QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
CHESTER A. CROCKER: We might take a few questions before we open it up for any comment -- if there is -- from the panel. Yes, on this side.
QUESTION: I am the editor of Africa Newscast. While we might agree that 1983 is an important landmark in the Sudanese issue, I consider that 1989 to be even more important. That is because of the arrival of General Bashir in the equation. But, up to this point, of two hours of the discussion, his name has not been mentioned.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. I’m speaking on behalf of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. I’d like to thank everybody who has participated in this, and the fact that this activity took place at all.
I thank all of you who have been involved in this, and I would like to mention David Smock again. I’d like to draw your attention to a document which is available out there. And I hope that those of you who will be using the CSIS report, will also use the input of the SPLM that recommends on the issues that have been raised here.
I will not go through and document because it is specific, and I would like use to it as well. However, I would like to highlight two or three points in the report. First, I think the challenge Ambassador Crocker has just raised, that the parties to the conflict, especially the combatants, should be asked some very hard questions -- we in the SPLM are ready and willing to answer all, whatever questions you would like to raise.
In fact, throughout the entire conflict we have never been asked any questions on what is pertaining to our country. There is a feeling within the report that the National Islamic Front regime in Khartoum is reformable, that if good ideas are presented to Khartoum through an ambassador, through diplomats, through clever academics, they could change.
Now this is an issue which I think is too much of wishful thinking. We all wish that the regime could be changed. We know it cannot be reformed. We know it is too deformed. There is no way the international community can bring ideas that can change the behavior of that regime. They can change their language. They can change their tactics. But they cannot change their objectives and their actions which they have said themselves as reformers are set in [indecipherable] the normalization of relations which has been proposed between the United States and the government of Sudan, I think would be a grievous mistake.
It would be a recognition and legitimization of a regime that has caused millions of deaths due to displacements, slave trading, and profiting in human lives. I think it would be one of the things that Khartoum would definitely declare victory. They have been saying this. They have been looking for it. They have been campaigning for it.
I think you’re about to hand them a carrot and, as well, at the same time handing a stick to the opposition. I also would like to say that the IGAD process has been unfairly criticized for being weak. The IGAD process is not succeeding, that is the deadlock in the IGAD process, is not because the mediator is incapable. Not because they’re inefficient. It is because the issues on the table are intractable. It is because the IPF, and the United States government, and the Europeans, and anybody else in this world has not provided guarantees and mechanisms that would make a peace agreement obtainable. Because the history of this regime is that any agreement can always be scrapped. For this reason, I would like people to really consider in mediation and supporting the Sudanese people, to provide guarantees that can make an agreement last. In the absence of that, we have no choice but to struggle, and become the guarantors of our own lives. Thank you.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Yes, sir.
QUESTION: I’m the president of Genocide Watch. I just want to point out a fundamental problem with the document that, I think, underlies in fact, the whole discussion.
It’s actually a problem that Dr. Deng has addressed before this. That is, that Sudan should not have been a single country in the first place. Now the British administered it as two separate entities, as we all know. Dr. Deng, in fact, helped to design a one Sudan, two systems, type of regime that worked for awhile in Sudan. It was ultimately overthrown by a military coup.
What we have here is a proposal to do that again. I really question, after the genocide that has occurred in Sudan -- and, that is what it is, it’s genocide -- whether we can accomplish that. Whether we can, indeed, have a single country. Whether, in fact, we may not have to face the facts, and have a true division of Sudan.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Thank you. Thank you. Would anyone -- There have been several comments made and several questions put. I wonder if I could ask any member of the panel, who would like to speak, to respond to what has been put forward so far. Any panel members wish to?
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Okay. Well, I’ll continue to recognize interveners from the floor.
QUESTION: I’m representing SPDF or Sudan People’s Democratic Front. I would like to add something about inclusiveness.
When we signed an agreement in 1997 with the Khartoum government, we were trying to test the regime -- how serious it was to the resolution of the conflict. But we found out that the Khartoum government is not serious to end this war. Talking about negotiating with this government is a little bit difficult, because you cannot really see the clear picture of what really they wanted to end to this war. We are now determined to fight this government, because we don’t see any way of negotiating with the government. I would also like to highlight some points like brother Ibrahim said.
If the SPLA and the government sign an agreement, or negotiate without the other factions in the South, there is not going to be the end to the war. I believe that all the factions, all the political parties in Sudan, have to be included in any negotiation, and they have to be represented.
Concerning the united Sudan. We totally disagree with that -- especially the SPDF, or react much of our movement. We don’t see any rights being given to us in terms of a united Sudan. And we have to give a chance to the Southerners to really determine their political aspirations, not the movement determining their rights. And I do really agree that we have to allow the Southerners to determine their political goals. And thank you.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Thank you very much. I’m wondering if I might just take a moment. I see Senator Frist is still with us. And I know he has a commitment at 12:30. Senator Frist, I wanted to offer you a chance to say something if you would like to, because I know you have a commitment. And if I could give you that opportunity, and then we’d go back to the people who have been waiting patiently in line.
BILL FRIST: Well, it will be -- And I’m going to be here until 12:30 because I’m learning a tremendous amount as I’m here. I would be interested in the panel -- you don’t have to answer it now -- but discussing a bit about something that hasn’t been mentioned. And that is the role of the United Nations.
The United Nations, at least in the toolbox that we have potentially, to me, seems to have been under-utilized in the past. Reference was made to the progress that was made at the end of last year, and the fact that that demonstrated leadership of the United States.
But, also, it made me think that there is a role for the United Nations to play as we go forward. The report itself did not address that. While we have the experts here, and the many people in the room, I would be interested, as the Congressional representative now to the United Nations, and as someone who has been to the United Nations several times in the past year talking about this particular issue -- what role the United Nations might play? But, I’m here for the duration. Thank you.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Thank you very much. Anybody want to say a word on the UN aspects?
ROGER WINTER: Well, if I could say two points. One is we shouldn’t have to ask or provide leadership to the UN to do something about the bombing that’s going on there. This is something that ought to emanate from the UN itself.
And the fact that it hasn’t is a very sad indication, I think, of the seizing up of the machinery within the UN system. Perhaps, it’s China on the National Security Council. I don’t know. I mean the -- I’m sorry, the United Nations Security Council. I’m not sure what the problem is.
But, why in the world the UN doesn’t have the capacity, given its role in the world, and its mandate to act on its own, without our leadership, I frankly don’t understand.
The second thing is, I do believe that one of the good things that the UN does in Sudan is Operation Lifeline Sudan. There’s no question about that. It came into effect -- Julia Taft was very involved back in 1989.
And I must say it came into effect in the context of a peace agreement between the government in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement. It is the fact of the coup that has changed in 1989 -- that has changed the environment.
So, this whipsawing of access is something, in my opinion -- that Khartoum does with respect to humanitarian supplies to needy civilians -- is something that the UN ought to be more aggressive about.
It shouldn’t have to be that we, from the NGO community or the advocacy community, should have to complain about it, and then hope that the UN will be more responsive, and provide them backbone through government to be responsive. I’d like to see the UN be more responsive in and of itself and do neutral humanitarian programming in Sudan. Thank you.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Steve, you want to comment on the UN aspects?
STEVE MORRISON: The UN equities are huge in Sudan, particularly on the humanitarian side. The UN Department of Political Affairs participated throughout this task force. A representative came from New York to every one of our meetings. And we’re very grateful for that. And we took that as a very strong signal.
Francis and I briefed John Prendergast and his staff in the middle of this process to solicit his views. The Secretary General has made it a priority, in the first quarter of this year, for a senior person on his staff to visit the region, and report back to him on where do we go from here, because there is an awareness, as we have argued in this, that we are not getting results. This is an intolerable situation. Let’s take another rethink on this.
So, parallel to what’s happened in this task force, there is a very similar process within the U.N. Secretariat. And whatever you can add to that, would be extremely valuable. It’s in the context of the Secretary General, in the last year, having undertaken some very tough rigorous self-criticism of Srebrenica Rwanda, of UN peacekeeping in [indecipherable] -- of trying to protect the equities of the UN, and come forward with tighter, more focused, and more effective policies. It’s in that context that he’s turning his attention to Sudan now. And so, I think that the timing and the moment are actually quite favorable to bring forward a new compact between ourselves and the UN.
ROGER WINTER: Mr. Chairman, can I do 15 seconds more?
CHESTER A. CROCKER: 15 only, Roger.
ROGER WINTER: One of the things the UN could do right now is deal with the issue of humanitarian access to the Nuba Mountains.
In 1999, the government in Khartoum agreed to allow humanitarian access. This is the clearest genocide that is going on in Sudan. That humanitarian access has never been granted -- in fact, will never be granted -- unless there is sufficient pressure to do it.
And it ought to be coming from the UN; it shouldn’t have to come from a group of others.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: I’d just add one comment. The UN these days is something of an emergency ward. It gets all the hard cases. And I think a lot depends on whether or not we and other key countries put Sudan on the agenda with the UN Secretary General. Last week our new Secretary of State Colin Powell had a meeting with Kofi Annan. I don’t know what the agenda was. I wasn’t there. But, it’s an interesting question, was Sudan on that agenda? Yes, sir, you’ve been waiting patiently.
MR. CLARK: Yes, thank you. My name is Edward Clark. I’m from the Southern Sudanese community in Washington area. I have a comment and a question.
And before I make my comment I would like to pay great -- I would like to pay special gratitude to Senator Bill Frist and Senator Frank Wolf for being the voice of the sovereign people of the Sudan, and specifically, the Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains. And also having -- also being a voice which actually keeps our hope alive.
My comment is with regards to the unity of Sudan -- one Sudan. I just want to let the participants -- want to inform the participants that the unity of Sudan wouldn’t have been won -- the independence of Sudan wouldn’t have actually taken place had the Southern Sudanese not agreed in 1956, that Sudan would be one county.
But, in spite of the promises that were actually given the South, there was nothing later on actually given to the Southern Sudanese. And so, before -- before the independence actually the South had actually taken up arms.
In 1972, the famous -- the infamous Addis Ababa Agreement, which actually brought peace or at least a break in 1972, wouldn’t also have been possible had the Southern Sudanese -- had they not actually agreed to that particular agreement. Also, when the SPLA -- when they took up arms in 1983, one of their premises was a united Sudan.
But, in spite of all these things, the INF came and took over the government, and completely turned the country to a different direction. What I’m trying to say here is -- is that since 1955, the Southern Sudanese have been actually at the discussion of a united Sudan.
But, this has not really been possible due to mistrust, due to Arabization, and due to enslaving the country. And this brings me to my question -- to my two brothers actually on the panel, one being a Southern Sudanese and the other being a Northern Sudanese. Do you really believe brothers, from the bottom or your heart, do you really believe that the Northern Sudanese and the Southern Sudanese could really co-exist? Can the North and the South co-exist as one country? Thank you.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Thank you. We are rapidly running short of time. I think I may have time to recognize one more person, maybe two. But, I think Francis, that question is one that you might be best placed to say a word on. It’s a very direct question.
FRANCIS DENG: Should I say something now, or in the comments?
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Go for it. Go for it.
FRANCIS DENG: Well, let me put it this way. There seems to be a general recognition that self-determination is a right which cannot be denied the South, and that the people of the South have never participated in the process of self-determination.
But, there is also a general bias, in Africa and in the world, that as much as possible we should keep countries together -- united. To me, it means that unity cannot be at the cost of the dignity of the people who are marginalized.
But, what I would do in interpreting the principles of IGAD, the Declaration of Principles, is to take self-determination seriously, contrary to what my brother here was saying that if we take self-determination -- two systems one Sudan -- it might lead to separation. If we prejudge the process, by saying that the possibility of separation is ruled out, then there is no incentive for the people of the North, for the leadership, to create conditions where unity can genuinely bring the nation together.
So, I stand for self-determination, despite my preference for unity, in order to challenge the country. If you really value the unity of your country, then you better create conditions where the people of the North will genuinely feel that unity is in the mutual interest of the country. And when they come to vote, as happens repeatedly in Quebec, in Canada, they vote for unity because they find it is in their mutual interest.
But, if we prejudge and say unity is a must, separation is ruled out, we are not going to create the incentive for the people of the North, who are the dominant people, to create conditions for unity. Should they fail to create conditions for unity, during the interim period -- what we call two systems, one country -- and the time comes for voting, and conditions have not been created that can sustain unity, then I don’t hold unity as a dogma. I mean unity is supposed to serve ideals.
And therefore, if it fails, separation cannot be ruled out. Let me say that the Addis Ababa Agreement did not actually create two systems within the Sudan. In a sense it did.
But, it made the South sort of a pocket, a marginal area in a corner, where the national policies and foreign policies were being determined by the North. Even then, in a book I wrote at the time, I said, this cannot be sustained.
Until we create conditions where the people of the South would participate on the national level, and in shaping foreign policy on more or less equal footing, no degree of autonomy can be acceptable to a people because it only reflects accommodation in a marginalized way.
So, let me say, unity is a desirable thing. We must create conditions for unity. If we do fail to create those conditions, partitioning of the country cannot be ruled out.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: One more question. Yes, sir. Please be brief and make it a question.
QUESTION: Okay. I’m speaking on my behalf. I’m going to have a very brief comment. But I want to issue a challenge.
First of all, I think this report, although I haven’t really read it thoroughly, is forward looking. Forward looking in the sense that it’s moving from, you know -- from here, to what we need to do. Roger Winter talked about you know, the 1988 -- the agreement between SPLA and the government.
I think the chances that we will know who won the Florida elections are better than knowing what would have happened, really, if there was no coup in 1989. But, having said that, at least this report is saying, we need to move on from the failed policies of the previous administrations.
As Frank Wolf said, the Sudan is the litmus test for the U.S commitment to human rights and democracy. And I think we have failed -- all the administrations that came -- have failed in that respect. So, I’m looking forward to reading this report.
But, my challenge actually, is to the CSIS, and the Holocaust Museum, and also to the U.S. Institute of Peace. As you see the Southern Sudanese standing, many of them wanted to ask some questions. I think this report has provoked some kind of feeling for a discussion. My challenge to you is how about funding a conference for Southern Sudanese who are here in North America, to discuss some of the issues that this report came up with, including the issue of self-determination?
CHESTER A. CROCKER: I think, at this point, I’m going to have to ask those who have been waiting in line to approach the panel individually. And I’m going to turn the podium first for a brief comment to Steve. And then back to Jerry to close things up.
But, from my standpoint, a word of thanks to the Holocaust Memorial Museum for these splendid arrangements, and for hosting this today. Thank you. Steve?
STEVE MORRISON: I think this conversation -- series of conversations, has revealed a number of points of convergence that are quite important. Stopping the bombing, ending the war, U.S. leaders -- centrality of U.S. leadership, the need to refine and strengthen sticks, and to get the UN involved as some of the notable ones.
I would just close by saying, we can’t want peace, and we can’t want to serve the interests of Northern opposition, without an embassy. It limits our effectiveness.
We have to be very careful and focused in defining what our goals and what is the alternative to the approach that’s laid out in this. And we need to be very careful and honest with ourselves about what are real sticks in this situation.
The idea that Eric has proposed about capital markets is an interesting point. Is that a credible and viable stick to be used? Is there sufficient political support around it? I’m not sure what the answer to that is.
I think Eric has been very creative at moving that forward. It’s not clear to me that it’s going to be something that will be an effective tool. Thank you very much.
CHESTER A. CROCKER: Thank you. Back to you, Mr. Chairman.
JEROME SHESTACK: I’d like to thank, on behalf of the museum, all the panelists. Our particular appreciation to Congressman Wolf and Senator Frist for being with us.
There are some overriding opportunities. But, I did want to make just this comment. I think what has emerged from here are three important points.
One: Sudan does matter. Two: There are opportunities to resolve the conflict. And Three: That leadership is needed from the United States, from the United Nations as Senator Frist said, and from you the people -- from the activists from all the NGOs, from all of us who have to keep this as an emergency matter, and highlight it. You know one time William Butler Yeats wrote about his century, that “the best lack all conviction, and the worst are full of passionate intensity.”
I would like to think that the best have all conviction today and, that we can address this problem with passionate intensity. Thank you for being with us.