Out of sticks, US offers Sudan a carrot to let South Sudan secede
The US offered this week to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terror as early as the middle of next year if Sudan agrees to let South Sudan secede in a referendum in January.
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Publicly, Bashir’s National Congress Party claims it is fully committed to implementing the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and will accept the result of the southern referendum, so it is difficult to judge how the offer has been received.Skip to next paragraph
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“This proposal from [Kerry] does not matter,” NCP communication officer Rabi Abdel-Atti told the Monitor. “The two sides are already engaged in continuous discussions, and the negotiations are proceeding. We don’t understand what outside proposals have to do with anything.”
Will it strengthen pragmatists?
The Obama administration’s hope is that this offer will strengthen pragmatists around Bashir who believe the regime can not afford another war and should instead strike a deal with a seceding Southern Sudan to share oil revenues.
The US offer did, though, leave much off the table. US officials have so far made clear to the regime that full US sanctions will not be lifted as long as the ongoing conflict in Darfur remains unresolved.
Because of this, the new proposal offers little economic benefit to Khartoum, especially in relation to the vast southern resources it is being pressured to surrender, according to Bayless Parsley, an Africa analyst for Austin-based global intelligence company STRATFOR.
“In the Sudanese government's eyes, what Kerry brought to Khartoum asks far too much for far too little in return,” says Mr. Parsley.
Bashir has plenty of internal disincentives toward allowing the peace deal to crumble, including a de-moralized army, rising discontent in other regions of Sudan, and the need to keep oil revenues safely pumping.
Those pushing for an increased US role in trying to prevent more conflict here say that while America’s involvement might not make all the difference, the extra muscle certainly cannot hurt.