U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Sudan Steven Koutis is a catastrophic diplomatic and moral failure: he must be removed
Eric Reeves | June 5, 2019 | https://wp.me/s45rOG-9368
I have frequently been highly critical of the top U.S. diplomat in Khartoum, Charge d’Affaires Steven Koutsis. I have taken particular exception to his disingenuous mishandling of negotiations concerning the humanitarian embargo imposed by the Khartoum regime on rebel-controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and was shocked by Koutsis’ lies about the lifting of economic sanctions by the Obama and Trump administrations. I was most aghast at Koutsis’ decision to share an Iftar meal with the génocidaire Hemeti.
“U.S. Sudan Policy is a disaster, but the power to respond to today’s massacre in Sudan is clear,” Eric Reeves, June 3, 2019 | https://wp.me/p45rOG-2r0
But an excerpt from today’s The Daily Beast, revealing the upshot of a confidential meeting in which Koutsis revealed himself completely, should shock and appall any who have hope that U.S. Sudan policy might be guided by an effective diplomat with respect for the aspirations of the people of Sudan: peace, freedom, and justice:
Remember The Darfur Genocide? With Saudi Help, One of the Killer Commanders There Is Taking Over Sudan
The Trump administration officials may tweet about democracy in Sudan, but it looks like decisions are being made by Trump buddies in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, The Daily Beast, June 5, 2019 | https://www.thedailybeast.com/remember-the-darfur-genocide-with-saudi-help-one-of-the-killer-commanders-there-is-taking-over-sudan?source=articles&via=rss
[Key excerpt concerning the top U.S. diplomat in Khartoum, Charge d’Affaires Steven Koutsis]:
Slaughter was brewing in Sudan last Thursday when Steven Koutsis, the Americans’ ranking diplomat in Khartoum, arrived in Washington. Fresh off the plane, he wanted to assure a meeting of government officials and experts that America was on the case. But Sudan was on the brink of chaos. Former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had been removed in a military coup in April following months of massive protesters, and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, known as “Hemetti”––commander of the feared Janjaweed forces notorious for alleged genocidal terror in Darfur province––was catapulted into power. Negotiations between the military and the civilians who orchestrated millions-strong marches and sit-ins had broken down, and Hemetti’s Rapid Security Forces…had attacked protesters in an effort to disperse them.
Something evil surely was coming, and there was consternation at the meeting of Sudan watchers in D.C., according to six people who attended the “off the record” session. The Daily Beast, which did not attend, is not bound by that rule.
Most of the witnesses said Koutsis’ comments were sloppy and unclear. He expressed sympathy for the military’s predicament at one point, since it could not simply hand over power after removing Bashir. But the really shocking moment came when Koutsis said the U.S. should align with the interests of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates––three countries that have provided military, financial and diplomatic support for Hemetti and the junta to help it hold on to power. It was a confusing statement for many in the room.
These three countries, although embraced by the Trump administration, share no democratic values with the United States whatsoever. Indeed, they are known for their brutal suppression of human rights not only at home but abroad. (The Saudi leadership, most notoriously, murdered and chopped up journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and the Saudis and Emiratis have waged a disastrous war in Yemen.) Koutsis may have been on the defensive when he looked at the faces in the audience. He asked if people thought American interests diverged from those of these three countries.
Silence hung over the room for a moment. Then Johnnie Carson, a former assistant secretary of state and elder statesman of U.S. policy in Africa, responded crisply: “Democracy. Human Rights. Good governance. The rule of law.” The State Department, subsequently queried about Koutsis’ remarks, did not respond to a list of questions. Such was the state of American foreign policy when the slaughter finally came to Sudan on Monday. Early in the morning, hundreds of Hemetti’s forces attacked the country’s sit-in site and roamed the streets, turning the roughly one square mile area of tents, stages, banners and placards into a heap of ashes, bodies and blood. “They are doing what they’ve been doing in Darfur for years,” said a Sudanese activist, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “The RSF are bandits. No discipline whatsoever.”
[Emphases in bold have been added–ER]