Reporting from El Fasher, Sudan -- What if the conflict many call the "first genocide of the 21st century" weren't one at all?
In the United States, many see the six-year war in Darfur as a bloody campaign by a Sudanese Arab-dominated government against rebellious "African" tribes in western Sudan. Two consecutive American presidents and several activist groups have defined it as genocide.
WASHINGTON, May 1 (IPS) - Washington's recent move to "normalise" relations with Sudan is being called a "capitulation" by critics.
The Sudan Times reported that "The United States of America is positioning itself to become ‘friends’ with the Government of Sudan, seeing this approach as the best way to improve the situation in Darfur and reach a political settlement," according to a closed briefing given by Special Envoy Scott Gration at the U.S. State Department on Apr. 20.
DARFUR ACTIVIST GROUPS OUTLINE ‘BLUEPRINT FOR PEACE’ IN SUDAN
Groups lay out necessary steps for Obama administration to forge multilateral peace strategy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Darfur advocacy groups – including the Enough Project, the Save Darfur Coalition and Genocide Intervention Network – today released an open letter to President Obama that outlines the steps his administration should take to forge a multilateral peace strategy for Sudan. The letter, titled A Blueprint for Peace, urges President Obama to treat the situation in Sudan as a strategic priority, set objectives for U.S. policy, build the necessary leverage and invest in the diplomacy needed to achieve an equitable and lasting solution for all of Sudan.
"The overriding policy goal of the Obama administration in Sudan should be a comprehensive peace,” said Enough Co-founder John Prendergast. “The United States needs to take the strategic lead in putting a credible process together for Darfur, while constructing more effective mechanisms to support the implementation of the North-South deal and the Eastern agreement."
In the letter, the groups lay out a set of focused and meaningful pressures and incentives necessary to leverage the various parties to find a peaceful solution to the interlocking conflicts within Sudan and the region.
“It is vital that the Obama administration work closely with other key governments in dealing with Sudan,” said Save Darfur Coalition President Jerry Fowler. “The United States can lead efforts toward peace in Sudan, but it must recognize the need to engage with both U.S. allies and with those leaders who continue to back Bashir following the ICC arrest warrant issuance.”
“President Obama and members of his administration have spoken passionately about their intention to act boldly to end the crisis in Darfur and promote international efforts toward a peaceful future in Sudan,” added Genocide Intervention Network Executive Director Sam Bell. “Now theyhave the chance to do so at a crucial juncture in Sudan’s history, by making strong and sustained efforts to build an international coalition for peace.”
From President Obama's appointment of a special envoy for Sudan to the expulsion of 16 aid groups from Darfur, the past several weeks have brought both welcome first steps and the development of a potential humanitarian disaster to the situation in Sudan. Many activists have grown understandably and increasingly frustrated given the seeming lack of urgency and relative silence from the Obama administration in addressing the looming humanitarian crisis in Darfur.