May 3, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2328

Sudan Signals Willingness for Rapprochement with U.S.

May 3, 2009
Sudan | Special Dispatch No. 2328

The Sudanese regime has recently been signaling its willingness for rapprochement and normalization with the U.S. This new attitude, apparently a response to the advent of the Obama administration and to President Barack Obama's overtures to the Muslim world, is reflected in statements by Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and articles the Sudanese press. It has been reinforced by visits to Sudan by U.S. officials, including Special Envoy Scott Gration and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry.

In improving its relations with the U.S., Sudan seeks to achieve several aims, including the lifting of the U.S. sanctions against it, and its removal from the U.S. State Department list of countries sponsoring terrorism. In addition, Sudan hopes that the U.S. will refrain from supporting the ICC arrest warrant against Bashir.

The following are excerpts from statements by Bashir and from an editorial in a Sudanese daily.


Sudan President Bashir: "We Welcome the Positive Signals That President Obama Has Sent to the Muslim World"

In an interview with Al-Jazeera TV, Bashir spoke positively about the new U.S. president, saying that Barack Obama's policy toward Sudan is different than Bush's, though he doubts Obama's ability to overcome the pressure of the "anti-Sudan lobbies." [1]

Bashir expressed similar sentiments in a speech to the Sudanese parliament, in which he said: "We support peace and stability. We are not happy that our country is living in the shadow of swords and tensions. We did not choose the path of confrontation, it was forced upon us. Since we believe that constructive dialogue and mutual respect are the best ways to contain tensions and enmity between nations and between states, our hand is extended to the supporters of peace and justice, in accordance with the values of truth and respect.

"Furthermore, we welcome the positive signals that President Obama has sent to the Muslim world on more than one occasion, when he called it the cradle of civilization and a haven of culture whose contribution to human civilization cannot be ignored. [Obama] has also recognized the fact that his country's true victories were not achieved through the power of weapons, but through alliances and friendships based on dialogue and mutual benefit." [2]

Editor of Sudanese Daily: "It Seems That [Obama] Wants to Prove... That There Has Been a Real Change in American Foreign Policy"

Editorials published during and after Senator John Kerry's April 15-17, 2009 visit to Sudan took a similar approach. Kamal Hassan Bakhit, editor of the Sudanese daily Al-Rai Al-'Am, which is close to the regime, wrote that Sudan seeks a closer relationship with the U.S. and is pleased with Obama's overtures toward it. At the same time, he warned that expectations from Obama should not be too high, because U.S. presidents have only limited influence over their country's foreign policy.

He wrote: "The [Sudanese] government received the [statements of] U.S. envoy Scott Gration - who presented the vision of the new American administration toward Sudan, and [expressed America's] willingness to normalize relations with [this country] - with a great deal of satisfaction, wanting to get past the bitterness left by George W. Bush, who is missed by no one. [The Sudanese government] responded to Gration's greetings with even warmer greetings of its own...

"It seems that [Obama] wants to prove to the world that there has been a real change in American foreign policy... This message [of change] brought Obama his victory [in the elections], for the Americans despise the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, [and hate] seeing their dead sons [returning] in coffins every day...

"John Kerry hinted... that the embargo and the economic sanctions on Sudan may be lifted, and that its name may be removed from the list of states sponsoring terrorism - the latter claim [namely that Sudan sponsors terrorism] being a false accusation that is not based on any facts or evidence. We hope that all the proposals made by Obama's envoys will be implemented, for Sudan has no interest in enmity with a superpower like the U.S. [This enmity resulted from the policies of] the Bush administration, which strove to be an enemy of Sudan and of many other Arab countries that do not comply with the U.S.'s policies."

"The American People Support Obama's [Bid For] Change, But The Zionist Lobby is Lurking Close By"

"Obama [has promised] to withdraw his troops from Iraq, [to hold] peaceful talks with Iran about its nuclear program, which is [already] underway and cannot be stopped by anybody, and [to hold] peaceful talks with North Korea. These [declarations] indicate that he is striving to formulate a peaceful foreign policy that will help the U.S. regain its popularity in the Third World. We know, however, that the American foreign policy is not formulated by presidents or by individuals, but by the various relevant American institutions... The American people support Obama's [bid for] change, but the Zionist lobby is lurking close by, watching him to make sure that he does not overstep the boundaries that have been set out for him.

"Furthermore, we have not forgotten that president Obama has kept president Bush's secretary of defense, [Robert Gates], who had a hand in igniting the flames of war in Iraq and in other countries, and still advocates American military hegemony over the Third World countries and the rest of the world. And we have not forgotten that many other members of Bush's staff continue to work for the new administration. How can there be change, as Obama promises, when Bush's people are [still] in control of decision making? It is especially noteworthy that the Zionist [Rahm Emanuel], who supervised the Israeli attack on Gaza, is Obama's advisor and is now running the White House as he pleases."

"We Look Forward to the Implementation of the Promises Made By Obama's Envoys"

"Despite all this, we hope that Obama's intentions are sincere, and that the utopian vision painted by Obama's envoy in Khartoum is [likewise] sincere, and [heralds] a friendlier American attitude towards [the possibility of] developing ties with Sudan. We want excellent ties with the Obama administration. We expect him to lift the economic sanctions on Sudan, as well as the American embargo on our country, and to remove Sudan's name from the list of states sponsoring terrorism...

"We look forward to the implementation of the promises made by Obama's envoys, to swift normalization of Sudan-U.S. relations, to direct U.S. involvement in resolving the Darfur crisis, and to the U.S.'s renouncement of the ICC [arrest warrant against Bashir]. [We also hope that the U.S.] will pressure France to change its hostile position toward Sudan and stop supporting the ICC...We sincerely hope that Obama's promises to Sudan and the Third World countries are fulfilled." [3]



[1] Al-Rai Al-'Am (Sudan), April 26, 2009.

[2] Al-Rai Al-'Am (Sudan), April 14, 2009.

[3] Al-Rai Al-'Am (Sudan), April 18, 2009

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