International Rapprochement with the Khartoum Regime = Complicity in Repression and Genocide in Sudan

Photo: Flickr/Save Darfur
Photo: Flickr/Save Darfur

(Part VI of “Sudan’s December 19 Civil Disobedience: Updated news,” December 19, 2016|

By Eric Reeves

December 19, 2016 (SSNA) — Under duress, the international community occasionally expresses “concern” over the rapidly escalating repression in Sudan, although we hear nothing about continuing genocide by attrition in Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile. Nor do we hear of outrage at the continuing humanitarian embargoes in place in all three regions, as well as a de facto embargo on humanitarian assistance to the desperately poor, malnourished, and needy populations of the eastern States (Red Sea, Kassala, Gedaref), where virtually all international humanitarian assistance has been expelled or denied access.

And when “concern” is expressed, it never attaches to any specification of consequences for Khartoum’s continuation of the behavior that is cause for “concern.” The inevitable effect is to entrench a sense of impunity—the regime concludes that the words of “concern” are pro forma, and that there is no real threat to NIF/NCP tyranny and obscene self-enrichment at the expense of the Sudanese people.

What we are increasingly likely to see instead of a tough-minded attitude toward this brutal regime—especially from European countries—is a willingness to do business with it, engage in commercial transactions, and do whatever is necessary to enlist Khartoum’s help in stanching the flow of African emigrants to Europe. Articles such as the following from yesterday (December 18 | Radio Dabanga) have become commonplace:

Sudan to benefit from EU package to tackle irregular migration | Radio Dabanga | December 18, 2016 | BRUSSELS    The European Commission (EC) has today approved a €170 million package of 11 new actions under the EU Trust Fund for Africa to improve stability and address the root causes of irregular migration and forced displacement in the Horn of Africa. It is the fourth package of actions in the Horn of Africa conducted under the EU Trust Fund, the European Commission says in a press statement on Thursday.

With this package, Sudan will benefit from regional projects to build the capacities of countries of the Horn of Africa to manage migration. This includes the fight against human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, and the development of rights-based and sustainable return and reintegration policies (€30 million).

Of course the money will go to Khartoum’s ruthless security services, as will the high-tech surveillance and registration equipment the European Union has authorized Germany to supply, along with assistance in building concentration camps—camps that will “concentrate” people on the basis of place of origin, nationality, ethnicity, and religion.

[ See the extraordinary exposé by the German news source Der Spiegel, May 13, 2016: “Questionable Deal: EU to Work with [Sudan’s] Despot to Keep Refugees Out” | ]

But there are indeed the perfunctory expressions of concern that must be acknowledged:

International community ‘concerned’ over Sudan detentions, press curbs | Radio Dabanga | December 7, 2016 | OSLO / LONDON / WASHINGTON / BRUSSELS / OTTAWA / KHARTOUM     The members of the Sudan Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union, and Canada, have issued a joint statement expressing concern at the current spate of detentions and press curbs in Sudan. The statement reads that the countries are “concerned about the detention, apparently without charge, of a number of political leaders either in anticipation of protests or having protested government economic moves. “We are also aware of Sudanese authorities seizing newspapers and engaging in other forms of censorship, allegedly for reporting on expression of political views.”

“The arrest of political leaders for non-violent dissent risks hindering efforts for an inclusive National Dialogue that involves all the relevant political forces in Sudan in line with the African Union Roadmap, which we all support,” the statement continues. It further calls on the Sudanese authorities “to allow the people to exercise their right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we urge those exercising their fundamental rights to express their opinions peacefully.”

[It matters not that regime members, including President al-Bashir, are revealed in leaked minutes of a June 3, 2014 meeting of the most senior military, security, and political officials scoffing at the idea of a “National Dialogue” ( These officials frankly refer to such a “dialogue” as merely a “political ploy”—evidently a very inconvenient truth, despite the authentication of the minutes and the U.S. State Department’s acknowledgement that they are authentic.

Troika countries concerned about detention of Sudan’s opposition leaders Sudan Tribune | December 7, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Western nations have expressed concern over detention of Sudanese opposition leaders and recent crackdown on press saying government actions would hinder efforts for holding an inclusive national dialogue.  [The grim joke continues—ER]

U.S. concerned over Sudan’s “threatening rhetoric” against civil disobedience | Sudan Tribune | December 17, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – U.S. government on Friday has expressed concern over Sudan’s government “threatening rhetoric” and the crackdown on media in response to calls by Sudanese civil society for civil disobedience.

“Concern”—but no indication of consequences, no real urgency, and finally a perverse form of encouragement to the regime in the absence of specified threats. What we see a good deal more of is evidence of rapprochement, on the part of the Europeans and the Obama administration, which remains committed to the supremely disingenuous view of former special envoy for the Sudans, Princeton Lyman:

“We [the Obama administration] do not want to see the ouster of the [Khartoum] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” (Interview with Asharq al-Awsat, December 3, 2011 | )

This preposterous assessment of what the current regime is capable of has never been disavowed, and—diplomatically speaking—Khartoum has “taken the assessment to the bank.”

Here are examples of the dispatches much more characteristic of European and U.S. attitudes about how to do business with a regime of génocidaires:

Sudan’s FM, U.S. delegation discuss bilateral relations | Sudan Tribune | December 13, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour on Tuesday has held discussions with a visiting delegation from the United States within the framework of the ongoing dialogue between the two countries,

Sudan’s central bank, U.S. treasury and banks to meet in London: official | Sudan Tribune | December 14, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS), the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department and international banks will meet in London to discuss banking transactions with Khartoum, CBoS…

Khartoum, Washington discuss efforts to combat illegal migration and terrorism | Sudan Tribune | October 7, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Finance Minister Badr el-Din Mahmoud has discussed with the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Africa and the Middle East, Eric Meyer, efforts to combat illegal migration and terrorism (…)

Sudan welcomes return of U.S. university programmes Sudan Tribune | December 3, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese foreign ministry Friday has welcomed the return of American scholarships to Sudan and the visit of Sudanese university presidents to the United States after twenty years of suspension.

U.S. Booth announces exchange programmes with Sudanese universities | Sudan Tribune | December 1, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – U.S. Special Envoy Donald Booth Thursday announced several exchange programmes to strengthen partnerships and collaboration between U.S. and Sudanese universities. The American diplomat is visiting Sudan…

Sudan Sanctions: U.S. encourages non-commercial remittances and humanitarian transactions | Sudan Tribune | September 28, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – U. S. officials Wednesday said that U.S. sanctions on Sudan do not include private and remittance humanitarian aid to the eastern African country and encouraged transactions with Khartoum within the…

Sudanese, U.S. officials to discuss normalization of ties in New York | Sudan Tribune | September 19, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Senior Sudanese and U.S. officials on Thursday will meet in New York to continue discussions on bilateral relations.

John Kerry (R) shakes hands with the Sudan’s FM Ibrahim Ghandour as they pose together…

Sudan awaits American decision to lift sanctions on spare parts
Sudan Tribune | October 14, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Finance Minister Badr el-Din Mahmoud has expected a decision from the United States easing restrictions on of spare parts of planes and trains, from sanctions on Sudan. Sudanese finance minister…

U.S. officials discourage EU bank de-risking of Sudan’s transactions | Sudan Tribune | December 15, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – During a meeting held on Monday 12 December in London with European and regional banks, officials from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department and Department of Commerce discussed with private banks ways to avoid being affected by sanctions pointing that they do not play “Gotcha” with international financial institutions.

[In short, folks, don’t worry too much about U.S. financial sanctions against Khartoum—ER]

In aggregate, these dispatches are unmistakable in import: the Obama administration is trying to normalize relations with the regime, motivated primarily by a desire for the counter-terrorism intelligence that Khartoum is believed able to provide. The Europeans are even further along in their efforts at rapprochement. Germany and the UK are the most shameless, but France and Italy seem more than willing to play their parts:

Germany’s Siemens to supply five power plants to Sudan Sudan Tribune | December 3, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – The government-owned Sudanese Thermal Power Generating Company (STPGC) and Germany’s Siemens last Thursday signed an agreement to supply five power plant units. The five gas turbines…

[Perhaps worth recalling again the role Siemens played during the Nazi years (from an unusually well-researched article on Siemens in “Wikipedia“: Siemens (at the time: Siemens-Schuckert) exploited the forced labour of deported people in extermination camps. The company owned a plant in Auschwitz concentration camp.[14][15]

During the final years of World War II, numerous plants and factories in Berlin and other major cities were destroyed by Allied air raids. To prevent further losses, manufacturing was therefore moved to alternative places and regions not affected by the air war. The goal was to secure continued production of important war-related and everyday goods. According to records, Siemens was operating almost 400 alternative or relocated manufacturing plants at the end of 1944 and in early 1945.

Sudan, Germany discuss ways to enhance bilateral relations Sudan Tribune | November 28, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour and the German Envoy to Sudan and the Nile Basin Countries Rolf Welberts Monday have discussed ways to promote bilateral ties between the two nations in the…

Sudan, Germany agree to promote cooperation to combat illegal migration | Sudan Tribune | October 16, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s police on Sunday said it has reached a joint understanding with the German police on ways to combat illegal migration and human trafficking. In a press statement extended to Sudan Tribune…

Sudanese and British foreign ministers discuss bilateral relations | Sudan Tribune | December 1, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour Thursday discussed with the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson ways to develop relations and trade between the two countries.

The UK’s new Foreign Secretary, with ultimate responsibility for the guidelines for his country’s Sudan policy, is all too well defined by his now the famously racist comment in 2002, worthy of some sort of “Donald Trump Award”—ER

“What a relief it must be for Blair to get out of England. It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies,” he wrote in The Telegraph. Johnson also referred to “watermelon smiles.”

Sudan -UK strategic dialogue meetings kicks off in London
Sudan Tribune | October 11, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – The second session’s meetings on the strategic dialogue between Sudan and United Kingdom kicked off in London on Tuesday, which aims to promote ties between the two countries in many fields.

British envoy supports AU efforts for peace in Sudan
Sudan Tribune | September 21, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – The United Kingdom Special Representative for Sudan and South Sudan Chris Trott on Wednesday said that Sudanese government and opposition could reach peace via the mediation of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel.

[Led by the corrupt and incompetent Thabo Mbeki, the African Union High Level Implementation Panel has failed miserably and consistently on every issue of significance in Sudan, from securing peace in Darfur—the original mission and source of the panel’s name in 2009—to negotiating humanitarian access to South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur. Support for the Panel and Mbeki in particular is diplomatically disingenuous—a way of avoiding any real commitment on the part of the UK to helping bring about a just peace in Sudan—ER]

French diplomat appointed EU’s envoy to Sudan
Sudan Tribune | September 17, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, has appointed ambassador Jean-Michel Dumond…

[It was Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, who “warned that Europe’s reputation could be at stake” if news of these plans for assisting Sudan [in dealing with the problem of African migrants to Europe] became public” (Der Spiegel, May 13, 2016)—ER]

EU warns of possible sanctions in war-torn South Sudan Sudan Tribune | December 13, 2016 (JUBA) – The European Union (EU) says it could impose new sanctions against inciters of ethnic hatred and those said to be obstructing the peace process in war-torn South Sudan. European flags are seen outside the (…)

[And with this warning to Juba the hypocrisy becomes unsurpassable, given the Khartoum regime’s refusal to engage meaningfully in a peace process for Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile—ER]

For its part, Vladimir Putin’s Russia hardly needs the “cover” of Western efforts to normalize relations with Khartoum; but those efforts certainly make it impossible to criticize Russian efforts to build a stronger relationship with the regime:

Sudan, Russia agree to discuss joint cooperation on nuclear energy | Sudan Tribune | December 7, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese and Russian governments Wednesday agreed to negotiate an agreement on the use of nuclear energy in the East African country. The protocol was signed at the end of the fourth meeting…

Sudan, Russia sign agreements to develop mining sector
Sudan Tribune | October 13, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese and Russian governments have on Thursdaysigned several agreements to develop Sudan’s mining sector after three days of discussions in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. Director of Geological…

Sudan’s Bashir to visit Russia
Sudan Tribune | October 16, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s President Omer Al-Bashir will visit Russia in the coming two months to discuss mutual cooperation, according to the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On Sunday, Sudan’s Minister of Foreign…

And of course Arab countries have been eager to welcome Khartoum back into the fold of Sunni regimes in the region, and have made the estrangement from long-time “strategic ally forever” Iran quite lucrative, as well as providing an impressive foreign travel itinerary to indicted génocidaire, regime President Omar al-Bashir:

Sudanese-Saudi committee to discuss Red Sea’s Atlantis-II project | Sudan Tribune | November 19, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese-Saudi Standing Committee on Joint Exploitation of Natural Resources in the Red Sea will hold its 12th meeting in Jeddah on Tuesday to continue discussions on ways to utilize the mineral resources…

Sudan’s Bashir arrives in UAE for bilateral relations talks Sudan Tribune | November 26, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on Saturday has arrived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in a several-day visit to discuss ways to promote bilateral ties between the two nations in the various fields.

Al-Bashir, Al-Sisi sign strategic partnership between Sudan and Egypt | Sudan Tribune | October 5, 2016 (CAIRO) – Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir and Egypt’s President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi on Wednesday have signed a number of agreements besides a document for a comprehensive strategic partnership between the two nations.

Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia sign contracts on GERD Dam impact studies | Sudan Tribune | September 19, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Technical teams of Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia on Monday have Initialed the additional studies agreement of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The final signing ceremony will take place in…

Saudi authorities arrest 66 illegal migrants coming from Sudan
Sudan Tribune | September 14, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – The Saudi Border Guard Forces (BGF) on Wednesdayhave arrested 66 illegal migrants who were trying to enter Saudi territorial waters, said the Saudi Press Agency (SPA)

Sudan participates in Libya liaison group meeting
Sudan Tribune | September 23, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has participated in the ministerial meeting of the international liaison group on the Libyan issue on the sidelines of the 71st Session of the United Nations…

[It seems to matter to no one that the Khartoum regime has actively supported radical Islamists in their rebellion against the central authority in Libya (however tenuous that authority). In the words of two senior regime officials, as reported in the leaked minutes of August 31, 2014:

“We have intensified the work to train and graduate Libyan [Islamist rebels] Military Intelligence cadres. Currently, they are doing an advanced course on Internet operation, deciphering of codes, interception of telephones and wireless radios. Their leadership requested us to train and establish for them a strong Military Intelligence system.” (General Siddiq Amer, Director General of Intelligence and Security)

The victory of our people [Islamists of the Libya Dawn rebel movement—ER] in Libya is an indication that we will also achieve victory over the New Sudan Project [“New Sudan Project” is Khartoum’s catch-all phrase for any movement toward democratization, press freedoms, equality in citizenship, and secular governance—ER]

The assertion by General Imad al-Din Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations, also seems unambiguous:

“The Libyan border is totally secured, especially after the victory of our allies [Libya Dawn forces] in Tripoli. We managed to deliver to them the weapons and military equipment donated by Qatar and Turkey and we formed a joint operations room with them under one of the colonels in order to coordinate and administer the military operations. Turkey and Qatar provided us with information in favor of the revolutionaries on top of the information collected by our own agents so they can control the whole country.”

The UN has certainly done its part, consistently legitimating a regime filled with men who have either been or will be indicted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and genocide:

UN, Sudan launch joint initiative for rule of law in Darfur | Sudan Tribune | November 22, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – The United Nations (UN), Sudan’s Ministry of Justice and Ministry of International Cooperation have launched a major programme to enhance the rule of law in Darfur. The initiative comes under the umbrella (…)

[This is beyond grotesque: the regime is in fact bent on ensuring that the “rule of law” in Darfur consists only of the power of its military and militia forces, and the cultivated insecurity that makes life for displaced persons—overwhelmingly non-Arabs—intolerable…what Human Rights Watch once called aptly “Chaos by Design”—ER]

South Sudan: UN experts demand special probe on sexual violence | Sudan Tribune | December 2, 2016 (JUBA) – The world should pay special attention to the “epic proportions” of sexual violence in South Sudan, experts from the independent United Nations Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan said following a 10-day (…)

[There can be no denying that sexual violence in South Sudan has been horrific and deserves to be rigorously investigated. But it is the very height of hypocrisy to demand such a probe in South Sudan and to say nothing about a similar probe in Darfur, where tens of thousands of girls and women have been raped over the past thirteen years, and continue to face the threat of rape on a daily basis—see ER]

UN calls for end to restriction on humanitarian agencies in war-torn South Sudan Sudan Tribune | November 30, 2016 (JUBA) United Nations Official for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) said aid workers increasingly face “bureaucratic impediments,” and called on South Sudanese authorities to ensure unfettered access

[More disgraceful hypocrisy—where is a similarly urgent call for “unfettered” humanitarian access to Blue Nile, South Kordofan, Darfur, and the eastern states of Sudan? Perhaps more attention should have been given to the following:

 Swedish group plans to close 20 aid centres in South Kordofan | Sudan Tribune | November 26, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – A Swedish humanitarian group announced this week it would gradually end its activities in the troubled South Kordofan State where they provide nutrition and health assistance to some 200,000 people.

[What’s really at stake here is Khartoum’s refusal to lift the humanitarian embargo on South Kordofan, alluded to in the final sentence of the dispatch: “The government and the SPLM-N last August failed to reach an agreement over humanitarian access to the civilians in the war affected areas.” Khartoum has refused for five years to negotiate humanitarian access, beginning with a refusal in early 2012 to sign on to an agreement presented by the African Union, the UN, and the Arab League—ER]

Sudan’s FM holds talks on exit strategy from Darfur Sudan Tribune | November 22, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday has discussed with the UNAMID issues pertaining to the mission’s performance and exit from the western region.

Discussions over UNAMID exit strategy to resume in October | Sudan Tribune | September 25, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government and the United Nations have agreed to hold a meeting in Khartoum on October 17th to resume discussion over an exit strategy of the hybrid peacekeeping mission in Darfur (UNAMID)…

[Let’s at least be clear about the implications of the UN acquiescing in Khartoum’s demand that UNAMID exit: international humanitarian organizations will withdraw as the last vestige of civilian security disappears, however weak and incompetent UNAMID has been. Darfur will be under total control of the regime’s military and security forces, and there will be no international “eyes on the ground”—none—ER]

Sudan describes UN Human Rights Council’s resolution as “victory” | Sudan Tribune | October 1, 2106 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese government on Saturday has hailed as “victory” the resolution of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to keep the country under the agenda item 10 of technical assistance for another year.

[And of course, in its perverse way, this is a victory for Khartoum, even as the UN Human Rights Council is a complete and utter failure in fulfilling any HR mandate—ER]

Sudan renews call for UN reform | Sudan Tribune | September 18, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour has renewed the call for reforming the United Nations institutions especially the UN Security Council (UNSC) in order to make the international body more…

[Beyond irony… ER]

And the African Union is also accommodating the Khartoum regime, mainly by keeping the corrupt and incompetent Thabo Mbeki as lead negotiator:

Sudan’s Bashir travels to Addis Ababa for IGAD meeting | Sudan Tribune | December 8, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir Thursday arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to take part in a meeting of the head of states and governments o the East African regional body…

Mbeki to meet Bashir on 20 December over Sudan peace process | Sudan Tribune | December 11, 2016 (KHARTOUM) – The head of the African Union High level Implementation Panel Thabo Mbeki will meet Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir on 20 December, a presidential aide announced on Sunday. Sudanese president…

Eric Reeves is a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s François-Xavier Bagnoud Center for Health and Human Rights.

Previous Post
Sudan’s December 19 Civil Disobedience: Updated news
Next Post
Is the President’s Speech on National Dialogue Initiative a Divine Intervention to Salvage South Sudan from Its Total Collapse?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.