Obama’s Squishiness Is Now a Trend
Bashir’s speech today gets Southern Sudan over one big hurdle toward declaring independence, which it is expected to formally do this July. The next test for U.S. pressure and Sudanese diplomacy is whether an equally congenial atmosphere will accompany talks over tricky issues such as border delineation and the sharing of Sudan’s oil.
But if Bashir does everything right with regards to the south and Washington does begin to normalize ties, there’s just one rather huge catch: The United States risks sacrificing the single-biggest point of leverage that it has over Khartoum — at exactly that time when another region of the country, Darfur, looks like it may be getting worse, not better. Renewed clashes between government and rebel groups there have sent thousands fleeing from their homes in recent weeks. It’s not the kind of behavior one might expect American diplomats to encourage.
Yet Washington forged something of a devil’s bargain. In order to get Bashir to accept the referendum, U.S. diplomats announced that they were delinking Southern Sudan and Darfur on their negotiating agenda — that is, they wanted to ensure that progress could be made in the south even if Darfur stalled. Now, that progress is indeed coming in the south. And Khartoum will soon come looking for its reward.
Diffidence? Then, why is the Obama administration just opting to back Vice-President Omar Suleiman? I had a feeling it would come to this. What happened to the Reagan precedent in The Philippines? Suez? Is it still Suez?
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Filed under: Africa, bhtv, USA Tagged: barack h. obama, darfur, egypt, ferdinand marcos, mickey kaus, philippines, robert wright, ronald reagan, south sudan, sudan omar bashir