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  • The Truth About Humanitarian Access in Sudan, contra the “UN Country Team” for Sudan

    Eric Reeves | July 11, 2017 |

    In a move that is finally obscenely political in motivation, the “UN Country Team” in Sudan (UNCT/S) is reported by Radio Dabanga to have weighed in with its view about the decision on a permanent lifting of U.S. economic sanctions imposed on the genocidal regime in Khartoum (1997). In hopes of affecting a political decision by the Trump administration in the U.S., UNCT/S has provided a highly misleading set of statements concerning humanitarian access in Sudan, thereby continuing a past history of making statements—or not making statements—that might offend the Khartoum regime. This time the focus is squarely on a U.S. political decision that is supposed to be based on various criteria (not simply humanitarian access, important as it is):

    UN team in Sudan “hopes for positive decision on US sanctions” | Radio Dabanga | July 10, 2017 | KHARTOUM |

    According to the UN Country Team (UNCT) in Sudan, there has been a marked improvement in humanitarian access over the past six months. This has prompted the team to cite its hopes that Washington will finally cancel the economic sanctions on Sudan.

    Besides being wildly inappropriate, given the multiple conditions supposedly governing a decision about lifting U.S. sanctions permanently—again, the sole focus of UN statement is on humanitarian access—the assessment of humanitarian access is patently disingenuous and misleading. Most notably, there is no mention of the humanitarian embargo that remains in place for huge areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, specifically the areas where civilians are concentrated under control of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N). (The embargo has recently been lifted on a small area in Blue Nile under full regime military control; for an explanation of this action, see below.)

    The people in the areas under embargo have in a great number of cases fled to them to escape Khartoum’s relentless assault on civilian populations in these two southern Sudanese states. Malnutrition in some areas is catastrophically high; and until recently, and with the likely resumption following the U.S. decision on sanctions, Antonov “bombers” have terrified civilians throughout South Kordofan and Blue Nile for six years, displacing many hundreds of thousands (many as refugees to South Sudan and Ethiopia). Dropping crude, completely indiscriminate, shrapnel-loaded barrel bombs—dropped from high altitudes by these retrofitted Russian-made cargo planes without bomb-sighting mechanisms, merely rolled out the back cargo bay—Khartoum has deliberately destroyed the agricultural economy of the areas under assault. This is what has produced the growing and extremely dangerous malnutrition—malnutrition that is unalleviated in any way by the “improved humanitarian access” the UN celebrates.

  • U.S. economic sanctions on Khartoum regime to remain in place -- for now -- per Trump admin Executive Order


    Office of the Press Secretary


    July 11, 2017




    By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7201-7211), the Comprehensive Peace in Sudan Act of 2004, as amended (Public Law 108-497), the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006 (Public Law 109‑344), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

    I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, in order to take additional steps to address the emergency described in Executive Order 13067 of November 3, 1997, Executive Order 13412 of October 13, 2006, and Executive Order 13761 of January 13, 2017, with respect to the policies and actions of the Government of Sudan, including additional fact-finding and a more comprehensive analysis of the Government of Sudan's actions, hereby order as follows:

    Section 1.  Amendments to Executive Order 13761.  (a)  Section 1 of Executive Order 13761 is hereby amended by striking "July 12, 2017" and inserting in lieu thereof "October 12, 2017".

    (b)  Section 10 of Executive Order 13761 is hereby amended by striking "July 12, 2017" and inserting in lieu thereof "October 12, 2017".

    (c)  Subsection (b) of section 12 of Executive Order 13761 is hereby amended by striking "July 12, 2017" and inserting in lieu thereof "October 12, 2017".

    (d)  Section 11 of Executive Order 13761 is hereby revoked.

    Sec2.  General Provision.  This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

                                    DONALD J. TRUMP


        July 11, 2017.


    Eric ReevesSenior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights



    About Eric Reeves


  • “A Trump Decision Within the Week My Accelerate Genocide in Darfur,” The Huffington Post

    Eric Reeves, July 6, 2017

    Within the coming week the Trump administration will make a decision unlikely to break through the furor of bizarre presidential behavior, the health care debate, or any of the foreign policy issues that have dominated the past six months—from North Korea to ISIS and Syria to relations with Europe to dangerous frictions among the Gulf States.

    But the decision—whether to make permanent President Obama’s lifting of U.S. economic sanctions on the Khartoum regime in Sudan—will have immense implications for the people of that desperate country. And for the western Darfur region, a permanent lifting of sanctions will likely result in cataclysmic human destruction. Perhaps not immediately, although there will be significant and direct consequences for the 3 million non-Arab/African Darfuris displaced from their homes and lands ( ). But sooner or later many of these desperate people will join the more than half a million people who have already died, directly or indirectly, from violence unleashed over the past fourteen years during Khartoum’s genocidal counter-insurgency in the region ( ).

    Who has said that that the violence was genocidal? For the moment, let’s focus on senior members of the Obama administration, beginning with Senator, candidate and President Obama himself. He campaigned declaring that Darfur was a “stain on our souls,” and that he would never “turn a blind eye” to such human slaughter ( His National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, wrote in these pages during the Bush administration that genocide was occurring in Darfur and that the U.S. should be prepared to undertake unilateral humanitarian intervention if necessary to stop it ( Obama’s Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, also wrote frequently and powerfully about Darfur, and did not hesitate to use the “g-word” (

    Did the genocide somehow stop? Did it burn out? There is absolutely no evidence that this is the case. Indeed, beginning in the 2012 – 2013 dry season, violence escalated dramatically, particularly in the region known as East Jebel Marra. This violence was perpetrated chiefly by Khartoum’s new Arab militia force, the heavily armed and well-organized “Rapid Support Forces” (RSF). An important report from Human Rights Watch (September 2015 | ) gave us our best insight into the character of RSF violence—and the ambitions of the Khartoum regime. Vice President Hassabo Abdelrahman delivered a speech to the RSF in December 2014, according to a defecting militiaman, in which he declared:

    “Hassabo told us to clear the area east of Jebel Marra.

    To kill any male. He said we want to clear the area of insects…

    He said East Jebel Marra is the kingdom of the rebels.

    We don’t want anyone there to be alive.”

    The chilling echoes of the Rwanda genocide and Hutu characterizations of Tutsis as “cockroaches” has been remarked by no one in the Obama administration—or to date by the Trump administration. But in fact Hassabo’s comments had ample precedent in Darfur, perhaps most notoriously in a memo ten years earlier from the headquarters of brutal Janjaweed leader Musa Hilal: “Change the demography of Darfur…empty it of African tribes.”

    Khartoum’s human rights record continues to be abominable, as does its persecution of Sudan’s small Christian population. And yet current U.S. Charge d’Affaires Steven Koutsis recently gave an interview in which he declared emphatically that issues of human rights, political and religious persecution, and freedom of expression were irrelevant to the decision about sanctions:

    “None of these other issues were the point of sanctions, and none of these other issues, therefore, should be linked to the lifting of sanctions." (Agence France-Presse, June 24, 2017 |

    But Koutsis is dead wrong: the Preface to the Executive Order by President Clinton imposing economic sanctions in 1997 explicitly asserts that in addition to the Khartoum regime’s support for international terrorism, sanctions were being imposed because of “the prevalence of human rights violations, including slavery and the denial of religious freedom” ( /). Unsurprisingly, Sudan remains one of only three countries remaining on the State Department’s annual list of “state sponsors of terrorism.”

    Perhaps the most egregious violation of international human rights law in the recent past occurred last year during Khartoum’s savage military campaign against the people of the Jebel Marra region in central Darfur. Amnesty International published an exhaustively researched report in September 2016, demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that Khartoum had used chemical weapons against civilians nowhere near the fighting ( Most of the victims were young children. The international community has been silent about Amnesty’s finding—indeed, in an action grotesque even by African Union standards, seven AU members elected Khartoum to the position of Vice-President of the executive body of the Organization for the Prohibition of chemical weapons, the very body with a mandate to investigate allegations of chemical weapons use (

    Certainly the Sudanese economy is a mess. But that isn’t a function of U.S. sanctions, which have been largely undermined by French banking giant BNP Paribas, convicted in 2015 of massive criminal violation of U.S. financial sanctions ( The Khartoum regime is a powerful, ruthless kleptocracy—maintaining a monopoly on Sudanese national wealth and power since it came to power as the National Islamic Front on June 30, 1989—28 years ago ( It has failed to invest in infrastructure, agriculture, or health services. It failed to anticipate the consequences of the loss of oil revenue with the 2011 secession of South Sudan and now confronts staggering inflation, a plummeting currency, and an almost complete lack of foreign exchange currency (Forex) with which to import critical commodities, including wheat for bread, cooking fuel, and essential medicines.

    The Sudanese people—across the political spectrum—desperately want range change; they have been told by the U.S., however that this is not what we want:

    “We [the Obama administration] do not want to see the ouster of the [Khartoum] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” (Interview with Asharq al-Awsat, December 3, 2011 |

    The notion that this brutal, profoundly repressive, and serially genocidal regime is capable of “carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures” is simply too preposterous to take seriously. Rather, it is the way in which the Obama administration, and so far the Trump administration, choose to put a fig-leaf over the real reason they want to keep the regime in power: supposedly valuable counter-terrorism intelligence, this from one of three countries that remains on the State Department’s annual listing of “state sponsors of terrorism.” But whatever the putative value of counter-terrorism intelligence expediently provided by the regime, is this really the time to be giving such brutal men an economic and financial lifeline? denying Sudanese people their political aspirations and ensuring that the regime feels it has a “green light” to continue its genocidal ways in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile?

    There was a time before the Obama administration when Americans broadly said “no!” That should be our answer now.

    [Eric Reeves has written extensively on Sudan for almost two decades; he is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights | ]

  • Letter to Congress from Former Special Envoys for Sudan, Throwing Their Weight Behind Lifting of Sanctions on Sudan: A Critique

    Eric Reeves   |   June 30, 2017 |

    Yesterday, June 29, 2017, former Obama administration Special Envoys for Sudan Princeton Lyman and Donald Booth, along with former U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Khartoum Jerry Lanier, wrote a brief letter to the Members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, arguing in glib and disingenuous terms for a permanent lifting of U.S. economic sanctions on the genocidal Khartoum regime (it is not surprising that there has been no mention by any of these men, in this letter or elsewhere, of the fact that an arrest warrant has been issued for President Omar al-Bashir, charging him with multiple counts of genocide and massive crimes against humanity in Darfur by the International Criminal Court).

    The views expressed are not surprising and indeed echo previous and often demonstrably false claims made by these men. The entire letter appears here with my commentary interpolated, in blue italics follow by my initials. I would note by way of preface some of the more remarkable claims and moments during the tenure of these men, particularly Booth and Lyman.

    I would highlight, as I have on a number of occasions, comments made by Lyman in an interview of December 2011. I do so because it represents so well the preposterous assumptions made by both Lyman and Booth, and how completely misguided their view of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime has been—a regime today celebrating the military coup that brought them to power exactly 28 years ago (June 30, 1989). In this almost three decades of brutal, tyrannical, and serially genocidal rule, this regime has not changed in any significant way. It has certainly not changed in ways claimed as possible by Lyman in December 2011:

  • U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Khartoum Steven Koutsis: Dishonest, Tendentious, Misleading

    Eric Reeves | June 28, 2017   |

    The Trump administration State Department is evidently content to allow recently appointed Charge d’Affaires Steven Koutsis to remain the senior U.S. diplomat in Khartoum, serving as the primary interlocutor on a day-to-day basis with the genocidal National Congress Party regime, which is now celebrating the 28th anniversary of the military coup that brought it to power—as the National Islamic Front, whose ideology the NCP has never abandoned, only trimmed as circumstances warrant.

    In his brief tenure (he was appointed only last year) Koutsis has been the spokesman for views that are disingenuously framed, typically misleading, and alarmingly tendentious. Most alarming are his comments of June 24, first reported by Agence France-Presse (El Daien, East Darfur | June 24, 2017), but subsequently by many other news organizations. Referring to those expressing grave concern about Khartoum’s increasing repression and continuing violent suppression of political dissent, religious intolerance, its abysmal human rights record, and its continuing deployment of brutal militia forces in Darfur and elsewhere in Sudan, Koutsis declared:

  • Cholera Epidemic in Sudan Now Reaches Darfur: As the rainy season begins in earnest, the implications are terrifying


    Eric Reeves   |   June 25, 2017   /

    What we know from previous reporting about cholera in Sudan and the country's collapsing medical system:

    "The collapse of the health services in the country requires intervention by international organisations to help eradicating the epidemic, and that can only be done if the government officially declares the cholera outbreak," Sarah Abdeljaleel, Media Secretary of the Sudanese Doctors' Union in the United Kingdom and Ireland told Radio Dabanga last week(Radio Dabanga, June 25, 2017)

    Disgracefully, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan (OCHA) has yielded to the Khartoum regime and refuses to use the word "cholera," even as laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of the bacterium Vibrio cholerae; the disease has also been confirmed by independent health officials (see below):

    The same is true of the UN's World Health Organization (WHO):

    As these are the first reports of cholera infections in Shangil Tobaya, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not yet issued an update...  The WHO and the Sudanese Ministry of Health do not refer to the disease as cholera, but the less severe "acute watery diarrhoea (AWD)."

  • Slashing UNAMID Translates Into Numerous Base Closings; Results Will Likely be Catastrophic in Some Areas


    Eric Reeves   |   June 23, 2017   |

    Sources within the UN have released the list of UNAMID bases to be closed or stripped of a military (as opposed to a police) presence. The list makes painfully clear just how dangerously consequential are the Mission's broad reductions: military presence in Darfur will be reduced by 44 percent and the police presence by 33 percent. There will also be a significant drawdown of non-armed UNAMID personnel, with inevitably hindering consequences for the operations of the remaining armed elements of UNAMID.

    I will gloss the specific implications of the list below, but some are simply unconscionable and will put an end to humanitarian access. It should be noted that the UN's Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) will not fly to locations that are without a military presence. This alone represents an extreme threat to humanitarian access in Darfur.

    This list many not be fully comprehensive, and may be subject to slight modification. But given the end-of-June deadline for a UN Security Council resolution re-authorizing UNAMID in re-configured form, the list is almost certainly accurate to a very high degree:

    CAMPS IN WHICH BOTH A UNAMID MILITARY AND POLICE PRESENCE WILL BE TERMINATED (those names in orange designate closings particularly dangerous to civilians):

    Abu Shouk (North Darfur)

  • Sudan, Libya, and Support for Radical Islamic Militants: A Vignette


    Eric Reeves   |   June 21, 2017   |

    In October 2014, I analyzed some of the implications of minutes reflecting the deliberations of the most senior military and intelligence officials of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime during a "Joint Military and Security Committee Meeting held at the National Defense College on 31/08/2014" (see | ). These minutes have been repeatedly and authoritatively confirmed by a wide range of sources (see | ). They were leaked to me by a Sudanese source of unimpeachable character and honesty, although his identity-and those who assisted him in this extremely dangerous undertaking-must remain confidential for obvious reasons.

    The minutes are highly revealing on various counts, including what at the time was the vehement insistence that Iran was Khartoum's singularly vital ally in the region. This insistence is a virtual refrain, appearing in the comments of nearly every senior official present, including First Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh, who presided at the meeting. The ongoing implosion of the Sudanese economy has forced that Khartoum regime to abandon Iran and side with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States; but ideologically-as the minutes clearly reveal-the regime is very much on the side of Tehran. Only the possibility of immense financial assistance from the Saudis and Gulf States compelled the abandonment of Iran. Notably, the Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen, mentioned in the minutes as recipients of aid from Khartoum, are now being targeted by Sudan Armed Forces in concert with the Saudi-led campaign.

    General and First Vice President, perhaps the most powerful man in the Khartoum regime---certainly he is essential to President al-Bashir's grip on power. He was director of the National Intelligence and Security Services for a number of years follow the National Islamic Front military coup of June 1989.

    This is the context in which to see the import of a dispatch in today's Sudan Tribune, concerning the repatriation of Sudanese nationals who had gone to Libya to fight with ISIS (Sudan Tribune, June 21, 2017). This is obviously a delicate issue for Khartoum's security services, something reflected clearly in the Sudan Tribune analysis.

  • UN Security Council to Slash UNAMID


    Khartoum applauds UN move; Darfuri displaced call it a "major disappointment and flagrant mistake"; Human Rights Watch declares that deep cuts are "misguided" and based on a "false narrative." 

    Eric Reeves   |   June 18, 2017   |

    The UN Security Council is poised to slash the presence of UNAMID in Darfur in enormously consequential ways-targeting for reduction police personnel, military personnel, and logistical/administrative personnel. The effect of this action will be to put millions of Darfuris at greater risk, both from intensifying insecurity and the inevitable reductions in humanitarian access, much of which is made possible only by virtue of UNAMID escort.

    Three million Darfuris remains displaced from their homes and unable to return: 2.7 million Internally Displaced Persons and 300,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad, living in miserable conditions but too fearful to return to Darfur. One might think that the deaths of more than half a million people-either directly or indirectly from Khartoum-orchestrated and countenanced violence-might give the UN Security Council pause-but that is not the case. Indeed, the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has not published any mortality data or promulgated a single mortality estimate since April 2008, when OCHA head estimated that 300,000 people had died from the effects of violence.

  • What the Gutting of UNAMID Really Means


    Eric Reeves | June 15, 2017  |

    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 |

    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" |


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



    About Eric Reeves: