- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 21, 2006

Earlier this month, I concluded my tenure as chief of mission at the Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan to the United States. I spent approximately 5 in this great nation. Through difficult and hectic experiences, I met with many sincere human beings from different walks of life who have sympathy for their fellow human beings’ suffering in different parts of the world.

People from different corners of our globe fled from different kinds of persecution to take refuge in this land of opportunity. For the most part, they have genuine feelings and mean well in their campaigns for justice, equality and freedom of others. Unfortunately, these genuine feelings can sometimes be directed by a few to the wrong target, which usually only contributes to the aggravation and exacerbation of already difficult situations.

This is exactly what we have been experiencing in Sudan. Lack of the necessary knowledge of the complexity of the situation there combines with tactics of clever and manipulative activists to lead that flow of noble feelings in the opposite direction: adventures of a regime change or nation-building schemes that usually lead to destruction of the developing, fledgling concept of the nation-state and result in full-scale anarchy.

U.S. diplomacy has scored great success in Sudan by persuading the North and the South to reach a milestone agreement in January 2005 that ended two decades of severe civil war. Former Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick spent a week in Abuja, Nigeria, in May 2006 exerting efforts to reach a peace deal to end the Darfur conflict. That noble goal was achieved. A week ago yesterday, on Saturday, Oct. 14, another significant accord was signed between the government and the Beja people of Eastern Sudan. This has completed the cycle of problem-solving in the country. The significance is that all three peace agreements are based on the principle of power and wealth sharing. Thus, the political issue of “marginalization” is resolved in Sudan. A claim that the center enjoys monopoly of power and wealth can no longer justify armed rebellion against the state.

U.S. diplomacy has contributed to this huge and positive development. What is needed now is to strengthen the partnership of peace in Sudan, cement trust among the partners and depend on democratization as a legitimate way for power to rotate and change. (A general election from top to bottom of all levels of government will be held in less than two years and will have international monitors).

Divestment, sanctions and embargo will only derail this peaceful track of change and raise suspicion among the peace partners and cause polarization.

The current conflict in Darfur could be resolved through effective implementation of the Darfur Peace Agreement, which was described by the African Union chief negotiator as the “best possible deal” that addressed all the grievances of the people in the region. Reports coming from the region suggest most of the attacks against aid workers, aid convoys and African Union troops are made by the nonsignatories rebels. U.S. and U.N. confirm that countries in the region help those rebels in their inhumane and destructive campaign.

The first priority is to deal with those rebels and countries providing them safe havens, munitions and arms as well as new Land Cruisers to attack and cut off the route to bring aid to the needy population. That would help the government and the signatories of the deal to execute their stipulated responsibilities. This will be achieved by protecting civilians through disarmament of militias to enable those civilians to return to their villages and resume their normal lives. This is what humane and sound sentiments dictate although politics and ulterior motives may dictate something totally different.

KHIDIR HAROUN AHMED

Ambassador, former Chief of Sudan Mission, Washington, D.C.

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