Senior Officials Brief on U.S. Diplomatic Efforts on Sudan

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
October 22, 2010
Assistant Secretary Carson, Special Envoy Gration, and Special Assistant Power Brief on Sudan

Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, and National Security Council Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power participated in a special briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center this morning to highlight U.S. diplomatic efforts on Sudan. During his remarks, Special Envoy Gration highlighted the actions that the parties need to take to ensure that peaceful referenda that reflect the will of the Sudanese people take place on time in January.

He said, "with just 79 days remaining until January 9th -- that's the day when the Southern Sudanese are scheduled to hold the referendum on self-determination -- there is just no more time to waste. Between now and the start of registration in mid-November, the Southern Sudanese Referendum Commission must finalize voter registration procedures, it must hire and train and deploy over 10,000 registration workers. The voter registration materials, which should be delivered into Sudan in the next few days, must be distributed to all the registration sites. In addition, domestic and international monitors must be positioned to oversee this process, to guard against manipulation.

"At the same time, the parties have to resolve other CPA issues: border demarcation and Abyei. The Abyei referendum has been a big challenge for both parties. While it is still scheduled to take place on the 9th of January, the parties have so far been unable to agree on who should be eligible to vote in this referendum. To help resolve this problem, the parties asked the United States to facilitate talks on Abyei for two days in New York in late September. These talks continued for another nine days in Addis Ababa in early October.

"During these negotiations, the parties reached consensus on a number of important issues but ultimately concluded that the Abyei issue would have to be decided as part of a broader set of issues that include all the unresolved CPA and post-CPA issues. The next round of talks is scheduled to begin at the end of this month in Ethiopia and they'll be convened by President Thabo Mbeki, the chairman of the African Union's High-Level Implementation Panel.

"The CPA parties have expressed a strong desire for the United States to participate in these talks, and we will be there. With time running out, the parties must make a strategic commitment to work together to avoid war, to achieve a lasting peace. The parties must be prepared to come to Addis with an attitude of compromise to reach a final agreement on these remaining tough issues. The entire world is watching and will make judgments based on how the parties approach these talks, on how they act in the next couple months. We urge both the NCP and the SPLM to take necessary efforts to cooperate and to demonstrate good faith.

"Specifically, we'll be watching the Government of Sudan to ensure they transfer necessary funds to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission, that they grant required visas to international monitors and aid workers, that they protect the Southerners who are now living in the North. President Obama is serious about moving toward better relations with Sudan. We have presented both parties with the steps that we are prepared to take in response to concrete achievements both in CPA implementation and in Darfur. These steps include shifting our licensing regulations to allow more trade and investment in Sudan, exchanging ambassadors, supporting debt relief, and ultimately removing the foreign assistance restrictions and lifting economic sanctions.

"Getting to full normalization will require not only progress on the CPA, but also in the comprehensive peace agreement in Darfur. The President is equally committed to ending the conflict in Darfur as he is to full implementation of the CPA. We continue to support the Doha process by our involvement there and we continue to support the efforts of UN peacekeepers and the international humanitarian organizations as they seek to improve security and living conditions for those in Darfur. We call upon all the armed movements, including those that are now absent from Doha, to engage in a peaceful negotiation. There can be no peace in Sudan without peace in Darfur.

"As you can see, much remains to be done in the next few months by both parties, but the United States is committed to helping Sudan achieve a lasting peace, to helping Sudan get that stable and secure and prosperous future that the Sudanese people need and that they deserve."

You can click here for a chart showing the status of progress for the referendum. The full transcript is available here.



New Mexico, USA
October 25, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

To: Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration, Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, and National Security Council Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs Samantha Power,

I hope folks are able to get this pulled off successfully without a round of conflict following.

But in being realistic about the chances, what exactly are we prepared to do to prevent another outbreak of genocidal conflict and/or civil war?

Would we go so far as to serve the ICC warrant on Bashir ourselves and remove him from power if his government continues to engage in violence as a political mechanism of intimidation?

Or on the failure of this referendum to provide the peaceful outcome you wish, will DoS throw up its hands in the air and say "we tried" and do nothing else except express regret that it didn't succeed? Condeming the violence without stopping it?

I surely hope your hopes in this matter arn't preventing this government from dealing with the distinct probable outcome that all your diplomacy will not put Sudan on track to a better future, because those that use violence to gain their objectives in this case haven't been dealt with properly to this point yet.

It's one thing to express hope, it's another to provide some assurance that there will be peace, one way or another. And you haven't done that.

If I were to make odds, I think you have less than a 20% chance of the CPA issues getting resolved in time, and a 70% chance that violence will lead to another civil war after the referendum if not during it.

Success for the referendum is at 10% chance or less for creating lasting peace at this point despite your best efforts.

And personally, I would hate to see this become one more notable reason why dictators and tyrants (let alone genocidal maniacs) should NOT BE LEFT IN POWER to create further human misery, and as further example of "failed diplomacy".

You gotta take that 10% chance of success and take it as far as you can...I applaud this, but I sure hope folks are exploring contingincies with DoD/NATO/AU/UN forces to prevent bloodshed in the aftermath of the referendum.

For not doing so would be a failure to protect populations from the outcome of diplomatic failure.

Because in my assesment, if you wait to cross that hypothetical bridge until you get to it, it will be way too late to prevent another bloodbath.

Please don't make me come back here and tell you I told you so.

Best of luck,


New Mexico, USA
October 26, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

(a follow-up)

If there's any doubt why I say there's a need for the kind of contingincy planning that UNAMID and AU peacekeepers haven't the capacity to provide security for at this point, to address that hypothetical event horizon called "resumption of hostilities";

Folks talk of creating a "buffer zone" and Susan Rice pretty well addressed the feasability in her stakeout briefing following her reporting on the UNSC's mission to Africa.

However, it seems to me that a good faith effort to reduce the possibilities for war would be in the joint removal of all heavy weaponry, placement of such being to the proposed 10 mile separation along the border.

Thus the concerns of "buildup of forces" prior to referendum may be resolved in part.

As for "impunity" and access of UNAMID, NGO's, relief aid, the protection of aid workers, the security situation in Darfur and the associated strife involved;

The international community has a choice to make before violence escalates further.

I would propose a direct UNAMID /DOD link up of available US sat recon in real-time, so UNAMID can know what is going on in its area of opps in complete measure, and that capacity ( the present lack of ) is voiced as a grave impediment to providing for the security of populations in the following:


In regards to arms and the violations of UN sanctions;


China by it's abstinance on resolution cannot hope to play a role as a responsible world power. When it cannot refrain from selling arms to genocidal maniacs.

I don't know what China cannot understand about the logic of these two short sentences that ecapsulate the whole of its foreign policy on Sudan when it claims to be for "stability". Whether in SE Asia, or anywhere else.

It's as if China insists on shooting themselves in the foot diplomaticly, and their hypocracy is flat astounding to any logical mind.

To block a report is not to save face, but lose it in the failure of transparency.

China leaves itself wide open to be held equally liable for the war crimes and attacks committed upon UN personel with Chinese supplied arms to the government of Sudan.

China too has a choice to make.

Furthermore, it seems to me that should Sudanese aircraft continue to be used in an offensive manner, that it would behoove the international community to render them inopperable by whatever means neccessary to do so, up to and including destroying them outright along with the bases they fly out of.

At the same time as this becomes neccessary due to warning not being heeded, the Sec. Council should consider the establishment of a total no-fly-zone with exception given to aid delivery and peacekeeping opps.

If keeping the peace is only dependant on the parties themselves to uphold it, then your chances of war are much greater than if the international community has not just a robust presence as called for by the report given in the UNSC video linked here, but an absolutely overwhelming one that the parties themselves know can and will "kick butt" on both sides if they wish to break the peace and go to war again. That's called "enforcing" the peace.

You gotta provide the physical disincentive as well as the positive hope of political resolution. No threats made, only promises to be kept if need be.

Right now folks only have half the measures in place to promote lasting peace and the peacekeepers can be swept aside at any point the parties decide to get stupid with each other once again.

I'm not telling folks @ State and the NSC anything they don't already know as fact.

The displacement of civilians continues, the impunity continues, and the abhorrent living conditions of refugees continues. The killing continues despite the international community's "best efforts" and being "siezed of this matter" for years on end now.

Any fair mided assesment would say folks haven't done all that they could, or should.

The reason America makes quick work of dictators when it gets it in mind to remove them from power is not that we solve problems in the process, we overwhem the problem...period.

It's time for the international community to take that approach to heart, and overwhelm those that persue violent means at the expense of their populations. You can't do that by sanctions alone.

Well the choice is before you, and that bridge is fast approaching. Will it carry the weight of international will in the persuit of peace, or will it fail and cast Sudan into the torrents of war one more?

It's not just for the parties to decide upon the fate of their people, as all member states of the UN have the obligation to protect populations.

Godspeed in diplomacy.


New Mexico, USA
October 26, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

"There is no starker reminder of the work still ahead of us than the horrific mass rapes in Democratic Republic of Congo last summer. Those rapes and our failure as an international community to bring that conflict to an end and to protect women and children in the process stands as a tragic rebuke to our efforts thus far. And we all must do more and we must think creatively. And yes, we may have to challenge some conventional wisdom about how best to end the impunity of those who not only conduct these horrible violations of human rights, but those who permit them to do so."
-Sec. Clinton @ UNSC Oct 26, 2010

Dear Sec. Clinton,

You don't have to look far to find plenty of stark reminders, and as longs as I'm able I'll continue to try and drop creative ideas in your dept's lap for consideration, and challenge conventional approaches.

Your words in a different context hold true for this one, and that's why I posted them here. That folks may draw their own conclusion of whether my thoughts have any real merit or not.

Seeing results is believing in change folks can live with, manifest.

I'd like to think I'm not wasting my breath.

Best Regards,


Khalid A.
October 28, 2010

Khalid A. writes:

Major Gen (Ret) Gration has spelled out the "carrots" on offer to the Government of Sudan . It is an impressive list. Cynics will note that similar promises were made before the CPA and before the Darfur Peace Agreement ;but remained unfulfilled. Others ,including myself ,say that this is a new administration and a new full -time envoy who has visited Sudan more than 20 times and earned a lot of trust and respect. We should(as presidential advisor Dr Ghazi Salahuddin has said in London recently) wait and see .Let us be optimistic and hope that the "spoilers "referred to by president Obama in his 24 September speech wont succeed.


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