If this is indeed the moment of truth for peace in Sudan, the US must tell Egypt so. Nothing threatens the peace process for Sudan more than Egyptian obstructionism—the unwillingness of the government of President Hosni Mubarak to countenance a legitimate self-determination referendum for the people of southern Sudan as provided in the “Machakos Protocol.” There are already signs that various members of the National Islamic Front regime are being squeezed very hard by Cairo. But Egypt’s arrogance, its efforts to undermine the conditions required for a just peace in Sudan, must not be accepted by the Bush administration. If this administration is truly serious about securing a just and lasting peace for Sudan, its most senior members must speak directly and urgently to the very highest levels of the Egyptian government.
Eric Reeves [July 25, 2002]
Northampton, MA 01063
Though it has legitimate concerns about the waters of the Nile, Egypt opposes self-determination for southern Sudan primarily because of its arrogantly hegemonic view of this region in Africa. The peace in Sudan that might emerge from southern self-determination would end a crisis that has kept Sudan (like most of the Horn of Africa) in a weakened and politically pliable state for almost two decades. Much in this brutally proprietary attitude recapitulates the political struggle between Egypt and Britain during the decades of condominium rule prior to Sudan’s independence in 1956. By the early 1950s Egypt was ascendant in controlling Sudan’s fate, and present attitudes reflect a desire to replicate past political success.
There is also a deep-seated racism animating Egyptian arrogance toward Sudan, especially the “African” south of Sudan. An American official intimately familiar with the thinking of the leadership in Cairo finds abundant evidence of a viciously condescending set of attitudes, which Egypt shares with the National Islamic Front leadership in Khartoum. Egyptian officials have declared, for example, that “southerners don’t know what they want,” and “we know what is best for them.”
To be sure, Egypt will try to play its “Middle East card” if pressure comes from the US to adopt a more reasonable view of Sudan’s crisis, and to be more helpful in the peace process. This is where Secretary of State Colin Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and President George Bush must be willing to use the immense leverage of the US in speaking directly with President Mubarak, and to make fully clear that there will be severe consequences if Egypt obstructs the peace process for Sudan.
Communication must come from these senior members of the Administration—lesser voices simply will not register with the tough-minded Egyptians, who understand only the voice of power.
Those working for peace in Sudan should contact the Bush administration and urge them to speak directly to President Mubarak now (sample letter below contact information).
 Secretary of State Colin Powell:
e-mail address: Secretary@state.gov
Fax number: 202-261-8577
 National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice:
Fax number (only contact information publicly available): 202-456-9490
 President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
The White House Phone Number for comments:
White House E-Mail Address: email@example.com
Dear President Bush/Secretary of State Powell/National Security Advisor Rice:
Your administration has committed itself to peace in Sudan, and this commitment may very well pay immense dividends in the Machakos peace talks, scheduled to resume August 12. But all indications are that the Egyptian government is already working hard to undermine the progress represented in the “Machakos Protocol” of July 20. The government is particularly opposed to the breakthrough agreement on an internationally supervised self-determination referendum for southern Sudan. Unless you personally and directly speak to President Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptians will have little reason to believe that their obstructionism will have any significant consequences.
Egypt has callously benefited from a weakened Sudan, and appears intent on maintaining strategic control of the country, even if this entails continued war and immense human destruction in the south. The US must make clear that this is unacceptable. I/we urge you to speak with President Mubarak as soon as possible, and certainly well before the resumption of the Machakos talks.