"Amateur Hour" in Sudan
2:19 PM, Apr 14, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
Yesterday, the Foreign Policy Initiative and ASMEA hosted a conference on the precarious situation in Sudan. Panelists offered analysis of the nationwide elections, presently taking place, and discussed the implications of South Sudan’s almost certain secession, following the self-determination referendum in January 2011.
The panel expressed grave concern that U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration has been largely counterproductive and may be exacerbating already serious regional challenges. Panelist John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project and a NSC official during the Clinton administration, characterized Gration’s approach as “amateur hour” and called for more “adult supervision” over diplomatic efforts. Prendergast added that under the Obama administration’s strategy, there has been “no sign of benchmarks and no consequences.” Instead, Gration’s “baffling” comments have served only to “embolden” ICC-indicted dictator Omar Bashir’s party and “demoralize” the opposition. If the international community’s efforts fail now, Prendergast warned, billions more in humanitarian aid and peacekeeping forces will be needed.
Additionally, panelists recommended that the U.S. and international community focus on diplomatic efforts to implement the CPA and the transition to a post-referendum independent south. And China’s interest and influence in Sudan was noted, especially since Chinese oil sources may be jeopardized.