Yesterday, final official results from South Sudan’s independence referendum showed that 98.83 percent of voters opted for secession from North Sudan. The Obama administration, which has been deeply involved in the referendum process and which has also faced repeated criticisms over its policy toward Sudan, congratulated South Sudan through a variety of channels. These messages expressed genuine goodwill toward South Sudan, but also subtly emphasized the administration’s diplomatic accomplishments in Sudan and hinted at the future of US policy toward the North.
President Obama’s statement highlighted his personal involvement with Sudan, promised a future of US friendship toward Sudan, and indicated that a normalization of US-North Sudan relations is possible:
As I pledged in September when addressing Sudanese leaders, the United States will continue to support the aspirations of all Sudanese—north and south, east and west. We will work with the governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition to independence. For those who meet all of their obligations, there is a path to greater prosperity and normal relations with the United States, including examining Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. And while the road ahead will be difficult, those who seek a future of dignity and peace can be assured that they will have a steady partner and friend in the United States.
Secretary Clinton’s statement reinforced these themes:
We look forward to working with southern leaders as they undertake the tremendous amount of work to prepare for independence in July and ensure the creation of two viable states living alongside each other in peace…
In line with the bilateral discussions held between the United States and the Government of Sudan, and in recognition of the success of the Southern Sudan referendum as a critical milestone of the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the United States is initiating the process of withdrawing Sudan’s State Sponsor of Terrorism designation, the first step of which is initiating a review of that designation. Removal of the State Sponsor of Terrorism designation will take place if and when Sudan meets all criteria spelled out in U.S. law, including not supporting international terrorism for the preceding six months and providing assurance it will not support such acts in the future, and fully implements the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, including reaching a political solution on Abyei and key post-referendum arrangements.
The statement from Ambassador Susan Rice, US Permanent Representative to the UN, is here.
Christian Science Monitor and VOA have more on the future of US policy toward North Sudan; both point to the conflict in Darfur, and North Sudanese President Omar al Bashir’s indictment for war crimes, as outstanding issues in US-North Sudan relations.
The EU’s statement is here.
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I think they should forgive Sudan’s debt since the North has agreed to assume it all. That would be a good gesture for the way they accepted South Sudan’s vote.
As far as the terrorism designation is concerned I think that should stay in place until they reign in the Janjaweed. They are mostly smaller Arab tribes being promised the land that they run black tribes off of. These tribes aren’t strong enough to do what they are doing without government help. Most of the larger Arab tribes have largely peaceful relations with Black Africans in Darfur because the two groups basically divided up the land on their own and trade with each other.
I agree about the debt forgiveness. As for the terrorism designation, what you say may be in line with the administration’s thinking – my impression is that they are still using the “carrots-and-sticks” approach they adopted in the beginning, and that they will only hand over this carrot if Khartoum plays ball, including in Darfur.