Will President Biden’s Sanctions on Ethiopia Cause Suffering for Hundreds of Millions of Africans
Lawrence Freeman, September 30, 2021
President Biden is pursuing a destructive and dangerous course of action for the African continent with his policy of undermining the Ethiopian government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The fact that he may have no comprehension of the consequences of his action is no excuse when you are the President of the United States. President Obama’s administration, which Biden served as Vice President, will be forever marred by the unwarranted and unnecessary overthrow of President Qaddafi a decade ago. Obama’s reckless regime change in Libya has brought hell upon the nations of the Sahel, which will continue to cause unspeakable hardships to Africans for generations. If President Biden is to avoid repeating the failure of the previous Democratic administration and avoid being indicted for unleashing a new nightmare of death and devastation across Africa, he must reverse course, and support the sovereignty of Ethiopia. This will require rejecting the counsel of those in his administration, who are fanatical followers of the wicked geo-political doctrine, especially war-hawk Samantha Power.
Biden’s Defective Executive Order
On September 17, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order authorizing the Departments of Treasury and State to impose additional sanctions on Ethiopia. In his executive order, President Biden falsely claims that the conflict in northern Ethiopia “constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” Similar fraudulent formulations were used over the last twenty years as a pretext by the U.S., to justify regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Have we not learned anything from a generation of foreign policy fiascos that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings and the suffering of tens of millions? Not a single stable nation has emerged from this armed belligerent adventurism of the last two decades.
Contrary to President Biden’s executive order, the real interests of America do not lie in the current U.S. policy of weakening Prime Minister Abiy’s democratically elected government and giving tacit support to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). If a rebel group attacked, raided, and killed soldiers at the U.S. Marine Corps Base at Camp Lejeune, in North Carolina, would there be any question regarding the appropriate response by the U.S. government.
Ignorance by U.S. politicians of the historically complex cloth that holds Ethiopian society and culture together is no excuse for the current mindless and perilous policy of sanctions.
In fact, the true interests of the U.S. are entrenched in its republican principles. The U.S. should be supporting nation-states abroad that are committed to improving the conditions of life of their citizens, as enshrined in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” (Emphasis added)
Ethiopia, an emerging nation, is unique in Africa with its bold visionary policies for economic development to raise the standard of living for its more than 118 million people. The shameful and blatant failure by both the Biden and Trump presidencies to celebrate and endorse the progress of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD)—a dam for development, indicates how far America has drifted from our republican principles. The generation of 6,200 megawatts of electricity to power the Ethiopian and neighboring economies of East Africa is precisely the development strategy that is required and should be emulated by other African nations.
The Perils of Weakening the Nation-State
Thus far, the sovereign nation-state is the most efficacious form of government created by humankind to apply the laws of the universe to society over successive future generations.
With the ongoing horrors of what has been done to the Sahel and North Africa, through the reckless regime change of Libya, in our minds, let us look anew at the impending dangers to Ethiopia and Africa today. And lets us be mindful that same cast of advisors that drove the policy to create the current failed state of Libya are presently holding leading positions in the Biden administration.
Only fools, knaves, and madmen would dare intervene into a legitimate nation-state.
Horn of Africa Endangered
If the U.S. and the West succeed in forcing Ethiopia to negotiate with the TPLF as equivalents, or try to force some type of coalition government, the consequences could be catastrophic for Africa. Ethiopia would then be held hostage to the demands of other rebel ethnic insurgents, and separatist gangs that want to see its demise. This would in effect lead to the dismemberment of the Ethiopian nation-state. Given Ethiopia’s rigid ethnic divisions, internal war would emerge with ethnic regions fighting each other, leading to tens of millions of Ethiopians migrating to seek safer refuge. There is no way this mass movement of people catalyzed by the collapse of the Ethiopian nation-state would not affect the stability of the region. The total population of Ethiopia and its bordering nations combined is 255 million Africans: Ethiopia-118.5 million, Kenya-55 million, Somalia-16 million, Sudan-45 million, South Sudan-11 million, Eritrea-3.6 million, Somaliland-5.7 million, Djibouti-1 million. Two orders of magnitude greater than the population of Tigray, which could be engulfed in war, chaos, and acute hunger, if the government of Prime Minister Abiy were to collapse. This level of volatility from mass migration would lead an increase in the spread of disease and violent extremism.
Thus, contrary to his stated aim, President Biden’s sanctions regime would in fact endanger the security of the U.S. by creating the potential for massive instability in the Horn of Africa where almost 20% of the continent’s inhabitants reside.
Is this what President Biden wishes to be his legacy in Africa? From the classical Greek dramatists we learn, “Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.” Let this ancient warning penetrate the foolishness of those formulating U.S. policy today. When evil appears as good, in the mind of our leaders, civilization is threatened.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.
Please watch the above 36 minute interview I did on September 24, on OBN, Ethiopia. I discuss the full dangerous implications of President Biden imposing additional sanctions on Ethiopia. More sanctions and weakening the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has the potential to lead to more rebel separatist ethnic groups attempting to overthrow the government in Addis Ababa. If Ethiopia were to collapse, then the lives of 100s of millions of Africans in the Horn of Africa would be endangered. President Biden must stop listening his advisors who support the TPLF and who favor regime change. Giving assistance to preserve the nation-state Ethiopia, a long time ally of the U.S., and supporting the GERD is in the real interests of America. Does President Biden want his legacy in Africa to look that of President Obama, whose regime change in Libya led to the destruction of the nations of the Sahel?
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.
Will The U.S. Support Egypt’s Violation Of Ethiopia’s Sovereign Right to Operate The GERD?
June 5, 2021
Is the United States’ continued escalation of hostile policy towards Ethiopia preparing the groundwork to support Egypt’s “colonial rights” over the Nile River? As the White House and Congress threaten more sanctions against Ethiopia, their sovereign right to generate electricity for its people through the operation of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being linked to the conflict in Tigray. Is the Biden administration and the Democrat controlled Congress ominously following in the footsteps of President Trump, who shockingly gave a “green light” for Egypt to bomb the GERD? This would be a grave mistake, with more disastrous consequences than the Obama’s administration’s bombing of Libya and overthrowing President Kaddafi. While U.S. foreign policy in the region is aligning itself more closely to Egypt, it continues to undermine Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s sovereign authority to prevent the Balkanization of his nation.
Sanctions Are Not For Allies
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s still unproven, but often repeated March 30th allegation of ethnic cleansing by the Ethiopia government in Tigray, has provided the impetus for the crescendo of group-think Congressional voices to attack Ethiopia, America’s foremost ally in the Horn of Africa. On May 23rd, Blinken intensified U.S. aggression towards Ethiopia by:
Cutting off funds for security and economic growth.
Pressuring multi-lateral institutions to cease funding programs in Ethiopia.
altering U.S.-Ethiopia defense accords, which have been essential in the war against terrorism and providing security for East Africa.
Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives support Secretary Blinken’s sanctions against Ethiopia. Sanctions are a very poor and crude tool for conducting foreign policy, and I have opposed their implementation except in the most unique cases. However, it is unheard of to apply sanctions against a long-standing ally, and it is utterly counterproductive. The government of Prime Minister Abiy should be supported in defeating the insurrectionists, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This is contrary to calls from the U.S and United Kingdom for a cease fire and reconciliation between the Ethiopian National defense Forces (ENDF) and the TPLF.
TPLF, not the Tigrayan community, is intent on tearing apart Ethiopia, and weakening the government of Prime Minister Abiy. Ethiopia’s future existence as a sovereign nation-state depends on quelling this insurrection.
Pause for a moment, think, then ask yourself; how did President Lincoln personally conduct the war against the southern rebels? He summarily shunned all calls for peace and reconciliation, until the anti-Union, insurrectionist movement was defeated.
The Biden administration and the U.S. Congress are contributing to the potential dismemberment of the most vital nation in East Africa by sanctioning, threatening, and punishing the government of Prime Minister Abiy. If these officials, actually had any knowledge of the dynamic of ethno-nationalism in Ethiopia, they might come to realize that their actions could encourage more ethnic regions to attempt separation from the nation of Ethiopia.
Senate Recklessness Led by Bob Menendez
A new level of belligerence towards Ethiopia was on display at the May 26th, Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the conflict in Tigray. It is interesting to note that all but one of the speeches and accusations against Ethiopia were uttered by liberal Democrats. Ranking Member, Frank Risch, was the only Republican to join the anti-Ethiopian crusade.
Chairmen Bob Menendez referenced Secretary Blinken’s allegations of ethnic cleansing and other alleged crimes by the Ethiopian government. He demanded that Ambassador Godec, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, who was testifying, provide the proof that Ethiopia has “committed war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Tigray. Appallingly, the other Democrats on the committee followed Menendez in lock-step, demanding “action now” against Ethiopia.
Sarah Charles, testifying from USAID Humanitarian Assistance, further inflamed the hearings by projecting that Ethiopia will experience another “man-made famine,” reminiscent of 1985, if actions are not taken immediately. The potential for a new famine became the mantra of the senators at the hearing.
Allegations of hunger, and atrocities committed during the conflict must be fully investigated. However, to compare the current situation in Tigray to the famine of 1983-1985 that caused over one million deaths in Ethiopia, is contemptible. That famine was exacerbated by the destructive policies of Mengistu Halle Mariam, leader of the fascist-Marxist Derg. Likely unbeknownst to the uninformed senators, Mengistu, from 1976-1978 launched the “Red Terror,” murdering over half a million Ethiopians, in a genocide against his own people. To equate the famine of 1983-1985 and Mengistu’s policies to Ethiopia today and Prime Minister Abiy, is beyond reprehensible.
Senator Menendez opened the hearing by claiming that the conflict in Tigray echoes what happened in Darfur, Sudan. I travelled to Sudan many times from 1996 to 2012, including two tours of Darfur. Between that and my own extensive research, I am very familiar with Sudan and its history. I can assert unequivocally that there is no resemblance between Darfur, Sudan, and Tigray, Ethiopia.
Tragically, the behavior by the U.S. Congress, is shameful and reflects an acute superficiality in understanding the complex history of Ethiopia.
Overturn Geo-Political Thinking
While the U.S., led by Secretary Blinken, is reversing decades of friendship between Ethiopia and America, and endangering the Horn of Africa, the Biden administration is enhancing its rapport with Egypt.
On May 26th, while the Senate was ratcheting up the pressure on Ethiopia, Secretary Blinken was in Cairo conveying:
“President Biden’s appreciation to President Sisi for Egypt’s critical mediation efforts in support of a cease fire between Israel and Hamas…”
“The Secretary affirmed the strong strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and President Biden’s commitment to this relationship. He reiterated the United States’ commitment to Egypt’s water security and to the urgent resumption of substantive and results oriented negotiations under the leadership of the African Union to resolve the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).”
The sovereign right of Ethiopia to fill and operate the GERD for the general welfare of its citizens has become linked to the conditions in Tigray.
Democrat Senator Mendez, at the hearing ostensibly on Tigray, made the same veiled threat on the GERD as President Trump, who infamously suggested that Egypt might try to blow-up the GERD. Mendez blurted out, that Egypt has told him more than once, “if the GERD issue is not dealt with in a way that assures their water needs…they will do what is necessary…They have red lines…”
On May 27, Egyptian President Sisi, traveled to Djibouti, whose port provides access to the Gulf of Eden and Indian Ocean for its neighbor and major trading partner, Ethiopia. This was the first visit ever of an Egyptian head of state to Djibouti. According to African Intelligence, the two leaders discussed new security relations between their nations. African Intelligence further reports that Egypt’s defense minister and army chief of staff, who also visited Djibouti, “would like to see the creation of an Egyptian base in Djibouti not far from the Ethiopian border.”
At his news conference in Djibouti, President Sisi said:
“I stressed Egypt’s rejection of any attempt to impose a fait accompli through unilateral measures that disregard the interests and rights of the two downstream countries.”
Egypt has made repeated military threats against Ethiopia, has formed a military alliance with Sudan, and last month, carried out joint military exercises with Sudan labeled “Guardians of the Nile”.
Since Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid next to Israel, it would not be difficult for the U.S. to convince Egypt to stand down.
According to a knowledgeable expert on the region, the Biden administration is preparing to relocate the hub of its anti-terrorism deployment in the Horn of Africa, from Ethiopia to Kenya. The U.S. is trying to persuade Gulf nations, who support Ethiopia, to leverage their relationship in an effort to pressure Ethiopia to abandon its commitment to the GERD.
President Biden may or may not be aware of the implications of his decision to undermine Prime Minister Abiy’s government and support Egypt in their brinkmanship with Ethiopia regarding the GERD. His administration, filled with personnel from the Obama and Clinton presidencies, is following the same warped geo-political doctrine of his predecessors. Rather than responding to the fixed contours of the contentiousness surrounding the GERD, a true statesman would desire to shift the discussion to a higher level of potential resolution. Instead, the U.S., dominated by geo-politics, is fixated on seeking partners, who serve their narrow immediate interests, such as Egypt’s role in mitigating the Israel-Palestine crisis.
The GERD will actually help both Egypt and Sudan by regulating the Nile, preventing deadly floods, reducing evaporation, and providing a water bank to draw on in emergencies. However, the GERD is not even the fundamental cause of Egypt’s water problem, as Yaniv Cohenexplains: Egypt has a water problem and it’s not only the GERD
The real issue concerning the Nile River is strategic; the Nile does not have enough water to provide for the hundreds of millions of Africans living in the nations of the Nile Basin.
For the economic growth and well being of the nations of the Nile Basin, more water is needed than the Nile can deliver. The equivalent of a second Nile has to be created by human beings. This is the discussion that should take place among the Nile Basin nations and the larger international communities. It requires creative and visionary thinking, outside of the box, not confined to geo-politics. To alleviate nations from quarreling over a limited supply of Nile water, let us be bold in our imagination. Instead, conceive of the New Nile Project by constructing nuclear powered desalination plants along the Mediterranean and Red Sea to create large amounts of new potable water. These nuclear plants in additional to efficient desalination, and supplying abundant energy, would become nuplexes– manufacturing hubs for industrial and agricultural development.
Some addicted to the narrow thinking of geo-politics today, will object and say it cannot be done, it will take too long and cost too much. To those naysayers, I would respond by asking, is it better to have water wars among emerging nations that are struggling to feed their people laden by poverty? As populations expand, and economies grow, more water will be required. Why not use the urgency of resolving today’s combative dispute over the filling of the GERD, to prod our lazy minds to create a solution for the future of the Nile Basin? Overcoming all the many engineering and scientific impediments to achieve our New Nile Project will be challenging, but this is the very reason we human beings were put here on earth.
A Just End To A New Beginning
The fighting in Tigray, the ancient birthplace of Ethiopia, must come to end as soon as possible to prevent the loss of more lives and further suffering. This laceration in the fabric of Ethiopian society should be healed, and not allowed to propagate. Following the government’s safeguarding of the Tigray region, an all-out mobilization must be launched, with vigorous international support, to rebuild the province, upgrading economic conditions to guarantee that every person living in Tigray, a productive and dignified life.
When the conflict in Tigray is concluded, it would be appropriate for Prime Minister Abiy to emulate the spirit of President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. It was delivered on March 4, 1865, almost four years after the war began, which killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, and six weeks before his enemies assassinated him. After President Lincoln affirms his commitment to defeat the southern rebels at all costs, he compassionately pleads for peace.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Let Prime Minister Abiy use this overture as a prelude to lead a healthy dialogue with the Ethiopian people; to unite the nation around the preeminence of an Ethiopian identity, one that supersedes ethnicity. Reformulation of the Ethiopian Constitution of 1995 to emphasize Ethiopian citizenship, which transcends ethno-regionalism, should follow.
It is in the shared, common, and self-interest of all Ethiopians to participate in the development of their society and increase the wealth of their economy for the benefit of themselves and their posterity. With the near future generation of 6,200 megawatts of electricity from the GERD, Ethiopia will bring light and prosperity to all its citizens. This is cause for all Ethiopians to join together in joyous celebration.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton
President Trump’s foolish sanctions against Huawei display a poor understanding of the history of human development on this planet, as we know it. As William Jones points in his article below, it is the US economy and American citizens, more than China, that could suffer from these ill thought out sanctions. The beauty of human beings is our continued ability over millions of years to make discoveries of new physical principles of the universes, due to our inherent capacity for creative thought. Although this quality of human thought is less valued in American culture these days, this is not so in China. China will continue to make scientific advances, as should all nations. We should all rejoice when new discoveries are made, resulting in new advances in applied technologies, which benefits all of mankind. Who will create the next technological platform with “6G?” This is the essence of human progress and it should be celebrated. As I have repeated many times on this website, if The Trump administration and US Congress had any brains, they would enthusiastically join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and collaborate with China in industrializing the Moon as a stepping stone to colonizing Mars. These joint endeavors would produce a new platform of economic growth across the globe that would benefit humanity for decades to come.
Africa should not be bullied into rejecting Huawei’s 5G technology
The U.S. Could Be Shooting Itself in the Foot with Huawei Sanctions
2019-06-12 China Today
The near-hysteria in Washington over the expansion of Huawei worldwide and its development of 5G technology has provided some much sought ammunition for politicians here in Washington with a dearth of ideas for resolving America’s economic woes, and may have some short-sighted benefit for them among a populace fearful that the direction of American society is on a downward spiral. Finding a scapegoat for the country’s dilemma apart from the powers in Washington that actually determine the fate of the nation, is always a welcome relief for those power-brokers who hold themselves above scrutiny. And preventing a competing nation from becoming an integral contributor to the vital communications networks on which the world increasingly depends is an added boon. And yet the attempt to undermine Huawei from becoming a bigger player in the world’s communications systems may in fact sabotage the growth of U.S. companies engaged in the same field
On October 12, the U.S. announced the long overdue, official removal of some sanctions on Sudan. Now, new and exciting potentials lie ahead for the future of Sudan and its people. This is not the time to delay; the government of Sudan should seize the moment to implement policies that will lead to the economic development of this vast nation, and the raising of the standard of living of its more than forty million citizens.
According to U.S. government representatives, President Trump’s executive decision does not terminate President’s Clinton’s E.O. 13067, issued on November 3, 1997, but it removes those sanctions that had enforced an embargo on commercial transactions with Sudan. Thus, now companies and individuals wishing to export, invest, and trade with Sudan can conduct business using the international banking system without fear of being penalized. However, targeted sanctions remain, and there are licensing requirements for agricultural and medical exports.
This milestone in U.S.-Sudan relations is, in large part, due to the relentless efforts by Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, especially his leadership over the last sixteen months. Professor Ghandour, who was appointed to head Sudan’s foreign office in June 2015, has successfully changed the dynamics of a detrimental and hostile U.S. attitude against his nation. Nearly twenty years of sanctions have accomplished nothing except to cause greater suffering and hardship for the Sudanese people. Finally, this suffocating policy has ended, allowing Sudan the opportunity to move forward.
However, the U.S. now maintains a peculiar and contradictory policy towards Sudan: Lifting trade sanctions allows companies to conduct commercial activity in Sudan without penalty, but the U.S. cannot offer financial support to investors from any of its lending institutions, because Sudan remains on the U.S. State Department’s list of “states sponsoring terrorism” (SST).
Under the administration’s new executive order, Sudan is removed from a short list of nations under “comprehensive sanctions”: North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Cuba, and is placed on a broader list of nations subject to “targeted sanctions.” The government of Sudan intends to seek redress of its wrongful inclusion on the SST list. Removal from this list would allow Sudan to seek relief from its onerous forty-plus billions of dollars of debt, and make it eligible to receive favorable treatment from U.S. lending facilities. Unfortunately, removing Sudan from the SST list would require the approval of the U.S. Congress, which is still antagonistic towards Sudan.
Shaping a Better Future with China’s Belt and Road
Since Sudan’s liberation from colonialism, during which, the British Imperialists codified into law the artificial division between the so-called North and South, Sudan has never realized it full economic potential. This lack of development has been at the core of Sudan’s difficulties. This can now change.
The spirit of China’s 21st Century Silk Road has created a new dynamic on the African continent that Sudan is well positioned to harness. Sudan’s neighbors in East Africa are already participating in a density of construction of new rail lines going East to West that have the potential to transform Africa, becoming the eastern leg of the long-awaited East-West railroad that would link the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans. Ethiopia has completed the first electrically driven railroad connecting the capital Addis Ababa to the Port of Djibouti, and has devised a strategy to connect to all its neighboring countries by rail. Kenya has completed the first phase of the standard-gauge railroad, from the Port of Mombasa to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. This the first phase of a plan to connect the nations of the Horn of Arica to those of the Great Lakes Region. Tanzania has begun the first two stages of Dar es Salaam-Iska-Kagali/Keza-Musongati (DIKKM) rail project, a 1672-kilometer railroad connecting Kigali in Rwanda and Musongati in Burundi to Kenya’s Port of Dar Es Salaam. Most of these transportation infrastructure projects are being supported by China, both in funding and construction.
The Port of Sudan is officially on China’s Maritime Silk Road, and the Ports of Mombasa, Djibouti, and Dar es Salaam are there implicitly.
Sudan is geographically positioned to become the nexus point for the East-West and North South trans-Africa rail-lines, possibly crossing in the city of Sennar on the Blue Nile. The Sudanese government has already prepared an ambitious multi-phase plan to connect all parts of its territory with its neighbors by rail. China has been a consistent economic partner of Sudan and is a likely candidate to collaborate on these rail projects.
Sudan is also in urgent need of more electricity to power its economy. The erection of the Merowe Dam, with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, was a significant accomplishment in 2009-2010, and there have been smaller hydropower projects in the eastern portion of the country. However, Sudan, like the rest of sub-Sharan Africa, is suffering from a huge deficit in electrical power that is now holding back, and will continue to retard economic growth until it is rectified. Sub-Saharan Africa needs over 1,000 gigawatts of power to begin to obtain the level of modern Afro-industrial societies
Sudan Is Open for Business
Speaking in Washington, D.C. on October 16, at a forum sponsored by the Corporate Council of Africa, Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Mohamed Othman Al-Rikabii outlined the areas of potential investments in Sudan’s resources, including; water, gold, oil, mining, livestock, gas, and tourism. He emphasized the enormous potential for investment in agriculture in Sudan, with presently only 20% of its sixty million hectares of fertile land under cultivation.
For the first time in decades, Sudan has the opportunity to design polices that focus on the development of the nation. Productive employment must be created to provide hope for a better future for the Sudanese people, especially its youth, who are living in poverty. This will require immediate construction–shovels in the ground–of vitally needed infrastructure. China, in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” will undoubtedly be a willing partner to Sudan’s future economic growth. Whether the U.S., under President Trump, will be wise enough to contribute to Sudan’s development after twenty years of failed sanctions, remains to be seen. As for the government of Sudan, there is no time to waste, and no acceptable delays. Economic development is the agenda.
Joseph Hammond recently spoke with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour in Khartoum. In July, Trump decided to continue the probationary period on Sudanese sanctions another three months until September.
Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour
Question: What are Sudan’s foreign policy priorities at present?
A: Our priorities are first of all good relations with neighbors we always try to strike “zero problems with neighbors” and we are surrounded by six neighbors and each of those countries have either internal conflict or international problems at the moment. Taking a wider few to the East we have we Al-Shabab and Boko Haram to the West. We also have the problem of ISIS in our region. Solving these security challenges involves close coordination with our neighbors and that is our priority.
Sudan is both part of Africa and the Arab region so that is a priority before we look wider afield for allies in solving those issues. In nutshell our goal is to have our country at the heart of peaceful and integrated region.
Q: In 1995, the United States imposed sanctions on Sudan due to its support for terrorists like Bin Ladin and Carlos the Jackal. The former is now dead and the latter is now in prison after he was surrendered by Sudan to France. What is Sudan doing to ensure the Trump Administration lifts the sanctions?
A: In June 2016, we received and agreed up a five track plan between the United States of America and the Sudan.
The five tracks include counter-terrorism, an investigation into claims that we have a link to the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA), Peace with South Sudan, Peace within Sudan and as well as humanitarian issues.
We engaged on this for 6 months with the Obama administration to relieve the sanctions and that happened in January this year. We have had several meetings on this process at the hieghest levels including with Dr. [Susan] Rice and we engaged with [Secretary of State] John Kerry. We had a lot of engagement and we are waiting for the final decision in July.
In the last week of April, we had more meetings with the U.S. government and both sides agree there has been 100% implementation from of the five track plan. Sudan has been contributing to U.S. counter-terrorism efforts since before the turn of the century and the Pentagon confirmed that there is no links between our government and Joseph Kony’s LRA.
On the basis of the last bilateral engagements things are moving forward.
Q: The fate of the sanctions aside Sudan is still-listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.
A: There will not be economic issues after July if things go smoothly. However, if the state-sponsorship designation continues it’s a diplomat paradox. Last year on 15th of June the outgoing CIA director [John Brennan] said Sudan is cooperating very well with U.S. counter-terrorism efforts. How can a country be cooperating on U.S. counter terrorism efforts yet remain on the state sponsor of terrorism list. The administration should work with Sudan to have its named removed from the state-sponsorship of terrorism list.
Q: Well to clarify Sudan is not under embargo its under sanctions.
A: I mean practically speaking it has been embargo on us because other countries are not trading with us with us due to U.S. sanctions. So Sudan shifted to Iran and other countries to help the national army to support a rebellion. A rebellion I might added aided by the same countries who were imposing this embargo. Everybody knows the South Sudan has been supported by the West and other regional countries. Iran is not our natural ally but, it was necessity. When you are pushed against a wall you find you can do anything.
Q: Earlier this year Sudanese President Omer Al-Baashir visited Ethiopia and called for the creation of a Horn of Africa economic community. His proposal was supported by his Ethiopian hosts but, what is the status this union?
A: Yes, the Horn of Africa economic community was discussed between Baashir and the Prime Minsiter of Ethiopia [Hailemariam Desalegn] and both leaders agreed it is an important issue that should be discussed. Additionally, Somalia and Djibouti have responded positively to the proposal. A meeting of experts has been scheduled for late June and then there will be a foregin ministers meeting. If things go forward there will be a summit and a declaration. We are hoping that this issue will come to a reality there is a lot in common between the countries in the Horn of Africa. There is a lot of potential for stronger economic partnerships between these countries and Sudan. Economic collaboration means collaboration on everything. This organization can work to ensure that we are better connected by road, rail and there is free movement of people and goods.
Q: Well another important country for Sudan during this period was Russia. Which leads me to the Syrian Civil War where Sudan has taken a position very close to Russia’s hasn’t it? Sudan does not believe that Assad has to go before a peace agreement can be achieved…
A: Let me separate this issue as these are two questions are relations. With the Russia we maintain excellent Russian relations. Russia has invested in our economy in particularly in gold mining. In fact we have good relations in all other fields. Russia supports Sudan and on the Security Council when we face unjustified pressure.
On Syria our position has been from the beginning has been that this conflict has to resolved through direct negotiations and still this is our position and still is our position. Foreign military intervention will not solve
We have been clear on this with our other Arab allies. President Baashir said this again at the recent Arab League meeting in Amman, Jordan. Syria need direct negotiations between rebel groups and Assad. The Syrian Civil War will not be solved by foreign powers. It will be solved by discussions amongst the Syrian people. If what we said had been listened to earlier those hundreds of thousands of people would not have lost their lives
Q: There is a major conflict on your borders in Libya. What role is Sudan playing in Libya?
A: We are very concerned about the situation in Libya…This is a conflict with clear consequences for the world beyond our region as well. For example, the fighting Libya has made it difficult to combat illegal migration from our region through Libya or Algeria and onto Europe. One of concerns is of course the conflict in Libya will impact the on-going peace process in Darfur. In Darfur other than one or two holdouts there is now peace throughout the region. However, we are concerned that there are 600 rebels from the Minnawi faction of the Sudan Liberation Movement who are fighting in Libya with General Haftar’s forces. Those rebels could return any time with supported from Libya and re-ignite the war in Darfur.
Thus we have deployed 2,000 troops along are border with Libya. We are also concerned about ISIS, they have been kicked out of Sirte but, they are now regrouping who knows where. We are also concerned about the fact that Southern Libya has become a no-man’s land. The civil war in Libya must be solved by negotiation with the various factions.