The team here at Enough has been making the rounds of late on Sudan policy, and in discussions with senior officials from the U.S., Europe, the African Union and the United Nations, it has been striking how much commonality there has been in views. Almost everyone agrees there needs to be a much greater multilateral investment in Sudan’s peace process with the U.S. positioned to play a genuinely strategic role. There is also a clear sense that while neither north nor south is eager to return to a military confrontation, the lagging pace in implementing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and tensions over elections, oil, and power-sharing could propel the country back toward a full-blown civil war. There is also a growing consensus that the international community needs to learn to multi-task in Sudan, where challenges such as the situation in Darfur, escalating north-south issues, and accountability are pressing and interconnected.
It is encouraging that more people are coming to share the perspective that Sudan require a stronger and more deliberate response, and that the United States is well placed to play a central role within the international community to build a credible peace process for Darfur and help reinvigorate CPA implementation. Certainly, this is the same message that President Obama and his Special Envoy to Sudan, Scott Gration, articulated when they met with the Enough Project and others several weeks ago. The shift in U.S. policy from simply managing the consequences of conflict in Sudan to ending the cycle of war and famine that have devastated Sudan’s people for decades cannot come soon enough.
Yet, while we have heard widespread agreement on the strategic goal of a comprehensive peace process for Sudan, we still encounter a lot of head-scratching when we discuss the road map for achieving that aim. The key question, of course, is how to build leverage — the carrots and sticks — with the government of Sudan and the rebels to make a comprehensive process happen; this is where there’s significant disagreement among the key players. In short, a global consensus for a holistic peace for all of Sudan increasingly exists, yet it is going to take some very determined and smart diplomacy to make that a reality. For that to happen, President Obama will need to make Sudan a genuine political priority. We can help keep the pressure on the President and his administration. We can let them know that peace in Sudan is our priority.