At the Moment of Greatest Need, the Trump Administration Abandons the People of Sudan
Eric Reeves | February 19, 2019 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2nk
Despite recent mildly encouraging words from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about “regime change” in Sudan, Special Assistant to President Trump and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council Cyril Sartor has made painfully clear that the U.S. has no intention of supporting regime change in Sudan, or supporting the uprising by people demanding freedom, peace, and justice. The words of Special Assistant to the U.S. President and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council Cyril Sartor reflect a despicable “moral equivalence” between the murderous, finally genocidal Khartoum regime of Omar al-Bashir and the protestors in Sudan demanding peace, freedom, and justice. It is finally an echo of words of Obama administration Special Envoy for Sudan Princeton Lyman in 2011:
“We [the Obama administration] do not want to see the ouster of the [Khartoum] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.”
Evidently the U.S. lust for whatever counter-terrorism intelligence the Khartoum regime may be able to provide the Trump administration continues to out-weigh the terrible suffering and noble aspirations of the people of Sudan in their non-violent uprising. That uprising began on December 19, 2018 and has continued daily for two months, despite the most brutal forms of repression—including the violent deaths of more than fifty people, the wounding of scores, the arrest of more than a thousand, the targeting of medical personnel who assist protesters, the use of tear gas in ways that violate international law, and the most savage censorship of news and journalists. (For a running chronicle of the al-Bashir regime’s barbarism, see my Twitter feed | @SudanReeves).
The remarks of yesterday by Sartor are here reported first by Sudan Tribune. I have added emphasis in the text and interpolated my comments in bold blue italics. In twenty years of working for a just peace in Sudan, no words have ever shamed me more than these. They are a disgrace to our nation and to the claim that the United States has a commitment to human rights and freedom of expression.
U.S. says Sudan going through “complex transition”
Sudan Tribune, February 18, 2019 (KHARTOUM)
Special Assistant to the U.S. President and Senior Director for Africa at the National Security Council (NSC), Cyril Sartor, on Monday said Sudan is going through a “complex transition.” Sartor on Monday has discussed the second phase of the Sudanese-American dialogue with the Sudanese Presidential Assistant Faisal Hassan Ibrahim. He also met with Sudan’s Foreign Minister El-Dirdeiry Ahmed and the Speaker of the National Assembly Ibrahim Ahmed Omer.
In press statements following the meeting at the Sudanese presidency, Sartor called on the Sudanese government to respect the right of its citizens to express their views peacefully, demanding protesters to abide by the same thing.
[Here again articulated is a despicable “moral equivalence” that has been such a central part of how the U.S. government has spoken about Sudan over the past decade—here suggesting that the actions of protestors in Sudan must be put in the “balance” with those of the brutal, murderous al-Bashir regime. This is viciously dishonest and expedient, and gives no sense of an understanding of what has occurred on the ground in Sudan since December 19, 2018—ER]
“We have been having very productive meetings with the Presidential Assistant and other senior officials in Khartoum, we are here to encourage the government of Sudan to continue working constructively with the United States,” he said.
[How can there be “productive meetings” with a genocidal regime that attacks its own civilians mercilessly, that targets medical personnel who help those injured while demanding freedom and justice, and that has imposed the most severe censorship—all of these actions clearly motivated only by the desire to retain a tyrannical grip on national wealth and power? This is diplomatic garbage and it stinks to the heavens—ER ]
The U.S. official added they seek to keep the phase two of the dialogue on track, hoping the dialogue “in the not too distant future” could lead to the removal of Sudan’s name from the list of states sponsors of terrorism.
[This promise of reward to the regime is a sign that the U.S.—despite the recent words of Secretary of State Pompeo—is not serious about pressuring the al-Bashir regime in any meaningful way, or at all interested in seeing regime change, despite the terrible grievances of the Sudanese people. The U.S. lust for counter-terrorism intelligence from the regime continues to dominate the bilateral relationship between Khartoum and Washington—ER]
He pointed out that he is aware of the recent “significant turmoil in Sudan,” saying “we have heard voices of the opposition” and “we understand that Sudan is going through a complex transition.”
[This is an obscenely benign characterization of an uprising that has seen dozens killed by the regime, scores wounded, and more than a thousand people arrested…that has seen the illegal use of tear gas to control crowds, and even used in hospitals, as medical personnel who help demonstrators become targets of the regime’s security forces. There are no words harsh enough for me to express my disgust at what a representative of my country’s government has said about events in Sudan—ER]
“We are here to ask that the government respects the right of people to express themselves peacefully. We ask that all those who wish to express their views would do so peacefully,” he said.
[Here again a completely despicable “moral equivalence”: the hallmark of the uprising in Sudan has been its peacefulness, its lack of violence. A few scattered incidents do not change this fundamental fact of country-wide commitment to non-violence. For Sartor to suggest otherwise is pure, despicable disingenuousness—ER]
He added “Sudan would find its own solutions,” stressing “there are no external solutions to be imposed on Sudan.”
[This does NOT mean that powerful countries like the U.S. cannot pressure the al-Bashir regime—in serious ways—to ends its violent, finally murderous efforts to suppress efforts by people to demand freedom, peace, and justice. It does NOT mean that the U.S. and other powerful countries and intentional actors cannot demand that human rights be respected, and the right of peaceful protests be protected. Sartor is yet again engaged in the most despicably disingenuous of representations—ER]
The visiting official said his government believes that working with Sudan would enable it to find peaceful and political solutions and the two countries “would find their way back to a strong partnership.”
[Nothing could be clearer than that whatever commitment Secretary Pompeo made to respecting the aspirations of the Sudan uprising, they were merely words, and that the real Trump administration policy is being articulated by the National Security Council’s Sartor—ER]
For his part, Ibrahim renewed his government’s commitment to engage in dialogue with Washington on all issues of common concern.
Meanwhile, in a short statement on its Facebook page, the U.S. embassy in Khartoum said Sartor came to Sudan “to discuss U.S.-Sudan relations, including concerns about the frequent use of force by the Sudanese government’s security forces to quell recent demonstrations.” It pointed out that the visiting official has also met with the Speaker of the Sudanese Parliament Ibrahim Ahmed Omer. “In his meeting with the Speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Sartor also voiced U.S. concerns regarding religious freedom and humanitarian access,” said the embassy.
[This does nothing to bring new pressure on the regime to end its brutal tactics, or to address the multitude of gross human rights abuses, continuing genocidal conflict in Darfur and the Two Areas. It is nothing more than diplomatic “boilerplate”—ER]
Sartor’s visit comes two days after the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope that calls by Sudanese people for regime change will be heard.
[A “hope” we now know was merely for public consumption among American activists and others who wish to see regime change in Sudan—ER]
Tear gas is being used in ways that clearly violate international law, including in hospitals, as in the above photograph