United States Should Provide Air Defense Capabilities to Protect Civilians in Sudan: Enough Project

Date: 
Jun 16, 2011

For Immediate Release

Contact: Jonathan Hutson, jhutson@enoughproject.org

Mobile: +1-202-386-1618

 

WASHINGTON -- As a deterrent against escalating violence in Sudan, especially that caused by aerial bombing campaigns, the Obama administration should ramp up an array of new financial sanctions aimed at the heart of the Sudanese regime's military-industrial complex, and immediately begin preparations to provide air defense capabilities to the Government of South Sudan when it becomes independent, said the Enough Project.

 

The threat to civilians across Sudan in the weeks before the South becomes independent on July 9, 2011, is increasingly dire, and in the absence of international support for robust measures to protect civilians from conflict, it is imperative that the United States and its allies uphold the international responsibility to protect, Enough said. 

 

“War has resumed in Sudan due to the offensive military operations launched by Khartoum,” said John Prendergast, Co-founder of the Enough Project. “The current policy of offering carrots to the Sudan government has failed. President Obama should deploy immediate consequences for Khartoum’s escalation, and in the absence of international support to protect civilians, provide support to South Sudan to deter further air attacks.”

 

The Government of South Sudan has repeatedly asked the United States for air defense capabilities, and according to the Congressional Research Service, President George W. Bush approved this request in 2008. But it was not delivered. By fulfilling this request, the Obama administration can immediately impact the calculations of the actors in the North who have chosen to pursue military operations in violation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, as well as in Darfur, partly because of the military advantage afforded by their dominance of the airways, Enough said.

 

The United States has led diplomatic efforts in support of peace in Sudan and offered significant incentives for the Sudanese government if it chooses the path of peace, but as the situation in South Kordofan worsens, it is clear that these carrots on their own will prove insufficient, Enough said. By imposing consequences in support of diplomacy, the United States can draw a further contrast between the costs of continued conflict and the benefits of peace. In addition to expanding and multilateralizing sanctions designed to target the assets of hardliners within the regime, including President Bashir and advisor Nafie al Nafie, the administration must consider credible options to protect civilians from violence. Given the ineffectiveness of UNMIS and the reluctance at the Security Council for options including expanding the arms embargo on Sudan, the provision of air defense capabilities to the South stands out as a credible threat that could deter further violence now, one that could be implemented in short order.

 

The US should also make clear its commitment to continue supporting the defensive capabilities of South Sudan, on the condition that the Government take steps to improve its military's human rights record and comply with its existing obligations under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005.

 

"Rigorous vetting of South Sudanese units for human rights concerns should be a precondition for this support," said John C. Bradshaw, Executive Director of Enough. "Air defense systems, such as medium-range surface-to-air missile systems, should be closely monitored to ensure they are used for protection of civilian populations, and should exclude man-portable systems that could be used against civilians or be diverted to non-state actors. As part of a wider package of security assistance, this equipment and training should provide leverage to improve the human rights record of the southern security forces. Further support should be carefully conditioned upon progress toward the professionalization of South Sudan’s security forces and respect for human rights."

 

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Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a “3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.