Friday, 14 August 2009

In a Grationate Sudan

In his statement before Congress Scott Gration, Special Envoy of the US President to Sudan, expressed his discontent with the continuation of American sanctions - imposed 1997 - against Sudan. A few days later, probably responding to criticism from US pressure groups, he expressed his support for the sanctions. Clinton on her part chose a note of caution, if not compromise between the blocks competing to determine American policy towards the country, and preferred to talk of a policy review inside the administration while stressing that no decision has been made to lift Sudan off the list of "rogue states", where it has been since 1993, or to ease sanctions against the country. Notably she made the statement during a joint press conference with the Saudi foreign minister. 
The National Congress Party (NCP) voiced disappointment after brief optimism over the prospect of smoothing bilateral relationships between the US and Sudan. On Friday Mandoor al Mahdi, NCP Secretary of Political Relations, expressed the hope of his party that Gration would return today to Khartoum with more useful results. 
Well, the message is a confirmation of Mahmood Mamadani's diagnosis of the American reading of Sudan, that the fate of the Sudanese has become an element in the domestic politics of the US, largely however as some sort of moral dilemma, whereby competing blocks battle it out for the moral high ground. Following the American debates on our country, one cannot help but note the "responsibility to civilise", christened "the duty to stabilise" that runs through the arguments of the contenders, Grationites or Prendergastians. The revealing comment I suggest was the one made by State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley in response to press interrogation concerning Scott Gration's initial comments. After a lot of dodging he concluded "there are a number of critical, critical issues inherent in the relationship between the United States and Sudan. Replace Sudan and US with maiden names and you would immediately drift into Dr Phil logic. 
One critical critical issue I guess is Africom, the US Command in Africa. President Obama (not Bush) on the subject stated that "there will be situations that require the US to work with its partners to fight terrorism with lethal force. Having a unified command fighting in Africa will facilitate this action". In the Ghanaian parliament Obama (not Bush) poured out similar verse saying "we have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly in the region and to isolate those who don't, and that is exactly what America will do". Place that statement in 19th century London and the American policy review would sound more like a Gladstone versus Disraeli quarrel on matters of the colonies. In any case, critical issues in mind Bashir and his party are candidates for a Musharaf position in the American list of partners. 

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Creative Commons Licence
This work by Magdi El Gizouli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.