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Sudan, geographically the largest country in Africa, has been ravaged by civil war intermittently for 4 decades. An estimated 2 million people have died over the past decade due to war-related causes and famine, and millions have been displaced from their homes. According to the United Nations, an estimated 3 million people are in need of emergency food aid.
The relief operation is being coordinated by Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), established in 1989 in response to the 1988 humanitarian crisis in which over 200,000 people died of starvation. The OLS, a consortium of U.N. agencies and three dozen non-governmental organizations (NGOs), operates in both government and rebel-controlled territories.
The 19-year civil war has been and continues to be a major contributing factor to recurring humanitarian crisis. There have been many failed attempts to end the civil war in southern Sudan, including efforts by Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, former President Jimmy Carter, and the United States. To that end, the heads of state from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Uganda formed a mediation committee under the aegis of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and held the first formal negotiations in March 1994. The basis of these talks is the Declaration of Principles (DOP), which includes the right of self-determination, separation of religion and the state (secularism), and a referendum to be held in the south with secession as an option. Although the National Islamic Front (NIF) government reluctantly accepted the DOP in 1994, the government in Khartoum has repeatedly resisted secularism, walking out on peace talks in September 1994 and returning in July 1997 after a series of military defeats. In July 2002, the Sudan government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) signed a peace framework agreement in Kenya. In early September, the government of Sudan walked out of the Machakos talks and returned under pressure in early October 2002.
Relations between the United States and Sudan are poor in part because of Khartoum's human rights violations, its war policy in the south, and its support for international terrorism, although in recent months relations have improved somewhat. In November 1997, the Clinton Administration imposed comprehensive sanctions on the NIF government. President Bush renewed the sanctions in late October 2002. On September 6, 2001, President Bush appointed former Senator John Danforth as Special Envoy for peace in the Sudan. In January 2002, Envoy Danforth spent several days in Sudan, his second visit to the region. In April, Danforth submitted his report to President Bush.
On October 2, 2002, Representative Tom Tancredo and 13 other House Members introduced H.R. 5531, the Sudan Peace Act. H.R. 5531 is similar to an earlier version passed by both the House and Senate. On October 7, 2002, the House passed H.R. 5531, 359-8. On October 9, 2002, the Senate passed the Sudan Peace Act without amendment by unanimous consent. On October 21, 2002, President Bush signed the bill (P.L. 107-245) at a White House ceremony.
MOST RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
In late November 2002, the government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) agreed to extend the cessation of hostilities agreement, signed in October 2002, through March 2003. The agreement was signed at the conclusion of the second round of talks at Machakos, Kenya. The parties also agreed to resume negotiations in January 2003. Observers stated that significant differences remained on power and wealth sharing, security agreements, and whether Khartoum, the capital, should become a secular capital without the restrictions of Sharia laws.
On October 29, 2002, President Bush renewed Executive Order 13067, economic sanctions imposed on the government of Sudan in 1997. In his letter to Congress, President Bush declared that "Because the actions and policies of the Government of Sudan continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, the national emergency declared on November 3, 1997, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond November 3, 2002." Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department blocked the assets of 12 Sudanese entities, including the Sudan National Broadcasting Corporation, in late October 2002.
BACKGROUND AND ANALYSIS
In 1956, Sudan became the first independent (from Britain and Egypt) country in sub-Saharan Africa. For almost 4 decades, the east African country with a population of 35 million people has been the scene of intermittent conflict. An estimated two million people have died from war-related causes and famine in southern Sudan, and millions more have been displaced. The Sudanese conflict, Africa's longest-running civil war, shows no sign of ending. The sources of the conflict are deeper and more complicated than the claims of political leaders and some observers. Religion is a major factor because of the Islamic fundamentalist agenda of the current government, dominated by the mostly Muslim/Arab north. Southerners, who are Christian and animist, reject the Islamization of the country and favor a secular arrangement. Social and economic disparities are also major contributing factors to the Sudanese conflict.
The abrogation of the 1972 Addis Ababa agreement in 1983, which ended the first phase of the civil war in the south, by former President Jaffer Nimeri is considered a major triggering factor in the current civil war. Although the National Islamic Front government, which ousted the democratically elected civilian government in 1989, has pursued the war in southern Sudan with vigor, previous governments, both civilian and military, had rejected southern demands for autonomy and equality. Northern political leaders for decades treated southerners as second-class citizens and did not see the south as an integral part of the country. Southern political leaders argue that under successive civilian and military governments, political elites in the north have made only superficial attempts to address the grievances of the south without compromising the north's dominant economic, political, and social status. In recent years, most political leaders in the north, now in opposition to the current government, say that mistakes were made and that they are prepared to correct them. But the political mood among southerners has sharply shifted in favor of separation from the north. The current government seems determined to pursue the military option. The war is costing the government an estimated $1-2 million a day. Economic conditions have deteriorated significantly, and millions of southern Sudanese are at risk of starvation due to a serious humanitarian crisis, partly caused by the government's decision to ban United Nations relief flights.
Sudan's Reaction to the September 11th Terrorist Attacks
Sudan's reactions to the September 11th terrorist attacks and U.S. military actions against Taliban and Al-Qaeda have been mixed. The leader of Sudan's National Islamic Front government, President Omar el-Bashir, who provided a safe haven to Osama bin Laden between 1991-1996, condemned the terrorist attacks and expressed his government's readiness to cooperate in fighting terrorism. Secretary of State Colin Powell called Sudanese Foreign Minister Mustapha Ismail several days after the terrorist attacks, the first high-level contact between U.S. and Sudanese officials. Secretary Powell stated that Sudanese officials offered to cooperate with the United States and appear eager to join the coalition. According to press reports, U.S. officials confirmed that the NIF government has given U.S. officials unrestricted access to files of suspected terrorists and suggested that they might be willing to hand over some of these individuals to U.S. authorities.
Sudanese officials are sending mixed signals about their level of cooperation with the United States. According to Secretary of State …