U.S. Must Crank Up the Heat on Khartoum
U.S. Must Crank Up the Heat on Khartoum
What’s Left of Sudan After a Year At War?
What’s Left of Sudan After a Year At War?
Op-Ed / Africa 2 minutes

U.S. Must Crank Up the Heat on Khartoum

There is plenty of blame to go around in the continuing crisis in Darfur. But the stalemate over the deployment of a U.N. peacekeeping operation to the ravaged region in Sudan can be traced directly to the international community’s failure to apply strong diplomatic and economic pressure on senior officials of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) to end the killing, negotiate amendments to the flawed Darfur Peace Agreement, and accept U.N. troops. Until and unless the international community takes collective, punitive action against the NCP, it is foolish to believe that Khartoum will stop its increasingly clamorous public posturing and its escalating war strategy, or do any more than pay continued lip-service to its numerous unfulfilled promises, most notably the disarmament of its allied Janjaweed militias.

The outside world’s current approach - tough rhetoric with limp follow-through - has conditioned Khartoum’s ruling clique of military intelligence officials and Islamist ideologues to expect zero consequences for violating signed agreements and U.N. Security Council resolutions. The false dichotomy of “non-consensual intervention” versus the status quo ignores numerous tools at policymakers’ disposal.

Pressure has worked in the past. During the mid 1990s, the U.S. led efforts in the Security Council to impose sanctions on the NCP (then called the National Islamic Front) for its role in supporting international terrorism. These sanctions and the unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. in 1997, led to the expulsion of Osama bin Laden from the country and the dismantling of Pakistani nuclear retailer A.Q. Khan’s commercial infrastructure. The regime also discontinued its open-door policy for allowing terrorist groups to travel on Sudanese passports and severed ties with a number of terrorist organizations.

The White House’s appointment of Andrew Natsios as special envoy is only a welcome development if his appointment also signals a new U.S. attitude toward Khartoum. The Bush administration must end its policy of constructive engagement and push for multilateral measures - either through the Security Council or a “coalition of the willing” - that will finally change Khartoum’s calculations. These include the following:

  • Apply asset freezes and travel bans to NCP leaders responsible for atrocities in Darfur, as determined by previous UN investigations.
  • Investigate the offshore accounts of the NCP and its affiliated businesses to facilitate economic sanctions against the regime’s commercial entities, the main conduits for NCP revenue used to support the Janjaweed.
  • Explore possible sanctions against the petroleum sector, including bans on investment and the provision of technical expertise and equipment.
  • Share intelligence with the International Criminal Court to break the cycle of impunity.

Tigers don’t change their stripes. History demonstrates that Khartoum bends when it faces strong pressure, and it’s time to punish those who orchestrate atrocity crimes in Darfur to get a muscular, mobile, U.N. force on the ground. The world is three years into this crisis and we still have not confronted the criminal cabal in Khartoum. Shame on us.


Former Program Co-Director, Africa
Former Research and Advocacy Manager

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