HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Senior Advisor to the International Crisis Group
and Co-Founder of the ENOUGH Campaign
April 19, 2007
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this esteemed
Committee, for the opportunity to share my views on the world’s hottest war and
what our role should be in ending it.
Yesterday morning, the auditorium at the Holocaust Museum
was tense with anticipation. President
Bush was there to make what was to be a major announcement on U.S. policy towards Darfur. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was invited to
be with him, underscoring the gravity of the event. And the administration had been leaking for
months about its threatened “Plan B” policy.
Had the refugees and displaced Darfurians in Mia Farrow’s photographs been sitting in the
audience yesterday, their disappointment would have been crushing. Instead of finally announcing what every
activist and member of Congress has been demanding for the last three years –
measures that would punish the regime for its orchestration of what the Bush
administration repeatedly calls genocide – President Bush instead issued
another set of dramatic warnings, another threat without a specific deadline
Barking without biting is the diplomatic equivalent of
giving comfort to the enemy. In this
case, though, it may be even worse. Each time the administration has issued an
empty threat over the past three years and then not enforced it, the Khartoum regime has been emboldened to escalate its destruction
and obstruction in Darfur. If there is a Guinness Book of World Records
entry for most threats issued with no follow up, Darfur
is likely setting a new standard.
After living in, studying or working in Sudan for the last 22 years, and having negotiated
directly with Sudan’s
leadership during the Clinton
administration, I can tell you that the regime no longer takes our speeches and
our threats seriously, and will continue to flout international will until
there are specific and escalating costs to their actions.
I do not tell that to you on a whimsical hope that it might
be true. In these matters, I would much
prefer to rely on empirical evidence.
The preponderance of evidence shows that during the 18 years of its
military rule, the regime in Khartoum
has only responded to focused international and regional pressure. Three times the regime has reversed its
position on a major policy issue, and each of those three times the change
resulted from intensive diplomacy backed by serious pressure – two ingredients
sadly and shockingly missing from the response to Darfur
today, despite the stirring speeches.
The three cases are the regime’s support for international terrorist
organizations during the early to mid 1990s; its support for slave-raiding
militias in southwestern Sudan
throughout the 1990s; and its prosecution of a war in southern Sudan
that took two million Sudanese lives.
I place the evidence of policy change in these three cases
in an appendix to this testimony, and ask that it and the entire statement be
placed in the record. Once the recent
policy history is reviewed and the real lessons learned from the 18 deadly
years this regime has been in power, the answers become clear and obvious. Continuing to ignore or defy these historical
precedents may condemn hundreds of thousands of Darfurians to death.
WANTED: A FIRM
DEADLINE AND A REAL PLAN B
Nearly everyone agrees on the necessary ingredients for the
stabilization of Darfur:
peace agreement that addresses the remaining issues of the non-signatory
rebels and broader Darfurian society; and
effective civilian protection force, the starting point for which is the
“hybrid” AU-UN force which the entire world supports, except the Khartoum regime.
The disagreement begins around how to secure those two
critical peace and protection objectives.
These are the first two “P’s” of what the ENOUGH Campaign calls the “3
P’s” of crisis response. The third P is punishment: imposing a cost for the
commission of mass atrocities and building leverage through these measures for
securing the peace and protection objectives.
First, a credible timeline is crucial. One empty threat after another must be
replaced with a firm deadline which will trigger automatic action. I join with the Save Darfur Coalition in
calling for May 1 to be that deadline.
The U.S. told UN
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon that U.S. and UN Security Council
sanctions would be delayed two to four weeks from the Secretary General’s April
2 request to give diplomacy more time.
Though further delay is abhorrent, there is a silver
lining. The Bush administration’s
current Plan B, the measures that President Bush was going to announce
yesterday at the Holocaust
Museum, is inadequate and
must be buttressed in very specific ways.
May 1 thus gives the administration enough time to prepare a real Plan B
– a set of punitive measures with teeth.
Most of the measures the administration was prepared to
announce were full of implementation holes and too minimalist to make a major
impact on the calculations of regime officials in Khartoum, or on intransigent rebel
leaders. After ten years of U.S. unilateral sanctions, the Sudanese
government and its commercial partners have easily figured out how to
circumvent any unilateral U.S.
measures. With little support and
cooperation from the CIA because of our close counter-terrorism cooperation
with the very same Sudanese officials who are architects of the Darfur policy,
U.S. policy-makers are largely in the dark about how the Sudanese government
transacts its oil sector business, and can not identify most of the major
Sudanese companies owned by regime officials and doing business throughout
Europe, Asia and the Middle East. We
simply don’t know the names of the dozens of subsidiaries of existing Sudanese companies
that can conduct transactions using U.S. dollars with total impunity.
What is needed is an intelligence surge from the CIA and an
enforcement surge from the Treasury Department.
Without new staff, none of the measures will be able to be enforced with
the existing burdens related to other sanctions regimes. Intelligence and enforcement surges will at
least bring the U.S.
up to speed on who is doing what and how to effectively implement any punitive
measures. And without a clear strategy of rapidly escalating pressure through a
variety of economic and legal measures, then the deadly status quo will no
The point is not simply to punish for punishment’s sake,
although if the Bush administration’s characterization of the atrocities in Darfur as genocide were meaningful, it would fulfill the
Genocide Convention’s requirement to punish the crime. Punitive measures are essential to building
the leverage necessary to gain Khartoum’s
compliance for a durable peace deal for Darfur
and the deployment of an effective international force to protect
civilians. Similar measures should be
imposed against leading rebel commanders and political leaders if they are
deemed to have committed atrocities or are obstructing real and balanced peace
efforts, which so far do not exist.
Any of the measures that the Bush administration is
considering will be exponentially more effective if they are done
multilaterally. The U.S.
government already has strong unilateral sanctions in place against Sudan, barring U.S.
companies from doing business with the National Congress Party (though allowing
U.S. businesses to work with
the Government of South Sudan), freezing assets in the U.S. of the Sudanese government and some
Sudanese companies and individuals, and blocking financial transactions of
companies registered in Sudan.
These measures, enacted by the Clinton Administration in 1997, did affect the
calculations of the regime in pursuit of policy objectives at the time, but
have since run their course as the Sudanese regime circumvents U.S.
institutions in its commercial dealings.
Therefore, if these measures were applied multilaterally and expanded
they would have a much bigger impact on the pocketbooks of those responsible
for crimes against humanity. Moreover, the Government of Sudan will have a much
more difficult time scoring propaganda points when the U.S. is not
The following additional punitive measures could be
implemented immediately without major cost, but it would require a strong
diplomatic effort to rally multilateral support and significant increases in
staffing and resources to ensure aggressive implementation.
- TARGET SUDANESE OFFICIALS
MULTILATERALLY: Impose UN
Security Council targeted sanctions – including asset freezes and travel
bans -- against persons responsible for crimes against humanity in Darfur. The
effort would target three individuals.
The number must be much higher. Such sanctions have been authorized
in previous UNSC resolutions, and called for in multiple reports from the
UNSC Sanctions Committee Panel of Experts.
- TARGET SUDANESE COMPANIES
MULTILATERALLY: Impose UN
Security Council sanctions against the list of Sudanese companies already
targeted unilaterally by the U.S., and establish a UN Panel of Experts to
further investigate which companies are conducting the business necessary
to underwrite Sudan’s war machine.
- PRESS INTERNATIONAL BANKS TO STOP
DOING BUSINESS WITH SUDAN: As
is the case with Iran, U.S. officials should engage with a number of
international banking institutions to strongly encourage them to stop
doing business with Sudan, with the implication being that if such
business continues then all transactions by those banks with U.S.
commercial entities (and those of other countries willing to work with us)
would eventually be banned.
- SUPPORT THE ICC INDICTMENT PROCESS: Provide information and declassified
intelligence to the International Criminal Court to help accelerate the
process of building indictments against senior officials in the regime for
their role in orchestrating mass atrocities in Darfur. The U.S. has the most such
intelligence and should come to agreement with the ICC about what
information to share.
Punitive measures will demonstrate to those committing
atrocities and those undermining peace efforts -- whether a part of the
government or a rebel group -- that there will be a cost for their actions, and
that cost will increase with each major human rights or diplomatic violation.
WANTED: A SERIOUS
It is not enough for the U.S. to have a part-time Special
Envoy and occasional visits by high level officials. The U.S.
needs to have a team of diplomats working full time and globally to secure the
following prerequisites for Sudan’s
for the development of a common rebel negotiating position;
for the negotiation of amendments to the Darfur Peace Agreement that
address the reservations of the non-signatory rebels and broader Darfurian
for addressing the spillover impacts of the conflict in Chad and the Central African Republic;
for the implementation of the peace deal that ended the north-south war, a
deal that is increasingly put at risk by Darfur’s
for negotiations to end the war between the Ugandan government and the
Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), which threatens to undermine peace in Sudan;
for the international diplomacy (particularly with China, the EU, and the
Arab League) necessary to see an effective civilian protection force
deployed to Darfur, the starting point for which is the “hybrid” AU-UN
proposal that Khartoum has not accepted.
In order to be successful, the White
House needs to put forward a clear strategy and exert itself in the interagency
process to improve cooperation and coordination between the government agencies
with roles to play in implementing it. Intelligence officials must be put at
the disposal of the peace efforts; Treasury Department officials must be planning
and staffing for expanding punitive measures; Defense Department officials must
be engaged in accelerated contingency military planning with their colleagues
in NATO, the EU and the UN; and the White
House should be aggressively tasking various agencies and ensuring that the
effort is taken as seriously as that of North Korea, Iran, and other important
foreign policy priorities.
PLANNING AND ACTION FOR PROTECTION
As demonstrated by the successful case studies cited in the
Appendix to this testimony, the credible threat of military action will alter
calculations of Khartoum
Newsflash: the emperor has no clothes. Until there is recognition of the nakedness
of the current international strategy to protect civilians, Darfurians will
have no hope of getting that protection.
To that end, pressure must be escalated on Khartoum to accept phase
three of the UN/AU hybrid plan, the UN has to be pressed to prepare for the
immediate implementation of phases one and two, and the Bush administration’s
budget (and the budgets of other major contributors to UN peacekeeping) must
include adequate funding to resource the mission at full capacity. The President’s current budget request is
insufficient and suggests skepticism on the part of the administration that the
mission will ever deploy. Finally, every effort should be made to amend the
mandate of the existing and future mission to be one that prioritizes the
protection of civilians.
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, one of the largest troop
contributors to the current AU force, told me recently that the hybrid force
could be effective if sufficient resources were provided with a clear
mandate. Regarding civilian protection,
he said, “We would take on additional tasks if we had the resources and the
mandate.” In frustrating meetings about
the impotent response of the broader international community, the Rwandan
government has not ruled out withdrawing its troops from an increasingly
toothless mission. “If we had more
troops, the proper equipment, the right mandate, and a no-fly zone to paralyze
the air force,” President Kagame told me, “We could protect the civilian
population of Darfur.” With the proper logistics and resources,
Kagame would be willing to consider doubling the number of Rwandan troops in Darfur, and concentrate them in areas immediately under
threat. He said it was crucial that any
military pressure be backed by a strong international policy of pressure and
sanctions. “We don’t want to be left
hanging,” he warned.
This is why UN Security Council financing of an enhanced Darfur deployment is key.
With a stronger mandate and more funding for the critical logistical and
equipment gaps that exist currently, more African troops would be offered to
the AU mission, and the force on the ground would be much more effective.
The UN Security Council also should accelerate the
deployment of protection elements to the border regions of Chad and Central African Republic, with
mandates to protect at-risk communities, IDP settlements, and refugee
camps. However, there is no military
solution to Darfur and its spillover: a peace deal in Darfur is a prerequisite
for a peacekeeping force to be effective and genuine political dialogue in Chad
and CAR should accompany any deployment of international troops or police to
those countries. Further, we must
acknowledge that international troops or police in Chad
and CAR will have little impact on the situation in Darfur.
Only a political resolution in Darfur will help defuse the political tensions
and CAR, not the other way around.
In terms of coercive military measures, there are two for
which accelerated planning processes should commence within the NATO framework,
with the understanding that any action would at least seek UN Security Council
approval and only act in its absence if the situation deteriorated dramatically
and all other avenues had been explored.
- No Fly Zone: absent an enhanced
ground component this option is questionable and fraught with potential
negative side effects. However, it
is important to press ahead with planning an enforcement mechanism for a
No Fly Zone as the Sudanese regime continues to use aerial bombing as a
central component of its military strategy and its civilian displacement
objectives. If the mandate would be
strengthened and more troops deployed to protect civilians, neutralizing
the Sudanese regime’s one tactical advantage will be essential.
- Non-Consensual Force Deployment: although few nations are likely to
volunteer in the present context, if the situation dramatically
deteriorates in Darfur (large-scale pullout of aid agencies, increasing
attacks on camps or AU forces, etc.), the debate could shift quickly and
credible plans need to be in place to move troops into the theater of war
quickly with a primary focus on protecting vulnerable civilian
Credible military planning should commence immediately for
both options to demonstrate to Khartoum
that decisive military action is possible in a short timeframe. Further planning should also be undertaken
for the kinds of targeted military actions argued for by Congressman Donald
Payne, Anthony Lake, and Susan
Rice, and reinforced by Dr. Rice in her testimony last week
in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
This planning is both a practical necessity, and a means to build and
utilize leverage against the regime.
must move away from its current policy of constructive engagement without
leverage (with gentle persuasion being the preferred tool) to a more muscular
policy focused on walking softly and carrying – and using – a bigger
stick. Unfulfilled threats and appeals
should be replaced quickly with punitive measures backing a robust peace and
protection initiative. We may not know the names of the victims in Darfur, but we know the names of the orchestrators of the
policy that led to their deaths.
There is hope. The
growing constituency in the U.S.
focused on countering the atrocities in Darfur
is expanding by the day, led by student, Jewish, Christian and African-American
organizations. Elected officials who
ignore this crescendo of activism – though not usually front page news – do so
at their own peril. This Congress will
do a great service to all of history’s genocide victims – on this day following
the Holocaust Remembrance Day – if you make it politically costly for this
administration, or any future one, to stand idly by while atrocities such as
those in Darfur are being committed.
LESSONS FROM HISTORY:
POLICIES THAT CHANGED KHARTOUM’S
Since the ruling National Congress Party (NCP – formerly the
National Islamic Front) came to power in a 1989 military coup, sound policy
choices by the international community have forced the regime to reverse
abusive or threatening policies on three separate occasions. The three cases examined here are the
regime’s support for international terrorism, its pursuit of a military
solution in Southern Sudan, and its unleashing
of militias that led to the resurgence of slavery. Understanding why regime
officials made these U-turns is critical to constructing a successful strategy
- Support for Terrorism
As soon as it usurped control of the country in 1989, the
NCP began to cash in on its alliances with terrorist organizations (including
al-Qaeda), inviting them to Khartoum,
allowing their leaders and operatives to travel on Sudanese passports, and
providing space for them to develop safe havens and training camps. Osama bin Laden himself lived in Sudan
from 1991 to 1996. Today, however, the U.S. considers Sudan to be a valuable partner in
the global war against terrorism.
There were two phases in their shift from a major state
sponsor of terror to a cooperative partner in the global counter-terrorism
effort. First, during the latter years
of the Clinton
administration, the regime began to abandon most of its alliances with and
support for terrorist groups. The regime
kicked bin Laden out of the country, turned over Carlos the Jackal, dismantled
much of the al-Qaeda commercial infrastructure, revoked passports of
terrorists, and shut down terrorist training camps. Second, during the period after 9/11, regime
officials became much more cooperative with U.S. counter-terrorism efforts,
providing information on suspects around the world based on their extensive
links with these individuals and their networks.
The question is why?
What mixture of policies led the regime to drastically change tack –
from supporting terrorist networks to actively sharing intelligence with the U.S. government?
Three key tactics were at play:
led diplomatic efforts in both phases to press the regime to change. Without such deep and extensive diplomatic
engagement, both with regime officials and with other global counter-terrorism
partners, other pressures would not have born fruit. During the 1990s, the Clinton administration worked assiduously
through the UN Security Council and with its allies to place multilateral
pressure on the Sudanese government to cut its ties to terrorist
organizations. During this decade, the
Bush administration has worked closely with the Khartoum regime to move beyond simply
severing its links with terrorist groups to also providing intelligence on
There was a dedicated clarity to both efforts. In the former case, Clinton
administration officials demonstated that cooperation would result if a unified
set of nations pressured the regime in Khartoum
to break its links. In the latter case,
the Bush administration closely engaged the regime and received some important
information in return, according to intelligence officials.
Sanctions and Condemnation
When the UN Security Council imposed a series of very light
sanctions on the regime (restricting diplomatic travel of senior officials and
international flights of Sudanese-owned aircraft) for its ongoing support for
terrorism (the last straw being Sudan’s involvement in the assassination
attempt of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa), Khartoum reacted immediately. NCP officials did not then – and do not now –
want scarlet letters placed on their shirts.
They do not want the restrictions on their travel and assets
spotlighting them as international pariahs.
As history has shown, this regime responds to targeted punitive
Though distasteful, especially against the current global
backdrop of Iraq et al., it is important to revisit the effect of U.S.
military threats on the regime’s calculations.
The U.S. bombing of
the al-Shifa factory in 1998 was not supported internationally, and further
complicated U.S. efforts at
supporting a peace deal in southern Sudan. However, it sent the signal to regime
hardliners that the U.S. was
willing to use force against Sudan
if its interests were threatened. After
9/11 and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, memories of the al-Shifa bombing
made the few choice comments from senior U.S. officials about whether Sudan
should be the next target resonate even more strongly with regime officials. The NCP quickly intensified its intelligence
cooperation efforts. The implication:
coercive military force should not be ruled out as a means to achieve
compliance with a rogue state like Sudan.
- Civil War in Southern
Five times as many people died in Southern Sudan’s civil war
than the highest estimates so far for Darfur. Indeed, the war between successive
governments in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) lasted
five times as long as the NCP’s scorched earth counterinsurgency against rebels
and civilians in Darfur. Major interests
were at stake in the South: most of the country’s oil reserves are there, and
the SPLA was much more powerful – militarily – than the rebels in Darfur.
Nevertheless, in January 2005 the regime and the SPLA signed a major
peace deal that effectively ended the war - for now.
Again, the question is why?
What mixture of policies led the regime to stop prosecuting the bloody
war and sign a peace deal?
Perhaps the most important reason for Khartoum’s reversal was the unification of a
badly splintered rebellion. In 1991, Khartoum had helped
engineer a deadly split in the SPLA. It took years of southern Sudanese
reconciliation efforts and extensive U.S. diplomacy to finally pull the
SPLA back together. Once they posed a
serious military challenge to the regime that brought about a stalemate on the
battlefield that, in turn, made an accord possible. Under the late John Garang’s leadership, the
SPLA was developing alliances with Sudanese opposition movements in the north
and what was believed to be simply a “north-south civil war” was transforming
into a revolution of the periphery against the center. The military threat posed by that unity, when
combined with international pressure and high-level engagement, pushed the
regime into genuine negotiations with the SPLA.
and Sustained International Diplomacy
The peace process which resolved this war was a product of
extensive diplomatic efforts led by Washington
over two administrations, bringing together the Inter-Governmental Authority on
Development (IGAD), the regional organization for the Horn of Africa, with a
tight coalition of international actors, including the UN and key
governments. There was one process, led
by an African envoy, and closely backed by a leverage-wielding quartet of
states: the U.S., UK, Italy
and Norway. Khartoum was
not allowed to “forum-shop” for another process in order to divide the
internationals, despite the best efforts of Cairo
and Tripoli. This model has proven to be effective in Sudan and elsewhere, but four years into the Darfur war it has not been replicated.
c) White House Engagement
President Bush and key cabinet members were personally
supportive of the peace process. They
made calls, sent letters, and met key combatants at critical junctures. The administration also made an exception to
its usual distaste for envoys and named an influential former senator, John
Danforth, as its Special Envoy to bring heft to the process. Khartoum
got the message.
groups were instrumental in driving the peace process to its successful
conclusion. Conservative Christian
groups and a number of highly motivated and invested members of Congress
demanded action from the administration.
They also provided U.S.
diplomats with additional leverage with the Sudanese government by demanding
more radical measures to which U.S.
officials could point as possible consequences of the Sudanese regime’s
One of the early tools that American activist networks
employed was a citizens’ campaign – initiated by Smith College Professor Eric
Reeves – to demand that state and university pension fund holders sell their
stock in Canadian oil company Talisman, which was a primary investor in Sudan’s
oil sector. A concurrent effort in
Congress threatened to de-list any company on the various U.S. stock exchanges that was
conducting business to the benefit of the Sudanese regime. This form of indirect pressure influenced
investment decisions and increased the potential cost to the NCP if it failed
to make peace with the SPLA.
- Slave Raiding
In the 1990s, one of the regime’s principal war tactics was
to support ethnic-based Arab militias in attacking the villages and people of
non-Arab Dinka descent, a precursor to its current support for the janjaweed
militias in Darfur. Khartoum’s
proxy militias were “paid” in the form of whatever booty they stole during
their attacks. The militias captured Dinka Southerners by the thousands and
enslaved them, fostering a modern day market for human beings. By the end of the 1990s, the raids had
stopped and most of the slave trade was shut down.
Yet again, the question is why? What mixture of policies led the regime to
stop its support for the militias and effectively end the state-supported slave
trade? Three factors combined to bring about this change.
Campaigning against Slavery
Across the U.S.
and Europe, anti-slavery and human rights organizations relentlessly shone a
spotlight on the heinous practice and its facilitators in Khartoum.
Through a variety of awareness raising tools – including protests and
arrests in front of the Sudan embassy, buying the freedom of abductees (which
was not without significant controversy), and fundraising drives by
schoolchildren – the temperature was turned up on the regime for its role in
supporting the resurgence of slavery.
The global campaigning by civil society organizations and human rights
activists around the world embarrassed the regime and forced it to re-think its
European diplomats strongly engaged the Sudan regime for its role in arming
the militias. What often resulted was a
good cop-bad cop strategy in which the U.S.
publicly hammered the regime for its practices while the Europeans quietly but
firmly pressed Khartoum
on the issue. The combination, though it
could have benefited from better coordination, allowed for the building of
multilateral pressure against one of the regime’s central war strategies.
Near the end of the 1990s, U.S.
officials examined possible initiatives to help protect civilians in Northern
Bahr al-Ghazal, the region of Southern Sudan
which experienced the heaviest slave raiding. Though the policy deliberations were
confidential, they were leaked to the New York Times and were the subject of
discussions between the SPLA and U.S.
officials visiting Southern Sudan. Sudanese government officials were unnerved
by these consultations, as any efforts to support the SPLA would potentially
have given the rebels a tactical advantage, even if the objective was to
protect civilian populations. Though the
discussions were serious, the threats never materialized into actual decisions
to provide assistance. The regime’s support for the offending militias ended,
soon followed by the end of the practice of slave raiding.