Are there any hopes for a Sudan peace brokered by the U.S? A focus on the historically hostile trio of Sudan: Susan Rice, Roger Winter, and John Prendergast gives us the answer for what will happen if their views prevail.
Reading the Washington Post interview with U.S. Ambassador to the U.N, Ms Susan Rice on Tuesday, September 22, 2009, has triggered different feelings and memories to me with regards to the potential of having any lasting peace in Sudan based on U.S efforts.
In her answer to a question on U.S. approach to Darfur, Susan Rice said:
“I think I’ve been very, very clear about the concerns that the US has had and continues to have about the situation in Darfur and indeed Sudan overall. It’s a very important priority for the president and we’re all spending a good deal of time both on the policy formulation and on its implementation now. [Ret. Air Force Maj. Gen.] Scott Gration is doing the very practical nuts and bolts work of trying to push implementation of the CPA which is vitally important and to try to respond initially to the outrageous decision of the Government of Sudan to kick out the international NGOs and to mitigate its consequences which I think he helped do quite admirably and effectively and he’s been working to try to unify the rebel groups and create the foundations for a successful resumption of negotiations between the government and the Darfurians, which is what is necessary at the end of the day to deal with the underlying sources of conflict”.
Despite this endorsement of Gration’s approach, in reality Susan Rice maintains a very hostile and aggressive attitude towards Sudan. She has repeatedly described the conflict in Sudan as “genocide” and reflected strong support to the ICC decision, despite of the position of the U.S. of general refusal to support for the Court. An interagency feud within the president’s national security advisers became public, when Gration told reporters, on his return from a visit to Sudan, that Sudan’s government was no longer engaging in a “coordinated” campaign of mass murder against Darfurian civilians. Two days earlier, Rice had said that Sudan was engaged in a campaign of genocide in Darfur. (The Washington Post, July 31, 2009).
I have no doubt whatsoever that one current trend of the U.S. policy remains a hostile takeover of Sudan. The architects of this policy are close to taking control of the U.S. policy direction. The U.S. is already involved in resolving the two key outstanding issues of the CPA, namely the elections in the North and the referendum in the South, and this faction in Washington is gearing itself in full towards two sets of goals, for the South: ensuring the separation of the South in the coming referendum, getting the oil contracts, and positioning U.S. in the region by embracing the newest independent African State of the South of Sudan; and for the North: creating as much chaos as possible and making all possible designs to contain or topple Beshir’s regime. This has always been the agenda of the trio who maintains great hostility to Sudan and who kept working together on this agenda for quite a long time. So, who are the members of this trio, and what are the reasons behind their hostility and hatred to Sudan?
Susan Rice: The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N: Susan Rice has long advocated for a tough stance on Sudan, which she has repeatedly stated is responsible for genocide. In 1997, as a Brookings Institute scholar, she testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to advocate in favour of U.S. military intervention if the actions of the Sudanese government in Darfur continue.
This would not be a first for Susan Rice, who in her previous position in the State Department under President Bill Clinton, was implicated in an Iran-Contra-Style caper in Africa. She was deeply involved in the wars in the Great Lakes and her current position on Sudan stems from those days. In the 1990s, the U.S. was involved in two overlapping clandestine operations. First, was the covert supply of arms to the SPLA of (Late) John Garang, which has waged an unsuccessful but nevertheless extremely destructive and destabilizing war against the Sudan government since 1983. The second involved covert military logistical aid to the so-called rebel forces arrayed against the government of Laurent Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an operation being run directly out of the U.S. State Department with the oversight of Susan Rice. On the one hand, Rice herself was engaged in highly public peace efforts, while on the other, she was ensuring that American private contractors gave logistical support and training to belligerents in the same war.
In an article in The Atlantic issue of September 2001 entitled “Genocide Bystanders”, journalist Samantha Power indicated that at an interagency teleconference in late April 1994, Susan Rice, a rising star on the NSC by then and who worked under Richard Clarke, stunned a few of the officials present when she asked, “If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?” Lieutenant Colonel Tony Marley remembers the incredulity of his colleagues at the State Department. “We could believe that people would wonder that,” he says, “but not that they would actually voice it.” Rice does not recall the incident but concedes, “If I said it, it was completely inappropriate, as well as irrelevant.”
A commentator on the Blog (Weekly Standard, December 1, 2008) said: “If one believes that the United Nations is a hopelessly ineffective institution and wants to make sure it stays that way, then perhaps Obama has chosen an appropriate emissary: a woman who prefers to ponder the political implications of inaction — they’re going to love her at Turtle Bay”.
During her stint at the State Department (1997-2001), it was widely believed that Rice’s closest adviser on Africa was Roger Winter, former director of the U.S. Committee on Refugees (now U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration), and then deputy head of USAID. He was taken on to promote his two favored causes: the RPF in Rwanda and the Great Lakes, and the SPLM in Sudan. In September 1997, Winter, along with John Prendergast of the U.S. National Security Council (by then), declared Rice to be one of their “team” to lead the United States into support of a war against the government of Sudan, to be waged on the ground by the Ugandan, Eritrean and allied armies.
Similar to the calls of Susan Rice for military intervention in Sudan, On September 17, 1997, Roger Winter, spoke at a conference of the U.S. Institute for Peace, and demanded full-scale backing from the U.S. government for a war “to bring down the Khartoum government” in Sudan, adding, “even though I know it will bring about a humanitarian catastrophe.” He reassured the assembled African policymakers present, however, that U.S. troops would not be involved in the effort; this would be a proxy war using Ugandan and Eritrean troops against Sudan, with U.S. weapons and logistical and training support.
Previously, Winter had been one of the primary apologists of the RPF guerrilla war, backed by Washington, that led to catastrophies that caused the loss millions of lives in the Great Lakes of Africa since 1990. Winter acted as a spokesman for the RPF and their allies, and he appeared as a guest on major U.S. television networks such as PBS and CNN, as well as facilitating RPF access to other U.S. news outlets. During his tenure, Winter pushed for a policy of politicization of relief agencies, and away from their expected stance of neutrality in other people’s conflicts.
Roger Winter is also a staunch supporter of U.S. Rep. Donald Payne, one of the leading U.S. Democrats who has pressing for action to “stop genocide” in Darfur. Payne sponsored the Darfur Genocide Accountability Act and he was arrested in June 2001, along with John Eibner, director of Christian Solidarity International (CSI), for protesting against the Sudan government. Christian Solidarity International is famous through its continuous attempts to refuel religious tensions in Sudan, and also for its controversial role in booming the “slave trade” in South Sudan by coming as a buyer injecting big money into the business and hence creating more demand and business opportunities.
The third member of the trio, John Prendergast, also served on the Clinton Africa team where he tried to bend the rules of U.S. foreign policy to provide covert assistance to the SPLA. He tried and failed to get a post in the Bush Africa team, and instead went into the NGO sector, first with the International Crisis Group and then with “Enough.” Today he is a co-chair with the “Enough Project” and serves on the Board of the “Save Darfur Coalition”.
Although Prendergast is officially out of government, he is playing beltway politics like a seasoned professional. His ambition is manifest: it is to get rid of General Gration who he considers too dovish and replace him with someone truly dedicated to the unfinished business of the Clinton White House—perhaps himself. Following the recent trip to Sudan by General Gration, Prendergast said the north was trying to delay implementation of the deal and its “strategic objective is to never hold the referendum.” He is quoted by AP, Cairo, as saying, “If the referendum is not held on time, there will be a return to war,” (September 09, 2009).
Meanwhile Roger Winter has become an “adviser” to the SPLA, publicly promoting southern separatism if necessary by force, with a war to topple the current government of Omer El Beshir.
The most favorable explanation for why Susan Rice takes her militant anti-Khartoum line is because she is so scared of allowing “another Rwanda” to happen on her watch.
In Sudan we have a common saying: those who experienced a snake bite, easily get scared of spiral rope. My only question here is: what is all this about? Is this trio traumatized by the U.S. inaction that resulted in the Rwanda Genocide, or are they experiencing a guilt complex of their possible implication and contribution to the horrible events of the genocide the destabilization of this part of Africa? I have no fancy to ask my old questions on whether or not there is a serious tendency of shaping a U.S. policy towards peace in Sudan that is derived from concerns over the wellbeing of the Sudanese people, I would be quite naive to even entertain the idea of asking such a question. My real worries and concerns are rather related to the intentions of this trio that brings U.S. policy makers, advocacy groups, intelligence and economic interests together for compromising the unity of Sudan and shattering the meager hopes of a lasting peace in our troubled country.