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  • What the Gutting of UNAMID Really Means

     

    Eric Reeves | June 15, 2017  |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-24a

    My interview today with Radio France Internationale (in English; 5:30 minutes) on what lies behind the massive cuts to UNAMID in Darfur, what threats these cuts pose to Darfuris, and why the U.S. and Europeans acquiesced |

    https://soundcloud.com/radiofranceinternationale/sudan-darfur-security-situation-hasnt-improved-despite-proposal-on-unamid-drawdown-expert

    UNAMID has repeatedly allowed attacks on civilians to occur virtually before their very eyes and failed to investigate; see especially:

    "What We Learn of UNAMID from the September 2010 Tabarat (North Darfur) Massacre" | http://wp.me/p45rOG-Gi

    -- 

    Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

     

    ereeves@smith.edu

    www.sudanreeves.org

    Twitter@SudanReeves

    About Eric Reeves: http://sudanreeves.org/about-eric-reeves

    Philanthropy: http://ericreeves-woodturner.com/woodturnings-available-for-purch

     

     

  • Patience and genocide rewarded…Trump admin to lift sanctions on Khartoum permanently

     

    Trump administration has decided to lift permanently longstanding U.S. economic sanctions on the Khartoum regime (see paragraph #8).  Patience and genocide rewarded, indeed...


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    "Sudan Ramps Up Washington Lobbying as Sanctions Deadline Looms"
    June 15, 2017 | Nick Wadhams and Jennifer Jacobs
    Bloomberg News

    https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-06-15/sudan-ramps-up-washington-lobbying-as-sanctions-deadline-looms

     

    Sudan is on the cusp of ending its long status as a pariah in Washington, and the African nation is bolstering its stable of lobbyists to ensure that it happens soon. The government of President Umar al-Bashir-which is listed by the U.S. as a state sponsor of terrorism-has hiredWashington law firm Squire Patton Boggs LLP at a cost of $40,000 a month to lobby on its behalf as part of its accelerating campaign to ensure that President Donald Trump permanently lifts sanctions against the country ahead of a deadline next month, according to a filing with the Justice Department.

    Under an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in January, a temporary easing of sanctions against Sudan would be made permanent after six months if Khartoum sustains progress in five key areas, including helping the U.S. in the fight against terror, allowing humanitarian access and easing conflict throughout the country. That would allow fresh investment into an oil-exporting nation that remains one of the world's poorest.

    "That would open a door to heaven between the two countries," Maowia Osman Khalid, Sudan's ambassador to the U.S., said in an interview. "I can assure you too that many major U.S. companies are knocking on the door right now. They are just waiting for the report in July."

    Avoiding ‘Snap Back'

    According to a letter included with a required filing on June 1 under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, Squire Patton Boggs will help Sudan "avoid ‘snap back' of U.S. sanctions" and help improve the $84 billion economy's investment climate. As part of the deal, the lobbying firm will help Sudan "with its economic development agenda" and "identify and
    implement strategies to improve Sudan's investment climate," according to the filing. Squire Patton Boggs spokesman Angelo Kakolyris didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the contract.

    The contract with Squire Patton Boggs isn't Sudan's first with a Washington firm this year. In February, Sudan hired Cooke Robotham LLC under the terms of the January sanctions waiver to help advise it as it restructures its debt. The contract was signed at a fixed fee of $300,000.
    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's formal recommendation to Trump on the sanctions, which must be made by July 12, requires weighing a host of political considerations.

    For starters, Sudan is one of the six countries on Trump's "travel ban" list of nations facing restrictions on entry to the U.S., an initiative that has been held up by the courts. And Bashir continues to be sought by the International Criminal Court on allegations of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity related to the unresolved conflict in the country's Darfur region.

    Sharing Intelligence

    At the same time, Sudan has shared intelligence with the U.S. and is a strategically placed ally in the fight against terrorist groups even as it remains one of three countries listed as state sponsors of terror. The other two are Syria and Iran. Sudan was placed on the list in part for sheltering al- Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the 1990s.

    While Tillerson hasn't made a final decision, the recommendation from key aides involved in the process is that he support the lifting of sanctions, according to a person familiar with the decision who asked not to be identified because it isn't public yet. Tillerson and the State Department must also weigh the likelihood of blowback if it goes ahead with plans to improve ties with Sudan while also proceeding with plans-expected to be announced Friday-to scale back new business  links with Cuba because of human rights concerns.

    The U.S. Agency for International Development says Sudan has made progress in humanitarian access-allowing in humanitarian organizations and the aid they provide-but the potential change is questioned by human rights groups. They argue that the U.S. may let Sudan off the hook because it's seen as too important in counterterrorism efforts to risk reimposing sanctions and jeopardizing the burgeoning relationship.

    "The notion that humanitarian access is at acceptable levels is simply perverse, and completely expedient as an assessment," said Eric Reeves, a senior fellow at Harvard University's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights. "Nobody who actually works in the humanitarian world in Sudan believes that access is at acceptable levels."

    Khalid, Sudan's ambassador, said the decision to include Sudan on the travel ban list was "understandable" and the government is "exerting extreme effort" to meet its requirements. "We are doing good in this regard," he said.

    Shaking Hands

    Other signs that the two sides are warming to each other have emerged recently. Sudanese newspapers reported in March that the head of the country's intelligence service visited
    Washington on the invitation of Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, meeting with him and then-FBI director James Comey. The CIA declined to comment when asked to confirm the visit.

    Trump and Tillerson shook hands with General Taha al-Hussein-a top aide to Bashir who has since been removed from his post, according to the Sudan Tribune-during Trump's visit
    with Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia last month. In past administrations, staff would have ensured that such an encounter never took place. Because of the charges he faces, Bashir was
    dissuaded from coming to the event. Asked about the handshake, a State Department official said there had been no scheduled meeting between Tillerson and al-Hussein, and the interaction was "entirely spontaneous in the context of the summit."

     

    Sudanese officials later circulated photographs of the two handshakes in an apparent effort to
    demonstrate how ties were improving. It will take more than an easing of U.S. sanctions to
    provide a big boost to Sudan's economy. The country was ranked 168th of 190 nations surveyed on the ease of doing business in the World Bank's annual "Doing Business" report, lagging behind countries including Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

    --With assistance from Bill Allison.

    To contact the reporters on this story:

    Nick Wadhams in Washington at nwadhams@bloomberg.net;
    Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editors responsible for this story:
    Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net

    -- 

    Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

     

    ereeves@smith.edu

    www.sudanreeves.org

    Twitter@SudanReeves

    About Eric Reeves: http://sudanreeves.org/about-eric-reeves

    Philanthropy: http://ericreeves-woodturner.com/woodturnings-available-for-purch

     

     

  • UNAMID TO BE GUTTED BY UN SECURITY COUNCIL, CREATING INTOLERABLE RISKS FOR CIVILIANS IN DARFUR

     

    Eric Reeves  |  June 12, 2017   |   http://wp.me/p45rOG-242

    I will be writing at length soon analyzing the various implications of this callous, finally barbarous Security Council decision to reduce UNAMID drastically (see below); my focus will be on the greatly increased risks to civilians in Darfur that will follow from this decision.

    The conversion of this "hybrid" UN/African Union mission from "peacekeeping" to "peace-building" mission is little more than a scandalous fig-leaf for eviscerating what has been at various times the largest and most expensive peacekeeping mission in UN history. It will now take its place in that history as the most appalling failure, reflecting a willingness to abandon millions of Darfuris displaced, at risk, and often in desperate need of humanitarian relief that will not longer be possible in a great many areas because of the insecurity a massive UNAMID reduction will create. Failure though it is, UNAMID provided at least a modicum of security in some areas at some times-no longer.

    Security Council to change Darfur UNAMID mandate and modify force structure: sources

    Sudan Tribune | June 11, 2017 (KHARTOUM) | http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article62699

  • Amnesty International Urgent Action re: Saudi Arabia: "TWO SUDANESE ACTIVISTS AT RISK OF DEPORTATION"

     

    Saudi Arabia is a cruel, despotic, backward-looking monarchical tyranny; it is perfectly willing to do the bidding of Khartoum's génocidaires for narrowly self-interested reasons, including forcibly repatriating Sudanese human rights activists to face incarceration and torture.

     

    Here is Amnesty International's "URGENT ACTION" announcement concerning two such Sudanese activists, arrested by Saudi officials and at risk of torture:

     

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

    Inline image 1

    Saudi Arabia Date: 8 June 2017

    URGENT ACTION

     

    TWO SUDANESE ACTIVISTS AT RISK OF DEPORTATION

     

    Sudanese activists Elgassim Mohamed Seed Ahmed and Elwaleed Imam Hassan Taha are at imminent risk of deportation from Saudi Arabia to Sudan, where they would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. The two activists have been detained in Saudi Arabia without charge or trial since 21 December 2016. They are prisoners of conscience.

     

    According to information provided to Amnesty International, Elgassim Mohamed Seed Ahmed and Elwaleed Imam Hassan Taha were called for questioning by the prison authorities on 5 June in al-Ha'ir Prison in Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital, where they have been detained since 21 December 2016. They were questioned in two separate cells while blindfolded and handcuffed about who sponsors their own and their family's residency in Saudi Arabia; whether they owe or are owed any debts by anyone; and whether they own property in Saudi Arabia. They were also asked to delegate a Power of Attorney to a family member in Saudi Arabia in order to manage their properties in the country. On 7 June, the passports of the two men were apparently collected from their workplace by officials believed to be from the Ministry of Interior. They have had no legal representation.

  • Peace in Darfur Was Long Entrusted to Qataris: What we see of Qatar now

     

    Eric Reeves | June 5, 2017  |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-23K

    After the disastrous failure of the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA) of May 2006 (Abuja, Nigeria), neither the Bush administration nor the Obama administration (beginning in January 2009) committed the diplomatic resources necessary to find a true peace agreement. The DPA had no support from Darfur civil society or hold-out rebel groups (only one of which signed the DPA, ensuring a catastrophic splintering of the groups). The failure to include meaningful provisions for security in the region convinced Khartoum that it could continue its genocidal counter-insurgency without consequences. The events of the past eleven years have proven the regime right.

    Only in July 2011 would another "peace agreement" emerge, the so-called "Doha (Qatar) Document for Peace in Darfur" (DDPD) a travesty described by one participant in the Abuja negotiations, Julie Flint, as "Abuja replayed as farce." And farcical it was, having been cobbled together by the spectacularly incompetent and ignorant Obama administration Special Envoy for Sudan, Scott Gration, and Libyan strongman Muamar Gadhafi (who once described the Darfur genocide as a "quarrel over a donkey"). The "rebel" representation confected by Gration and Gadhafi consisted on no major rebel groups, only the entirely factitious Liberation and Justice Movement of Tigani Sese. Again, there was no inclusion of Darfuri civil society, no participation by any of the remaining rebel groups, no meaningful security arrangements-and no effect whatsoever on the ground in Darfur. Again, the events of the past six years make this painfully clear.

    Muamar Gadhafi---diplomat?

    Despite this conspicuous fact, it was only very recently that the U.S. and other Western international actors acknowledged the failure of the Qatari effort; but even this has led only to encouraging that the DDPD be "built upon," "strengthened," "augmented"...or other disingenuous pretenses that the "Document" could possibly be the basis for peace. And the grossly incompetent man leading current diplomatic efforts, former South African President Thabo Mbeki, has a dismal record of failure after failure on the Darfur file. His first effort-his self-proclaimed "Roadmap for Peace in Darfur" (2009)-could not have been a more obvious disaster. He is despised by Darfuris, by the rebel groups, and by all major Sudanese constituencies other than the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party.

  • The Khartoum Regime Continues to Import Large Quantities of Weapons and Dual-Use Equipment from a Range of International Actors

     

    Eric Reeves | June 1, 2017 |  http://wp.me/s45rOG-7902

    new report from Conflict Arms Research makes clear that the Khartoum regime continues to import large quantities of weapons in order to continue offensive military action in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur. The weapons come from "East Asia, the Middle East, and Europe." This makes nonsense of the regime's commitment to end offensive military activity in these areas, one of two key terms for permanent lifting of U.S. economic sanctions (a decision to be made by the Trump administration by July 13, 2017).

    To ignore such authoritative findings in assessing NIF/NCP genocidal tyranny was a hallmark of U.S. Sudan policy under the Obama administration-and a rudderless Trump administration is likely to make a decision by default to lift sanctions permanently (the administration has no Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs unless that task, too, has fallen to Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner).

    ******************************************

    "Sudanese Stockpiles and Regions Weapon Diversion," a report from Conflict Arms Research (May 2017)

    An analysis of captured equipment in the possession of the Sudan People's Liberation Army-North in theNuba Mountains.

    http://www.conflictarm.com/publications/

  • "Almost 4,000,000 Sudanese displaced by fighting"---Norwegian Refugee Council

     

    This Al Jazeera dispatch hardly suggests that humanitarian access has improved in Darfur or anywhere else in Sudan:

    "Hundreds of thousands of people do not receive the lifesaving help they need because of challenges in accessing communities"---Norwegian Refugee Council

    ************************

    "Almost 4,000,000 Sudanese displaced by fighting"

    Norwegian Refugee Council ranks country as number three in world's neglected crises as fighting [in Darfur] enters its 14th year. [Actually, the conflict is entering its 15th year; its beginning is typically dated to February 2003--already over 14 years ago---ER]

    June 1, 2017

    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/4000000-sudanese-displaced-fighting-170601165141799.html

    Almost 4,000,000 Sudanese have been forced from their homes in 14 years of tribal violence and battles between government and opposition fighters, the Norwegian Refugee Council says.

    [This is a badly misleading summary explanation of displacement in Darfur: the vast majority of the "fighting" has been violence directed against the non-Arab/African civilian tribal populations of Darfur, by Khartoum's military (the Sudan Armed Forces/SAF) and its Arab militia allies---ER]

    The aid group listed Sudan as number three in its latest report, The World's Most Neglected Displacement Crises, saying almost five million Sudanese were now dependant on humanitarian aid, with three million of those living in the war-scarred region of Darfur.

    "Hundreds of thousands of people do not receive the lifesaving help they need because of challenges in accessing communities," the council said before blaming "a 40 percent shortage in funding and a lack of international media attention to the crisis."

    Darfur has been unstable since 2003 when different groups complaining about marginalisation by the Sudanese government started an armed campaign. The conflict attracted a government-backed militia known as the Janjaweed, which were blamed for widespread killings that have been labelled as genocide. Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said: "The international community has not only forgotten these crises, but has never really shown sufficient willingness to contribute to a solution. "Many of the displaced people have fled their homes multiple times, and each time they get increasingly vulnerable."

    Babar Baloch, spokesman for the UN refugee agency UNHCR, told Al Jazeera: "You have a situation where people are running for a conflict in South Kordofan [Sudan] and coming to South Sudan. "But South Sudan is also in conflict, there is famine, more than half of the population is facing food insecurity and a quarter of them are displaced, including in Darfur and Kordofan."

    -- 

    Eric Reeves, Senior Fellow at Harvard University's François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights

     

    ereeves@smith.edu

    www.sudanreeves.org

    Twitter@SudanReeves

    About Eric Reeves: http://sudanreeves.org/about-eric-reeves

    Philanthropy: http://ericreeves-woodturner.com/woodturnings-available-for-purchase-dire

     

     

  • U.S. Sudan Policy Continues to be Defined by Disingenuousness and Distortion

     

    Radio Dabanga's interview with former Obama administration Special Envoy for the Sudans Donald Booth

    Eric Reeves | May 21, 2017 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-23i

    In a wide-ranging interview with Radio Dabanga published a week ago, the Obama administration's third and final Special Envoy for the Sudans, Donald Booth, offered a reprise of much that has been reported about the decision by President Obama to lift longstanding U.S. economic sanctions on the genocidal Khartoum regime. The sanctions were originally imposed by President Bill Clinton in 1997 and modestly strengthened by President George W. Bush.

    I append the interview in its entirety below, edited only very slightly for formatting; however, I've also interpolated by own comments at various junctures, always in [brackets], blue italics, and followed by my initials, ER].

    I would begin by noting the preposterous nature of the claim in the title to the Radio Dabanga dispatch: far from being "a start to address Sudan's human rights issues," sanctions relief has produced nothing in the way of an improvement in the rights of Sudanese, or a diminishment in what is in fact intensifying repression. In the more than four months since President Obama signed the Executive Order lifting sanctions (pending a review of Khartoum's adherence to various stipulations in July 2017), there continue to be massive human rights abuses, daily restrictions of freedom of the Sudanese press, and incarceration of human rights and civil society leaders, often in conditions that amount to torture under International Humanitarian Law. The most prominent human rights and human development leader currently incarcerated (at the notorious Kober Prison) is Mudawi Ibrahim, arrested in December 2016. Indeed, rather than releasing Mudawi, officials of the Khartoum regime brought capital charges against him one week ago, the day before Booth's interview.

  • A Permanent Lifting of U.S. Sanctions on Khartoum? Report Card Number Two

     

    An interim assessment of Darfur, based on the two key terms stipulated by the Obama administration: improvement of humanitarian access and ending organized military violence and aerial bombardment

    Eric Reeves | May 11, 2017 |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-238

    President Barack Obama provisionally lifted U.S. economic sanctions on the Khartoum regime by Executive Order on January 13, 2017; Obama cited "positive actions" and his UN Ambassador Samantha Power went so far as to declare that there had been a "sea change" of improvement in humanitarian access in Sudan. These sanctions were first imposed on the regime in 1997 and strengthened during the administration of President George W. Bush.

    The Obama Executive Order stipulated the conditions for a permanent lifting of economic sanctions, which are essentially twofold:

    [1] Significant improvement in humanitarian access to Darfur as well as South Kordofan and Blue Nile (the "Two Areas") and,

    [2] End organized violence in the regions, including a halt to the indiscriminate aerial bombardment that has defined Khartoum's genocidal counter-insurgency in Darfur for fourteen years and for over almost six years in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

  • New Militia Attacks on African Villages in Darfur Are Emblematic of Continuing Genocide: The World’s Forgetting and Ignoring is Now Complete

     

    Eric Reeves | May 8, 2017  |  http://wp.me/p45rOG-234

    The militia attacks near Nierteti (western Central Darfur) reported today by Radio Dabanga are identical to those that were occurring fourteen years ago, down to such grim details as the cutting down of mature fruit trees to ensure there is nothing to come back to in the destroyed villages. Genocidal violence has at times ebbed over the past fourteen years but has never ceased.

    Photograph of village burning in Darfur 2005 following Janjaweed attack; photograph taken by military observer and former U.S. Marine Brian Steidle 

    The UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is completely powerless to protect non-Arab/African civilians under assault, even if it were inclined to, which it clearly is not. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), responsible for the reported attacks, have been formally incorporated into the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and thus acknowledged and supported in ways Khartoum never dared with the "Janjaweed," even when these less well-organized militia groups were working hand-in-glove with the SAF. Denial was essential, as UN Security Council Resolution 1556, under Chapter 7 authority, "demanded" that Khartoum disarm the "Janjaweed" and brings its leaders to justice:

    Resolution 1556 (2004) Adopted by the Security Council at its 5015th meeting, on 30 July 2004 http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/RES/1556%20(2004)

    Acting under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United Nations, [the UN Security Council]...