Update on the Senate hearings. Some tough questions for the Special Envoy from Senator Feingold — who obviously shares the concern that the Special Envoy’s approach has been heavy on incentives and light on pressure. Feingold pushed Gration to make clear that the administration is considering punitive measures as well as incentives, given Khartoum’s long history of ‘foot dragging.’ While Gration was obviously reluctant to discuss such issues in open session, he did indicate that the administration was indeed considering punitive measures if Khartoum does not play ball. The bottom line: Gration agreed to brief Feingold on the punitive measures being considered by the administration. We would love to be a fly on the wall for that discussion.
The Special Envoy also argued that “lack of incentives is a pressure” – a formulation which I would imagine Senator Feingold has some problems with. In a separate line of questioning by Senator Corker, Gration suggested that he is not a fan of the current sanctions regime, saying, “At some point, we have to unwind some of these sanctions,” because he feels they are hurting development in the South. But it is also telling that when Feingold asked for practical examples of how Khartoum has acted in good faith, Gration did not offer any specific examples other than some vague language on the humanitarian situation.