Gration in Context
Bec Hamilton has run a series of posts on her blog based on her recent trip to Darfur with U.S. Special Envoy General Scott Gration. They provide an interesting, and much more nuanced, view on Gration’s efforts, than much media coverage, and also the response of the lobbies in Washington. Bec concludes that Stephanie McCrummen’s piece in the Washington Post is not inaccurate, but is incomplete. Gration is anything but naive, but sometimes chooses his words in a way that gives ammunition to his critics in Washington. Gration’s warm welcome by the SLM leaders in Ain Siro and his scrutiny of the Sudan government’s delivery, or non-delivery, on its promises don’t come through in the Post article. His “cookies and gold stars” comment will surely live on and gain a life of its own.
Bec is also correct to point out the breakdown in communication between Gration and the Darfur IDPs, starkly seen in the regular condemnations of the Special Envoy by Hussein “Abu Sharati”, the SLM-Abdel Wahid mouthpiece. Abu Sharati appears to be finely tuned in to the Washington insider intrigues, perhaps better than he is to the diverse opinions of the Darfur IDPs. Nonetheless, it is important for Gration to gain the confidence of the IDPs, who are the critical political constituency in Darfur, no less significant than the armed movements.
The bottom line is that Gration’s critics have yet to come with an alternative strategy. Their response to his words looks more like partisan political point-scoring and less like an effort to make a serious contribution to solving Sudan’s problems.