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  • on 23.09.2015
  • at 05:02 PM
  • by evelina

It’s time for the US to press the reset button on Sudan 0

The sun may have started to set on his tenure in office, but US President Barack Obama seems to have no intention of slipping into cruise control with regards to foreign policy. Against difficult odds, he recently mended fences with Cuba and Iran, two of the country’s longest-standing foes.

It may be tough for him to repeat the trick with North Korea given the Asian country’s apparent unwillingness to abandon its nuclear arsenal. But there is another international adversary with which the US could seek a relationship reboot: Sudan.

A regime led by President Omar al-Bashir is instinctively odious to many, but a lengthy US economic blockade has – like in Cuba – failed to achieve its laudable, if lofty, stated goal of hastening a peaceful, democratic state in Sudan. Meanwhile the key factors that led successive US administrations to dial up sanctions from 1993 to 2006 have changed fundamentally too.

South Sudan seceded peacefully in 2011. And while Darfur is still a hot mess, with more displacement in 2014 than any year since conflict erupted in 2003, it is largely due to tribal fighting rather than the iconic government-rebel war that brought the region to international infamy in the 2000s.

Amid newer global emergencies, it is donor fatigue – rather than obstructionism by Sudanese authorities – that has posed the main danger to international humanitarian relief in Darfur and elsewhere in the country: the UN has secured just 38% of its funding appeal for Sudan in 2015.

Troublingly, many civilians continue to die in government aerial bombing raids on rebel areas of the Nuba Mountains. Yet it is the rebels that have rejected an African Union-brokered ceasefire recently. Thrice. They have also attacked towns and killed scores of civilians indiscriminately, and the rebels refuse to get out of the way of a UN child polio vaccination effort.

Finally, the continued inclusion of Sudan on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism meanwhile is no longer warranted; Sudan remains a cooperative counter-terrorism partner of the US, as underlined in the most recent State Department yearly terrorism report.

Continue reading on: African Arguments 

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Photograph by Albert Gonzalez Farran/UNAMID

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