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November 14, 2010

How Obama Betrayed Sudan-

B-""- a looming tragedy inside a failure wrapped in betrayal.'

'On March 4, 2009, after the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Omar Hassan al-Bashir, Sudan's president, for war crimes and crimes against humanity, Obama did not even go before the cameras to applaud this step to end impunity. Instead, the White House made only a perfunctory statement. Just under a month later, the president's special envoy to Sudan, J. Scott Gration, got off a plane in Khartoum and said "I love Sudan." He returned from his first trip to Darfur and proclaimed that it wasn't as bad as he had expected.

Time is short. The dangers are rising. The cost in human suffering will be unbearable.

In 2007 and 2008, then Sen. Barack Obama, along with his colleagues Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, harshly criticized George W. Bush's administration for engaging with Khartoum. They advocated a no-fly zone for Darfur and called for using sticks against the government. Susan Rice, now his U.N. ambassador, even advocated boots on the ground. Those bold proclamations -- untethered to responsibility -- were a promise and commitment to the Sudanese and to the millions of American activists who have made Sudan's quest for peace their own.

In May 2008, candidate Obama joined in a statement in which he demanded "that the genocide and violence in Darfur be brought to an end and that the CPA be fully implemented." He went further to "condemn the Sudanese government's consistent efforts to undermine peace and security, including its repeated attacks against its own people." He pledged to "pursue these goals with unstinting resolve."

==But those have not been pledges redeemed. They have been betrayed.

Then, when in violation of international humanitarian law Khartoum kicked out 13 international humanitarian NGOs from Darfur that were providing badly needed assistance, again the Obama team's response was weak. Days later, the administration praised Khartoum for letting three of the NGOs back into Darfur. Meanwhile, for more than a year U.S. government reports of inadequate humanitarian aid to Darfur have been covered up in Washington, according to two people familiar with the documents.

When Khartoum has used its Sudanese Armed Forces aircraft to bomb villages and kill innocents in violation of various agreements, there has been no robust public rebuke.

When the presidential election stipulated in the CPA was far from credible, the Obama administration was quiet.

When earlier this year the ICC issued a further arrest warrant for Bashir, this time for genocide, the same word Obama repeatedly has used to describe the Sudanese government's violence against its own people - again there was no cry for accountability. --

Excerpts from a piece by former Special Envoy to Sudan, Rich Williamsom


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