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MUST READ: Policy on Sudan pays off after aid agency move

June 15, 2009

Is the Obama administration’s less public, more nuanced approach to Darfur/Sudan policy beginning to pay dividends? According to Barney Jopson’s article in today’s Financial Times (“Policy on Sudan pays off afer aid agency move”), the answer appears to be a very cautiously optimistic Yes. Jopson states:

The Khartoum regime kicked out 13 international aid agencies in March in response to the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Omar alBashir for, the president, on war crimes and crimes against humanity in war-torn Darfur.

But after a sustained US diplomatic offensive led by Scott Gration, special envoy to Sudan, Khartoum has agreed to let three return under different names, a bureaucratic sleight of hand designed to let the regime maintain that it has not reversed its decision.

John Holmes, the United Nations’ humanitarian chief, who has called the expulsions “wrong and unjustified”, confirmed the shift in Sudanese policy.

Several people familiar with the negotiations that led to the change said the US had played a key role. “The new US special envoy came into Sudan offering a different approach, a more nuanced approach. He said ‘We want to work with you, we want to find solutions,'” said one UN official.

We have a long, long, long way to go towards peace in Darfur/Sudan, but it appears that the Obama adminstration has taken a small step in the right direction…and without the help of the vaunted anti-genocide establishment. Will wonders never cease? It’s nice to know that at least the adults are in charge at the White House…

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