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Sudan Tribune

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US-Sudan diplomatic relations and CPA implementation

Rising United States-Sudan Diplomatic Relations and its Implications on Implementation Processes of the CPA.

By Dhieu Mathok Diing Wol

May 4, 2009 — According to his article published in Bostan Herald on Monday, April 27, 2009, the chairperson of Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, Senator John Kerry concludes, “White House must begin to redefine the relationship between the United States and Sudan”. Despite the fact, it is early to evaluate how the new administration of Democrats in US categorizes its Sudan diplomatic relations; it could be read through American policy in the region, especially the Middle East policy. It does not need intelligence to predict a trend and passage taken by US administration under leadership of President Barrack Hussein Obama who came to power at time US and world at large deeply sank in global economic crises.

Apart from that, the Democrats are known of placing American internal politics on their top agenda. Obama administration has given priority to economic crises in US and solving this problem would need cooperation from those countries assumed by American political economists as having high economic potentialities, even if they are strong members of the other camp “ the Devil Horizon” (Bush terminology for describing Iran, Korea, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq).

Upon his arrival to White House Obama’s program of 100 days achievements includes high profile contacts with Syria, peace messages to Iran and Korea and scheduled time plans to quit from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sudan as one of those countries with good economic potentialities and considers as an area of economic competition between China and West generally must be brought onto a board and contested amicably. This made US administration under Obama made a strategy of a policy of positive engagement (diplomatically termed by Sen. Kerry in his article as direct engagement) with Khartoum and behave in a way suggestive to an attempt to win NCP sympathy and satisfaction, a step considers as dangerous to both implementation of CPA in South Sudan and peace process in Darfur region and eventually will not yield any progress on ground. US tone on issues of international concern in Sudan has changed dramatically and could be realized through messages sent during the time of SPLM last visitation to Washington as well as statements from US senior officials who visited Sudan recently.

John Kerry former presidential candidate of Democrats and head of Foreign Policy Committee in the Senate came to Khartoum and paid a visit to Darfur and declined to visit South Sudan as a first step of its kind since establishment and formation of government in Juba in 2005. His calculations about CPA are just merely reading reports because he failed to reach South Sudan a chance, which would have placed him in a position of giving logical conclusions about CPA and know exactly difficulties facing implementation of the Agreement with the North rather than giving unjustified assumptions.

Khartoum started talking about the Administration not in line with secession of Southern Sudan and existence of common ground between them and US leadership regarding war and peace in Darfur. A statement if true then the CPA has already gone to US dustbin. However, the new administration must know that the decision to unite or secede in Sudan is a sole responsibility of Southern Sudanese people and not any other person on the Earth. It is a democratic right of Southerners who fought and sacrificed more than two million people as a price for this universal right of nations. Confidently, one is very sure of one thing, that, American people as a nation known with first hand liberal democracy in the world will support the will of Southern Sudanese people and will never impose their perception on opinion of the majority in South Sudan. In addition, if truly, the area of interest of the Administration in Sudan is investment in the oil sector then majority of oil fields is found in South Sudan, and we can’t see clashes between outcomes of upcoming referendum with US interest at all what so ever the result. American business companies waited for more than twenty years since 1989 the time the current government came to power until Asian countries exploited the gap and come in, why not wait for two years to get concessions in the South for investment in an oil sector? I don’t believe the reason behind US attitude towards South Sudan was generated by leadership style of GOSS as it was mistakenly perceived, but, I think this could be used as scapegoat by enemies of South Sudan and not an issue that completely related to the situation, since Khartoum, the Administration has started engaging it, is categorized as the worst system of governance in the world that targets its own citizens.

To understand the situation under which US-Sudan diplomatic relations have been passing along the time since arrival of current government of NCP to power, particularly, the peace agenda in Sudan, let us examine closely previous political scenarios between Khartoum and Washington:

At the time, the National Islamic Front (NIF) made its coup in Sudan in 1989 Bush ( father) administration tried a dialogue with the new government in Khartoum, unfortunately contacts could not continue because of two folds; Islamic agenda of the Government; and the Government position towards the first war in Middle East. It was known that Bashir administration supported Sadam Hassan on his invasion against Kuwait in 1990.This position disturbed US administration and considers Khartoum and other countries that took similar position in the region as their enemies and must be dealt with accordingly.


When Clinton administration came to power in 1992, Sudan was already black-listed by American foreign policy makers in the Congress and the Senate which were, by then, dominated by Republicans. Eventually, the legacy of the previous administration continued without any significant change on how the new system could conduct itself regarding the Sudan. Negative engagement of Khartoum government reached stage of direct confrontation with US administration by the later bombing a pharmacological factory in Khartoum North in 1998, assuming it was a chemical weaponry industry.

The new administration of the Republicans under leadership of George W. Bush (son) came to power in 2000 and found two distinctive lines were developed by different interest groups; the religious group who believed the new administration must exercise pressure on government in Khartoum either to abandon its Islamic agenda and negotiate peace with the South or forced to leave the office. The business group thought, the new administration should cooperate with Khartoum to give chance for investments to American companies in Sudan. Out of these two distinctive and conflicting positions, US Institute for Strategic Studies prepared a concept paper on how the conflict in South Sudan could be addressed as a way forward and serves as a compromising position between the two groups. This could promote their mutual interests concurrently. Peaceful negotiation of the conflict in Sudan and arrival to lasting peaceful settlement between the government in Khartoum and SPLM/A was adopted as the way to address the concern of both lobbies of religious and business groups within US communities. An islamic agenda of the NIF was by-passed through creation of one country two systems. Hence, US will address this concern as an appropriate mean of working indirectly to establish good relations with Khartoum which may lead to creation of opportunities for their companies to invest in Sudan. The new strategy was adopted by Bush administration in 2001 and Senator John Danforth who was a clergy and believe to be among the religious pressure group was nominated to be the president special envoy on peace in Sudan in September 2001- just forty eight hours before tragic accidents of New York on 11/9/2001.

During presentation of his report to the President and to other relevance circles in US, Senator Danforth insisted on fact that secession of Southern Sudan will not solve a problem in the country as the Islamic regime will permanently resist separation. However, convincingly, Bush administration took the issue of peace negotiations in Sudan to its top agenda and the secretary for Foreign Affairs in the Administration, General Collin Paul visited the region frequently to champion peace in Sudan.

However, the Americans’ dream to invest in Sudan, especially in oil sector was not realized because of new situation in Darfur region which believed by many circles in US as challenging to their values and must be addressed immediately before any further step towards normalization with Khartoum.

This trend, although seemed as reducing temperature and momentum upon which CPA was perceived and treated in US, yet the president Bush up to last hours of his office was keen and determinant to see the Agreement is fully implemented. It was among those packages he promised to discuss with the new administration of elected president Barrack Obama during the last visit of H.E Salva Kiir the President of Government of South Sudan to USA. A reality that indicates the promise either not delivered or delivered but ignored; and the last probability is likely closed to possibility giving a degree of honest the president George W. Bush had been exercised throughout the time of his office regarding peace in South Sudan. I said, the message either not delivered or delivered and ignored, because the new administration in White House seems to establish a different dimension and approach to Sudan. The statement of Senator Kerry in Bostan Herald tells allots and among possible new developments according to the on going Political parameters between US and Sudan, Ambassador Alberto Parnandos will be last toughest US diplomat in Khartoum.

Dr. Dhieu Mathok Diing Wol is former minister in Peace Advisory and Lecturer in Centre for Peace and Development Studies, University of Juba-Juba