February 5, 2003
Jerry Fowler: We will go ahead and get started. I would like to welcome all of you to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. My name is Jerry Fowler, and I’m the staff director of the museum’s Committee on Conscience. The Committee on Conscience’s mandate is to alert the national conscience, influence policymakers, and stimulate worldwide action to confront and work to halt acts of genocide.
In order to fulfill this mandate, we feel that it’s important to get involved in situations and speak out on situations where we can identify a threat of genocide, and that’s what we did with Sudan in the year 2000. The Committee on Conscience issued a genocide warning for Sudan. Since then, we’ve undertaken a host of activities to try to help call attention to the situation, including hosting public briefings such as this one.
We usually hold these briefings in a smaller classroom, but it seemed like there was so much interest in this that we wanted to move to a little bit more comfortable space, at least in terms of size. One thing that we lose is a little of the informality that we have in our classrooms. But I hope that this is a discussion where we’ll both hear from our distinguished guests, but get some interaction with this knowledgeable audience as well.
In the 2 years since the Committee on Conscience issued its genocide warning, there obviously have been very significant developments, most notably the appointment by President Bush of Senator Danforth as special envoy for Sudan. Senator Danforth’s initiative, in turn, paved the way for renewed energy and progress in peace talks convened in Machakos, Kenya, by IGAD, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.
Those talks resulted in the signing last July of a protocol addressing issues of self-determination for the south and the relationship between religion and state. The parties subsequently agreed to a cessation of hostilities and unimpeded humanitarian access through March 31st of this year.
That’s where matters stood at the end of 2002, leading the International Crisis Group to comment in a December report -- and I told John I was going to do this -- this is from their December report: “Given the history of SPLA and government opposition to a provisional cease-fire and unimpeded aid access, respectively, the extension of those commitments to 31 March 2003 was remarkable. Most importantly, it came at a time when Khartoum normally would be preparing to launch its annual dry season offensive. Although there are elements in the capital who are sorely tempted to use the government’s new military hardware to try again to dislodge the SPLA from the Upper Western Nile oil fields, leaders on both sides appear to be giving peace a chance.”
Now, unfortunately, ICG spoke too soon, as major fighting broke out in the Western Upper Nile oil fields on the 31st of December. According to Senator Danforth, “Based on the information I have received, the burden of the recent fighting is a burden that is shouldered by the GOS.” That is the government of Sudan. “In order to renew the momentum for peace, it is essential that fighting stops, that the suspension of hostilities that was agreed by both sides last October be honored.”
U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher characterized the fighting as “instigated by the GOS regular army troops and militia forces.” He went on to say: “The U.S. is deeply concerned at the reports of a continuing offensive undertaken by the GOS and its proxies in Southern Sudan, as well as the government’s continuing build-up of forces at garrisons in the south.”
I should just add with regard to that that Ambassador Ranneberger recently traveled to the south and to the Western Upper Nile. So he’ll be reporting some on what he saw there, what he heard from people.
Yesterday, Agence France-Presse reported that the government and the SPLA signed a new agreement aimed at preventing further violations of the cease-fire. AFP quoted the agreement as saying that all parties would return to positions held as of 17 October 2002, which was when the original cessation of hostilities came into effect.
The main issues facing the parties in Machakos still waiting to be resolved were already very difficult: Wealth- and power-sharing; security arrangements; and the status of the Nuba Mountains, Southern Blue Nile, and Abyei. But the scale of the government offensive in Western Upper Nile casts into doubt the very basis of the Machakos talks, which is a good-faith determination to achieve a just peace.
All of which makes it a very opportune time to have this briefing on the fighting in Western Upper Nile and the prospects for peace. To provide insight into where things stand in light of these developments, we’re privileged to have two speakers today.
On my right, Ambassador Michael Ranneberger is special advisor for Sudan at the State Department. He’s had a long and distinguished career as a diplomat, serving most recently as U.S. Ambassador to Mali. He also has served as deputy chief of mission in Somalia and Mozambique, and as desk officer of Angola, during which time he helped negotiate the independence of Namibia and the withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola.
On my left, John Prendergast, who’s co-director of the Africa Program at the International Crisis Group, a former special adviser to the State Department on African issues, especially conflict resolution. He worked closely with Special Envoy Anthony Lake in the Eritrea-Ethiopian negotiations and also advised Central Africa Special Envoy Howard Wolpe. He also served as director for African affairs at the National Security Council.
So without further ado, I’ll hand it over to Ambassador Ranneberger. Thank you very much for coming.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Thank you very much for this opportunity. I think that there need to be more of these types of discussions in order to clear up perhaps misperceptions about what some of the U.S. policy is towards Sudan and regarding some of the activities that have taken place. But first, I’ll say in more ways than one, I’m glad I’m sitting to the right of John Prendergast.
I like to start out these things by repeating something that you all may have heard, but giving you my personal take on it. That is the real and fundamental commitment of this Administration to try to reach a settlement on Sudan. You know, it’s often said about foreign policy issues, this is a priority or that’s a priority or whatever. But it can truly be said that the President himself has made Sudan one of his highest priorities.
Within days of being in office, he had called together the foreign affairs team. He had said he wanted to make a major effort to resolve the Sudan problem. From that, everything else has flowed, including the appointment of Senator Danforth as the special envoy.
I sort of came into this indirectly last August. I was happily minding my own business in Bamako when I got a call out of the blue from Assistant Secretary Kansteiner saying he wanted me to come back and head up this sort of task force that we’ve got working on this issue. I later found out -- I didn’t get the whole story then -- but I later found out there had been a White House meeting and President Bush had been talking to Senator Danforth. Basically, Senator Danforth had been saying, you know, I’m doing this, but I need additional help. I’m not 100 percent of my time in Washington and all that.
The President then said, well, then, you need a COO. Everybody sort of looked around and he said -- for those of you who don’t know business, that’s a chief operating officer -- to assist Danforth.
So they were casting about, and apparently there were six or eight principals in the room and everybody raised their hand. He said, no, no, no, you all have real jobs, we want somebody full-time on this. So they asked me to come back and do it.
I do look upon it as a privilege and challenge because this is one of the real African conundrums that we’ve had for quite some time, so solving this would be an enormous achievement. I certainly come into it well aware that most people in this room have more experience on it, I’m sure, than I do. What I do bring to it is Africa experience and I bring to it a lot of experience dealing with crisis-type issues, including U.S. domestically sensitive issues like Cuba.
In talking about where we are on the policy and on Sudan, I know there’s a lot of interest in the current fighting and what’s been going on, but I think I would start from the perspective of saying that really we are at a critical stage. I know that that has probably been said more times than anybody can remember; undoubtedly, hundreds of times in the course of the Sudan saga. But I think in this case it is true for a number of reasons.
If you talk to anybody in the government or in the SPLM, they would tell you that they recognize that they have already come further than they had at really any other time, even at times when there had been a signed agreement, because they’re dealing with some of the very fundamental issues for the first time. So that’s one thing.
Both parties realize that they’ve been drawn into a process that finally really could achieve a just and comprehensive settlement. They’re still a fair ways from achieving that, but they recognize that they’re drawn into a process that’s different from anything they’ve had before.
Secondly, there’s the military situation itself. There is, fighting a war, fatigue on both sides. There’s a recognition by both sides that they’re not going to win. This is probably something that both sides have known for some time, but there’s a growing recognition of that and a growing peace constituency on both sides that sort of says, we really do want to see some kind of a settlement and an end to this fighting.
Thirdly, you’ve got the way in which the negotiations are structured and General Sumbeiywo’s role, which has emerged as central. He’s the mediator for IGAD, as most of you know. His role and his involvement is really helping to create a dynamic process. He played a particularly important role in sorting out this most recent fighting in the Western Upper Nile. So all of those are new factors.
Then, fourthly, there are historical factors. First and foremost, the major one that I would cite is 9/11. I think in the post-9/11 world, the government in Khartoum was more disposed to be cooperative.
Danforth was appointed before 9/11 happened, just days, actually, before. But in the wake of 9/11, it created opportunities for us to work with the government in Khartoum and try to seek their agreement in ways perhaps that we couldn’t before.
The other factor is the Sudan Peace Act and the U.S. domestic situation and the fact that we do have this April 21st deadline.
We will have to submit -- the President will have to submit a report to Congress indicating whether he thinks the negotiations are progressing in good faith. If not, who is responsible? Which side is responsible for not participating? Then consequences would flow, both positively and negatively.
In terms of the actual state of play, and I’ll get to the fighting in a minute, we are pretty much almost in the end game of the negotiating process now. We’ve got a lot of ground still to cover, but if you look at the different issues, power-sharing, you’ve really gotten down to the point at which there are two or three remaining major issues. They still haven’t sorted out all the issues of the percentages, and what percent of the south will be in the legislature and the civil service, but they’re pretty close on that.
The really big issues are the question of the presidency and the vice presidency and the status of the capital that remain as areas in which there’s a significant substantive gap between the two sides.
Then on wealth-sharing, there has -- particularly in this most recent round, which will end tomorrow or Friday -- been a lot of progress. Part of that is because the World Bank has been drawn in, which we played the key role in making happen as technical experts in these discussions. They’re playing a very active role with both sides trying to bridge the gaps on wealth-sharing. So that has actually advanced quite a bit in this current round.
There are still some fairly big issues there in terms of actual percentages of revenues that will be shared. But they’ve put in a place a framework that could resolve that fairly quickly.
On the three areas, that’s the question of Abyei and Nuba and the Blue Nile, it’s going to be an area of great difficulty. On the other hand, in the course of the negotiations that have taken place, there have been quite a few side meetings between the two parties. While neither side has shown its bottom line on these three areas, they’ve cleared away some of the underbrush in these side meetings. So –this could conceivably progress faster than people think when they actually get down to discussing it.
On the cease-fire, that would be the final piece that would be negotiated, a formal cease-fire. A lot of work has been done on that already. There have been a number of seminars that we and the U.K. have chaired for both sides, which have addressed questions like, how do you deal with these issues of force movements or draw-downs, all of the various issues that would be related to a possible cease-fire. This has not been intended to negotiate the cease-fire, but just to sensitize both sides, and try to do some training seminars for both sides and promote informal discussions.
All of this is behind-the-scenes activity. So as I say, one could say that we’re actually fairly close, maybe even that we’ve emerged into the end game. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be months for this negotiation to unfold.
In order to have a breakthrough at some point, in order to grapple with the most fundamental issues and have the tradeoffs that will undoubtedly be necessary, there will obviously have to be some kind of an encounter between President Bashir and Chairman Garang. There was one, as people know, in Kampala, which was very positive, and both of those individuals speak positively about that encounter. They both accept that there will be another at some point. When that will happen, what the agenda for that will be remains to be seen.
General Sumbeiywo, I get back to the question of his leadership; he has really done a superb job. For a man coming from a military background, he’s shown an enormous amount of diplomatic finesse. He has worked hard. He has gained the confidence of both sides as someone who’s truly even-handed and fair-minded dealing with the issues. He has put forth a timetable to drive this process.
It’s not only the United States saying we want to get results relatively soon; that is in the first half of this year. General Sumbeiywo himself has put forth a timetable that calls for a settlement to be achieved by the middle of this year. Now, timetables have not been honored before, but that’s what’s driving this.
The way this is structured is that this current round will end in the next day or two. The next round will probably begin at the end of February or beginning of March, and will deal, most likely, with the three areas. There’s still discussions that have to take place in order for that to happen, but that probably would be the next point of discussion to be followed by cleaning up the power- and wealth-sharing issues, and then finally on the cease-fire questions.
Of course, overlaying all of this is the question of political will and even the question of who’s in control, particularly in Khartoum. On the SPLM side, it’s generally acknowledged that Chairman Garang is calling the shots. There may be differences, but they seem to present a fairly united front.
On the government side, it’s not at all clear. President Bashir obviously is the president, but lots of divisions bubble to surface in Khartoum and there are lots that don’t make it to the surface, which I think in some ways produces sort of a least common denominator approach to the negotiations, where they have to bring everybody along, so they sort of end up stumbling from one issue to the other and often, in fact, sometimes reversing themselves on different issues. So that’s a real question mark in the negotiations.
At what point is that government going to be able to grapple with the fundamental issues and tradeoffs? On the SPLM side, you would ask at what point are they prepared to demonstrate the political will to grapple with those tradeoffs as well?
I would say right now in light of what’s been happening, the SPLM clearly has the high ground. The high ground not necessarily militarily, but in terms of politically and internationally. They have shown a lot of flexibility in terms of the modalities for the talks, even in terms of substance. They’ve been quite forbearing in the way they’ve responded to this fighting in the Western Upper Nile. I think it’s ultimately been to their benefit.
What has been happening in the Western Upper Nile actually threatened to disrupt the negotiations. This round started in January, and this fighting was a cloud over it even before people sat down at the table, because it was clear that this had been going on for some time. It’s not something that just happened in the past 3 weeks or even in January. But I will be quite honest in telling you that we didn’t have a terribly clear picture of what was going on.
As always is the case, you’re getting reports coming in from nongovernmental groups, you’re getting press reporting, you’re getting whatever our own intelligence produces. But it’s hard in an area like the Western Upper Nile to have a clear sense of what’s happening.
After Senator Danforth’s most recent mission, I went up there and spent 4 or 5 days in Western Upper Nile, Rumbek, and Southern Blue Nile to get a feel myself for what was going on. It was clear in talking to people on the ground -- and not just the SPLM -- I’m talking about a variety of sources that we met with including U.N. and other folks -- that there really was a systematic effort by the government in terms of mounting an offensive in the Western Upper Nile. It’s not as if this is new, but it was somewhat surprising in terms because the negotiations seemed to be moving along well. They were about to start this new round and all of that. It’s not also terribly surprising, because this has happened periodically. It happened last year. We’ve had it consistently. It’s an effort by the government to clear these oil field areas so that they can expand exploration and production, and that’s clearly what this is all about.
The government, of course, tries to do it under the guise of militias. We were quite firm on that point. In fact, when we met with President Bashir, when Senator Danforth met with President Bashir and other officials in the government there in our most recent trip in January, they, of course, tried to deflect our point by saying this is all militia activity. We said no; no, it’s not militia. It’s militia with direct support of the government, using helicopter gun ships and armored vehicles and everything else. Therefore, it’s a government-led offensive. I must say they only really halfheartedly tried to rebut that.
So this fighting has been going on. It reached a crescendo in January. We had already had in place this civilian protection monitoring team. These are the teams that the U.S. has deployed and we are funding in cooperation with both sides. Both sides signed an agreement, this was one of the Danforth initiatives, that we would put in place these teams to try to expose attacks against civilians and, therefore, deter them. So these teams were already in place. They moved into high gear in terms of investigating this fighting in the Western Upper Nile, many of which, as I say, were attacks against civilians.
I think they’ve produced some excellent documentation on this. They will be releasing a report, a fairly extensive report, on the fighting in the course of this coming weekend, which will then be publicly available.
I don’t want prejudge what they’re going to say. They’re still in the final stages of drafting that. But we’ve already stated publicly on two occasions that the government bears the responsibility for this current fighting in the Western Upper Nile based on all sorts of information that we’ve received.
So what have we done to stop this fighting? We have issued, as I say, public statements, but more importantly is what we’ve done behind the scenes. We have pressed in Khartoum. Senator Danforth pressed very hard when he was there. We have pressed from Washington. We have pressed the delegation in Karen at the talks. So we’ve used a variety of different means to get our message across.
The message was quite simple: You signed this memorandum of understanding on the cessation of hostilities. This offensive that you are in the process of mounting jeopardizes the negotiations and risks jeopardizing any credibility that you may have remaining, and it must be stopped.
Now along with that, and really on his own without any prompting from us, General Sumbeiywo took a tremendously tough line on this, to his credit, and basically said this is unacceptable. This is, in fact, outrageous and it’s got to stop. Not to mention the British and the Norwegians and others who were pouring this message into the government in Khartoum.
This concerted pressure on the government led it to take a pretty extraordinary step yesterday, which is the signing of an addendum to this memorandum of understanding. There is this Memorandum of Understanding on the Cessation of Hostilities that was signed in October, so they have now signed an addendum to that.
The Addendum is pretty remarkable because it commits the government to stop, to freeze construction of this road that they were building through the oil-producing areas, which was a source of a lot of conflict; and also to pull their forces back to the pre-MOU positions. It commits both sides, but particularly the government.
That is a significant development. What prompted it is the international pressure. I think the reason they did it is because neither side, particularly not the government, wanted to be seen as breaking the negotiations. Whether or not either side is committed to an ultimate settlement, neither side wants to be seen as breaking that negotiating process.
This was one of those egregious cases. A lot of times in these kinds of situations, you can’t always draw a line and say it’s that clear-cut. This was that clear-cut so we were able to draw a red line and say that this really is not acceptable. So we have the fighting, but then against that backdrop we have this very positive development of the signing at the talks of this addendum.
Will that be honored? What will happen in the aftermath of it? Obviously, who knows? But what I can say is we are going to be keeping the pressure on and keeping the spotlight on this in order to do our very best to ensure that the government -- and, of course, the SPLM, too, but the main actions are on the government side -- that they honor the commitments made in this addendum.
I just wanted to say a word about a couple other things, the international community’s role in the whole process. I’ve talked about the Troika a bit, that is the U.S., the U.K., and Norway. Clearly we are in the lead in that effort. Both parties consider us the key player. At the same time, everybody always overestimates what the U.S. leverage in a situation is. We were able to press the government in this case, but ultimately, our leverage is somewhat limited.
What we have done with Khartoum is to spell out a very clear message, that if they do three things, there will be a process of normalization of relations. They have to cooperate fully to achieve a just and comprehensive peace settlement, and they have to follow through to implement that. They have to cooperate fully against terrorism. They have to cooperate fully in facilitating unhindered humanitarian access. We’ve said if you do those three things, then there would be a process of normalization.
But short of that, there’s no sort of immediate benefit to them. They like to try to play that by saying, well, we have these internal divisions and if you give us something now, it will help to advance the process. Our response to that is you know where the carrot is. If this is important enough to you, you’ve got to get over that and you’ve got to get to the end stage. Quite frankly, in dealing with the SPLM, everybody realizes that we have a complex domestic situation here, and that somewhat affects leverage there.
The other thing I would say about the U.S. is we have really inserted ourselves squarely into the middle of this conflict with this civilian protection monitoring mechanism that we have in place, because they are literally out there at the front lines. They are there within hours of these attacks in some cases, and putting themselves on the line. We’re putting our prestige on the line. This is clearly a U.S.-led effort, U.S.-led and totally funded.
But at the same time we’re putting our prestige out there, it also puts the full weight of the U.S. behind trying to stop this. We have agreed as part of this addendum that we will expand somewhat this civilian protection monitoring mechanism to help to -- I don’t like to use the word “monitor,” but help to verify the cessation of hostilities. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be policing it with people all over the place. It’s not going to be that. But they will help to check out some of these incidents. We’re doing this, of course, all in conjunction and in concert with General Sumbeiywo.
The other aspect of the international pressure and role that’s very important is for the international community, in addition to putting pressure on the parties, in addition to facilitating the negotiations, showing both sides that there really is a tangible benefit if they cooperate to achieve peace. So we have accelerated, “we” meaning the Troika, have accelerated planning for peace efforts.
There was a large meeting that we sponsored in Oslo in January, which brought in the U.N. and the World Bank and lots of other people who were interested in contributing to a post-peace reconstruction effort in Sudan. Then there will be a follow-up to that in late March or early April in The Hague, which will bring in an even larger group. These are not pledging sessions. These are sessions to say what would we do if there were to be peace.
For the session in March, late March or April, we’re actually going to invite the government and the SPLM to come to that, preferably to make a joint presentation. Because one of the things we’ve done is we’ve pushed the government and the SPLM to form a committee, kind of a peace planning committee. Again, all this is part of an effort to raise expectations for peace, to put pressure on both sides, but also to give them an incentive for an actual settlement.
Then of course, there are the Arab League and the Egyptian roles in an international settlement. I think that’s important. That’s something we could discuss, but we’re very much aware of that.
Then two related issues that we really haven’t discussed here is the humanitarian assistance piece, which is, again, one of the three pillars of our policy on Sudan; the need for unhindered humanitarian assistance, and there are lots of issues still with that; and then, of course, the cooperation against terrorism.
So that’s my presentation of where things stand. We can do more in the question-and-answer session.
John Prendergast: Thank you. I am reminded of the old Monty Python line where the guys are going along with some routine and all of a sudden some head pops up and goes, “now for something completely different.”
Anyway, Mike, for many reasons as well, I am happy to be sitting on your left.
I think that before going into something completely different, I want to reinforce the very strong similarity between our positions and my support for Mike’s central point, which is that this process is very serious. It has a very good chance of bringing peace to Sudan when no one predicted it a year ago. This chance exists principally because of precisely what Ambassador Ranneberger said: General Sumbeiywo’s work and the United States’ role every step of the way in this process, particularly – again to highlight the areas of confluence in our presentations – in reinforcing the message that there will be no short-term benefits. The European Union for such a long time has wanted to go the opposite way. We have held the line and said let’s give them the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, not in the middle, not intermediate steps. That is when normalization should occur. It is all correct.
But I would like to focus on this current moment to warn of what I think is the major obstacle to achieving that peace.
Over the last month, as the Ambassador said, the government offensive in Western Upper Nile, which we did not predict -- we said there were people that were pushing this very hard, but we did not think they would do it; it is extraordinary that they did -- has presented the gravest threat to the process since its revitalization last year. More importantly, it exposes the biggest fundamental threat and ongoing danger to the process itself, which is this military-commercial complex that will continue to seek to maximize its gains in the context of whether a peace settlement occurs or whether war continues.
The fighting has highlighted three things. It has highlighted the government’s willingness to disregard signed agreements. Therefore, we have to take with a healthy dose of skepticism -- though I am very hopeful, I have to be skeptical -- about this latest addendum that was signed two days ago. It is, however, a very important development.
Second, the fighting highlights that we have to understand better the spoiler role that the government-supported militias in the Western Upper Nile oil fields can play, are playing and will play, not just while these negotiations are going on, but also if a peace agreement is signed. They can potentially threaten the interim period.
Then third, as I said, this military-commercial complex represented by the oil consortium, both Sudanese actors and international actors, that will continuously rear its head and threaten the negotiations in response to its own imperatives. This is a tool that will be used over and over again when things are not going positively for Khartoum in the negotiations, such as they perceived at the close of the last phase.
I also want to answer three questions. I think my answers will differ from what we have just heard. One is why has there been this offensive now? Secondly, why did they sign the addendum and what appears now for the last 4 or 5 days to have stopped the offensive with just minor incidents, but no real military engagements over the last few days? Then third, what can be done about this in the future?
The first question: why would the government launch an offensive in the context of a peace process in which it is participating very seriously and a cessation of hostilities, which it signed just a few months ago with great fanfare? There is so much to lose internationally in its relationship with the West and domestically in defying the expectations of popular sentiment in Khartoum and elsewhere throughout the north for peace. Why would they risk all of this by pressing the envelope right to the very edge as they have done since Christmas? I think the answer is as complex as the war, and we really have to dig in to understand.
I think, as Ambassador Ranneberger said, this military-commercial complex, or the government, let’s put it that way, with its partners needs to expand oil development. So the first and foremost purpose was to continue to press their advantage in the oil field. They need to expand oil development or stagnate.
In previous reports we have tried to outline the trend lines on profitability of the oil venture and the absolute imperative of expansion for the Sudanese oil consortium. Therefore, the best area, the most promising area, of course, is the Western Upper Nile. It’s where the mother load of the juice is and they have got to get in there.
That means clearing the populations, as the Ambassador said. That means extending the all-weather road all the way down to Leer, hopefully down to a dock. They want to build garrisons along the road just in case to protect the infrastructure if things go badly in the negotiations. They will do it by any means necessary.
The second reason why they would have launched this thing is the government wants to undermine efforts to expand the dialogue between the SPLA and pro-government militias that started late last year. The government understands very clearly that if you press for new fighting, then you widen the rifts, you cause people to pull back. It increases the chances that some commanders in the SPLA will advocate against allowing the militias to return, like they allowed Riek Machar and many other new Arab commanders to return. It leaves these guys nowhere to go but to stay with the government, remain their pawns and tools when they need it to utilize the military card.
The third reason: it is the dry season. There are people in Khartoum who realize that this is the time they can maximize their effort. It is not a coincidence that when the dirt is driest in Southern Sudan is when we had this aberration of fighting. It is when they could get the most done and move the heaviest equipment; it is the driest point in the process. A month or two from now, you’ll start to see a little drizzle and then it will rain and it is irrelevant.
Another reason is to attempt to goad the SPLA into leaving the process. See whether they will do it. Press a little bit. The SPLA suspended talks for one day, maybe you remember, just a few weeks. The government thought they had them on the edge. I think the SPLA made a wise move, went back, stayed in the process, stayed with the process, took the high road by not responding and the process continues, thankfully.
Then finally, the government can and will use these militias as spoilers. They are the ultimate spoilers in the Sudan peace process anytime the negotiations go in a negative direction. We have to be wary of that and understand these relationships better.
The second question: why if their militia strategy and offensive is succeeding, as it has over the last month and a half, why did they agree Monday to all of the points in this addendum that the Ambassador talked about? It’s quite an extensive memorandum, very impressive. I mean, it monitors the cessation of hostility, something everyone was refusing to do just a couple of months ago. Again, it is a tribute to U.S. diplomacy and to Sumbeiywo. It also demands the return of all territories captured since October, basically a return to status quo ante of the time that the cessation of hostilities began, and a halting of this construction, as you said, on the oil well. These are significant concessions.
So why did they do it now? First, they completed part of the road they wanted to complete, mission accomplished, no problem. We go on to the next point.
They extended the road down to Leer. That’s what they wanted to do during this period. They did it. That’s what Awed Ahmed Al-Jaz, the minister of petroleum, wanted to do, and he succeeded.
They have extended the oil infrastructure as far down as they need to and are happy to have a monitored cessation of hostilities to protect these assets so that they can now begin to develop them. Of course, the cessation of hostilities addendum says you can’t expand your infrastructure. They don’t have to expand. What they have now is what they need in order to begin to do the necessary exploration.
Who is involved in this? Who did we see a year ago walk away with great fanfare, probably trying to get credit from the human rights groups in Europe? Lundin. They are back. Very quietly a couple of project managers have been seen sniffing around on the scene. A number of people have talked to them on the ground. Austria’s OMV will also benefit. Talisman is peripheral and north of there. Paulino Matiep is trying to clear that area in order to build the road west that would support their concession -- the sale of their stake to India’s national oil company is not yet final.
Basically these guys have accomplished the commercial element of their mission.
The second reason that they agreed to the cessation -- and I am trying to get Khartoum’s calculations, not so much the international dimension to it – is that this offensive was in part a calculated attempt to use military means to gain diplomatic breathing room. Again, mission accomplished.
What was happening a month ago is the government had agreed, and there was a great division internally about this, to start having parallel track discussions about the three areas: Abyei, Southern Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains. Again, credit goes to the U.S. for having come up with some of the ideas that allowed for this to happen. It was scheduled for January.
They saw some of the things that happened during the interregnum between that last phase and the beginning of this one. They did not like the handwriting on the wall, and said we don’t want to do it. As an effort to try to leverage their position to push this issue back, part and parcel of the strategy, they used military leverage to shift the focus. They succeeded in making this round about the fighting.
The most significant thing, which was very significant, about this round of negotiations was what they agreed to about the fighting and about wealth-sharing. If they come out with this protocol in the next couple of days, this will be a very important thing as well. Quietly there has been very important progress on the process, but it has deflected from the issue they did not deal with now. I am just trying to let you understand the fullness of their calculations.
Also, it is intended to demonstrate to the SPLA and the international community, that they believe they could take more of Western Upper Nile. They could take the oil fields gradually militarily if they wanted to. Again, this is intended, whether it is or not is another question, to be leverage for their positions as we go forward to the harder compromises at the negotiating table.
We do not know what the next rounds are going to be. We will see if they succeed in getting the security arrangements to be the next thing. But I am very encouraged that the Ambassador says it may be the next thing, because they do need to deal with it. There will not be a peace agreement without dealing with this issue. I think it is sinking in, because the international community, as represented by the observers in this process, have hammered that point home to the government.
Third, it is important, and this is where Ambassador’s position and my own definitely come to confluence, that it really has been an international community response that has helped facilitate the ending of this offensive.
All these points are interrelated. If Senator Danforth and [Richard] Boucher hadn’t said anything about an assessed culpability for this latest offensive, if the civilian protection monitoring team [CMPT] wasn’t going to release its report in the next couple days, there really would be no agreement, I believe. It is heavy international pressure that at times is going to be necessary to move the process forward.
This agreement basically changes the whole story. If this civilian monitoring protection team had come out with a report in the next few days, it would have changed the whole story. If they were still fighting, the headline would be that an international monitoring team has verified that Khartoum is responsible for conflagrating one of the worst wars in the world and endangering the peace process. Now the story is, well, this team said in January there was fighting, but now they got a deal, so it should be okay. It’s good public relations management. There are a number of reasons in addition to, and I’m not saying instead of, but in addition to very serious public pressure that led to Khartoum agreeing to this.
I am not focusing so much on the SPLA. However, if they were part of the problem today and if they were the ones threatening the negotiations then you could just take the government out of my talk and put “SPLA” in. It just happens to be this is where we are now and where the process is most at danger.
To conclude, what should we do now in addition to what the Ambassador said? What can we do now to protect this peace process, and just as importantly, to protect Sudanese civilians while this peace process is ongoing?
First and foremost, unrelenting public multilateral condemnation of any violation of these agreements, the cessation of hostilities and their addendums, is necessary. Again, whether it is the government in the context of the offensive or the SPLA, if they conduct any kind of military operations, whatever it is that’s undercutting the peace process, they need to be very clearly and publicly named. That is why, again, I reinforce the importance of how Senator Danforth spoke out about the fighting when he was in Khartoum.
It is very important for the U.S. to take the lead on this. We have a lot riding on these negotiations, as I said, our prestige and our credibility are on the line. Our assets are on the line. Our retired military guys are out there in the field. We have good civilians that are part of the team out there.
When they find out that things are happening, we need to say that they are happening. That forms a point of pressure that is very constructive for the negotiations, although it does, in fact, temporarily limit one’s ability to have meetings in Khartoum and drink tea with people.
We have to understand how mistaken is the reading of political psychology that asserts you shouldn’t go public with discussions of violations. Low-key reactions and quiet diplomacy, for the most part in the context of major violations of agreements that have already been signed, encourage the hard-liners. That is a very important point.
At this point, the combination of careful use of the Sudan Peace Act, which still remains a very significant piece of leverage, and the prospect of war in Iraq, which creates uncertainty in Khartoum, presents the United States and thus the mediation with additional leverage going forward.
And the SPLA should be aware that if they respond to government provocations in a way that would collapse the negotiations, none of the benefits they think they are going to get or anybody thinks that anybody will get from the Sudan Peace Act are going to happen. No one is going to have any understanding in this town. Well, there would be a few, but they are not going to win the day in the policy debate. Nothing will happen and Sudan will drift on for another 20 years of war. This is really crucial. In accordance with the Sudan Peace Act, April 21st is when the decision on whether parties are negotiating in good faith will be announced. It is going to be a really important date to see where we are at that point and going forward.
The second thing I think we need is more focus on the militias. We [International Crisis Group] have a piece coming out in a couple days that really maps out the organigram of these militias and their relationship to the military intelligence department of the government’s army. The report goes through the 25 militias, who they are, what they are doing, where they are, and why they do it. Because they have their own reasons, they are not just stooges of the government. We also detail how the militias’ rationales confluence with the government’s policy and how [tape interruption].
I would also like to return to a point I made earlier, which is that it is crucial that we continue to support the efforts to bring the southern communities together however the Sudanese actors involved want this process to develop. This process has been driven by Sudanese civil society, spearheaded by the churches -- the new Sudan Council of Churches -- in a very constructive effort. Their efforts in the diaspora, in Khartoum and within the south have led to some additional contacts between these pro-government militias and the SPLA and others, so they can reconnect with people.
In December, the process really intensified in Entebbe, Uganda. It is fundamentally important that intra-south reconciliation occur in advance of the finalization of a peace agreement. Now I am not talking about every single one of these militia guys coming back, but there should be additional momentum for dealing with these issues.
And I cannot stress enough, they [militias] will be the spoiler in this thing, either in the agreement or in the interim period. Hard-line elements will use these guys to stir the pot during the interim period to try to make the south look ungovernable, to make the case that we should not have a referendum. We have to get as many of those guys into the tent. That requires a great deal of compromise on the part of the SPLA. That requires some very fancy footwork on the part of the diplomatic community. It requires a lot of commitment on the part of Sudanese civil society to do that.
This isn’t an anti-government strategy. This is a strategy to take away all the potential problems that could come with peace one by one. This is going to be, in my view, perhaps the most important one.
Third and finally, what we can do? It is important to implement this February agreement on the addendum to the cessation of hostilities as rapidly as possible. The agreement calls for something called the verification and monitoring team, which is basically the same thing as what the Ambassador was talking about with respect to the civilian protection and monitoring team [CPMT]. It is going to be part of that, so you just expand the CPMT. You got some very good people in there. They are doing a lot of work. They’re out there in the field all the time. They just need more resources and more people.
As the Ambassador said, you can’t monitor the whole place. It’s massive. But to be able to verify key places and key events that occur on a daily or weekly basis to the maximum extent that resources allow. That means additional resources are needed to allow more verification. This will be very crucial in getting ahead and cutting off the possibility of this spoiler element and this dangerous element in the process.
Finally, I think robust confrontation of any violation of this cessation of hostilities agreement -- in this case, again, the government’s oil field offensive -- but no matter who does it, we need to be on it. The international contribution makes an enormous contribution to the calculations of the parties at the peace table as they figure out how much they can get away with and where they’re going and where the benefits are. If there’s a clear choice of the peace dividend, of the benefits of peace, versus the isolation and the condemnation of continued war, then I think the prospects of a final agreement will be strengthened considerably.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Jerry Fowler: Thank you, John. Ambassador, I wanted to give you a chance if you wanted to respond to anything.
I had a particular question regarding what John said about that the role of Lundin. We’ve been seeing reports that they are quietly operational again when they had said that they were not going to be operational. I wonder if you have a comment on that, and particularly on efforts that are being undertaken to try to get them to cease and desist.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Well, the only comment I’d make, and I think there were lots of areas of agreement more than disagreement maybe between us, but I guess in the interpretation of what’s been going on kind of fundamentally the way we read what’s happening in Khartoum. Who knows what their calculations are up there? But I tend to see it as less coherent, I guess I would say, than maybe John has described it.
I think what you’re seeing is a process in which it is, to some extent, a dysfunctional government. I think you’ve got people like Al-Jaz, the energy minister, who are in control of their own militias who are active, maybe in conjunction with certain people in the military, you know, the president trying to balance all these things. Therefore, you tend to see this kind of behavior. I’m not so sure it’s as clear-cut as they had these overall objectives, they had a plan to achieve them, they did, and so now they’re prepared to back off.
I think what happened is this enormous international pressure focused on Bashir forced him to take control of the situation, rein in people, and ultimately sign this addendum. That would be my take on that.
On the oil companies, I don’t have any additional information on Lundin and what is happening. I don’t think there are measures particularly to discourage that. I mean, we’ve made clear that we don’t want to encourage international companies to explore for petroleum there. Should the Sudan Peace Act come in, there could be some implications for that if that’s triggered. Short of that it’s sort of moral dissuasion, if you will, and diplomatically, urging foreign companies not to get involved in there because it would only help to extend the war. So I think you could safely say that we are doing that.
Jerry Fowler: Well, we have time for questions. We have a microphone, and it actually is better if you come to the microphone. We’re taping this, so we’re sure to get the question on our tape.
Question: Good afternoon. Steve Snow with the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. A question for Ambassador Ranneberger.
You mentioned the reporting requirement in the Sudan Peace Act regarding the peace process, but there are other reporting requirements as well having human rights implications, including one on war crimes. I wonder if you might describe the process for producing these reports, what time frames they cover, and how independent observers, such as human rights organizations or ICG, might contribute to these reports in this process, sir.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Well, there is the overall report on peace process compliance, which obviously we’re going to draft ourselves. There is the war crimes report, which is due at the same time, if I’m not mistaken. On that let me just say we are collecting information from all sources. We would want all information. So that will be a compendium of information that we have through U.S. government channels, information that is brought to us by international groups.
The answer in short is we would welcome any input that -- I mean, there will not be a formal process for that, but it’s the same thing, and we’ve tried to make this clear, on the activities of the CPMT, the civilian monitoring team. We have said that they will act on reports, any reports that are received. So it might, in one case, be a press report, it might be something provided by either side, or it might be something where an NGO said to us, look, there’s been an attack in this area, you really need to check that out.
I think by the same token, you know, if there were relevant information to this reporting process, we would welcome it. We have not, quite honestly, worked out a formal procedure for that. I don’t think there ever would be, you know. But I receive lots of information from NGOs all the time. So in that same context obviously if information came to our attention from NGOs relevant to that report we would take it into account.
Question: Could you address the time frame covered by the report?
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Well, that’s still a subject of discussion. I think the act itself is not clear on that point, so we’re going to have to sort of reach an interpretation of that. I would say we’re not inclined maybe to set a specific date from which the information -- on the other hand, you have to use common sense. You can’t go back indefinitely. So I think we’re talking about relatively recent behavior is what we’d be looking at. Frankly, there’s probably more information on that than on the stuff that’s faded into the past as well.
Question: My question was actually very similar, and it goes towards the section of the Sudan Peace Act that specifically mandates the investigation of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. I think you just came pretty close to answering it. But I’m just wondering if you are looking at using this civilian CPMT group to further the investigation in regard to the act, because I know that the deadline is coming up soon.
I just wanted to also note that we are going to be putting together a Sudan war crimes working group with various organizations here in town. We would like it if you called on us and we could talk about this process a little bit more. I understand right now, of course, in the immediate, the concern would be any violations that directly affect the peace process, but this is going to carry on further beyond that point. So I think that it’s just important to start thinking about that now and how to implement it later. Though it’s a year down the road or whatever, I think it can’t be too soon to start thinking about this.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Well, I mean, on that let me say the CPMT mechanism is not specifically mandated to do anything on war crimes. But given the nature of what they’re doing, which is reporting on a tax against civilians, obviously some of their information will be relevant to the report. But we have not told them to go out and collect, per se, against the report. What we’re doing there is, as I say, we’re using all source information, so what they provide, what we have through our own government channels, what we receive from groups such as yourselves will be relevant to that.
That’s interesting that you’re putting together the working group. We would certainly be open to meeting, of course. I mean, we welcome that. Of course, we’re working also with the office within the State Department that focuses on war crimes, so we might, in fact, want to do a joint meeting with your group. So I think probably -- I think that would be a good idea.
Question: As part of the addendum, I think we agreed between the government and SPLA not to say bad things against each other at this point.
Jerry Fowler: Just to clarify, as well-known as you are, Steven, that you’re representing the SPLA.
Question: Yes, I represent the SPLA in the United States, yes. So I’m not going to say something very good because (inaudible). But I was in Machakos on the 20th of July. I didn’t believe what we signed. I thought that that must have been a trick right from the very beginning.
I just wanted to tell you that right from the very start, many of us who are very familiar with Khartoum’s techniques of deception and detraction really we didn’t think they were quite serious. We thought that this thing was done to avoid a danger, which they expect they might be subjected to after the September 11th events and their own international terrorism.
So right from the beginning we didn’t think that it was an honest thing. The descriptions you have given, the reasons that led them to doing that are quite accurate. But Khartoum is doing what it is doing in Western Upper Nile and other places, in my view, to find a way of frustrating the mediators, the international community, give up on Sudan. It is not something which is feasible, it cannot be done. There are so many other things in the world for us to do, so you give up. (inaudible) goes his way, (inaudible) goes his way.
It’s also intended, as John has put it, to frustrate (inaudible) people are being murdered or being killed, being massacred. These guys aren’t interested in peace. So we can walk away from the peace process. Then, hooray, that is precisely what they wanted to do.
But the other aspect of this thing that I have not heard from you that I would like to seek clarification on, and this is connection with the mobilization that Khartoum has dreamed for, jihad, my colleague Rob is my counterpart in Addis Ababa. On television every day, there is this talk about jihad.
The president is part of this campaign, the defense minister is part of this campaign. He goes to Parliament and says he wants more money because he wants to destroy all the resistance in spite of what is going on in Machakos. The president of the republic goes to the public and says, look, I can bring this to this country, but only through the barrel of a gun.
Now we see a very frightening similarity. During the campaign in Khartoum on jihad, with the Interahamwe campaign in Rwanda that led to the genocide, and with evidence of what is going at the Upper Nile we really shed -- we are so -- we are expecting a situation. If the peace process collapses, we expect not a genocide, but possibly a Holocaust given the assets that Khartoum has in its arsenal, including chemical agents, helicopter gun ships, machine guns, not just machetes like they had in Rwanda.
I’d like to draw the attention of everybody into this possibility. As for the SPLM, I would like to assure you that since we learned a trick, for any other reason, we are not going to put out a bigger peace process. Our people in our conferences in South Sudan, in the diaspora, have opted, they have decided in favor of negotiations if only there was someone on the other side of the table. So we shall stick in there as long as there is someone to negotiate with.
But don’t misunderstand us, we have a responsibility to inform our people of the dangers that they face. On occasions, we may have to defend them in the best way we can. But the bottom line of it, bottom line of all this is that we are just seeking for justice and not victory.
Jerry Fowler: Do you have a comment -- either one of you?
John Predergast: Well, there’s one issue at the beginning about mobilization that, again, the events of the last few days have changed the dynamic. I mean, they’ve basically taken the air out of a very dangerous tire, that there was tremendous mobilization on both sides. Some of the standard stuff where you have movement of equipment into garrison towns, very heavy machinery, but also the more troubling issue from a human rights perspective is the government’s given a green light basically to press-ganging of Nuer youth in Khartoum and in the government-held garrisons in the south.
With limited independent media access, it’s hard to get this stuff, but we have interviewed a number of people, ICG has, as well as other groups that are in there that have been -- have eyewitnessed or been an actual part of these sweeps. There -- and again, as part of this report we’re issuing in a couple days, it spells out very specifically who’s behind it and where the people are going and what the purpose of the whole thing is. So there was a mobilization both of equipment and of personnel in case this point occurred; in case as they pressed and pressed and pressed if the international community didn’t respond as the U.S. and others did, and if the SPLA did walk away from the talks, then they could pursue the military card. But I don’t think that’s going to happen now, but they pressed it right to the very edge of the envelope, very dangerous territory.
On the other side of the coin, the SPLA responses had mobilized many of the commanders that were in the talks, key commanders that went up to the field. There’s mobilization, there’s recruitment going on, sometimes forced in places, particularly in Equatoria, and so -- because of the fear that the garrison would come out of Juba and start attacking either Yei or other places. So there’s been a history of troubling recruitment problems that have forced recruitment issues by the SPLA in Equatoria. I think it’s still a problem.
So on both sides, I think there were human rights abuses associated with this last round of mobilization, but I’m hopeful that, as the Ambassador is, that this very important agreement can head it off.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: On the jihad point, I would say that there is obviously a very troubling element in that. But also, I think a lot of it is rhetoric playing to the north. After all, there is the constituency, the radical. I think this reflects, again, and this is how I see it, the divisions within the Khartoum government that Bashir feels the need to play publicly to the most radical constituency there. I think if you talk to most people who know the north, there is a growing constituency for peace up there. But when you look at the Islamic organizations and the people within the government who are most difficult to control it’s the radicals. So I think Bashir feels a need to cover his flank, so to speak, on that.
We’ve made the point to the government that if they’re serious about peace, there should be a concerted message to the people of the north. One of the things I was struck with for the second time, my second trip to Rumbek, this most recent visit in January, was how well-informed the population is about the peace process. I mean, it’s quite stunning.
I had a town hall meeting with several thousand people, virtually the whole town came out for it. You’re talking about these issues and they’re actually very intelligent on it. They can ask questions about wealth-sharing or power-sharing or what’s going to happen on the three areas. You can have a real discussion with the people, which is pretty remarkable, and it shows that the SPLM has made an effort to inform their people.
So I think, again, that the main point there is I think it reflects the divisions and the uncertainties in Khartoum.
John Predergast: Can I make a quick point about this internal division?
Jerry Fowler: Sure.
John Predergast: Some of the most robust debates we had in the last Administration preceding this one were around this issue of how do you deal with play, exploit, respond to, react to the divisions that were clearly there with respect to individual positions within the government? There are definitely a battle of individual agendas that are occurring and they exploit those agendas depending on the issues.
There’s a history, by the way, in which this occurs, and it’s really important to go back over the last 15 years or even longer and look at how the National Congress Party, formerly National Islamic Front, constantly portrayed and publicly presented the differences that were occurring internally or that they said were occurring internally as a tactic to reduce international pressure. These are saying, okay, if you pressure us now, if you come after us now, this will just reinforce the hard-line element. It’s a very interesting thing.
I’m not really sure, at the end of the day, whether indeed there is a battle royale going on right now within the government about what they ought to do. Al-Jaz, Taha and Nafi were really pressing the oil development stuff and were ready to abandon the negotiations, and others were taking the opposite side. Because if you look historically they’ve done that constantly and achieved their objectives and then moved on.
The funny thing is different people change over the years. Mustafa Ismael, the foreign minister, used to be a soft-liner, kind of a moderate guy. I think he has turned into, at certain points, particularly with respect to his relationship with Egypt over the last 6 months when there were tenuous moments in the process last year, to be somewhat of a hard-liner. Ghazi, on the other hand, was really one of the NIF ideologues in the early nineties, and he’s become the guy you can really work with.
There very well could be evolution. All this could be correct and we’re just seeing it and it’s just public dirty laundry, and I don’t discount that possibility. But I also put into the mix that that has been a tactic. If you look at what they have achieved in the last month and a half by what they’ve done in the oil fields and now they’ve been able to skate away and move ahead in the process, it’s not altogether impossible to think that there is some coherence. But I grant the Ambassador’s point very liberally that indeed it may not be. It may just be that they reined them and Bashir got control of it. But it’s enough of an open question over the last more than a decade to really be keenly aware that we could be being manipulated.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Can I just come back on one point there, because you’re right, there’s two possible interpretations. But one thing that’s very key and I really want to make clear here, almost irregardless of the interpretation it doesn’t change the way the strategy should be done. Because, you know, if there are true divisions there you need to be aware of them, of course, and so you see the implications.
But the bottom line is, and this is something I’ve said and I think something that there’s general agreement on within the government, is the way to deal with this if there are divisions, you still have to deal with it by saying Mr. President, you are in charge and we are going to deal with you. You don’t ease up the pressure. You don’t let them play you to get you to ease the pressure by saying, gosh, now we’re under a lot of pressure, we have all these divisions, therefore, you have to be careful what you say publicly. That is not the case.
We’ve made a conscious decision that you play this by saying there’s one leader. In fact, that pressure can be -- if there are divisions, pressure is what’s going to ultimately resolve that.
John Predergast: Exactly, great.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Yes, I didn’t want there to be an implication that the --
Jerry Fowler: Dan?
Question: Dan Griffin with Catholic Relief Services. I’d be very interested in the panelists’ opinions, possible scenarios, in the event of an invasion of Iraq, particularly among the factions in Khartoum, and how possibly with the deployment of the Horn of Africa task force where that would leave us in the midst of this process?
John Predergast: Well, you know more, but there’s a couple of points there. I think just as uncertain as the real story behind, you know, what the divisions are. It’s an uncertain impact that would occur from this, from what looks like an eventuality of an attack on Iraq. I think that there are some who firmly -- and we have people up in Sudan talking to people very extensively that come away believing that the tension of the world would be shifted away and thus give some real room to undertake the kind of things that went on last month -- I mean, during the last month; others who think this is a very sobering thing, particularly if the invasion is successful early, would be a very sobering thing for the authorities in Khartoum, and thus would, because of their uncertainty just as with North Korea about, you know, who’s next, what is this preemptive doctrine mean, and let’s really stay with the program and thus have a very positive impact on the negotiations.
On the SPLA side, I think that there’s -- you know, there are always some that would hope that that would be -- you know, the spinoff of Iraq would be who is next. Sudan, well, just keep hoping that there’s something going on with terrorism and that we could gain some advantage of that. But I think the bottom line is that it will have a short-term impact on calculations.
But I think both parties are moving steadily towards an agreement. Both parties want an agreement for their own reasons, and that could be a whole other session some other time, and whether they implemented other things we can talk about. But I think that that’s going in that direction almost inevitably and it would have to take a very, very dangerous and different kind of outcome that we’re not foreseeing in Iraq to have a significant impact on Sudan.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Yeah, I think our view is that the impact of action against Iraq would, if anything, probably have a constructive impact on the government. The fear factor is there; again, the uncertainty. At the same time, we are going to have to watch very, very closely to make sure that there are not people within the government arguing now is the moment to take advantage on the battlefield, let’s regain some of the ground we gave up in the addendum, et cetera.
So we’ll have to keep a very, very close eye. I also think it’s going to be very important for not only us, but the U.K. and Norway, the whole troika, to make clear that, you know, we are intently focused on Sudan even as we move into these other issues. I think that’s a message that they’ve heard very, very clearly, the direct interest of President Bush, so often that I suspect they’ve internalized that and they know we’re serious.
What they’re going to see, if anything, is an increase in U.S. resources devoted to Sudan while this unfolds in terms of the expansion of the CPMT. But I don’t want to raise expectations of the expansion of the CPMT at the request of the parties (inaudible) will be pretty minor at first. I mean, we’re going to see what we need to get the job done. I mean, we’re prepared to do as much as necessary to get the job done. There are funds available for that.
But we’re going to do it, you know, in a prudent way, and sort of gradually.
Jerry Fowler: Can I just press on that for a second? What’s going to be the first step in expanding the CPMT? Tell us, first of all -- I know they’ve just added some Sudan expertise, Bashir and Hutchinson and Diane DeGuzman. How many people are on it now and what is it going to be like 6 weeks from now?
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: I think there are about people involved now in this. There are two teams divided up between Khartoum and Rumbek. There are four -- at one point I think we called them human rights observers, but I think that’s the wrong term. There are four sort of resource people, like Sharon Hutchinson and Diane DeGuzman, who are there to work with the team. They are there to help make these contacts with people in the field and to help the retired military people, who by and large don’t have Sudan experience, understand the context in which these attacks are taking place, and they’ve been extremely helpful. They’ve been in place since the beginning of this year.
The idea for the expansion is probably only a couple of people initially. But this is going to depend on very precisely what happens because if -- obviously, if there’s fighting still taking place and the team -- because the team will continue with its mandate to investigate attacks against civilians. But what we have done is we’ve put in place some contingencies so that we will be ready to reach out, then add additional people and/or aircraft or other assets very, very quickly if necessary.
Again, we’re doing all this, we’re taking our lead largely from General Sumbeiywo, so we’re coordinating all this with him. We’ll be doing it in concert with him.
Jerry Fowler: Thank you. Yes, sir?
Question: There’s a lot of similarities between the current proposed peace deal and the 1972 Addis Ababa accords. However, the GOS is a lot more powerful now, and their military strength is growing due to their increasing oil wealth. How do we keep this current proposed peace deal from becoming in the interim between when a peace deal, you know, God willing, is accepted and the 6-year referendum for self-determination of the south, how do we keep that from becoming a period where the GOS accumulates more power and compromises the political independence of the south? Thank you.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Well, I might just say a word. I think in the process, it is very important, the international guarantees are going to carry a lot of weight. I mean, that’s true I guess in really every type of peace deal, but I think here particularly, because we’re going to have this -- I don’t know if it’s unprecedented, but certainly it’s unusual this long 6-year interim period. So I think we have to have something that’s front-loaded in the international guarantees that has real consequences for noncompliance by either side; consequences in terms of things like specific steps that the international community or the security council would take.
We haven’t mapped this out, so I’m speaking here my own view. I mean, there is an agreement that there have to be these international guarantees, but we haven’t mapped out what they would be. But I mean, you’ve got the range of things from visa sanctions to economic sanctions and all that one could have triggering.
You’re also going to have the huge carrot-and-stick of international aid, of which the U.S. will be preponderant. I mean, we’re going to have I don’t know how much. We’re certainly going to be doing the lion’s share of it. So there’s that kind of conditionality. You know, what triggers an aid cutoff if you do this, that, or the other thing?
And then I think the way in which the power- and wealth-sharing is structured itself, there have to be built in, to some extent, these sorts of guarantees. I think you could see it more clearly perhaps in the wealth-sharing if there is some kind of an international monitoring component to the wealth-sharing on the oil revenues. That is being talked about, you know, some kind of a committee, maybe a World Bank role or something that would monitor how these oil revenues are used. If you talk about the government becoming more powerful, I mean, I think the oil revenues are absolutely key to that. There is a limited pot.
If you look at expansion of exploration during this 6-year interim period, most of that would be in the south anyway. Then the other issue would be to monitor how the oil revenues are used. In other words, what percentage is going to the -- are they being used in accordance with the wealth-sharing agreement, which is going to spell it out pretty clearly. So I think there are a number of ways to build a very concrete measures.
John Predergast: You know, it’s really gratifying to see the kind of thinking that’s going on in this process. Again, the U.S. is helped by bringing experts in and really giving the parties a lot to chew on, whereas if you sit a representative down on both sides and they just hammer over the things they’ve been arguing about for the last 2 decades or 2 centuries, it’s not going to go anywhere. But they’ve introduced new ideas and approaches and thinking, and it’s really created a dynamic that most of us couldn’t possibly appreciate unless you go there and see how things are going. We can’t go there, rightly so, because Sumbeiywo keeps it all off-limits to journalists and other people, which is very good.
I would say there’s another element, and absolutely these international guarantees is the central one. But I think another element, and maybe it’s even more important because, at the end of the day, it’s how the Sudanese view the agreement and the benefits of implementing it themselves that will be preponderant in importance in calculations as to whether implementation will indeed occur.
We did a piece, I think one of our reports, maybe it was September or October, where we looked issue-by-issue at all of the things that are on the table and how you prioritize unity as negotiators, how can you prioritize unity as the outcome of the negotiations? Because at the end of the day, if there is real power-sharing where the southern and other peripheral areas, but principally southern populations, are represented significantly in positions of authority and of power in the system itself, not just you get the VP and you get a couple of ministries, but the system itself is turned upside down so that hiring patterns, patronage patterns, state, federal, local government, everything becomes subject to a revolutionary reconceptualization of opportunity, of equal opportunity, if that occurs, you got a really good chance of implementation.
If, you know, all Khartoum can stomach or all the SPLA wants to take is, you know, sort of a wary sharing of some portfolios and they build a lot into this southern regional government in order to prepare the day for 6 years from now when the 99.9 percent of the people that today vote for independence will vote for it and they get their little thing in the corner of Sudan, well, you know, I don’t know if the government -- I mean, I assume that’s where you get all the uncertainties about implementation and people trying to undermine that. Not just from Sudan, but you got interested parties around the region as well who don’t want to see that happen.
I think that it’s overwhelmingly important that in the coming discussion on security arrangements, there be real integration. A word itself won’t be acceptable, you know, integrate the armies, but a real coming together and involvement of the SPLA and southerners in the military authority, future authority in Sudan; and that the power-sharing as they go forward -- and they’re going forward, discussions now -- really from top to bottom address this issue of allowing people to have full access and full opportunity. You get that and I think we’ll have a deal that has legs.
Jerry Fowler: Faith?
Question: Hi, Faith McDonald from the Church Alliance for a New Sudan. First I want to say thank you to both of you for what you’re doing. My question is kind of similar to the last one, only it’s more in terms of this addendum that was just signed.
Ambassador, you said that State will be keeping the pressure on and keeping the spotlight on to keep the government of Sudan honoring the agreement. John, you said we need robust confrontation. It seems to me that there haven’t really been any repercussions toward the government of Sudan for the violations that have already occurred, and it kind of reminds me of the difference between my parenting and my husband’s parenting of our daughter. When she’s disobedient whether there are repercussions or just if you do this one more time, this is going to happen. So I want to know, you know, when does the last one more time come? What can we expect to see as some real strong things happening, not just deep concerns, which I guess riled up the government of Sudan already? But I think that, you know, we need to follow that for them to really believe it. Thank you.
Jerry Fowler: We won’t ask which one is the hard one in your family.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Well, I think there have been repercussions. I mean, for one thing, the government got condemned publicly in unequivocal terms by us. It was pretty extraordinary to see Jack Danforth, Senator Danforth in Khartoum publicly attacking the government. He said at a press conference in Khartoum -- which was well-attended actually, there were 30 or 40 journalists. It’s actually a pretty surprisingly open environment in Khartoum, I mean, you know, given all things said. He publicly said the government -- I have told the government that they are responsible for these violations and they must stop, period. That’s pretty extraordinary.
But then secondly, the consequences in practice are that they have had to admit that they’re doing this and to admit that they will roll it back. You know, it is kind of like that analogy of you child, there’s something -- but there is actually corrective action being taken. It’s not as if they’ve legitimized the status quo. They’re going back to the status quo ante. So that’s a direct consequence.
In addition, there’s going to be this public report that we will be issuing, which is going to spell out chapter and verse who was responsible for the fighting. So that will be a matter of record.
I think that there were consequences. The addendum, as I say, does call for the forces to go back to the positions that they were occupying before this fighting took place, that is before the MOU was signed, and to halt construction of this road. So yeah, so I think there have been some consequences. You know, you do have to balance these things a little bit, because you also want the peace process to continue. But at the same time, you can’t equivocate. I mean, General Sumbeiywo was very much of the same view, that this has to be confronted directly and that there has to be specific corrective action.
Jerry Fowler: Is there a time by which they have to go back to the October positions?
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: That is not spelled out in the addendum. One of the things we’re going to have to do is, as I say, watch that very, very closely, as closely as we can, and insist that it be done in relatively short order. But there’s no specific time frame.
John Predergast: I agree. If Senator Danforth does nothing else, if he had to retire tomorrow or whatever, he really did something significant there. I mean, it really is the reason why we have a stop to this fighting now. But it gives the lesson. The lesson is I think robust -- and I don’t know if the word “confrontation” is one I would -- if I could edit your writing down. It’s really calling people on what they’re doing.
But I think the only difference I would say is that it should be earlier. I realize what the Ambassador said which is sometimes it’s very hard to get a very clear picture of what is going on in some of these locations. But that should be addressed at this point now, because we do have this team, an expanded team, and to have a few people who actually have a history on Sudan be part of that team so they know what’s really going on, they know the history of who’s controlled what town, they know how militias operate and how they’re connected to people in positions of authority, and, you know, there can be greater accountability.
So the only thing I would add is that the robust engagement publicly is important, but it should be robust and early; in other words, as soon as we understand what’s happening, even if we don’t quite understand fully. But that there is clearly a pattern of things happening, as was the case starting in the 23rd, 24th of December, which, of course, you know, it’s exactly the right time to start something like that, isn’t it? You know, we really have to get on the horse because the private -- when there are -- and it’s, again, whether it’s individuals who have an agenda who want to do something like push this road further south or whether the government wants to do it.
I’m very heartened by the Ambassador’s very strong statement that you got to place the culpability on the government, they’re going to move it forward. The sooner you get out in front of that and say this is what’s going on, this is it has to stop in the clear terms that Senator Danforth used and then later the presidential -- I mean, the State Department press spokesman said, Boucher, that is very, very useful and is probably the principal tool we have in the toolbox of immediate things.
The longer-term things, I think he’s absolutely right, you know. At the end of the day, it’s what they won’t get. I mean, we can ratchet a little bit higher the pressure unless they collapse the negotiations. Then there’s a whole other dynamic that may take over in the policy that won’t be led by, you know, the people that are running the peace process now. But at this point, when there are interruptions of violations or obstacles that the negation of the possibility of the benefits is really -- at the end of the day, we’re not going to run the Marines in there tomorrow. We’re not going to do some of the things that people would have wanted. But it is significant to them and that matters.
Jerry Fowler: So I think we have time to take these last two questions.
Question: I will relieve John because I asked him enough during the Eritrea and Ethiopian war, so my question goes to the Ambassador.
Mr. Ambassador, speaking about the peace process or the lasting peace process on the Sudan issue, we spoke a little bit about the civil society, but we didn’t talk about the issue of the ante. So can you elaborate on that point?
The second question is that I don’t have kids for rules, but I have neighbors and a backyard problem. We know that the tactics, as Steven said, of the NIF always is changed from time to time. Right now, we receive -- we heard a letter from the minister of foreign affairs in Eritrea about (inaudible) offense on the eastern region. Is that targeting SPLA in a direct way or we don’t know? I hope if you can clarify on this point. Thank you.
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Well, on the eastern front, I don’t know. I mean, there have been rumors of possible actions by both sides in the east. So far, it’s been quiet. We hope it stays that way. There was a report of an attack against a town, I think it’s Akobo, some military action around there, which we’re checking out, but basically it’s been quiet and we certainly hope it stays that way.
On the NDA, I think, you know, we met with the NDA in Eritrea when we were on this most recent trip. We went up there because they do need to be part of the process, they do need to be taken into account. Of course, the SPLA is speaking for the NDA by agreement, by specific agreement. Pagan Amum, who is the secretary general of the NDA, is a close associate of Chairman Garang’s and a member of the SPLA.
And our view is very strongly that you really can’t open up the talks to other parties. I mean, at this point, the parties who are actually fighting, the belligerents so to speak --
John Predergast: -- not represented by the SPLA, whatever, civil society and other political parties. How you can sort of structure a more frequent engagement would be a good challenge and something that the observers might -- in the Machakos process might be best placed, because I think IGAD is overwhelmed. It’s somehow, you know, whether you have more regular meetings like the ones that the Ambassador and Senator Danforth have taken. This is really crucial because, we haven’t even really talked about it, but if you look, again, history’s very instructive. Who were the parties that helped undermine and eventually destroy the ’72 agreement? It was those that were not included in the ’72 agreement.
Sudanese politics is like a kaleidoscope. It has a way of coming around. Guys that are left out today may be somewhere tomorrow that they’re going to be in a position to say, well, I wasn’t there when those people agreed to that. I just don’t agree. Wham. So it’s really important that everybody as much as possible -- and I agree with at the table we got to leave it the way it is, but there are mechanisms to increase and intensify that dialogue so that people feel they’re included. And the reach has to be wider, and that’s just a tough thing. It just takes a lot of diplomatic heavy-lifting and time spent on the ground just talking to people in some kind of structured environment so they feel like their input is being heard.
Jerry Fowler: Last question. Thanks for being so patient.
Question: No problem. International Republican Institute. You guys both just touched on what I was going to ask. How much, I’m wondering, have the negotiations and the behind-the-scenes workshops talked about exactly what this transitional period, what the government is going to look like, what steps they might take towards democracy? I’m wondering how much of this is going to be spelled out in the agreement versus afterwards in constitutional talks or what have you? Will there be a time frame for elections? Will there be beyond the power-sharing between the SPLM and its allies and the NDA and, of course, the NIF? Are there going to be concrete steps taken in the agreement to ensure democracy?
Ambassador Michael Ranneberger: Well, the answer is yes. I’m very encouraged by -- and frankly, when I came into this process, I was even somewhat surprised by -- I came into it right after the Machakos protocol was already signed, so I was actually pretty stunned by the reference to democracy in the Machakos protocol. But then looking at the power-sharing drafts and the most recent one, not from this round, but from the previous round, it’s remarkable.
There is a fundamental freedom’s bill of rights, sort of almost looks better than our Bill of Rights. It commits both sides to respect every international convention on human rights and fundamental freedoms. It spells them out. It’s three or four pages. It’s pretty remarkable.
But more importantly on the actual transition issues and sort of how do you move between these, of course, within the first 6 months, there will be this constitution drafting committee and all that, okay. But there are a couple of benchmarks, so you’re going to have that within the first 6 months. Then you’re going to have elections. They have not agreed to a date, but there is agreement that there will be national elections. It looks like that would happen 3 years into the process.
Actually, both sides wanted a different time frame. The government wanted a shorter time frame because clearly, they’re already organized to that extent, and so it benefits them. The SPLM actually wanted a longer time frame because they’re not organized as a political party. So it looks like it’s going to come down to about 3 years in. So that’s going to be a huge benchmark for democracy and you’re going to have to have an awful lot of monitoring, of course, on something like that.
But then in addition, more immediately, we had both sides in Washington in December for what we call roundtable discussions. One of the issues that we surfaced there was the idea of getting the two sides to form a joint committee to plan for the first 6 months of the pre-interim period. The focus that we used was really planning for peace and planning for reconstruction. What would be your priorities? Would it be road networks in the south, you know, water projects? What would be the priorities? But I think subsequent to that people are starting to call it maybe a transition planning committee. So it could take on a bigger role.
Now, mind you, they haven’t actually formed this thing yet, you know. They agreed to form it in December. We had to kind of bludgeon both sides a little bit and it hasn’t happened yet, but I think it will happen. That’s when I mentioned that there would be this international conference in March to plan for peace, one of -- the idea that we have is to invite this committee once it’s formed to actually show up and make a presentation. So we really are pushing both sides to do that, and that’ll help the transition planning.
John Predergast: I would just add that the -- Lauren, that the -- I mean, there is going to be a really important role for IRI and NDI in this post-agreement period in all of the things that you just said, the support, technical support if they want it for the constitution process, writing process; and most importantly the political -- there’s many things they can do, political party development for the SPLM, National Congress Party, and many other parties (inaudible) hungry for this. You know, how do you construct or -- and you’ve got so much experience throughout Africa now and the world on this transformation of liberation movements to political parties and transformation instead of ruling one-party states to larger multiparty context and how that kind of political dynamic unfolds. This is the kind of thing where you go to them now quietly, no fanfare, and say here’s what we can do. I think there’s a lot that the democracy institutions can really help with in this case.
Jerry Fowler: Well, just to wrap up, one thing I should have emphasized at the beginning is we have a Web site, which is www.committeeonconscience.org, all one word. There’s an electronic newsletter you can sign up for to keep track of the events that we have here on Sudan and on other issues.
A couple of events that we have coming up that you might be interested in, on February 25th, at 2:00 p.m., a roundtable on a more theoretical topic, Is Genocide Preventable? It should include a paper presentation by Professor Thomas Cushman from Wellesley.
On March 9th, we’re showing, and this is actually apropos to what we’ve just been talking about, a film called “The Fall of Milosevic,” which talks about the crackdown in Kosovo, the intervention in Kosovo, and then the uprising that overthrew Milosevic. Especially the last segment of it really shows the way that civil society got some space to operate and used it and ultimately changed the government. Then on March 11th, we’re presenting a talk called “Lemkin’s War: Origins of the Concept of Genocide.” Rafael Lemkin, as you may or may not know, was a Polish-Jewish lawyer who coined the term “genocide” in 1943/1944 to describe what was happening in Europe, Nazi-occupied Europe, where his family was caught. This whole concept that we have really came from him. So a scholar, Jim Fussell, is going to talk a little bit about that.
I’d like to thank all of you for coming, and I’d like to thank Ambassador Ranneberger and John Prendergast for the incredibly fascinating and intelligent discussion. So thank you very much."