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New U.S. Sudan Policy a 'Positive Development'

Interviewee: John Campbell, Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson, Associate Director and Coordinating Editor, CFR.org
October 21, 2009

The Obama administration's new strategy for dealing with Sudan will offer what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called a "menu of incentives and disincentives" (LAT) to convince the Sudanese government to cooperate on issues like stopping human rights violations in Darfur and implementing the conditions of the 2005 cease-fire agreement that ended the country's civil war.

CFR Senior Fellow John Campbell, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, says the new, more comprehensive approach to Sudan is "a positive development," and disagrees with critics of the policy who argue that it offers engagement without requiring that the Sudanese government meet existing benchmarks. "[T]he first law of diplomacy is that you talk to people," Campbell says. "You have to talk to people, and you have to talk to people all the time. And so I think that engagement at this stage is the way to go."

Campbell also notes the changes in the nature of the violence in Darfur of late. "It looks much more like low-intensity warfare with a heavy dose of criminal activity," he says. "This is somewhat different from the more blatant state-sponsored terrorism that was going on more than a year ago." Still, he says, the United States should look for signs that Khartoum is working to extricate itself from the continuing violence there, especially by cooperating with UN and African Union peacekeeping forces.

The new policy offers the Sudanese government, which "has willy-nilly become a pariah state," a new opportunity to reform its standing in the world "by living up to agreements to which it has already been a party," Campbell says.

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