The Sudan and
the Oslo Peace Process
The Bush administration's strong backing
for the Sudan peace process has given hope for an end to the
oppression and enslavement of marginalized groups in Sudan.
But peace is possible only if the United States government
effectively monitors the actions of the Sudanese government and
punishes violations of the various agreements it has signed.
Unfortunately, the U.S. established
monitoring team has failed to adequately report on the Sudanese
government's violations of the 11-month-old cease-fire, which
include the enslavement of women and children. In so doing,
the U.S. administration has chosen a path of silence and
cover-ups, while encouraging the State Department to create a
conducive negotiating atmosphere to appease Khartoum. If the State
Department continues in this way, the U.S. could make its biggest
diplomatic mistake since turning a blind eye to Yasser Arafat's
terrorist aims toward Israel in the Oslo peace process.
According to Sudan expert Dr. Eric
Reeves, the government of Sudan has seriously hindered,
threatened, and obstructed the efforts and operations of the
U.S.-led Civilian Protection Monitoring Team (CPMT) in Sudan, and
thereby violated the U.S.-brokered agreement of March 2002.
This agreement obligates the government of Sudan to assist and
facilitate investigative visits, grant unhindered flight access
and ensure that there is no obstacle to these visits taking place.
In January of this year, however, Sudan's military officers went
so far as to threaten the CPMT that their aircraft would be
"shot down" if it flew over a garrison.
From March 7 to April 11, 2003, the
United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
reported that the government of Sudan denied all flight access to
the U.S.-led CPMT. This further delayed the CPMT investigation on
reported massacres in several southern villages in the Mabaan area
of the Eastern Upper Nile, from the time the reports were
originally hand delivered to Ambassador Michael Ranneberger at
the State Department on February 5, 2003. The delay of the
State Department and the Sudanese government's obstruction
resulted in a three-month degradation of evidence due to exposure
to extreme heat and animal life in the region.
Another violation of the peace agreement
surfaced on May 22, 2003, when forces aligned with the government
of Sudan ambushed Longochuk and 9 surrounding villages.
According to villagers present at the time of the onslaught, a
force of local Arab militia led by a government military officer
attacked unarmed civilians killing 59 and abducting 16.
Dennis Bennett of Servant's Heart, the primary relief organization
on the ground, interviewed a number of village sources who claim
that CPMT head, General Charles Baumann, is responsible for the
deaths of at least two seriously injured children because he
refused to help the 11 most critical of the 33 villagers wounded
in the attack he was investigating.
Soon after the attack one of Bennett's
sources, Sudan Peoples Liberation Army Commander Daniel Kot, told
Bennett that he begged Baumann to evacuate the victims to a
hospital or at least contact the Red Cross so they could be
medevaced to Kenya for medical aid. Kot claims Baumann refused any
help saying: It is none of our affair. As a result, a
severely wounded 3-year-old girl and a 5-year-old boy riddled with
gun shot wounds died within four days of General Baumann's refusal
to give good Samaritan aid.
Despite the continued reporting of
atrocities during the cease-fire and the motive to destroy
villages in the path of oil expansion in the Eastern Upper Nile,
the U.S.-led Civilian Protection Monitoring Team neglected to
interview key witnesses who were readily available. One CPMT
report failed to acknowledge that workers from a subsidiary of
China National Petroleum were drilling for oil near the area the
attack took place. All of the reports failed to
draw a parallel between the intentional destruction of traditional
village land in the Western Upper Nile -- as the oil companies
advanced -- and the same actions by the government of Sudan and
oil companies -- as they pushed into the Eastern Upper Nile. The
reports rather attribute the cause of violence to disputes over
cattle grazing rights, even though the geography and evidence indicate
that the Sudanese government increasingly targets
villages in the Eastern Upper Nile region for their oil and
importance in a "divide and conquer" strategy.
In a recent e-mail David Sims, the deputy
director of public affairs for the State Department, was
questioned about the reported massacres, the acts of violence, and
the problems that were not made public by the CPMT. In a
blanket response Sims wrote: "The Civilian Protection
Monitoring Team is helping the peace process by highlighting
atrocities, keeping both sides accountable to their word, and
recommending concrete actions both sides can take to avoid further
Could this be déjà vu?
For the ten years of the Oslo peace
process, Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority repeatedly
violated the agreement he signed with Rabin in the Rose Garden at
the White House. Arafat transformed his limited police
force, which was supposed to prevent terrorism and maintain order,
into a fully equipped army. Rather than fight terrorism,
Arafat and the PA gave extremists a safe haven by issuing fake
sentences and putting terrorists in prisons with revolving doors.
While violating the letter and spirit of
the Oslo Accords, the PA trained a generation of Palestinian
children to hate Jews, Christians and Americans through schools,
textbooks and the state-controlled media. Each time a
violation occurred, Oslo "peace processors" would
whitewash and cover up the extent of the Palestinian side's
For the American diplomat the appearance
of a working process, as manifested in signed pieces of paper and
public promises in English (not Arabic), was more important than
peace on the ground. The possibility that allowing these
violations to go unpunished would only embolden Arafat and the
PA's bellicose tendencies, was completely ignored.
According to Sudan expert and
international civil rights activist Dr. Charles Jacobs, this may
be a systemic problem with Western diplomacy.
"Democracies, determined to avoid
war, become confused when they are purposely mislead and
deceived," Jacobs says. "Rather than give up the
hope that peace can be achieved through negotiation alone, they
relent and retreat when the other side violates the treaty terms
it has signed."
Jacobs claims Western diplomats often
rationalize their tacit consent of egregious violations in order
to preserve the peace process. He says all that is gained
with this strategy of perpetual concession, however, is more
aggression because the other side, being rational, can only
conclude that the West will not fight to enforce the agreements it
Perhaps he is right. During Oslo,
Israel armed Arafat and the Palestinian Authority with guns,
imagining Arafat would use them to prevent terror. The PA
ended up using those guns to shoot their Jewish "peace
partners." After Arafat's initial Oslo violations ten
years ago, Israeli and American diplomats began a mantra that has
not let up to this day: Don't let treaty violations (fostering
terror and inciting religious hatred) stop the peace process.
Will we hear this same mantra for Sudan
and harvest the same results?
Ten years after Arafat signed Oslo, he
unleashed a war of terror against Israel -- a war that the PA had
been preparing for a decade. Arafat attempted to achieve
through violence what he had failed to obtain through negotiations
at Camp David in July 2000. The State Department should have
seen this war coming, but instead was seduced by the illusions its
peace processors created.
Whether the State Department negotiates
with dictatorships in Ramallah or in Khartoum, the reality is U.S.
diplomats tend to refrain from standing up for moral clarity in
their negotiations with dictatorships. Democracies respect
process and written agreements because of their adherence to the
rule of law, due process, and transparency. Dictatorships
rule unchecked and face few negative consequences if they violate
The Bush administration and the State
Department must hold Sudan's dictatorial government to its
agreements and avoid resorting to diplomatic fictions. If it
doesn't, be prepared to watch the sequel to Oslo -- filmed in
Maria Sliwa lectures on Sudan
and is founder of Freedom Now News, an international human rights