US Former Special Envoy Gartion: There Is No Reason To Further Penalize Sudan

US Former Special Envoy Gartion: There Is No Reason To Further Penalize Sudan


KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - A US expert familiar with the Sudan has said he sees no reason why the international community continues to penalize the country, given the robust uprising that put an end to a dictatorship and ushered in a government that need help to be able to steer the country away from terrorism, fundamentalism and poverty.

The former Special Envoy to the Sudan Scott Gration, 68, said he believes that if the current government, with the huge popular backing it enjoys, continues to show the world that it wants to lead Sudan be a better nation, be considerate for its own people, and works to distance Sudan from falling back into being a hub for terrorism then the international community would have no choice but to scrap the name of the Sudan from that awful list.

The former Special Envoy to the Sudan Scott Gration, worked as policy advisor to President Barack Obama and in 2009 was appointed as the United States Special Envoy to Sudan (2009-2011), was recently in Khartoum where he talked with Sudanow reporter on the peace realization opportunities, lifting the name of the Sudan from the evil list of state sponsors of international terrorism. He also pointed out what the government could do to avoid falling into the same trap as those who came to power after the demise of Sadam Hussein of Iraq. Following are experts of that interview:

On what he thinks the new Sudanese government could do on the issue of remnants of overthrown regime and its legacy

The expert has cautioned the new government from falling into the trap of exclusionism and replicating the story of Iraq following the demise of Iraqi leader Sadam Hussein.

“I cannot offer my judgment as an outsider on what the (Sudanese) parties should do but I will just tell you two things: One is what I saw in Iraq when the military was disbanded and technocrats were excluded. It was difficult because they lost a lot of institutions there. I think you should be caution about who get excluded... If there are people who were relieved and need to be held accountable then that is one thing I don’t have problem with that. But if people were technocrats and bureaucrats and they are needed to ensure the services continue and you make good decisions, then I think you have to think about that.” Garition, former US Envoy to the Sudan under president Obama said.

The former US Air Force pilot who is specialized in East and Central African affairs said he was also in Uganda under Idi Amin in 1979, and that he couldn’t understand how people could forgive. Then he went to charges went to the church on Sundays where he heard people saying they have to move forward and that they have to forget the past “but we have to learn from the past”.

He said the whole concept of forgiveness is so important. “Because if you don’t forgive, you will be tied to NCP and this regime forever. But if you can cut that anchor, the anchor stays but your boat can move. If you want to be anchored in the past, then don’t forgive. If you want to move to brighter future then cut the chain and let your boat move. At some point you have to forgive.  You have to hold people accountable but there is some time you have to move on...chose those things where you can forgive and move on and hold firm on those things that you cannot.”  

He argued that as global citizens, as human being people have to be accountable but there are sometimes where they have to forgive and move on. There is sometime where they have to look to the future and forget the past so that they can bring blessing to the people around them.

On lifting the name of the Sudan from the terror sponsor list

He said this has been a long process, and even though he believes Sudan has met all the needed criteria to have the state sponsor monitoring terrorism designatory removed, it was still for the US administration to make that decision.

He said although he was only one voice that calls for ending that situation because Sudan did what it takes to do for meeting the requirements set by the US administration, still he would encourage the American to take action in this regard. He said the Trump Administration will have to make that decision.

“Am only one voice and am not a decision maker. They (the US administration officials) know more about the geostrategic politics, they know more about the specifics...because am not privileged to any intelligence information...so that decision is not mine to make….But I would encourage them to consider taking Sudan off the list...for the reason Sudan needs to have access to international financial institutions, Sudan needs a banking system…you need to work credit cards you need to be able to download Amazon products you need to be able to have your children get education programmes from the web, you need to have access to those kind of things that the rest of the world has …there is no reason to further penalize Sudan when it is on the course of trying to become a better nation.

He said may be the American government must know things that it still believes justify keeping Sudan on the state sponsor of terrorism list.

“It is my view though if the new government that they will work with the international community to curb terrorism and to keep Sudan from being a heaven for terrorists again, and if this government can show that it is interesting for providing security for its people that is fair and just if they develop a judicial system where there is rule of law I don’t see how the international community can keep Sudan on their list.”

He pointed out that this started back in 1993 and many western officials, including US senior officials, visited the Sudan and promised that the name of the Sudan would be removed from that list.

He warned that this was the time to take that action and to seize this window of opportunity by America and its partners to say: let us help Sudan become victorious. Because if we don’t , if we miss this opportunity, if they don’t have the finances, if they don’t have backing of the international community they don’t have the external help that they need and the internal parts fails, then that will be disastrous. Because Sudan is in the middle of Africa and when things go bad in Khartoum, they will shake things from Khartoum to Cape Town, from Djibouti to Dakar.

“Sudan is critical, Sudan is at the nexus of the north and the south, Sudan is at the nexus of the Horn of Africa to the countries in the west. Sudan is in the middle of religion. There is a lot of factors in the Sudan. Sudan is a critical country. We all must take responsibility to make sure that it has every opportunity to succeed.” He argued

But he stressed that it was up to the people in charge, the government in the Sudan, to help remove the name of the Sudan from that terror list.

“That is why I hope that the people in charge will put Sudan first, will take those decisions that will bring the Sudan to the country that it can be with brighter future, and of course for peace, security and prosperity.”


On what role the Sudan could play in the region and beyond

He noted that Sudan for the last several decades has been a consumer of international attention, a consumer for international money and a consumer for international talks. However, he stressed, this situation could be reversed if the government of Sudan is willing to take what is needed to bring Sudan to international community and to international financial institutions, observe regional and international norms and agreement and respect human rights .

“Sudan … is a nexus of so many things…its understanding of the historical, its understanding of the religion, the understanding of history , the understanding of the strategic placement and the understanding of many things, Sudan can be a broker to help in peace agreement, to help negotiation. I think Sudan it is time for it to be the exporter of peace and not the importer of efforts like UNAMID and those other efforts to try bring peace to Sudan. It is time for the Sudan to export peace, understanding and negotiations”

On participation in the event marking ushering in new government in Sudan

He expressed his happiness to be witness to the signing of the constitutional and political documents and to see the joy and euphoria and spontaneous celebrations that broke out that day.

“First of all let me say how happy am to be here in the Sudan, I love the Sudan and the Sudanese people. So it so wonderful to be back with the people that I enjoy and to be witness to this historic occasion I have the opportunity to see the signing ceremony and to feel the excitement of the people as they ushered in a new day a new chapter. Now is the hard part. Well the revolution was hard; the signing was hard as we have found out today.

He warned however that the difficult part has now started. But he said he was optimistic that if the Sudanese people put the Sudan above all out then the chances for peace, the chances for prosperity and the chances for a much better future are certainly possible.

He has however cautioned that “The downside is, if we started squabbling about our parties, if we started looking for money if we start thinking about the regions, if we start thinking about our sectors and parties and where we come from, these things will disrupt this opportunity for peace.”

“So I pray that people will always remember and say every time they have to do a decision: is this in the interest of my country, am I putting Sudan first? Because if you put Sudan first all these other issues become secondary and there will be less corruption there will be less fighting and there will be less disagreements and unequally .”

On the rebellion and the marginalized areas and the solution:

Gration has expressed his hope that peace could be realized if Sudanese put the Sudan first and exerted extra efforts to accommodate and remedied the grievances of those carrying arms against the central government in Darfur, south Kordufan and the Nuba mountains, and the Blue Nile areas.

“So that is my hope. I also hope that we can   get away to bring peace to this land because for the  last ten years since I have been gone, the IDPs have been frozen in their camps, the refugees have been frozen in camps in Chad all because we don’t have proper security. The people in Kordufan, the people in Blue Nile the people in Nuba Mountains are frozen in a conflict that causes them to be marginalized and treated unequally, without the services and they should get as Sudanese people.”

He said it was true that these folks have been marginalized and it was true that they have been subjected to mockeries and horrors. These issues have to be discussed and made right.

“I believe there should be a conference where the governors and leaders who have voice from the Fur, the Massalit, and the Zaghawas and others can come together and share their issues, and I think the government has to make some good faith efforts to repair some of these things and it may take some extra efforts to bring security to help those people do voluntary return to their historical home areas. “He argued.

He explained that it might need some extra efforts to help people change the mindset to get adjust to live outside the IDP camps, because now there are two generations of children who have been living in the IDP camps and who have known nothing else that means when they go back they need some schools, medical facilities and may be some help with food until the plants come in. He said what was needed now would be a very strong programme that allows this to be successful.

“But I also agree that the rebel units the militias have to make a decision, after a period of time, whatever that time is, they have to be either integrated into the regular army or they have to be demobilized, retrained and reeducated and be given civilian livelihood and move on. You cannot have a country where rebels can loom free; there is no country in the world where the government can tolerate people who want to mount insurrections.” He added

He said at some point after the rebel and armed movements have a fair opportunity to negotiate and make their points known and after things have been done to give them fair chance but they still want to be enemies then they have to be treated as enemies and bear the consequences of that.

“But at that point it is the government’s responsibility to rid this country of people that are terrorizing the country and bringing in security … you cannot have personal security, you cannot have access, you cannot travel freely, you cannot have economic prosperity if there is no peace. At some point Sudan has to have peace but at the same time you have to make a fair chance so that the reasons these people are fighting.”

He argued that there must be some reasons those rebels were willing to give up their lives and bear arms against the central government saying, once one understands those reasons and make efforts and fix those reasons, so that there is no reason to fight, and they still want to fight “then somebody has to bear the consequences.”

“But you have to understand that Sudan for three generations has been a place where there has been intolerance, there has been inequality, there has been marginalization and people are fighting for better life and you need to listen to them but once that has been done then the rebel units can’t continue, the militias can’t continue, the unrest can’t continue. Sudan needs peace for property, security and unity.”

On what he would love to see happen in the Sudan

The former Special Envoy has expressed his hope that every Sudanese could live and enjoy peace and prosperity in the Sudan on equal footing with other no matter from where he comes or whatever be their ethnic background.

“What I love to see is that every Sudanese no matter where they live, no matter what their background or ethnic tribe or whoever, they can have the opportunity to share in peace to share in prosperity.”

On how the international community can do to help the Sudan at this stage

He said he would urge the international community to come and invest in the Sudan which needs to have the economic sanctions removed and the name of the country removed from the terrorism list.

“My call to the international community is that says: okay there have been some things in the past which we don’t agree with, there have been some terrible inequities in the past where justice has to be done but we need to move on, it is time in my view to get rid of the status of state sponsor of terrorism designation it is time for the international financial institutions to come here and start bringing the Sudan into the economic community it is time for international companies to start investing in the Sudan.”

On the Sudanese economic potentials

He said Sudan has so many resources; you can be the world breadbasket. He said the country could provide livestock and meat for many of its neighbors. Gartion added that Sudan also has huge deposits of minerals that are rare and useful to development around the world. These, he added can be mined and plants could be grown and cattle could be fattened and exported.

“These things have to happen, there is no reason why Sudan’s economy should just be based on oil, you have gum Arabic and you have hard working people, you have educated people there is no reason why Sudan should be in the lower tier of economic progress”

On the opportunities ahead for the Sudanese government

“This agreement and this coalition government has the opportunity to change the future for the next generation don’t squander it, don’t let yourself get caught in crisis  and corruption, all these things that sometimes bring down governments, do what is right for the Sudan, put the Sudan first put the Sudanese people first, think about erasing the marginalization , think about erasing the inequities of the past and moving forwards to get the Sudan that everybody like to share, where everybody like to live in and where people have an opportunity for prosperity, live in security and raise their children with health, education and future for themselves.”



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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