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Darfur in the News

U.S. and European Media

December 26, 2022

Washington Post: Bush Names Successor as Sudan Envoy Steps Down. President Bush's special envoy to Sudan, Andrew S. Natsios, resigned yesterday amid continuing frustration in Congress, the administration and the human rights community over the slow pace of deployment of international peacekeepers to war-ravaged Darfur. Natsios will be succeeded by Richard S. Williamson, a prominent Illinois Republican and former U.S. ambassador who has held senior posts in three GOP administrations, the White House said. In an interview, Natsios said his departure has long been planned and is related to his desire to return to full-time teaching at Georgetown University. But he has also been at the center of intense bureaucratic battling over what to do about the humanitarian disaster in Sudan's Darfur region. Associates said Natsios, who was named to the post in September 2006, appeared weary of the constant infighting. He also alienated others in the bureaucracy with what they regarded as his freelancing style. Bush has adopted Darfur as a special cause, and has become one of the few world leaders to describe the killing there since 2003 as genocide. But he has been repeatedly stymied in his efforts to marshal an effective international response to the crisis in Darfur, in the western part of Sudan, where the war and its effects have claimed at least 200,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people. Natsios's assessment of conditions in Darfur has put him at odds from time to time with the religious and human rights groups that have pressed for more aggressive U.S. action on Sudan. They greeted his departure with concern that the president was replacing one part-time envoy with another. "This needs to be more than just a fresh face in that position," said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), a key supporter of recent legislation to protect the right of states to divest from companies with connections to Sudan. "To this point, we've seen only spurts of engagement and muscle from the administration, surrounded by long droughts of silence and passiveness."

Associated Press: Pope Speaks of Solace for ‘Tortured Regions’. Pope Benedict XVI issued a Christmas Day appeal Tuesday to political leaders around the globe to find the ''wisdom and courage'' to end bloody conflicts in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan and Congo. Benedict delivered his traditional ''Urbi et Orbi'' speech -- Latin for ''to the city and to the world'' -- from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica, blessing thousands of people gathered in the square below under a brilliant winter sun. He mentioned in particular those living in the ''tortured regions'' of Darfur, Somalia, northern Congo, the Eritrea-Ethiopia border, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Balkans. Beyond those conflicts, Benedict said he was turning his thoughts this Christmas to victims of other injustices, citing women, children and the elderly, as well as refugees and victims of environmental disasters and religious and ethnic tensions.

The following editorial appeared in Saturday's San Antonio Express-News.

Sudan divestment bill furthers a just cause

"Not on my watch." Those were the words President Bush is supposed to have written in the margins of a National Security Council memo back in 2001. The memo detailed the Clinton administration's failure to take action to stop the genocide in Rwanda.

During the past four years, another genocide has afflicted the African continent, this time in the Darfur region of Sudan. To the president's credit, his administration has done more than any other government to stop the killing and alleviate the suffering.

Yet the fact remains. At least 200,000 people have been slaughtered in Darfur and 2.5 million driven from their homes into squalid refugee camps. And the attacks, killings and human rights atrocities continue — on his watch.

One of the few bright spots in the effort to rein in the murderous regime in Khartoum has been the grass-roots divestment effort. Huge state and municipal investment funds have begun to sell off the stock of foreign companies that act as the corporate enablers of President Omar al-Bashir's genocidal policies.

Those with financial interests in Sudan have filed lawsuits claiming such actions unconstitutionally infringe on the president's foreign policy-making authority. That's an argument that holds some appeal at the White House.

Congress has responded by passing a bill that legally protects state and local divestment measures. It also prohibits federal contracts with foreign companies that support Khartoum's policies in Darfur. U.S. companies are largely prohibited from doing business in Sudan.

But as Congress leaves for winter recess, Bush can utilize a pocket veto — allowing the divestment bill to lapse if he doesn't sign it by Jan. 3. That would be a huge political and moral failure. A failure to act. A failure simply to use his pen.

Rather than allow the Sudan divestment act to fail by default, Bush should use its signing as an opportunity to reiterate those words he wrote back in 2001: "Not on my watch." You can encourage him to do so by calling the White House — (202) 456-1111.

The following op-ed by Adam Sterling and Sam Bell appeared in Monday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Not on Bush's watch, not on Bush's dime

"Not on my watch."

In September 2001 President Bush scrawled these now famous words on the margins of a presidential briefing highlighting the Clinton administration's failure to respond to the genocide in Rwanda. The United States -- along with its European allies -- failed to lift a finger as more than 800,000 people died in less than 100 days.

Three years after pledging not to repeat Clinton's mistakes, President Bush declared that genocide was occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan, the first time a sitting U.S. president had labeled an ongoing conflict as genocide.

Although his foreign policy record is often criticized, Bush has, at times, shown commendable leadership on Sudan. In 2005 he was at the forefront of a peace deal that brought the north and south of Sudan together after two decades of civil war. Since the eruption of the genocide in Darfur, Bush has imposed a number of economic sanctions against the Sudanese government and has been an outspoken critic of the government's policies in Darfur.

Leadership on Sudan is needed now more than ever. As many as 400,000 Darfuris have been killed, and there are now more than 3 million refugees displaced throughout Darfur and neighboring Chad.

In July the United Nations Security Council approved a robust international peacekeeping force to deploy by the end of this year. That force, because of obstruction from the Sudanese government and member states' failure to contribute resources, is far from full strength.

Meanwhile, the United Nations reports increases in violence, including ground attacks and aerial bombardments by Khartoum and its allied militias.

So how can we pressure the Sudanese government to support the deployment of peacekeepers?

Since coming to power in a military coup, the Sudanese regime has ignored diplomatic pleas and violated international obligations, but when faced with sustained and serious economic pressure it has caved. After the United States imposed sanctions against Khartoum in 1997, the regime cut ties with Osama bin Laden, who was provided safe haven in Sudan from 1993 to 1996, and other terrorist elements within the government.
Today, American activists are using economic pressure on Khartoum to help end genocide in Darfur. Texas is among 22 states that have passed divestment measures, committing to sell investments in foreign companies that enable the Sudanese war machine.

Roberta Cohen, a senior adviser at the Brookings Institution, recently found that, "In the view of some analysts, divestment campaigns may prove more effective than sanctions. ... The Sudanese government has publicly urged an end to divestment actions, underscoring the potential sting of their impact."

Considering Bush's leadership, the dire situation on the ground, and the vulnerability of the Sudanese government to economic pressure, Americans concerned about Darfur were shocked when the president publicly opposed the most robust piece of Darfur legislation to come out of Congress, the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act.
The legislation, which was approved unanimously this month by both chambers of Congress, would authorize and provide legal protection for state and local governments to divest and would prohibit problematic companies in Sudan from receiving federal contracts.

The people of Darfur need our leadership more than ever. By signing the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act, President Bush can send a message to the Sudanese government that genocide will not occur on his watch and it will not occur on his dime. Call 1-800-GENOCIDE and ask President Bush to sign the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act.


The Darfur Daily News is a service of the Save Darfur Coalition.  To subscribe to the Daily News, please email [email protected]. For media inquiries, please contact Ashley Roberts at (202) 478-6181, or [email protected].

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