On August 13th, a misleading full page "article," sponsored by the Government of Sudan, or GoS, was published in the Washington Times. The piece proclaimed the Sudanese government’s willingness to “constructively” engage with the United States. The misinformation featured an interview with Dr. Ghazi Salah Eddin Al Atabani, an advisor to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, which cited GoS positions and out-of-context quotes from U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Scott Gration.
The picture painted in the Times is one of a cooperative GoS, ready to engage in all peace talks and advocating for the lifting of sanctions. Here are two gems, attributed to Dr. Ghazi:
“The Sudanese government is fully committed to talks to end the war once and for all, anytime and anywhere.”
“Sudan’s removal from the (state sponsors of terrorism) list would thus reflect reality, honor previous commitments and would help reinforce our hope that U.S.-Sudanese relations had moved on.”
Clearly, after years of broken promises that have left over 300,000 Darfuris dead and more than 2.7 million displaced, the United States must see actions rather than just hear more empty pledges from the Government of Sudan before moving ahead to forge strong relations.
The article was paid for by the Government of Sudan, as noted in a disclaimer from the Times. The full page "sponsored report" grossly misrepresents the situation in Sudan and should be viewed as nothing more than unfettered GoS propaganda.
We really must not allow a report like this to be left unchecked as it undermines the work of journalists and responsible media covering the Sudan crisis. The Washington Times should not be engaged in publishing misinformation on an issue as serious as Darfur and Sudan, or dressing up any propaganda deceptively as an article. Save Darfur has submitted a letter to the editor voicing concern over this published piece. Let’s hope that the Washington Times and other media outlets report objectively on the issue and do not allow the Government of Sudan to cover its bad deeds with more “sponsored reports.”