This post was written by Anja Tranovich
The US’s growing relationship with the Sudanese government on counterterrorism is the main reason no action has been taken to stop the genocide in Darfur, John Prendergast, a senior advisor to the International Crisis Group, told the LA Times, which has done excellent recent reporting on the subject. “It is the single biggest contributor to why the gap between rhetoric and action is so large,” he said.
The LA Times writes:
“The relationship underscores the complex realities of the post-Sept. 11 world, in which the United States has relied heavily on intelligence and military cooperation from countries, including Sudan and Uzbekistan, that are considered pariah states for their records on human rights.”
And Sudan gets some perks in return for intelligence:
“At a time when Sudan is being condemned in the international community, its counter-terrorism work has won precious praise. The U.S. State Department recently issued a report calling Sudan a ‘strong partner in the war on terror.’ Some critics accuse the Bush administration of being soft on Sudan for fear of jeopardizing the counter-terrorism cooperation.”
Just yesterday, the Sudanese government announced it will allow a joint United Nations and African Union peace force to enter Darfur. But the Khartoum government is notoriously fickle and the details of the peace force have yet to be hashed out. Unless the Bush administration demands accountability from its “strong partner in the war on terror,” the genocide in Darfur will likely continue.
An unnamed U.S. official gave the LA Times this fabulous quote: “Intelligence cooperation… is not always between people who love each other deeply.”
Sudan’s ambassador has already threatened that the recent flimsy sanctions the US imposed on Sudan in May could hamper intelligence efforts. Clearly no love there.
But Sudan, where bin-Laden set up shop in the 90’s, needs counterterrorism as much as the U.S. does. Khartoum depends on Bush’s complacency much more than we depend on Sudan. And some CIA officials have questioned the quality of information coming out of Sudan.
This isn’t about conflicts of interest in a post- 9/11 world or the slow and uncertain work of intelligence- gathering. It’s more simple than that–it’s about the Bush administration making unnecessary concessions to a brutal regime in Khartoum.
Anja Tranovich, a freelance writer based out of New York, has worked at the United Nations bureau of United Press International and InterPress Services. Her writing has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Orlando Sentinel, The Arizona Republic and other newspapers and magazines.