The Obama Administration “De-Couples” Darfur from Key Negotiating Issue (November 2010)
Eric Reeves, 15 November 2011
There is still no evidence that the Obama administration has any intention of backing away from its decision of last November to “de-couple” Darfur from the major ambitions of U.S. Sudan policy: a “senior administration official” (according to a State Department transcript of a background briefing) declared that:
“… the U.S. was prepared to accelerate the removal of Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list if the Government of Sudan did two things. One is to fully implement the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and two, to live up to all of the legal conditions required under law for Sudan to be taken off the state sponsors list. By doing this, we would also be de-coupling the state sponsor of terrorism from Darfur and from the Darfur issue.” (emphasis added)
The enormous significance of this decision continues to go unappreciated by many, including the editorial board of The New York Times, which concluded its July 9 editorial on the independence of South Sudan by declaring: “The Obama administration, correctly, is not taking Sudan off its terrorism list and normalizing relations until Khartoum fulfills the peace deal and ends the conflict in Darfur.” But as the State Department transcript makes clear, this is simply inaccurate. And the inaccuracy has been reflected in a number of journalistic and other quarters.
Most consequentially, the “de-coupling” of Darfur from the issue that matters most to Khartoum signaled that the regime could continue to have its genocidal way in the region: U.S. priorities were fully defined by the self-determination referendum in the South. That this re-directed focus did not include Abyei or South Kordofan in any meaningful way suggests, yet again, the foolishness of trying to respond to crises in Sudan piecemeal, of failing to see that apparently separate conflicts are in fact all part of a larger, immensely destructive center/periphery struggle; in turn, the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime is able to play one crisis against another in responding to any real pressure from the international community.
Nothing ensures diplomatic failure in Sudan more than such clear failure of understanding