Cautious Optimism in Sudan

Morgan Lorraine Roach /

While candidate Obama spoke out fiercely against genocide in Darfur, President Obama extended a hand to the architects of the killing in Khartoum.  The Administration’s policy review on Sudan, completed late last year, promised a new strategy of engagement with Sudan, spearheaded by Sudanese envoy, General Scott Gration.

For the moment, that policy, Gration claims, is on the verge of yielding positive results. “We have had agreements in the past; most have failed. I think this is different.” Gration’s optimism is powered by the signing by President Omar al-Bashir of a ceasefire deal in Doha with the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), the largest rebel group in Darfur.

The Doha pact lays out a timetable for negotiations, promises to protect and defend Darfur’s residents from violence and intimidation, and commits Khartoum to establishing fair representation in democratic institutions.  Chad, Sudan’s western neighbor, has also joined in the peace process, lowering tensions between rival neighbors. (more…)