Saturday, 26 June 2010

Convince Winter

On Thursday the new US embassy buildings in Khartoum were inaugurated in the presence of lead US Sudan diplomat, Scott Gration, and assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Johnie Carson, and in the absence of a US ambassador to Khartoum. The new structures comprise 9 buildings including marine barracks and consulate quarters at the cost of 170 million USD. In terms of money the US government is the number one donor to Sudan. Since 2005 USAID has provided around 6 billion USD largely as food aid, compare that figure with the 10 billion USD volume of Chinese investments in Sudan.

That said, probably the most significant US donation to the country is Roger Winter, since 2006 voluntary advisor to the government of Southern Sudan, described by the New York Times Magazine as ‘the Man for a New Sudan’.  Southern Sudan has been the focus of the man’s career since 1981. At the time he served as Executive Director of the US Committee for Refugees and continued to do so until 2001 when he became Assistant Administrator of USAID. In 2005 he was appointed special representative of the deputy secretary of state for Sudan. On his retirement in 2006 he chose to continue his mission in voluntary fashion and remained in Juba as advisor to GoSS.  

Speaking in July 2009 before a congressional committee hearing on Sudan policy and the implementation of the CPA Roger Winter argued persistently for the inevitable separation of Southern Sudan, via the 2011 referendum, or if need be via a unilateral declaration of independence. In an emotional defence of GoSS and the SPLM Winter declared that the ‘people of the SPLM are democrats’, in parallel to what he described as an NCP 100% track record in violating agreements. Apparently, Roger Winter believed in the ‘New Sudan’, in the clause of the CPA that obliges the two partners to make unity attractive, and in the potential of ‘democratic transformation’. However the NCP killed his hopes in ‘all that jazz’, and he changed his views. His pursuit now is what he terms a ‘soft landing’ post-referendum; and his recommendation to the US ‘to fully embrace the people of the South and Abyei’, as a moral obligation.

The ‘Man of the New Sudan’ will probably rejoice at the secession of the South more than many a regular inhabitant of the new country, and enjoy the deep satisfaction of a life’s mission accomplished. I only wonder what his contribution will be in easing the pain of those stuck on the barricades of the two new states, the disenfranchised across the ‘soft border’, and the creoles of the North-South entanglement. Whom will he yet embrace? 

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