Hunting for an Opportunity

Hunting for an Opportunity

The International Crisis Group (ICG) summed it all in its last week report.


“To lift sanctions would reward a regime that must do much more to improve governance and end its wars; not to do so could lead to a reversal of advances made and discourage further cooperation,” the Brussels-based ICG said. “Lifting sanctions is the better of two imperfect options, particularly if coupled with clear signals that far more is needed for the government to escape” the restrictions that remain.


Following a trip to three Darfur states US diplomat Steven Koutsis described Wednesday his visit as "fruitful". Hinting at a possible lift of sanction by the Trump administration next month, he reiterated the support of his country for a stable Sudan, adding that the African Union roadmap remains the only way for a peaceful solution. He added that the visit enabled him to see the consequences of war and the positives effects of humanitarian assistance to the civilians in the war-affected areas.


"I reiterated the United States’ support for a peaceful and stable Sudan. I have also made it very clear that negotiations for a lasting peace based on the African Union roadmap is the only way to settle differences. Returning to war is not an option," he said in a written statement posted on the embassy’s page on Facebook.


He further called on all the warring parties to sign a humanitarian cessation of hostilities and to join the negotiating table to achieve peace and stability.


At the time the government is keeping its fingers crossed playing it calmly behind the scenes to have a favorable decision on sanctions, its opponents mainly the rebels be it SPLM-N or those of Darfur as well as supportive NGOs and lobbyists made it very clear that they are against the move. But these groups’ influence is crumbling due to its internal split, the recent military set-backs they have been through and having a new administration in Washington not very keen on issues of human rights and democratic transformation.


However, despite this mess there is an interesting development that worth following. Last week the deposed SPLM-N Chairman Malik Agar released a lengthy statement narrating his own vesion of the story of what he described as a coup within the movement. He said he and his colleague Yasir Arman, the former SPLA-N secretary-general will, “contact our fellow comrades who are rejecting the coup and start a new march to rebuild the movement along New Sudan vision for all Sudanese and carry out complete review to our experience including our struggle means and establish the concept of equal rights and duties within the movement as a prerequisite for a struggle to achieve equal citizenship in Sudan.”


The key words to scrutinize here are reviewing, “our experience including our struggle means”. Does this mean looking critically at resorting to arms to fight the central government for what is perceived as deliberate marginalization? That remains to be seen and needs an uphill effort from the deposed SPLM-N leadership to convince others that they genuinely renounce violence and not because they have lost to the other side, who still have some military influence on ground. The key lesson to be drawn from this is that the longer the violence continues the less likely it achieved what it originally set out for: reaching an equitable deal and a better future that guarantees the rights for those in whose name arms were raised in the first place.


Is there a way to make use of this development and pursue a serious push for a breakthrough to translate the current unilateral ceasefire into a formal one? That could open the way for a more ambitious goal of opting for peaceful solution for Sudan multiple crises. Yet such approach requires a higher concerted effort run jointly and to a large extent by the government and the United States, who will be the facilitator given its ability to talk to both sides and its leverage. The entry point is to handle the worsening humanitarian situation in the rebel held areas in South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where the USAID is still waiting for a green light from the SPLM-N to go ahead with a delivery proposal that has already been approved by the government. Such a move will remove a major obstacle and open the way for a serious political discussion regarding the future of the country and how to secure its political stability.




Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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