The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres summed it all when he said at the outset of the 74th General Assembly, “Sudan is a matter of great hope for us. I believe that what was possible in the dialogue in Sudan demonstrates that all political conflicts can be solved by dialogue (...), and this should be a lesson for everywhere else in the world," he said.
"It is time now for the international community to support Sudan,"
"I hope that all the restrictions that exist about Sudan, namely, the classification as a country that supports terrorism and sanctions, will be quickly removed," he stressed.
Guterres warned that the failure of international support to the interim government may hamper its efforts to achieve the transition towards a democratic regime in Sudan.
This statement came on the heel of similar statements from senior western officials from Germany, France and Sweden.
What has been missing is a public US statement following the formation of a civilian-led institutions and government led by Dr. Abdalla Hamadok. Various US officials from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo down to other officials and congressmen were active tweeting their support for a civilian-led authority. That is now a reality and the most sticking issue is how to remove Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.
The most recent US public statement on the issue was attributed to the undersecretary of political affairs at the state department David Hale, who visited Sudan last August and before the new transitional government was formed. When he was asked about the terrorist issue, he said, “there are a number of things that we look forward to engaging with a civilian-led government in Sudan."
These included human rights, religious freedom and counter-terrorism efforts, as well as “promoting internal peace, political stability and economic recovery in Sudan”, he further said.
Ironically Washington had launched talks with the Al-Bashir’s government on the terror list last November but suspended it in April after the collapse of his regime. So far and despite calls from various western and friendly capitals Washington did not even announced its readiness to resume talks on removing Sudan from the terrorist list.
Interesting enough the United States established a group of Sudan Friends including UK, Norway, Germany, European Union, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Egypt besides regional organisation and international financial organisation.
Its purpose is to prevent civil war and chaos in Sudan but also to mobilize needed financial and economic resources to support the country, but such effort will be blocked by the issue of the terrorist list. All raises question marks on what are the true intentions of Washington.
Sudan has been a playground for a number of lobbies during the previous regime of Al-Bashir. The US policy towards Sudan was mainly determined by the the Black Caucus to the Evangelicals and various human rights organizations more than by the professional diplomats at the state department.
The separation of South Sudan into an independent state that quickly fell to be a failed state at war with itself helped in reducing that enthusiasm to drive policy through activism, but still remains the issue of Darfur, which has been tied to the terrorist list through the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act of 2006 and the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007.
That means in other words concluding a peace deal with Darfur rebel groups. Already arrangements have been advanced through the Juba declaration with all rebel movements except the one led by Abdul Wahid Nur.
That requires a massive effort to secure peace, but sending positive signals at least like resuming talks on removing Sudan from the terrorist list can help. If Washington found it useful last November to start phase two with Al-Bashir regime on delisting it from the terrorist list, it should far more easier to resume talks now with post-Al-Bashir government.
Moreover, Khartoum needs to work hard with congressmen, who have been supportive of the popular uprising and it is time to move their efforts step further. In addition this is a time for Washington to assess and evaluate who is dragging his feet on peace issues: Is it the government or some rebel groups, who should not be regarded on high moral esteem because they are willing to advance their own personal ambitions at the expense of the interest of people on whose name they speak, as Donald Booth, US envoy to Sudan once said.
E N D