Heading back to Capitol Hill this morning for what will surely be a closely watched Senate Foreign Relations committee hearing featuring U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Maj. General Scott Gration. The special envoy will be joined by a panel of experts who will offer testimony on a comprehensive strategy for Sudan.
The hearing is slated to begin at 10a.m. EDT in 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building. The witnesses will speak as follows:
Major General Scott Gration, USAF (Ret.)
Special Envoy to Sudan
Acting Assistant Administrator for Africa
U.S. Agency for International Development
The Honorable David Shinn
Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University
Mohammed Ahmed Eisa, M.D.
Physician, 2007 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Laureate
Sudan Organization for Rights and Peace-Building
Regional Director, Southern and East Africa Programs
National Democratic Institute
Coming on the heels of a frank discussion on the flawed and incomplete implementation of Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the direction of U.S. policy toward Sudan by panelists before a House subcommittee yesterday afternoon, this morning’s hearing is expected to strike a different tone in regards to the strategy for engaging with Sudan. The consensus at yesterday’s hearing was certainly that the current U.S. approach, led by Special Envoy Gration, is placing undue emphasis on offering incentives ("carrots") to Khartoum without establishing clear and serious pressures and consequences ("sticks") for the regime’s past and present intransigence. Recent U.S. engagement has so far failed to make it clear to the northern regime that there will be a price to pay for reneging on commitments made when it signed the CPA in 2005; the latest concern is that worrisome indicators suggest that the North may be making moves to destabilize the South in the run-up to the 2011 referendum on the South’s self-determination.
U.S. policy on Sudan is currently under review by the Obama administration and has reportedly been delayed by internal rifts between key members of the administration. Some of these disagreements have played out in the public sphere as well, so it will be interesting to hear how Gration frames his remarks, particularly on conditions in Darfur and his strategy for negotiating with both the government in Khartoum and the southern government, led by the SPLM, in Juba, in the crucial months ahead as Sudan inches closer to elections in April 2010 and the Southern referendum in January 2011.