A Permanent Lifting of U.S. Sanctions on Khartoum? Report Card Number Two | May 11, 2017 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-238
The current assessment, represented in my interpolated comments, continues to be “F,” despite the disingenuousness and distortions in Donald Booth’s responses to Radio Dabanga’s questions.
Former Obama administration Special Envoy for the Sudans, Donald Booth
Donald Booth: “Sanctions relief is a start to address Sudan's human rights issues” | Radio Dabanga | May 15, 2017
Over the next three months, the United States will decide whether Sudan has made sustainable progress on certain areas and it will remove 20-year-old economic sanctions imposed on Sudan. “Given the level of trust that the US and Sudan were starting from, we needed to have areas where it would be as clear as possible if indeed the agreed objectives were being met.”
The prerequisites for the revoking in July, such as Sudan's ceasing of offensive military activity, were drawn up while Donald Booth was in charge as US Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan. More access for humanitarian organisations in Sudan, halting support to the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda, collaboration in the fight against terrorism, and efforts to achieve peace in South Sudan, are the other four tracks. In the event that Sudan performs to the satisfaction of the US and sanctions are partially removed, Sudanese politicians said that this will improve Sudan's economy by easing cash transfers, investments, importing industrial equipment and ultimately raise the value of the Sudanese Pound.
In an exclusive interview with Radio Dabanga broadcast today, former envoy Booth expresses his view on the plan he worked on. “The five tracks are the beginning of a process, for the mutual confidence that was needed in order to address these very difficult issues of human rights and good governance.”
RD: Dear Ambassador Booth, what were your overall expectations when you started as special envoy to Sudan and South Sudan and what are your impressions now, concerning these both countries?
DB: “I left the job in mid-January 2017. When I started, President Obama gave me a clear objective to work towards. That was two countries, Sudan and South Sudan, at peace internally, with each other, and with the region.
[Both countries remain riven by conflict, violence against civilians, and with clear, indeed unambiguous past evidence of Khartoum’s support for the Sudan People’s Liberation Army/In Opposition in South Sudan—ER]
What I've seen in the past three years, we did manage to bring Sudan closer to peace.
[Given the levels of violence that continue, particularly in Darfur, the catastrophic “success” of Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency in the region, and the threat of continued fighting in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, this seems an absurdly premature assessment—ER]
South Sudan unfortunately is not any closer to peace, further away actually than when I started.
[The Obama administration, particularly under his first two Special Envoys for Sudan—Air Force Major-General (ret.) Scott Gration and Princeton Lyman—bears heavy responsibility (as does the Bush administration) for failing to respond to