| Published December 1999
THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S
SUDAN POLICY 1993-2000
First Published April 2000 by The European - Sudanese Public
Copyright 2000 David Hoile. All Rights Reserved
CHAPTER 1: THE UNITED STATES AND SUDAN:
CHAPTER 2: "CONTROL OF THE AGENDA AND PERCEPTION
2.1 "THE DIPLOMATIC ISOLATION WARD"
2.2 TURNING "THE ECONOMIC SCREWS"
2.3 "GETTING OTHERS TO FIGHT YOUR WAR"
CHAPTER 3: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S REPEATED
ABUSE OF ANTI-TERRORISM LEGISLATION
3.1 THE LISTING OF SUDAN AS A STATE SPONSOR OF
3.2 WAIVING ANTI-TERRORIST LEGISLATION FOR DEMOCRATIC
3.3 THE MUBARAK ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT
3.4 THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND ISLAMIC TERRORISM;
3.5 THE WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMBING: CONTRADICTION
3.6 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND THE AL-SHIFA
FACTORY BOMBING FIASCO
3.7 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND THE AL-SHIFA
CHAPTER 4: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND SUDAN: A SYSTEMIC
4.1 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S WITHDRAWAL OVER
100 FABRICATED"REPORTS ON SUDAN AND "TERRORISM"
4.2 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S REFUSAL OF SUDANESE
REQUESTS FOR COUNTER-TERRORISM TEAMS TO VISIT SUDAN
4.3 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND OSAMA BIN-LADEN
4.4 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: IN SEARCH OF NEW
CHAPTER 5: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION, SUDAN AND
CHAPTER 6: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND ALLEGATIONS
OF "SLAVERY" IN SUDAN
CHAPTER 7: SUDAN, OPERATION LIFELINE SUDAN AND
CHAPTER 8: SUDAN AND THE GULF WAR
CHAPTER 9: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S SUPPORT
FOR THE SPLA
9.1 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND "PRE-EMINENT
9.2 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S SUPPORT FOR TERRORISM
9.3 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND DIRECT FOOD
AID TO THE SPLA
9.4 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: TURNING A BLIND
EYE TO WAR CRIMES
CHAPTER 10: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND THE
REGIONAL ESTABILISATION OF SUDAN
10.1 ENCOURAGING UGANDA, ERITREA AND ETHIOPIA
10.2 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND AFRICA'S
"FIRST WORLD WAR"
10.3 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: ALIENATING EGYPT
CHAPTER 11: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: AT ODDS
WITH THE AMERICAN HUMANITARIAN AID COMMUNITY
CHAPTER 12: THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS AND SUDAN:
POORLY INFORMED AND CONFRONTATIONAL
CHAPTER 13: SUDANESE CALLS FOR DIALOGUE IGNORED
CHAPTER 14: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: OBSTRUCTING
PEACE IN SUDAN
CHAPTER 15: CONCLUSION /
The Clinton Administration's policy towards Sudan over the last
eight years has come sharply into focus, largely because of
events and developments in the past 18 months.
It has been an open secret that the Clinton Administration has,
for several years, sought to isolate, destabilise and ultimately
overthrow Sudan's Islamist government which had come to power
in 1989. In justifying its attempts to destabilise Sudan, the
Administration accused the Khartoum government of supporting
international terrorism, Islamic fundamentalist extremism, suppressing
religious freedom and abuse of human rights. Many of the American
policy decisions that were made regarding Sudan, were made in
secret, and were said to have been based on "classified"
material and information not available to public scrutiny.
The Administration has supported southern Sudanese rebels, insurgents
with an appalling human rights record. In so doing, Washington
has artificially prolonged the Sudanese civil war. The Administration
also sought to encourage several of Sudan's neighbours both
to support Sudanese rebels and to themselves militarily destabilise
their neighbour. The dangers inherent in destabilising a country
which straddles the Nile and abuts the Red Sea, a state which
borders with Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Congo,
Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, and is a near neighbour
of Saudi Arabia, do not seem to have registered with the Clinton
Administration. And, by and large, prior to the Administration's
farcical August 1998 Cruise missile attack on the al-Shifa medicines
factory in Khartoum there had been no meaningful public or private
questioning of its Sudan policy. The al-Shifa attack pushed
American policy towards Sudan, one of the world's poorest countries,
into the spotlight.
The fact is that the short-sighted Sudan policy pursued by the
Clinton Administration, and spurred on by a poorly informed
Congress, is simply no longer credible. The disastrous attack
on al-Shifa brought to a head concerns felt by many governments,
aid organisations, and individuals such as former President
Jimmy Carter, about American policy towards Sudan. The Administration
has self-evidently abused anti-terrorism legislation for political,
partisan and economic ends.
The past eight years has been characterised by a systemic intelligence
failure on the part of the American intelligence community,
a failure which culminated in the disastrous bombing of the
al-Shifa medicines factory. Internationally, the Clinton Administration's
Sudan policy has been either challenged or ignored by those
groupings and countries the United States was supposedly meant
to be leading. The European Union, the Gulf states and Egypt,
and even the United Kingdom, have all questioned, or distanced
themselves from, the American stance on Sudan. Domestically,
the Administration's Sudan policy has also come in for considerable
criticism from the American humanitarian aid community. Reputable
groups such as CARE, World Vision, Save the Children, Oxfam
America and Lutheran World Relief, no friends of the Sudanese
government, have repeatedly called on President Clinton to make
peace the Administration's primary objective in Sudan, and to
abandon its one-sided hostility towards the Sudanese government.
Equally skewed has been legislation produced by the United States
Congress. The 1999 Sudan Peace Act, and related Congressional
resolutions, provided as unbalanced and prejudiced a picture
of the Sudanese situation as was possible to pen.
The Clinton Administration can be said to have succeeded in
two areas with regard to its Sudan policy. Firstly, Washington
has succeeded in preventing, for the time being, a peaceful
settlement of the Sudanese conflict. Former United States president
Jimmy Carter has bluntly stated that the Clinton Administration's
Sudan policy is the biggest single obstacle to peace in that
country. The Administration has also succeeded in the propaganda
war it has waged against Sudan. Such a "media" war
has, of course, become the hallmark of all recent conflicts.
In the Sudanese context, it has subsequently clearly become
a millstone around Washington's neck. The Clinton Administration
now has to contend with pressure from many groups and constituencies
who are themselves responding to the very projections of Sudan
by the Administration that are now so clearly in question.
1: THE UNITED STATES AND SUDAN: A BACKGROUND
Sudan became independent in 1956. Sudan's immediate post-independence
foreign policy was friendly towards both the West and the Arab
world. The country experienced both civilian and military government,
and in 1969 General Gafaar Nimeiri came to power in a coup
d'etat. Nimeiri abolished all existing political institutions
and parties and assumed the role of president. Politically,
Nimeiri's regime veered initially towards the left until an
attempted coup by the Sudanese Communist Party in July 1971.
He then made overtures towards Washington. These were welcomed
by the American government. In 1972, the Nimeiri regime ended
the civil war in southern Sudan, which had been fought on and
off since 1955, by agreeing that the south would enjoy autonomy.
The American government restored diplomatic relations with Sudan
and resumed economic aid. Sudan received hundreds of millions
of dollars in military, economic and development assistance.
Sudan became one of the key allies of the United States both
regionally and in the Middle East. In September 1983, Nimeiri
introduced Islamic sharia law throughout Sudan. Earlier
that year, southern discontent at administrative changes in
southern Sudan had resulted in the rekindling of the civil war.
This discontent led to the formation of the Sudan People's Liberation
Army (SPLA), led by former Sudanese army officer, Colonel John
Nimeiri was overthrown by the Sudanese army in 1985. After a
one-year transitional period, elections were held in 1986 which
resulted in a democratically-elected government headed by Prime
Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi. Three years of weak coalition governments
followed, governments dominated by two Islamic sectarian parties,
the Umma Party headed by Sadiq al-Mahdi, and the pro-Egyptian
Democratic Unionist Party. Sudan went through a series of political,
economic and military crises. In June 1989, a bloodless military
coup d'etat led by General Omer al-Bashir overthrew Sadiq
al-Mahdi's administration. The American attitude towards the
1989 coup d'etat in Sudan had already been substantially
indicated before its occurrence. The Atlanta Journal and
Constitution newspaper reported in January 1989 that:
(S)ome U.S. officials have begun speculating that a military
coup in Sudan might be preferable to its current parliamentary
government which helped cause southern Sudan's deadly famine
and continues to obstruct relief. "We favor democracy
over dictatorship," said a senior U.S. diplomat. "We
can't be in a position of seeking an undemocratic government
here. On the other hand, we have to treat the government
on its merits, and its performance on the humanitarian tragedy
has not been satisfactory." Three U.S. diplomats who
have frequent dealings with Sudan have suggested to The
Atlanta Journal and Constitution in recent weeks that.they
wonder if a transitional government under a military officer
friendly to the West might be preferable.
Following the 1989 coup, the Sudanese government made
attempts to gradually civilianise itself, and established a
modern Islamic republic in Sudan. Michael Field, in Inside
the Arab World, has stated that: "The only Arab country
that has put into effect modern, republican, Islamist ideas
has been Sudan".
It may be that the independent stance of the Sudanese government,
and the threat that a modern, democratic and republican Islamic
model to America's absolutist and authoritarian allies in the
Middle East, marked it out as a target for American displeasure.
Early American hopes that the government of Sudan would fall,
through either internal political or military pressure have
proved to be without foundation. The government of Sudan decentralised
the administration of the country by introducing a federal system
of government, and, in 1991, limited the Islamic sharia
law initially introduced by Nimeiri to those areas in which
Muslims are a majority population, thereby exempting the largely
animist southern Sudan. The Sudanese government has also held
local, state, national and presidential elections. In 1996,
for example, the Sudanese people were able, for the first time
ever, to directly elect their president. Multi-party politics
has recently been re-established and is entrenched in the new
The Khartoum government has also attempted to address the root
causes of the Sudanese civil war. It signed the 1997 Khartoum
Peace Agreement, and other peace charters, with several factions
of Sudan's southern rebels, agreements which included guarantees
of a referendum on self-determination for southern Sudan. The
offer of a referendum has been acknowledged by the SPLA. The
civil war between the government and SPLA, which had been particularly
ferocious in the late 1980s and early 1990s, peaked shortly
afterwards, following the SPLA's loss of rear-bases in Ethiopia
when the Mengistu regime fell and the SPLA fragmented into different
factions. The war was reinvigorated by the Clinton Administration's
support for the SPLA faction led by John Garang, and by Washington's
encouragement of several of Sudan's neighbours to assist the
rebels. The Sudanese government has since also been party to
several attempts to achieve a comprehensive cease-fire in Sudan.
In the field of economics, the present government has revived
an economy that was in chaotic free fall under the al-Mahdi
administration. As the London Guardian newspaper, reporting
from Khartoum in 1998, pointed out:
In the economic field Sudan comes close to being the
perfect disciple of US orthodoxy. According to a United
Nations official in Khartoum, its reforms are even "more
far-reaching" than those recommended even by the International
Monetary Fund. In macro-economics, it is making "tremendous"
progress. Sixteen out of 20 targets have been met or exceeded
and inflation has been slashed from 148 per cent in 1996
to about 13 per cent earlier this year. Every time IMF representatives
some here, they marvel at Sudan's efficiency.
The attempts by the Sudanese government to address those areas
said to be of concern to the United States have been ignored
by the Clinton Administration. This has also been placed on
record by the Guardian newspaper, no friend of Khartoum's
Islamist government, which has observed:
Constantly charged with repression and abuse of human
rights, the regime has promulgated a new constitution which
codifies freedoms, including multi-party pluralism. Also,
European diplomats agree that Sudan has tried to distance
itself from support for terrorists.[H]owever flawed the
regime's self-improvement may be, it has unquestioningly
made the effort. That, diplomats point out, is more than
many regimes in the region, including pro-American ones,
It is extraordinary that the might of the United States government
came to be directed in such an unaccountable way upon one of
the poorest countries in the developing world. Sudan was desperately
poor even before the American-backed destabilisation sought
to destroy what little developmental infrastructure there was,
especially in the south.
2: "CONTROL OF THE AGENDA AND PERCEPTION MANAGEMENT"
An examination of the Clinton Administration's attempts to control
the agenda on, and to influence perceptions of, Sudan reveals
the questionable basis upon which the Administration sought
to justify its attempts to militarily, politically and economically
destabilise the country.
The Clinton Administration's policy towards Sudan has followed
a set pattern. Judy Butler is an academic who has closely studied
American foreign policy as it applied to other developing countries
such as Nicaragua in Central America. In describing American
foreign policy tactics she states that:
The chief means of delegitimization within the United
States has been the propaganda war. This war has two major
and complementary tactics: "control of the agenda"
.and "perception management".
Butler outlined the five steps American governments took in
their campaigns to isolate and destabilise countries targeted
by Washington. They are "managing perceptions", "divide
and conquer", relegation of the country "to the diplomatic
isolation ward", "turn the economic screws",
and "get others to fight your war". It is very clear
that all these steps have been used by the Clinton Administration
to isolate and destabilise Sudan. The Administration has from
1993 onwards sought to secure "control of the agenda"
and to manage the way in which Sudan was perceived. Propaganda
has been a distinct feature of the Sudanese conflict, just as
it has featured in all conflicts in which the United States
has become involved. American foreign policy has always included
One of the United States' primary assets in influencing
and shaping world politics is its mastery of the use of
propaganda. The art of propaganda resulted in great success
during and after World War II. The United States.turned
this practice into a leading variable in its foreign policy
outlook.the US enhanced the borrowed art, added and deducted
accordingly, to make it fit with the changing political
environment. By far, the art of demonization is the United
States' most unique and most effective technique of them
In his foreword to a National Defence University study of political
warfare, U.S. Navy Vice-Admiral James A. Baldwin, outlined the
framework within which propaganda features:
Warfare is often defined as the employment of military
means to advance political ends.Another, more subtle means
- political warfare - uses images, speeches, slogans, propaganda,
economic pressures.to influence the political will of an
The process of demonising Sudan was initially embarked upon
by accusing Sudan of being an extremist Islamic state, and therefore,
by definition, a state sponsor of regional and international
terrorism, and human rights abuser. It was also stated that
Sudan had been an ally of Saddam Hussein in Iraq during the
Gulf War. Sudan's policy of neutrality in that conflict has
cost it dear. And from 1995 onwards the Clinton Administration
would make much of allegations of human rights abuse, religious
intolerance, and "slavery" and "slave trading"
in Sudan. It is ironic that the Administration set about demonising
the Sudanese despite the fact that, as stated by a former American
ambassador to Sudan, the Sudanese people "deserved their
reputation as the nicest people in the eastern half of the African
2.1: "THE DIPLOMATIC ISOLATION WARD"
Of all these accusations, the Clinton Administration's placing
of Sudan on its official list of state sponsors of international
terrorism served most to relegate Sudan "to the diplomatic
isolation ward". The United States, and its allies, were
then also able to secure limited United Nations sanctions on
Sudan in the wake of the attempted assassination of Egyptian
president Hosni Mubarak, on the basis of unproven allegations
of Sudanese involvement.
Additionally, American pressure on the United Nations led to
the appointment of a United Nations Special Rapporteur on human
rights in Sudan. Selectivity in concern for human rights is,
of course, not unusual and often dependent on policy objectives.
The U.S. Government's focus on Sudan jarred given that the human
rights situations within most of Sudan's neighbouring countries
were considerably more disturbing. While the Administration's
own human rights reports, as well as other sources have documented
few political detainees in Sudan, human rights groups were alleging
that Egypt had up to 20,000 detainees. Uganda and Eritrea both
have very questionable human rights records and several hundred
if not thousands of such prisoners. These neighbouring countries
are American regional allies, with demonstrably repressive governments.
Donald Petterson, United States ambassador to Sudan from 1992-95,
confirmed that the United States played a prominent role at
the United Nations in originating and lobbying for resolutions
hostile to Sudan. He has written of "the lead [the Clinton
Administration] had taken in the United Nations to bring about
the adoption of resolutions condemning Sudan."
2.2: TURNING "THE ECONOMIC SCREWS"
The Clinton Administration had also clearly sought to "turn
the economic screw" on Sudan. The 1993 listing of Sudan
as a state sponsor of terrorism ended any prospect of bilateral
American aid and related assistance as well as restricting American
economic investment in Sudan. On 3 November 1997, President
Clinton signed executive order 13067, under the International
Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1703 et seq) and the
National Emergencies Act (50 USC 1641 c), which imposed comprehensive
trade and economic sanctions against Sudan. The order declared
"that the policies of Sudan constitute an extraordinary
and unusual threat to the national security and foreign policy
of the United States". On 1 July 1998, the Department of
the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued
the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (63 Fed. Reg. 35809, July
1, 1998). These regulations blocked all property and interests
in property of the Sudanese government, its agencies, instrumentalities
and controlled entities, including the Bank of Sudan, that were
in the United States. The Clinton Administration has also brought
pressure to bear on private banks and multilateral lending agencies
not to lend to Sudan. They also prohibited: (1) the importation
into the United States of any goods or services of Sudanese
origin, with the exception of informational material; (2) the
exportation or reexportation of goods, technology, or services
to Sudan or the Government of Sudan apart from informational
materials or donations of humanitarian aid; (3) the involvement
of any American person in the export or reexportation of goods
and services to or from Sudan; (4) the involvement of any American
person in contracts relating to Sudan; (5) the grant or extension
of credits or loans by any American person to the Sudanese government;
and (6) transactions relating to the transportation of cargo.
The sanctions order has been renewed every year since 1997.
On all these occasions the Clinton Administration has claimed
that Sudan "continues to present an extraordinary and unusual
threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United
States". President Clinton's 1998 renewal of sanctions
also stated that his Administration was concerned about human
rights and freedom of religion.
2.3: "GET OTHERS TO FIGHT YOUR WAR"
We have not and will not stop looking for ways
in which to bring about changes in Khartoum's behaviour.
Edward Brynn, U.S. acting Assistant
Secretary of State for African Affairs.
The Clinton Administration has also clearly sought to "get
others to fight your war". By 1994, while the Administration's
propaganda campaign against Sudan was intensifying, things within
Sudan had settled down markedly from a political and a security
point of view. The military situation was better than it had
been for many years and the Sudanese Government's attempts to
secure 'peace from within' were gaining momentum. It became
increasingly evident that the SPLA, weakened by splits and expelled
from Ethiopia following the fall of the Mengistu regime, was
very unlikely to bring any further significant military pressure
to bear on the Sudanese government.
It is a matter of record that from 1994 until the present the
Clinton Administration has followed a policy of assisting the
SPLA militarily and politically, actively encouraging the rebels
to continue, and intensify, their involvement in what is clearly
a no-win war.
The American government was also instrumental in temporarily
unifying the Sudanese opposition, bringing a variety of groups
together with the creation of the National Democratic Alliance
(NDA) in Eritrea in June 1995. Groups within this new entity
included northern opposition parties such as the Umma Party,
Democratic Unionist Party and the Sudanese Communist Party,
as well as the SPLA. The Sudan People's Liberation Army was
in effect to form the NDA's military wing with Garang as the
NDA's military supremo. The National Democratic Alliance established
a political-military committee, committing the organisation
to the violent overthrow of the Sudanese government. The American
ambassador was, in the words of the London-based newsletter,
Africa Confidential, "conspicuous by his presence".
The Clinton Administration then took getting "others to
fight your war" one step further. In 1996, it openly and
unambiguously encouraged the governments of Eritrea, Ethiopia
and Uganda not only to afford the SPLA safe rear bases, but
also to both spearhead and support rebel military incursions
into Sudan. This led to attacks into border regions of southern
and eastern Sudan by Ethiopian, Eritrean and Ugandan military
forces, often in brigade strength.
The Clinton Administration's determination to control both the
agenda on, and the perception management of, Sudan is all too
transparent. On 15 February 1995, Antony Lake, President Clinton's
then National Security Adviser (and Clinton's unsuccessful nominee
for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, CIA), speaking
before a conference organised by the Center for Strategic and
International Studies in Washington-DC stated:
We will be working with other governments in the region
to see how we can best contain the influence of the Sudanese
Government until it changes its views and begins to behave
in accordance with the norms of international behaviour
that we think governments should follow.
Shortly after that declaration, on 22 March 1995, Edward Brynn,
the United States acting Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs, speaking before a House of Representatives sub-committee
on Africa, declared:
In short, while we have been successful in keeping attention
focused on Sudan, we have been unable to affect change in
those regime policies and practices of most concern to us.
We will maintain bilateral and international pressure on
Khartoum. We have not and will not stop looking for ways
in which to bring about changes in Khartoum's behaviour.
The Sudanese government must understand that those same
policies and practices which we find threatening and objectionable
will eventually cause its downfall.
The Administration's agenda was repeatedly and openly stated.
In late 1997, for example, John Prendergast, the National Security
Council's then director for Eastern Africa, stated that the
government of Sudan was viewed as "the principle threat
to U.S. security interests on the Continent of Africa today".
He outlined American government policy when he spoke of the
several levels of pressure being brought to bear on Sudan. These
levels included placing Sudan on the list of state sponsors
of terrorism and the unilateral sanctions that measure triggered:
a regional level made up of three initiatives which included
the "Front Line States Initiative" whereby the United
States sought to "seek to include Uganda and Eritrea and
Ethiopia in their effort to defend themselves from Sudan's campaign
of regional destabilization by providing defensive non-lethal
military equipment to those three countries"; the Inter-Governmental
Authority on Drought and Development, (later the Inter-Governmental
Authority on Development, IGADD and then IGAD) Peace Initiative
whereby the American government declared IGADD as the "only
viable interlocutor for peace talks on Sudan"; and thirdly,
the Greater Horn of Africa Initiative supporting "African-led
solutions to their own problems". The third level was said
to be the domestic level within Sudan whereby the American government
declared an intention to "build the capacity of Sudanese
organizations, particularly in rebel-held areas, to respond
to.emergencies in war-torn areas of Sudan".
Prendergast also stated that the United States government had
decided to "increase its engagement with the.opposition
umbrella, the National Democratic Alliance, to support the non-violent
political objectives of the opposition.To this end, we have
decided to promote development assistance to opposition controlled
areas of Sudan.It will allow us the possibility to support those
in southern and eastern Sudan to promote the rule of law through
the support of local court systems and civil administration,
something that has already been going on for some time now".
Prendergast also said that a third initiative at the domestic
level was an "effort to increase unilateral pressure on
the Sudan government and vigorously condemn their actions on
a consistent basis".
3: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S REPEATED ABUSE OF ANTI-TERRORISM
You cannot have people saying "We
have proof of certain things" against a whole country
but nobody knows what that proof is. There is a difference
between whether something is proved sufficiently to bring
a man before a court.and whether it is sufficient to prove
to adopt one's political line.
Raymond Kendall, International Secretary-General
The cornerstone of the Clinton Administration's rationale for
its policies towards Sudan is its repeated claim that Sudan
is a supporter of international terrorism. This is made clear
in statements by Administration officials and is constantly
cited in media coverage. The Clinton Administration listed Sudan
as a state sponsor of terrorism in August 1993. Sudan joined
Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Cuba on the American
list. Whatever other states on the list may have done, Sudan
was included despite the fact that there was not a single
example of Sudanese involvement in any act of international
terrorism. And it is also clear that Sudan was listed without
any evidence of its support for terrorism. This much is a matter
of record. Former United States President Jimmy Carter, long
interested in Sudanese affairs, went out of his way to see what
evidence there was for Sudan's listing. Carter was told there
was no evidence:
In fact, when I later asked an assistant secretary of
state he said they did not have any proof, but there were
The focus for the Clinton Administration's allegations has been
the United States Department of State publication, Patterns
of Global Terrorism. It is important, first of all, to put
Patterns of Global Terrorism into its legal context.
The publication states that it is prepared in
compliance with United States law, Title 22 of the United
States Code, Section 2656f (a), requiring the Department
of State "to provide Congress a full and complete annual
report on terrorism for those countries and groups meeting
the criteria of Section (a) (1) and (2) of the Act. As required
by legislation, the report includes detailed assessments
of foreign countries where significant terrorist acts occurred,
and countries about which Congress was notified during the
preceding give years pursuant to Section 6 (j) of the Export
Administration Act of 1979 (the so-called terrorism list
countries that have repeatedly provided support for international
The 1992 Patterns of Global Terrorism, the year before
Sudan's listing, stated that: "There is no evidence that
the Government of Sudan conducted or sponsored a specific terrorist
attack in the past year, and the government denies supporting
any form of terrorism activity" The report did record that:
"In 1992 the Government of Sudan continued a disturbing
pattern of relationships with international terrorist groups...Elements
of the Abu Nidal organization (ANO), the Palestinian Islamic
Movement (HAMAS), and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terrorist
organizations continue to find refuge in Sudan". The London
Independent described this as "keeping dubious
company". The same groups, and many others, can be found
organised and active in Western capitals across the world. In
Britain many of the same "elements" are living as
refugees on state benefits. They have even found a "refuge"
in the United States. HAMAS, for example, held its third world
congress in Kansas city, and has held meetings in Phoenix attended
by Hamas leaders and 4000 supporters and sympathisers.
The 1993 Patterns of Global Terrorism, the first report
which included Sudan on this list, once again clearly stated:
Although there is no conclusive evidence linking the
Government of Sudan to any specific terrorist incident during
the year, five of fifteen suspects arrested this summer
following the New York City bomb plot are Sudanese citizens.
Various newspapers and journals also recorded the simple lack
of evidence for terrorist support before and after Sudan's listing.
The London Independent of 9 June 1993, for example, stated:
"So far, no major terrorist incident has been traced to
the Islamic regime in Sudan. The Sudanese lack the logistical
abilities to run terrorist networks...even if they wished".
The London Guardian of 19 August 1993 reported that:
"Independent experts believe...that these reports [of terrorist
training camps] have been exaggerated, and that Sudan is too
short of money to make it an active sponsor of terrorism".
The Independent's Robert Fisk writing in December 1993,
several months after the American decision, described Sudan
a country that is slowly convincing its neighbours that
Washington's decision to put Sudan on its list of states
supporting 'terrorism' might, after all, be groundless.
Even Western diplomats in Khartoum are now admitting privately
that - save for reports of a Palestinian camp outside Khartoum
like those that also exist in Tunisia, Yemen, Syria and
other Arab countries - there may be no guerrilla training
bases in the country after all.
One year after Sudan's listing, the Independent returned
to the theme. Referring to the presence of Palestinian and Lebanese
dissidents: "Intelligence assessments reckon that these
groups are allowed to live and study and perhaps to plot in
apartments in the capital".
3.1: THE LISTING OF SUDAN AS A STATE
SPONSOR OF TERRORISM
It would seem, therefore, that Sudan was listed as a state sponsor
of terrorism despite a complete absence of any evidence whatsoever
of involvement in any act of terrorism. Donald Petterson, the
United States ambassador to Sudan at the time of Sudan's listing,
stated that he was "surprised" that Sudan was put
on the terrorism list. Petterson said that while he was aware
of "collusion" between "some elements of the
Sudanese government" and various "terrorist"
I did not think this evidence was sufficiently conclusive
to put Sudan on the U.S. government's list of state sponsors
It would appear that Ambassador Petterson, the Clinton Administration's
ambassador to Sudan, was not even briefed prior to the decision
to list Sudan being taken. When he queried the decision, he
was told by an assistant secretary of state that the "new
evidence was conclusive". One can only speculate as to
whether the assistant secretary of state who briefed Ambassador
Petterson was the same assistant secretary of state who told
former President Carter a few days later that the Clinton Administration
did not have any proof, but that there were "strong allegations".
It should be pointed out, in any instance, that the extent to
which inclusion on the list is dependent on policy considerations
at any one moment in time, is highlighted by the case of Iraq.
Iraq was first listed in 1979, was de-listed in 1982 when it
went to war against Iran, which was seen as being in the American
interest, and then put back on the list after the Gulf war.
Nothing had changed in the meantime - Saddam Hussein's government
was in power throughout. Political expediency had dictated Iraq's
removal and then relisting.
The Clinton Administration's listing of Sudan served clear objectives.
Sudan was projected as a state sponsor of terrorism and thereby
to a great extent isolated internationally. Listing also brings
with it specific sanctions, financial restrictions and prohibitions
on economic assistance. These include a ban on arms-related
exports and sales and a tight control of "dual-use"
goods and technologies. The United States must also oppose any
loan from international financial institutions for a country
on the terrorism list.
It is perhaps important to record the Sudanese government's
response to claims that Khartoum in any way supports terrorism:
Sudan has not, and will not, allow its territory to be
used for any act of terror or to be used as a shelter for
terrorists or by those who have eluded justice. Sudan, like
many other states, suffers day after day with those innocent
civilians who lose their lives or who are harmed as a result
of terrorist acts perpetrated in many parts of the world.
Killing women and children, terrorizing peaceful citizens,
destroying property and taking innocent civilians hostage
cannot be accepted under any divine law; nor can they be
accepted by any human being who believes in justice and
Speaking in 1994, the then director-general of the Sudanese
Foreign Ministry, and subsequently Sudanese ambassador to the
United States, Mahdi Ibrahim Mohamed touched on American double-standards:
How can you prove a negative? We have always believed
that in Western countries the defendant is innocent until
proven guilty. In our case, it is not like that. Until today,
no information has been provided about a terrorist harboured
in our country.
The 1994 Patterns of Global Terrorism once again stated
that: "There is no evidence that Sudan, which is dominated
by the National Islamic Front (NIF), conducted or sponsored
a specific act of terrorism in 1994". The report did claim
that people associated with ANO, the Lebanese Hizballah, the
Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), the Palestinian
Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and Egypt's Islamic Group were present in
Sudan. In what was described as a "positive development",
the report did record that the international terrorist "Carlos",
Illyich Ramirez Sanchez, was extradited to France.
It is clear that the Clinton Administration's listing of Sudan
as a state sponsor of terrorism, in the absence of any proof
or evidence of such activity, was an abuse of United States
anti-terrorism legislation for policy reasons.
3.2: WAIVING ANTI-TERRORIST LEGISLATION
FOR DEMOCRATIC PARTY DONORS
Whenever convenient, however, the Administration has chosen
to ignore its own anti-terrorist legislation for economic and
business reasons. The Clinton Administration has, for example,
granted sanctions exemptions for the import of Sudanese gum
arabic, an indispensable foods, soft drinks and pharmaceutical
stabiliser, of which Sudan has a near monopoly. And, in an equally
clear cut instance of hypocrisy, it is also the case that in
late 1996 the Clinton Administration had sought to grant an
exemption to Occidental Petroleum, an American oil company,
to become involved in the Sudanese oil industry.
The Occidental issue caused the Administration considerable
embarrassment. At a January 1997 press briefing, a State Department
spokesman defended the Administration's position by stating:
"If.individual financial transactions are found not to
have an impact on any potential act of terrorism or to fund
any group that supports terrorism, then these transactions.may
be permitted". The New York Times commented that:
Recent days brought word that last summer business considerations
led the White House to waive a law prohibiting American
companies from doing business with countries that sponsored
terrorism. Specifically, officials gave approval to the
Occidental Petroleum Corporation to take part in a $930
million oil project in Sudan.Washington's policy toward
the Sudanese regime now seems hopelessly confused. Secretary
of State Madeleine Albright did little to clarify it at
her introductory news conference last Friday. Even as she
called for new United Nations sanctions against Sudan, she
endorsed the decision to let Occidental bid for the oil
The Washington Post also commented:
[T]he elasticity of the law as it comes to US economic
interests - and especially when those interests also happen
to contribute generously to the Democratic National Committee
- will not go unnoticed.It can only undercut U.S. efforts
to isolate what it considers - or says it considers - rogue
3.3: THE MUBARAK ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT
The American government has claimed Sudanese involvement in
the 1995 attempted assassination of Egyptian president Hosni
Mubarak. In June 1995, while in Addis Ababa, Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak was the target of an assassination attempt. Several
Egyptian terrorists tried to kill him in a gun attack on his
limousine This was one amongst many attempts by Egyptian extremists
to kill Egyptian ministers and government officials. Islamic
extremists had tried to assassination Mubarak on several occasions,
the first attempt being on 25 April 1982. The London Independent
newspaper of 2 July 1995 reported that the Egyptian government
initially accused the Ethiopian government of involvement in
the assassination attempt: "Egyptian investigators claimed
three Ethiopian security officials took part in the failed assassination
attempt". The Ethiopian government issued an official statement
refuting the Egyptian claim, stating:
Egyptian officials have over the past week been spreading
all sorts of self-serving fantastic stories solely based on
their imagination.It is now appearing that the Egyptian appetite
for the fabrication of lies in connection with the crime committed
by Egyptian terrorists is proving to have no limit and they
have at this point reached a state where Ethiopia can no longer
refrain from putting the record straight.The Egyptian authorities
are being requested through this statement.to refrain from
continuing with their unacceptable campaign of lies and defamation,
the full motive of which is known only to themselves.
The then Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin blamed the murder
attempt on "Islamic fundamentalists with the encouragement
of Iran". The Iranian government countered by accusing
Israel of involvement in the incident.
Shortly after accusing Ethiopia of involvement, however, Egypt
accused the Sudanese government of having been involved. Sudan
had condemned the incident and strongly denied any involvement.
The Egyptians claimed that three of the gunmen had fled to Sudan.
Thirty-two days after the assassination attempt, the Ethiopian
authorities provided the government of Sudan with the details
of one of the suspects who left Addis Ababa by air on the same
day as the incident. Among the only descriptions of these suspects
were that one wore a Casio watch, and that one was married.
Over the following weeks and months the United Nations demanded
that Sudan extradite these men. The Sudanese government called
in Interpol to assist with the manhunt. The government also
published prominent 'wanted' notices in all the Sudanese Arabic
daily newspapers for three days running. The notice was also
published in the weekly English-language newspaper. Similar
notices were broadcast on national television and radio. The
notices were also sent to all Sudanese states, municipalities
and localities. By March 1996, the Sudanese government had exhausted
most if not all of the options open to it in its manhunt and
stated that it was possible that one or two of the wanted men
may have transited through Sudan. None could be found given
the very meagre information provided by the Egyptian and Ethiopian
The only named suspect in the assassination attempt, Mustafa
Hamza, one of the three said to be in Sudan, was subsequently
located and interviewed by the international media in Afghanistan.
A long interview with Hamza was published in Al-Hayat
newspaper on 21 April 1996. Hamza stated that the Egyptian group,
Al Gamaa al Islamiya, was responsible for the murder
attempt. He stated that most of the gunmen involved came from
Pakistan, travelling on passports issued by an Arab country,
and that one or two men had entered Ethiopia from Sudan, having
received visas from the Ethiopian embassy in Khartoum. He said
that only one of the gunmen had left through Sudan and that
he was now in a third country. Hamza stated that Sheikh Omer
Abdel Rahman was the movement's spiritual leader. Al-Hayat
reported that Hamza stated that there were "deep differences
between the ruling Islamic Front in the Sudan and his Group
(Gamaa Islamiya). He accused the Sudanese Government [of following
a] distorted and deviated application of Islam". Simply
put, the Sudanese model of Islam was too liberal for him.
In spite of the fact that at least one of the alleged gunmen
was clearly in Afghanistan, that another was said to be in a
third country, and that the otherwise forthcoming chief suspect
denied that a third suspect had even been in Sudan, the United
Nations, under American pressure, still imposed limited sanctions
on Sudan for not extraditing these suspects. As late as December
1996, and in the face of clear evidence such as the above interview
in Afghanistan, the Ethiopian government was still insisting
that all three of the suspects were still in Sudan. The subsequent
trial of those suspects caught in Ethiopia itself was held in
President Mubarak's claims about the attempted assassination
have been questioned. Middle East International reported
in its 7 July 1995 issue that "the Egyptian government
has produced no evidence that the attempted killers were in
fact Sudanese or in any way backed by Sudan. But this did not
prevent Mubarak.from pointing the finger at Egypt's southern
neighbour and its ideological leader Hassan Turabi. His accusations
were vehemently denied in Khartoum. It seems that Mubarak would
rather blame the Sudanese than the Egyptian Islamists his government
have been trying to crush for the last three years.Pointing
the finger at Sudan has ensured that public attention has been
kept off domestic politics." A different article in the
same issue made perhaps the key point in stating: "It will
be difficult to prove - or to disprove - the Sudan government's
involvement in the assassination attempt.But this is not a police
investigation, it is a political clash." The impermanence
of the Egyptian attitude was perhaps also revealed when one
year later, Middle East International reported that,
on the occasion of meetings between Presidents Mubarak and al-Bashir
during the 1996 Arab Summit, the issue of assassination attempt
was described as a "triviality" by the Egyptian state
Despite the unanswered questions surrounding the Mubarak assassination
attempt, the United Nations Security Council passed resolutions
1044, 1054 and 1070. Resolution 1054 introduced limited diplomatic
sanctions, the scaling down of Sudanese embassy staff and restrictions
on travel by Sudanese government officials. Resolution 1070
had sought to impose restrictions on the international flights
of Sudanese airlines but was never implemented. The fact that
in May 1997, the United States government was still expecting
Sudan, under pain of continued sanctions, to extradite someone,
Mustafa Hamza, , who had clearly been in Afghanistan for almost
two years, far beyond Sudanese jurisdiction, shows how the issue
is being clearly exploited for propaganda and policy reasons.
3.4: THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT AND ISLAMIC
It may well be the case that the American government were eager
to deflect as much of the focus on the issue of "Islamic
terrorism" onto other shoulders. As James Adams, the London
Sunday Times Washington correspondent, has pointed out,
it was the United States which had spent three billion dollars
in training, equipping and, where necessary, motivating Islamic
The roots of this new terrorism lie not in Tehran but
in the ten-year war in Afghanistan which began after the
Soviets invaded the country in 1979. Following the invasion,
the American government embarked on what was to become one
of the largest covert efforts ever to fund, arm and train
a guerrilla army. Over ten years, the US spent a total of
£3 billion in secret aid, which was running at around £600m
a year just before the Soviets withdrew in 1989. That money
was spent largely on supplying the guerrillas who were trained
and housed by the Pakistan government. Other Arab countries,
particularly Saudi Arabia, also contributed to the underwriting
of the guerrilla effort...At the time the covert operation
was under way, there was little concern in Washington about
who actually received the money or guns.
The Economist in April 1993, touching on Egyptian President
Hosni Mubarak's concerns about Islamic terrorism:
During the 1980s, America provided full-scale support
for the fundamentalist mujahideen, including the 20,000
or so outsiders who at one time or another joined the Afghan
fighters...Times change, but the Afghan veterans continue
to cause trouble, in Algeria as well as Egypt. Mr Mubarak
blames America for creating the basis of a terrorist network;
some conspiracy-minded Arabs believe that the old links
between fundamentalists and their American ex-supporters
cannot simply have faded away.
Adams echoes the Economist's reporting when he states
that "Both the Pakistanis and the Egyptians blame the CIA
for this legacy of terror". The London Observer
newspaper referred to this phenomena as the "Frankenstein
the CIA created".
Given the American Government's own clear involvement in the
funding and sponsorship of what it itself would subsequently
come to describe and define as Islamic terrorists and international
terrorism (much of it subsequently focused upon American allies
such as Egypt, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, and then on America
itself) it makes considerable sense for Washington to cast around
for people they can transfer blame to. Sudan is one such candidate.
It is also convenient for the Egyptian government to blame Sudan
for its problems just as it has previously blamed the USA for
creating a terrorist network.
The fact is that the United States government through its various
defence and intelligence agencies had spent up to three billion
dollars in training Islamic fundamentalist guerrillas from around
the world, as well as Afghans, not only in the use of weapons
of war and explosives but also how to master the logistics of
how to supply and carry out acts of war and sabotage against
a variety of targets. All this training took place within CIA-supervised
camps in Pakistan. The United States government had also extensively
armed these same Islamic fundamentalists, providing them with
assault rifles, machine guns, rocket launchers, explosives and
quantities of American Stinger surface-to-air missiles.
3.5: THE WORLD TRADE CENTER BOMBING:
CONTRADICTION AND CONFUSION
The World Trade Center in New York was bombed in February 1993.
Several people died and dozens were injured when a car-bomb
exploded in the Center's car-park went off. In March 1994, four
Arabs were convicted of having caused the explosion. Ten other
people were later also convicted in connection with the World
Trade Center bombing and other terrorist conspiracies. In a
remarkably clumsy way, the Clinton Administration has sought
from time to time to insinuate that Sudan was somehow involved
in the bombing.
Given the Clinton Administration's obvious eagerness to attribute
any act of terrorism to Sudan, it is clear that had there been
the slightest evidence of the Sudanese government's involvement
in such a direct attack on the United States, it would not only
have immediately trumpeted it around the world, but savage retaliation
would have followed. Given that the World Trade Center/New York
conspiracies had been extensively penetrated by both the CIA
and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as was clearly revealed
during the trials , had there been the remotest link between
Sudan and the bombings it would have been documented. It is
an ironic fact, as the Economist has also documented,
that several of the suspects in the bombing of the World Trade
Centre had 'Afghani' connections. One of the prime suspects,
Mahmoud Abu-Halima, was himself an 'Afghani', having been militarily
trained in Pakistan at an American-sponsored base.
In its attempts to implicate Sudan in the World Trade Center
bombing, the Clinton Administration has contradicted itself
on several occasions. In March 1993, for example, the United
States government stated that the World Trade Center bombing
was carried out by a poorly trained local group of individuals
who were not under the auspices of a foreign government or international
network. In June 1993, the American authorities again stated
there was no evidence of foreign involvement in the New York
bombing or conspiracies. The American government then reversed
its position in August 1993 alleging Sudanese involvement in
the New York bomb plots. This finding was then comprehensively
contradicted in 1996 by Ambassador Philip C. Wilcox Jr., the
Department of State's Coordinator for Counterterrorism. On the
occasion of the release of the 1995 Patterns of Global Terrorism,
on 30 April 1996, Ambassador Wilcox made it very clear that
there was no Sudanese involvement whatsoever in the World Trade
We have looked very, very carefully and pursued all possible
clues that there might be some state sponsorship behind
the World Trade Center bombing. We have found no such evidence,
in spite of an exhaustive search, that any state was responsible
for that crime. Our information indicates that Ramzi Ahmed
Yousef and his gang were a group of freelance terrorists,
many of whom were trained in Afghanistan, who came from
various nations but who did not rely on support from any
Yet, earlier that month, on 3 April, the then American ambassador
to the U.N., Madeleine Albright, in meetings at the United Nations,
claimed that two Sudanese diplomats had been involved in the
World Trade Center bombing, and other "plots". This
presents an interesting situation. The political appointee,
Mrs Albright, with a political and policy line to follow, claiming
one thing, and the professional anti-terrorism expert, Ambassador
Wilcox, saying something completely different. On something
as serious as allegations of terrorism, allegations involving
the murderous bombing of the World Trade Center and a conspiracy
to bomb other targets in New York, such a divergence is totally
remarkable and yet again only but undermines the credibility
of American claims with regard to Sudanese "involvement"
It is disturbing to note that in March 2000, seven years after
the World Trade Center bombing, and four years after Ambassador
Wilcox gave the definitive answer stating there was no Sudanese
involvement, President Clinton's special envoy to Sudan, former
Congressman Harry Johnston, was still insinuating Sudanese involvement,
stating that all those involved in the bombing has carried Sudanese
passports. First of all, as stated above, only five of the fifteen
people arrested were Sudanese. Nationality in and of itself
is no evidence for a state's involvement in terrorism, and particularly
in the case of the World Trade Center bombing. A number of those
involved were Egyptian, would this mean that Egypt was complicit
in the bombing? Others were Americans and Palestinians. Two
other American citizens have been indicted for their involvement
in the East African embassy bombings. Does this necessarily
imply that the American government was somehow involved?
An even clearer example of the Administration's misuse of anti-terrorism
legislation for political reasons followed President Clinton's
cruise missile attack on the al-Shifa medicines factory in Khartoum.
It is now abundantly evident that this attack, on an alleged
chemical weapons facility owned by Osama bin-Laden, was a disastrous
intelligence failure. As will be outlined, every one of the
American claims about the al-Shifa factory proved to be false.
Clinton Administration officials also subsequently admitted
that when they attacked the factory they did not know who the
owner was, Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering stating
that who owned the plant "was not known to us".
When, several days later, the American government learnt, from
subsequent media coverage of the attack, who actually owned
the factory, that person, Mr Saleh Idris, was then retrospectively
listed under legislation dealing with "specially designated
terrorists". On 26 August, 1998, the Office of Foreign
Assets Control, the unit within the U.S. Treasury Department
charged with the enforcement of anti-terrorism sanctions, froze
more than US$ 24 million of Mr Idris's assets. These assets
had been held in Bank of America accounts. On 26 February 1999,
Mr Idris filed an action in the U.S. District Court for the
District of Columbia, for the release of his assets, claiming
that the government's actions had been unlawful. His lawyers
stated that while the law used by the Clinton Administration
to freeze his assets required a finding that Mr Idris was, or
had been, associated with terrorist activities, no such determination
had ever been made. Mr Idris had never had any association whatsoever
with terrorists or terrorism. On 4 May 1999, the deadline by
which the government had to file a defence in court, the Clinton
Administration backed down and had to authorise the full and
unconditional release of his assets.
The listing of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism provides
a macro example of the Clinton Administration's abuse of anti-terrorist
legislation. The case of Mr Idris provides a micro example of
this misuse. The Clinton Administration's clear abuse of anti-terrorist
legislation and its manipulation and abuse of legal measures
for political expediency and convenience is not just immoral;
it also discredits American anti-terrorist legislation internationally.
3.6: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND THE
AL-SHIFA FACTORY BOMBING FIASCO
[T]he strike in regards to the Khartoum
chemical plant cannot be justified.These are pretty harsh
words. I know one thing for sure. The intelligence agencies
of other countries look at that and they think, 'Wait a minute,
if you hit the wrong target or if in fact the justification
was not accurate, it is either ineptitude or, to get back
to the wag-the-dog theory, something else is going on. That
gets to our credibility. And that is why both the administration
and the Congress must insist on a foreign policy where if
you draw a line in the sand, if you make a statement, your
credibility is remendously important.
U.S. Senator Pat Roberts
On 7 August 1998, terrorist bombs devastated United States embassy
buildings in Kenya and Tanzania. Hundreds of people, some of
them American, were killed in the explosion in Nairobi and dozens
in the blast in Dar-es-Salaam. Thousands more were injured.
The American government linked Osama bin-Laden, the Saudi-born
millionaire funder of Islamic extremism with these attacks.
It is worth noting that the Sudanese government immediately
and repeatedly condemned the embassy bombings. The Sudanese
foreign minister, Dr Mustafa Osman Ismail, stated, for example,
that: "These criminal acts of violence do not lead to any
goal." On 11 August, Agence France Presse reported the
Sudanese foreign minister's statement that "We must pool
our efforts to eradicate all the causes of terrorism" and
he had called for:
the solidarity and cooperation of all the nations in
the region and the international community to stand up to
It is a matter of record that the Sudanese government took its
condemnation of the Kenyan and Tanzanian bombings one step further.
Sudan offered to help in tracking down the terrorists involved.
The foreign minister stated that: "Sudan supports Kenya
in its efforts to reach the people who committed the incident
and is prepared to cooperate fully with it in this regard."
The government of Sudan also immediately granted United States
requests for access to Sudanese airspace to evacuate American
diplomatic staff and citizens from Kenya, and to provide emergency
assistance to those affected in the bombing. When the United
States requested further humanitarian overflight authorisations
they too were granted. No one, not even the Clinton Administration,
has claimed that the Sudanese Government in any way supported
or even sympathised with these bombings.
On 20 August, the United States government launched missile
attacks, involving 75 Cruise missiles, on installations said
to be part of Osama bin-Laden's infrastructure inside Afghanistan.
Washington also chose to attack the al-Shifa pharmaceutical
factory in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, alleging that it
was making chemical weapons as part of Osama bin-Laden's infrastructure
of international terrorism. The al-Shifa plant was badly damaged
by the 17 Cruise missiles used in the American attack. Several
workers were injured in the attack. A nightwatchman died of
his injuries. Two food processing factories were also damaged
in the strike.
The United States government made several, widely-reported,
claims about the al-Shifa factory. In the news briefing given
by United States Defence Secretary, William Cohen, on 20 August,
he stated that the al-Shifa factory "produced the precursor
chemicals that would allow the production of.VX nerve agent".
Secretary Cohen also stated that Osama bin-Laden "has had
some financial interest in contributing to.this particular facility".
The American government also claimed that no commercial medicines
or drugs were made at the factory. The New York Times,
for example, reported: "statements by a senior intelligence
official hours after the attack that the plant in Khartoum.produced
no commercial products." President Clinton's National Security
Advisor, Sandy Berger, went on record stating:
There is no question in our mind that facility, that
factory, was used to produce a chemical that is used in
the manufacture of VX nerve gas and has no other commercial
distribution as far as we understand. We have physical evidence
of that fact and very, very little doubt of it.
ABC News also stated that senior intelligence officials had
claimed that: "there was no evidence that commercial products
were ever sold out of the facility."
In the briefings shortly after the bombing United States officials
also claimed that the al-Shifa facility was heavily guarded.
In a briefing on the al-Shifa factory soon after the strike
on Khartoum, a senior American intelligence official told reporters
in Washington that: "The facility also has a secured perimeter
and it's patrolled by the Sudanese military."
One would presume that the intelligence officials involved in
these, and other briefings, would have been the cream of the
American intelligence community. They would also be presenting
the latest intelligence material the United States government
had to hand to justify its Cruise missile attack on Sudan -
information which would have been gathered by the intelligence
agencies of the most powerful country on Earth, intelligence
agencies which have budgets running into billions of dollars.
Every one of their claims proved to be demonstrably false.
Within hours of the attack, the Sudanese President, Omer al-Bashir,
said that Sudan would be bringing an official complaint at the
American action before the United Nations Security Council and
that the Sudanese government would also ask the United Nations
to establish "a commission to verify the nature of the
activity of the plant." President al-Bashir flatly denied
American claims that the al-Shifa plant was being used to make
chemical weapons. He accused President Clinton of lying:
Putting out lies is not new for the United States and
its president. A person of such immorality will not hesitate
to tell any lie.
President al-Bashir also stated that Sudan was critical of the
United States government, and not of American companies or citizens:
"We have no animosity towards the American people and non-government
agencies." In a formal letter to the United Nations Security
Council, Bishop Gabriel Rorich, the Sudanese Minister of State
for External Affairs, condemned the American attack on the factory.
The Sudanese government stated that the factory was privately
owned and had been financed by several Sudanese investors and
the Bank of the Preferential Trade Area (PTA), also known as
Comesa. The factory produced more than half of Sudan's need
for medicines. The Sudanese government stated:
The allegations in U.S. statements that Osama bin-Laden
owned this factory and that it produced chemical weapons
and poisonous gases for terrorist purposes are allegations
devoid of truth and the U.S. government has no evidence
Sudan requested the convening of the Security Council to discuss
the matter, and also requested a technical fact-finding mission
to verify American claims. The United States deputy ambassador
to the United Nations, Peter Burleigh, dismissed Sudanese calls
for independent verification of the site: "I don't see
what the purpose of the fact-finding study would be. We have
credible information that fully justifies the strike we made
on that one facility in Khartoum".
The Sudanese government also stated that it was prepared to
allow Americans to visit Khartoum to establish whether the al-Shifa
factory was involved in the production of chemical weapons.
The Sudanese interior minister, Abdel Rahim Hussein, repeated
invitations to investigate the site to the London Sunday
Times: "We are ready to receive specialists from the
Americans and the West to investigate that the factory had nothing
to do with chemical weapons."
The Sudanese foreign minister also invited an investigation
committee from the United States government itself to come and
investigate "whether this factory.has anything to do with
chemical (weapons)." On 22 August, the Sudanese President
invited the United States Congress to send a fact-finding mission:
We are fully ready to provide protection and all other
facilities to enable this mission to obtain all information
and meet anyone it wants.
In the weeks and months following the al-Shifa bombing, the
Sudan would repeatedly call on the United Nations and United
States to inspect the remains of the factory for any evidence
of chemical weapons production. The Americans have steadfastly
refused to inspect the site. This is ironic given that in 1998,
the United States and Britain militarily attacked Iraq because
that country would not allowed the inspection of certain factories
and the remains of factories, but when the Sudanese requested
a similar inspection of a site claimed to have been a chemical
weapons factory, the Clinton Administration pointedly refused.
The Washington Post quoted a Sudanese diplomat at the
You guys bombed Iraq because it blocked U.N. weapons
inspectors. We're begging for a U.N. inspection and you're
Almost immediately following the American attack and their claims
that the factory was producing chemical weapons, credible voices
began to doubt the American justification for their strike.
Amongst these voices were several Britons who had either worked
at the factory, or who had visited it. What the factory produced,
and its ownership, was addressed by Ghazi Suleiman, the lawyer
representing Saleh Idris, the owner of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical
factory. It should be noted that that Mr Suleiman is no friend
of the present government in Sudan. He is, in the words of The
Economist, "the country's leading human-rights lawyer
and an outspoken critic of the regime". He spent 25 days
in detention earlier in 1998. Mr Suleiman said that Mr Idris
did not know Osama bin-Laden, and that the factory produced
only drugs, not chemical weapons. He said:
I think the Americans are under bad information and they
are not well briefed.... I think it would have been prudent
before destroying the plant to come and investigate the
The factory had been designed by an American, Henry Jobe, of
the world-renowned MSD Pharmaceutical Company. Interviewed by
the London Observer newspaper, Mr Jobe stated: "We
didn't intend a dual use for it. We didn't design anything extra
in there. The design we made was for pharmaceuticals."
It is perhaps indicative of the incompetence of American intelligence
in its assessment of the al-Shifa factory, that Mr Jobe revealed
that he was interviewed for the first time by the CIA about
the plant and its equipment, one week after the American
The Sudanese government invited journalists from the print and
electronic media into the country to inspect the bombed factory.
The Washington Post reported that, whereas the
government has "routinely declined visas to American journalists
because the United States has declared it to be a terrorist
state" it now "ushered in reporters by the score.to
photograph, videotape and broadcast live". The Washington
Post reported that visiting reporters from American, British,
French, German, Japanese and Arab media outlets were "picking
through the rubble".
Amongst the dozens of journalists and news services who visited
the site, was the flagship American international news gatherer,
CNN. It reported:
The utter destruction in the wake of a missile attack.Laid
out in display: what the government says are remnants of
the missiles salvaged from the rubble, all part of a concerted
campaign to persuade the international community that Sudan
has nothing to hide. And repeated calls, too, for an independent
inspection team to investigate the site. The government
here apparently confident that no trace of any agent used
in the manufacture of chemical weapons will be found.
It is evident that there was distinct unease amongst Khartoum's
foreign diplomatic corps at the targeting of the al-Shifa factory.
It was reported that the German ambassador to Sudan, Werner
Daum, had immediately contradicted United States claims about
the factory. In a communication to the German foreign ministry,
he stated: "One can't, even if one wants to, describe the
Shifa firm as a chemical factory." The German ambassador
also stated that the factory had no disguise and there was nothing
secret about the site.
The Guardian, reporting from Khartoum, stated that "most
European diplomats here are as aghast at the raid, and above
all the choice of target, as they (the Sudanese government)
are". The paper interviewed a senior European diplomat
who said that: "There was absolutely nothing secret about
the plant and there never has been."
3.7: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND THE
AL-SHIFA FACTORY: UNTENABLE CLAIMS
The American intelligence claims about the al-Shifa factory
fell by the wayside one by one. The United States government
made five claims about the al-Shifa factory in its attempts
to justify its Cruise missile attack on the plant. These were
as follows: the al-Shifa plant was making precursors to the
VX nerve gas, namely a compound known as EMPTA; that Osama bin-Laden
either owned or had a financial link to the al-Shifa factory;
that the al-Shifa factory did not produce any medicines or drugs;
that the al-Shifa factory was a high security facility guarded
by the Sudanese military; and that there were weapons of mass
destruction technology links between Sudan and Iraq. An examination
and assessment of the evidence released by the United States
found it to be confused, inconclusive and contradictory. After
just over one week of sifting through American government claims,
The Observer newspaper spoke of:
a catalogue of US misinformation, glaring omissions and
intelligence errors about the function of the plant.
The claim that the al-Shifa plant was making precursors to the
VX nerve gas was immediately challenged by American and European
scientists, chemists and chemical warfare experts. Evidence
of such claims was demanded. While claiming to have "physical
evidence" to support their attack on al-Shifa, United States
officials initially said that they would not be able to release
it for security reasons. Speaking on CNN's Late Edition on 22
August, the President's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger,
refused to describe the "physical evidence" the government
had, saying that it was necessary to protect intelligence methods
and sources. In the days following the attack, Bill Richardson,
the United States ambassador to the United Nations, said that
that the United States government was in possession of "undeniable
physical evidence" that al-Shifa was being used to manufacture
chemical weapons. He admitted that the American government had
not presented this evidence to the United Nations Security Council,
but that it had been shown to United States congressional leaders.
Richardson stated that "We believe that is sufficient".
After further international pressure, the United States government
officials then stated on 24 August that the United States had
material from the plant, including equipment and containers
which carried residues of a chemical substance with no commercial
uses, but which it was said was exclusively used in VX nerve
gas. It was additionally stated by the two anonymous officials
that the CIA had used light spectrum data collected by spy satellites
to analyse emissions from the plant and that they may also have
employed banded migratory birds that fly through Khartoum to
gather information about production at the plant.
The United States position then shifted, and on 25 August it
claimed that the key evidence justifying its destruction of
the al-Shifa plant was in fact a soil sample of a precursor
chemical in the making of the VX nerve gas obtained months previously
from the factory. The United States government then refused
to identify what they claimed to be the precursor. The White
House press spokesman, Mike McCurry, speaking on 24 August,
stated, for example, that: "The nature of that information
is classified now." After several days of attempting to
avoid naming the compound, the American government stated that
the chemical was said to be O-ethylmethyl-phosphonothioic acid,
The American Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering went
on record to claim that:
The physical evidence is a soil sample, analysis of it
shows the presence of a chemical whose simple name is EMPTA,
a known precursor for the nerve agent VX..We think that
it was this evidence, and evidence like it, which made our
decision to carry out this strike on this particular target
the correct and proper decision under the circumstances.
The soil samples were said to have been obtained from the factory
itself. An American intelligence official added that:
It is a substance that has no commercial applications,
it doesn't occur naturally in the environment, it's not
a by-product of any other chemical process. The only thing
you can use it for, that we know of, is to make VX.
This was immediately challenged by the New York Times,
which stated that: "The chemical precursor of a nerve agent
that Washington claimed was made at a Sudanese chemical factory
it destroyed in a missile attack last week could be used for
commercial products." The New York Times cited the
Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW)
as stating that the chemical could be used "in limited
quantities for legitimate commercial purposes". These purposes
could be use in fungicides, and anti-microbial agents. It should
be noted that the OPCW is an independent international agency
which oversees the inspections of governments and companies
to ensure they are not making substances that contravene the
chemical weapons ban treaty.
There also appeared to be confusion in the official American
government claims about the EMPTA compound. On 26 August, the
U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency stated that EMPTA was
listed as a so-called Schedule 1 chemical - an immediate chemical
weapons precursor with no recognised commercial use - by the
Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The U.S.
Arms Control and Disarmament Agency then changed its public
stance within a matter of hours, after OPCW officials said that
EMPTA could have commercial uses. Contradicting American government
claims, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
said that the organisation classifies Empta on its Schedule
2b of compounds that could be used to make chemical weapons
but which also have commercial uses. The OPCW said that EMPTA
is identified with a process to make plastics flexible and also
with some fungicides and anti-microbial agents.
Sources at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical
Weapons also pointed out that EMPTA is difficult to isolate
when in soil. A chemical weapons expert at OPCW also stated
that pesticide traces in the soil could result in a false-positive
result. Mike Hiskey, an expert at the world-renowned Los Alamos
National Laboratory in the United States, said that the chemical
had commercial uses, including the manufacture of some herbicides
and pesticides. The Guardian also reported that: "a
search of scientific papers showed that it could be used in
a variety of circumstances."
The London Observer also stated that:
US credibility has been further dented by Western scientists
who have pointed out that the same ingredients are used
for chemical weapons and beer, and that mustard gas is similar
in make-up to the anti-clogging agent in biro ink. It has
also been pointed out that the cherry flavouring in sweets
is one of the constituent parts of the gas used in combat.
Empta also has commercial uses not linked to chemical weapons.
The Sudanese government directly challenged American claims
to have a soil sample. The Sudanese information minister, Dr
Ghazi Saleheddin, stated:
They have not produced any convincing evidence. We have
to be satisfied that the United States is not making this
up. It's not enough to produce soil which could have been
made up in the United States itself, and to claim that the
soil contains toxic agents. For a factory to produce toxic
agents, you need special facilities, special preparations,
special storage areas and preparations facilities. You can't
keep things to yourself and keep claiming you have the final
proof without allowing people to verify your claims.
The Observer reported that American intelligence sources
were moving to "less and less credible positions".
On 6 September 1998, The Washington Post, in an editorial
entitled 'Intelligence Lapse?', called American intelligence
claims about the al-Shifa factory into question:
the possibility of an intelligence failure in the choice
of targets in Sudan is so awful to contemplate.But enough
questions have been raised, and the administration's story
has been often enough revised, to warrant further inquiry.How
could the CIA not have known more about the factory - not
have known what so many ordinary citizens apparently knew?
Some officials reportedly pointed to a search of the factory's
Internet site that listed no products for sale. We can only
hope that, if the administration could speak more openly,
it could make a more persuasive case. At a minimum, there
is room here for congressional intelligence committees to
This Washington Post editorial was amongst the first
of many American newspaper editorials and articles explicitly
questioning the Clinton Administration's attack on the al-Shifa
factory. In February 1999, extensive tests by Professor Thomas
Tullius, chairman of the chemistry department at Boston University,
on samples taken from the wrecked al-Shifa plant and its grounds,
found that "to the practical limits of scientific detection,
there was no EMPTA or EMPA, its breakdown product."
The claim that Osama bin-Laden either owned or had a financial
link to the al-Shifa factory also quickly unravelled. The United
States government claimed that Osama bin-Laden either owned
or had a financial interest in the al-Shifa factory. This was
denied both by the real owner and the Sudanese government. Mr
Suleiman, the al-Shifa company's lawyer confirmed that the owner
was a Sudanese businessman, Saleh Idris. The plant had been
established by Bashir Hassan Bashir, and had been sold in March
1997 to Mr Idris. Interviewed in late 1999, Under Secretary
of State Thomas Pickering admitted that when the U.S. Government
attacked the al-Shifa factory, who actually owned the plant
"was not known to us". That is to say that despite
the fact that Mr Idris had owned the factory for 18 months prior
to the American attack, the American intelligence community
were unaware of that fact. All any of the U.S. government's
many intelligence agencies had to do to ascertain who owned
the al-Shifa factory was telephone the factory, or ask any of
the European ambassadors - including the British ambassador
- who had visited the plant and knew the owner.
On 25 August a United States intelligence official, giving an
official briefing to the media on the American missile strikes
admitted that the ties between bin-Laden and the al-Shifa factory
were "fuzzy". On the same day, Reuters reported that
a United States intelligence official had said that he: "could
not confirm any direct financial link between Bin Laden and
the plant." The Washington Post reported that: "Within
days, however, U.S. officials began pulling back from directly
linking bin Laden to El Shifa Pharmaceutical." By 31 August,
it was being reported by The New York Times that: "Some
U.S. officials now say Mr. bin Laden's financial support.did
not directly flow to the plant itself"
In a 1 September briefing, American Defence Secretary Cohen
was forced to admit that the evidence linking bin-Laden to the
al-Shifa plant "was a little tenuous". That is to
say, two weeks after the American government destroyed the al-Shifa
factory because, in large part, American intelligence claimed
that Osama bin-Laden either owned, part-owned, or had a financial
interest in, the al-Shifa factory, the best the American Defence
Secretary could come up with was that the claimed link was "a
The Clinton Administration's claim that the al-Shifa factory
had no commercial products was also quickly disproven. The American
news service, ABC News, stated that senior intelligence officials
had claimed in relation to the al-Shifa factory that: "there
was no evidence that commercial products were ever sold out
of the facility." President Clinton's National Security
Advisor, Sandy Berger, personally stated that the Al-Shifa factory:
"has no other commercial distribution as far as we understand.
We have physical evidence of that fact and very, very little
doubt of it."
The factory's lawyer, and Sudan's most prominent anti-government
activist, Ghazi Suleiman, said that the factory produced 60
percent of Sudan's pharmaceutical drugs, including antibiotics,
malaria tablets and syrups, as well as drugs for diabetes, ulcers,
tuberculosis, rheumatism and hypertension. He stated that the
factory had employed three hundred workers, supporting some
three thousand people. Mr Suleiman also echoed Sudanese government
calls for a fact-finding mission to examine the factory ruins
to verify American claims of chemical weapons production. The
factory's components had been imported from the United States,
Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, India and Thailand. Mr
Bekheit Abdallah Yagoub, the deputy commissioner of the Sudanese
Humanitarian Aid Commission, said the factory supplied 70 percent
of the drug needs of southern, eastern and western Sudan, areas
wracked by famine and disease. Journalists who visited the site
were able to find thousands of containers and bottles of human
medication and animal drugs, clear evidence of the factory's
If this was not enough evidence, al-Shifa had been in the process
of filling a United Nations-approved contract to provide Iraq
with $200,000 worth of 'Shifzole 2.5 percent (Albndazole 2.5
percent for Levamisole)', a deworming drug for animals, a contract
approved in January 1998 by the United Nation's Iraqi sanctions
committee in January 1998 as part of the "oil for food"
programme. One would have presumed that the American government,
and particularly its intelligence agencies, would have been
vigorously monitoring any of the United Nations contracts for
The United States government eventually conceded that the al-Shifa
factory had in fact been commercially producing medicines and
drugs. Some days after the missile strike, State Department
spokesman James Foley admitted, for example: "That facility
may very well have been producing pharmaceuticals.". The
London Times also confirmed the Clinton Administration's
belated acceptance of this fact: "Now they admit it made
60 percent of Sudan's medicine." On 31 August, it was reported
that the Pentagon itself admitted that there had been an intelligence
failure on the part of the United States government in not being
aware of the commercial production of medicines and drugs: "Some
of the intelligence people didn't know they would find any of
For the National Security Advisor to have publicly made such
a mistake over what should have been the very easily verifiable
issue of whether al-Shifa produced medicines or is yet another
key indicator as to the quality and accuracy of American intelligence
on the factory. A simple telephone call to the Sudanese chamber
of commerce would have sufficed.
On 1 September 1998, in an extraordinary development, at a special
briefing to United States senators by a senior intelligence
officer, it was further stated that the al-Shifa plant had been
targeted, at least in part, because, in the words of Associated
Press, "no evidence that any pharmaceuticals were being
produced or sold" by the al-Shifa factory had been was
available on the al-Shifa website. That is to say, one of the
official reasons given as to why the factory was hit by Cruise
missiles was in effect because it had not updated its internet
The Clinton Administration had also claimed that the al-Shifa
factory was a high security facility guarded by the Sudanese
military. In a briefing on the al-Shifa factory soon after the
strike on Khartoum, a senior American intelligence official
told reporters in Washington that: "The facility also has
a secured perimeter and it's patrolled by the Sudanese military."
United States government claims that the factory was a heavily-guarded,
military installation with restricted access, were almost immediately
comprehensively contradicted by western journalists. The
Economist, for example, reported that the
al-Shifa factory was "open to the street", contrasting
with other heavily guarded areas of Khartoum. Associated Press
stated that: "There are no signs of secrecy at the plant.
Two prominent signs along the road point to the factory, and
foreigners have been allowed to visit the site at all hours."
The only "military" guard was the old nightwatchman
killed in the missile attack.
The Clinton Administration also attempted to justify its strike
with the claim that there were weapons of mass destruction technology
links between Sudan and Iraq. Some four days after the attack
on the al-Shifa factory, the United States government position
and focus shifted once again. Unable to prove anything specific,
the American government then fell back on to broader claims.
In a news article on 25 August 1998, entitled 'U.S. Intelligence
Cites Iraqi Tie to Sudan Plant', for example, Associated Press
reported that: "Intelligence officials are leaning toward
the theory that Iraq was spreading its knowledge of chemical
weapons production to other Muslim countries."
On the same day, in an article entitled 'Times: U.S. says Iraq
aided Sudan on chemical weapons', Reuters reported on American
government claims of weapons of mass destruction technology
transfer from Iraq to Sudan. The United States government then
claimed that the factory was attacked because of alleged links
with Iraq. The Guardian reported, for example, that:
President Clinton's decision to launch the strikes was
at least partly influenced by reports that intelligence
officers had intercepted phone calls between scientists
at the factory and top officials in Iraq's chemical weapons
It is perhaps needless to say that the Clinton Administration
refused to name the Sudanese scientists who were said to be
in telephone contact with people in Iraq, and has not released
transcripts or tapes of the alleged conversations. It is a matter
of record, however, that in February 1998, the United States
government had itself denied that there was evidence for chemical
weapons or technology transfers from Iraq to Sudan, stating
We have no credible evidence that Iraq has exported weapons
of mass destruction technology to other countries since
the (1991) Gulf War.
In addition to the American government, in February and March
1998, the British government also stated that there was no evidence
for any weapons of mass destruction technology transfers from
Iraq to Sudan. This was the view of both the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office and the Defence Intelligence staff of the British Ministry
of Defence. On 19 March 1998, Baroness Symons, the then Parliamentary
Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs,
stated in the House of Lords in relation to claims of weapons
of mass destruction technology transfers, including chemical
and biological weapons, from Iraq to Sudan, that:
We are monitoring the evidence closely, but to date we
have no evidence to substantiate these claims.... Moreover,
we know that some of the claims are untrue...The defence
intelligence staff in the MoD (Ministry of Defence) have
similarly written a critique which does not support the
Baroness Symons also stated that: "Nor has the United Nations
Special Commission reported any evidence of such transfers since
the Gulf War conflict and the imposition of sanctions in 1991."
Even the broad American claim of weapons of mass destruction
technology transfer from Iraq to Sudan was simply unsustainable.
The Clinton Administration's attack on al-Shifa was roundly
condemned within the international community. On 23 August,
1998, both the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, a pan-Islamic
organisation representing Islamic countries, and the League
of Arab States, made up of 22 Arab countries, condemned the
United States missile strike on Sudan, calling the attack "a
blatant violation" of the Charter of the U.N. The Organisation
of African Unity also called for an independent investigation
of the al-Shifa site. American allies such as France and Italy
also expressed doubts about Washington's claims about al-Shifa.
On 3 September 1998, the summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement,
meeting in Durban, South Africa, and representing well over
one hundred countries, passed the following resolution:
The Heads of State or Government.expressed their deep
concern over the air attack carried out by the United States
Government against the El-Shifa Pharmaceutical Plant in
the Sudan on 20 August 1998, and considered this as a serious
violation of the principles of international law and the
UN Charter and contrary to the principles of peaceful settlement
of disputes as well as a serious threat to the sovereignty
and territorial integrity of the Sudan and the regional
stability and international peace and security. They further
considered this attack as a unilateral and unwarranted act.
The Heads of State or Government condemned this act of aggression
and the continuing threats made by the United States Government
against the Sudan and urged the US Government to refrain
from such unilateral acts. They further expressed support
to the Sudan in its legitimate demands for full compensation
for economic and material losses resulting from the attack.
Far from isolating Sudan, American policy had led to an unprecedented
level of international support and sympathy for the Khartoum
authorities, as well as strengthening the government domestically.
What was perhaps even more disturbing than the systematic unravelling
of the Clinton Administration's stated reasons for attacking
the al-Shifa factory itself, was the shambolic way in which
the factory was targeted. It was revealed in the weeks after
the raid that the decision to attack the factory was taken by
a very small number of predominantly civilian aides to President
Clinton. The White House went ahead with the attack on al-Shifa
without informing four of the five members of the Joint Chiefs
of Staff. Neither was the FBI informed, even though the agency
was directly responsible for investigating the terrorist bombings
of the two American embassies which precipitated the attack.
The US Attorney General Janet Reno was informed, but she was
ignored when she questioned the strength of the evidence available.
The Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon's own intelligence
service, was also not informed of the attack.
It has, of course, been openly speculated upon that the decision
to attack Afghanistan and Sudan was intimately linked to the
Monica Lewinsky scandal. Articles such as Vanity Fair's
'Weapons of Mass Destruction' articulated just such concerns.
It might be pointed out, in passing, that President Clinton
showed a marked reluctance to agree to scientific tests in both
In a New York Times article published one year after
the bombing, further details of the intelligence blunders surrounding
the decision to attack al-Shifa emerged. There was considerable
doubt about the targeting of al-Shifa even within the small
group of people involved in the decision to attack. The State
Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research had cautioned
the Secretary of State before the attack, questioning the links
between al-Shifa and bin Laden. These concerns were put in writing.
Under Secretary of State Thomas Pickering conceded that intelligence
analysts had expressed concerns about the target before the
attack. Asked how serious these concerns were, Pickering stated
that "[t]hey were serious enough to send a memorandum."
When the Bureau of Intelligence and Research attempted to raise
the issue again following the attack, their report was spiked
by Pickering. Following the attack other intelligence officials
questioned the validity of the al-Shifa strike. These have included
the head of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, the Directorate's
Africa chief and the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center.
The al-Shifa bombing has been compared to the bombing of the
Chinese embassy in Belgrade during NATO's war over Kosovo. While
the Belgrade incident was the result of similarly mistaken targeting
by CIA intelligence sources, that is where the comparison ends.
The Chinese embassy bombing was one of thousands of targets
selected during NATO's intensive bombing campaign against Yugoslav
targets. It is a sad reality that when one bombs thousands of
targets, some mistakes will be made. No such excuse exists for
the bombing of the al-Shifa factory. Given the Clinton Administration's
repeated claims of that Sudan sponsored terrorism, and that
the al-Shifa factory had allegedly been under suspicion and
observed for months, there is simply no excuse for such an intelligence
|CHAPTER 4: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND
SUDAN: A SYSTEMIC INTELLIGENCE FAILURE
Highlighted by the al-Shifa fiasco, the Clinton Administration's
intelligence and information on Sudan in general and "terrorism"
in particular, and the way the administration has chosen to
interpret and use intelligence, has self-evidently been abysmal.
The Clinton Administration is served by thirteen separate intelligence
agencies. Their budget amounts to almost thirty billion dollars
a year: 85 percent of this budget is dedicated to military intelligence.
The primary mission of these intelligence agencies is "to
collect, evaluate, and disseminate foreign intelligence to assist
the President and senior US Government policymakers in making
decisions relating to the national security". Amongst the
many resources at the disposal of these intelligence agencies
are satellites that can see everything imaginable and that can
monitor every electronic communication on the face of the earth.
One would have assumed that allegations of weapons of mass destruction
technology, and factories allegedly engaged in the production
of such weapons, and allegedly owned and controlled by Osama
bin-Laden, would have been of considerable significance to American
"national security". One would have imagined that
some of the immense resources briefly mentioned above would
have been focused on every facet of the al-Shifa factory in
Khartoum down to the last nut and bolt. Indeed, the Clinton
Administration claimed that the al-Shifa medicines factory had
been under surveillance for several months before the Cruise
missile attack which destroyed the plant.
It would appear, however, that despite having monitored the
al-Shifa factory for all that time and despite the awesome array
of intelligence resources and assets at their disposal, it was
beyond the ability of the American intelligence community to
ascertain who owned Sudan's biggest pharmaceutical factory,
despite the fact that the factory was publicly mortgaged. It
is also clear that far from being able to ascertain whether
the al-Shifa medicines factory produced any chemical weapons,
the American intelligence community were not even able to ascertain
whether al-Shifa produced any commercial products - despite
the fact that the factory produced two-thirds of Sudan's medicines
and animal drug needs, and held United Nations drug contracts.
A simple low-tech telephone call to the Sudanese chamber of
commerce, or to the factory itself, or to any of the various
ambassadors - including the British ambassador - who had visited
the factory, would have answered several of the questions which
the Clinton Administration so publicly got wrong in the days
following the bombing. This almost unbelievable intelligence
failure is also all the more surprising given the fact that
Washington had previously enjoyed a warm military and intelligence
relationship with Sudan in the 1980s, and despite the fact that
unlike intelligence gathering in other countries such as Libya,
Iraq or Iran, which is very difficult given the closed nature
of those countries, Sudan is, in the words of the Guardian,
"one of the most open and relaxed Arab countries".
That the Clinton Administration chose to act on what has subsequently
been seen to be faulty intelligence is a reflection of poor
judgement on the part of the Administration. Equally unacceptable
has been the Administration's tendency to ignore intelligence
concerns when they conflicted with stated policy. To have allowed
intelligence gathering and analysis on Sudan to degenerate as
much has it clearly did is a reflection of bad government. Both
are compounded by the Administration's clear attempts to then
defend questionable stances towards Sudan by hiding behind "intelligence"
which could not be "revealed."
Former President Carter established in 1993 that, despite listing
Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, the Clinton Administration
had no evidence, and no intelligence, to support the listing.
Several years later the absence of any credible intelligence
to support the Clinton Administration's continuing allegations
of Sudanese involvement in terrorism continued to be documented.
In a 26 December 1996 International Herald Tribune article
by veteran American investigative reporter Tim Weiner, it was
clear that no evidence or proof had emerged: "U.S. officials
have no hard proof that Sudan still provides training centers
for terrorists". The article stated that "The big
issue for the United States is that Sudan has served as a safe
house for stateless revolutionaries". Mr Weiner also interviewed
key American officials "responsible for analyzing the Sudan".
The answer to whether or not Sudan was involved in supporting
terrorism, was "we just don't know". Sudan, nevertheless,
continued to be listed as a state sponsor of terrorism.
What is clear is that American intelligence agencies have not
able to find any proof of Sudanese involvement in international
terrorism, before or after the Clinton Administration listed
Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. The singular lack of
judgement on the part of the Clinton Administration and the
American intelligence community was amply illustrated by its
eagerness to accepted fabricated claims concerning the Sudanese
In May 2000 Sudan was once again listed by the Clinton Administration
as a state sponsor of terrorism. The State Department stated
that Sudan was a "central hub" for international terrorism.
4.1: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S
WITHDRAWAL OF OVER 100 "FABRICATED" REPORTS ON SUDAN
Not only were American intelligence agencies unable to accurately
analyse events and trends in Sudan, there is ample evidence
that they actually accepted as facts claims about Sudanese involvement
in terrorism which were subsequently revealed to have been fabricated.
In September 1998, in the wake of the al-Shifa fiasco, both
the New York Times and the London Times reported
that the Central Intelligence Agency had previously secretly
had to withdraw over one hundred of its reports alleging Sudanese
involvement in terrorism. The CIA had realised that the reports
in question had been fabricated, probably by political opponents
of the government or other anti-Sudanese forces. It is clear
that the American intelligence agencies were either unable or
disinclined to check the accuracy of their sources, and were
all too eager to rely on information of dubious quality because
it supported the Clinton Administration's preconceived ideas
with regard to Sudan. The London Times concluded that
is no great surprise to those who have watched similar
CIA operations in Africa where "American intelligence"
is often seen as an oxymoron.
A striking example of this was the closure by the Clinton Administration
of the American embassy in Khartoum in 1996. This decision was
presented as yet one more example of concern over Sudan's alleged
support for international terrorism. CIA reports were said to
have stated that American embassy staff and their families were
in danger. The Clinton Administration's spokesman, Nicholas
Burns, stated at the time that:
We have been concerned for a long period of time about
the activities and movements of specific terrorist organizations
who are resident in Sudan. Over the course of many, many
conversations with the Sudanese Government, we simply could
not be assured that the Sudanese Government was capable
of protecting our Americans against the specific threats
that concerned us.[T]he specific nature of these threats,
the persistence of these threats, and our root belief at
the end of all these conversations that this particular
government could not protect them led us to take this extraordinary
measure of withdrawing all of our diplomats.
It is now admitted the reports cited in justifying this decision
were subsequently withdrawn as having been fabricated. As the
New York Times investigation documented:
In late 1995 the CIA realized that a foreign agent who
had warned repeatedly of startling terrorist threats to
U.S. diplomats, spies and their children in Khartoum was
fabricating information. They withdrew his reports, but
the climate of fear and mistrust created by the reports
bolstered the case for withdrawing personnel from the U.S.
Embassy in Khartoum, officials said.The embassy remained
closed, even though, as a senior intelligence official put
it, "the threat wasn't there" as of 1996.
The New York Times also reported that there were similar
unverified and uncorroborated reports that the then national
security advisor, Antony Lake, had been targeted for assassination
by terrorists based in Sudan. Lake was moved into Blair House,
a federal mansion across the street from the White House and
then to a second, secret, location. The New York Times
reported that Lake "disappeared from view around the time
the embassy's personnel were withdrawn". There is little
doubt that the supposed threat to Lake was as fabricated as
the CIA reports concerning the American embassy in Khartoum.
The newspaper stated that: "The threat to Tony Lake had
a chilling effect on the National Security Council."
There is no doubt that the equally spurious "threats"
to American diplomats and their children in Khartoum had an
equally chilling effect on the State Department and other agencies.
The fact remains however that these "threats", then
seen as proof of Sudanese complicity in terrorism, were contained
in the over one hundred reports that the CIA later admitted
it had to withdraw because they had been fabricated. To have
to withdraw one or two intelligence reports on such serious
matters is bad enough. To have to withdraw over one hundred
such reports can only be described as a massive systemic intelligence
failure. One can only but point out that the Clinton Administration
used the Sudanese government's inability to react to "specific"
threats made by "specific" terrorist organisations
against American diplomats, non-existent fabricated threats,
as one more example of Sudan's involvement with terrorism.
The American embassy in Khartoum was subsequently partly re-opened
in October 1997, and Antony Lake eventually did come out of
hiding. And yet, as late as March 2000, four years after the
above intelligence fiasco, the White House was still falsely
stating: "In 1996, we removed full-time staff from the
Embassy and relocated them to Nairobi for security reasons."
In what could pass for a snapshot of the accuracy of Clinton
Administration claims about Sudan and terrorism in general,
the New York Times stated that:
the Central Intelligence Agency.recently concluded that
reports that had appeared to document a clear link between
the Sudanese Government and terrorist activities were fabricated
and unreliable.The United States is entitled to use military
force to protect itself against terrorism. But the case
for every such action must be rigorously established. In
the case of the Sudan, Washington has conspicuously failed
to prove its case.
Ambassador Petterson, the United States ambassador to Sudan
from 1992-95, clearly documents an earlier example of the Clinton
Administration acting upon fabricated and unreliable claims
of Sudanese complicity in "terrorism". In his memoirs
of his time in Sudan Ambassador Petterson reveals that in August
1993, "information about a plan to harm American officials
led the State Department to order an evacuation of our spouses
and children and a reduction of my American staff by one-third".
Petterson stated that "[w]e at the embassy had seen or
heard nothing manifesting a clear and present danger from either
terrorists or the Sudanese government. But the order was firm
and irrevocable". Petterson also documented that subsequently
"new information" had been "acquired" which
indicated "an increasingly precarious situation for Americans
in Khartoum". Ambassador Petterson later reveals that the
allegations in question were unfounded:
The months wore on, no credible threat to embassy Americans
materialized, and eventually serious doubt was raised about
the validity of the information that had led to the evacuation.
It perhaps goes without saying that for a government to evacuate
the spouses and children of diplomats, and to reduce its embassy
staff, is a serious matter. It is an even more serious matter
when a government totally closes an embassy, withdrawing all
diplomats and dependants. This was done on two occasions in
Sudan. The partial evacuation happened in 1993. The total evacuation
was carried out in 1996. The Clinton Administration ordered
both evacuations on the basis of intelligence information received
which supposedly warned of threats to American diplomats and
their families. On both occasions the Administration also demanded
that the Sudanese government somehow deal with these threats,
and it was inferred that if Khartoum did not do so this would
be more evidence of Sudan's involvement with terrorism. It is
now clear, as outlined by independent sources such as Ambassador
Petterson, and the New York Times, that both the
partial evacuation of American embassy staff and dependants
in 1993, and the full withdrawal of the embassy in 1996, were
the results of faulty intelligence reports based on claims subsequently
revealed to have been fabricated.
4.2: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S REFUSAL
OF SUDANESE REQUESTS FOR COUNTER-TERRORISM TEAMS TO VISIT SUDAN
The Clinton Administration's poor record and questionable judgement
with regard to intelligence and the issue of terrorism was further
highlighted by the September 1998 New York Times revelation
In February 1997, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir
sent President Clinton a personal letter. It offered, among
other things, to allow U.S. intelligence, law-enforcement
and counterterrorism personnel to enter Sudan and to go
anywhere and see anything, to help stamp out terrorism.
The United States never replied to that letter.
In April 1997, there was another invitation, once again inviting
the Clinton Administration to send FBI counterterrorism units
to Sudan to verify any information they may have had about terrorism.
The letter was addressed to Representative Lee Hamilton, the
then chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and is
part of the Congressional Record. This offer was eventually
turned down four months later.
There is a further, even more disturbing example of the Clinton
Administration's questionable judgement regarding Sudan and
international terrorism. In a series of investigative articles
entitled "U.S. Fumbles Chance to Nab Bombers: State Department
Stopped FBI from Pursuing Leads in East Africa Blasts",
"State, FBI Questioned Over Africa Blasts: Congress Questions
Sudan Missile Strike, 'Missed Opportunities'" and "Was
Sudan Raid on Target? Did FBI Botch Chance to Grab Embassy Bombing
Suspects?", the American MSNBC new network reported that
in early August 1997, shortly after the terrorist bombings of
the American embassies (and before the bombing of the al-Shifa
factory), the Sudanese authorities had arrested two prime suspects
in the embassy bombings. These suspects had been observed monitoring
the American embassy in Khartoum, and were arrested after attempting
to rent an apartment across the street from the embassy. The
two men had Pakistani passports, Afghani accents, and a list
of known bin-Laden contacts in Sudan. They had also both been
in Kenya for the three weeks before the embassy bombing. The
reference on their visa applications to enter Sudan was the
same company accused by the American authorities of supplying
explosives and weapons to Osama bin-Laden.
The Sudanese authorities notified the FBI and repeatedly offered
to turn the two suspects over to the American authorities. Senior
American law enforcement officials have subsequently stated
that while the FBI were eager to taken up the offer, the State
Department prevented any such investigation. After the bombing
of the al-Shifa factory, the Sudanese government deported the
two men to Pakistan. In July 1999, MSNBC further documented
that there had been Sudanese offers to assist even after the
Still, despite fierce protests from Sudan over the missile
attack, the Sudanese government has continued to court U.S.
officials with intelligence allegedly collected during the
interrogations of the two before they were deported and
observations made during the period between their release
and deportation. As late as last month, FBI officials had
renewed their requests to the State Department to sanction
official contacts with Sudan that might lead to new information
about the bin Laden network's plans. Again, the State Department
The MSNBC report also quoted a Kenyan diplomat, who described
his government as "furious" that the U.S. had passed
up on an opportunity to apprehend men suspected of involvement
in the bombing which killed hundreds of Kenyans.
It is a matter of record that both House and Senate intelligence
committees began an investigation into why the Clinton Administration
passed up on the chance of interviewing two prime suspects in
the embassy bombings. By any standard, the Administration's
studied disinterest in the opportunity of interrogating these
two suspects in the bombing of two American embassies is deeply
questionable. Perhaps it was ineptitude on the part of politicians,
intelligence and law enforcement officials. Perhaps it was an
unwillingness on the part of sections of the Clinton Administration
to address any development that might have invalidated the attack
on Sudan and the al-Shifa factory that was to follow a week
or so afterwards, a strike that was necessary and urgent in
order for President Clinton to appear "presidential"
in the midst of the Lewinsky scandal.
4.3: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND OSAMA
The Clinton Administration's capacity for own goals is clear.
The issue of Osama bin-Laden is a case in point. As was outlined
in the 1993 Patterns of Global Terrorism, Pakistan had
then begun to "expel Arab militants affiliated with various
mujahedin groups and nongovernment aid organisations".
It is no secret that many of these individuals, denied entry
to their own countries, took advantage of Sudan's then non-visa
policy for Arab nationals and sought refuge in Sudan. One such
person was the Saudi Osama bin-Laden. Previously a CIA asset
and the recipient of considerable American funding during the
Afghan war, Osama bin-Laden chose not to return to his home
country, and also went to Sudan. A man of considerable wealth,
bin Laden became commercially involved in Sudan. One of his
construction companies began building roads
The Clinton Administration brought pressure to bear on the Khartoum
authorities to expel him from the Sudan. The Sudanese minister
of information, Dr Ghazi Saleheddin, revealed that:
We gave [U.S. officials] a piece of advice that they
never followed. We told them: "Don't send him out of
Sudan because you will lose control over him.Now, the United
States has ended up with war with an invisible enemy".
In May 1996, at the insistence of the United States, Sudan expelled
bin Laden and over one hundred of his followers and their dependants.
They chose to leave for Afghanistan, perhaps the single most
difficult place in the world from which to monitor bin Laden
and his activities. The results of this relocation are sadly
all too well known. While in Sudan he did not engage in any
terrorist activities. It was comparatively easy for the Sudanese
and American authorities to monitor his activities, and, in
the case of the Sudanese authorities probably to exercise a
moderating influence of sorts.
For all the allegations it has made, and despite the awesome
and unprecedented intelligence, information-gathering and surveillance
tools at its disposal, the Clinton Administration has not been
able to point to a single act of terrorism sponsored or supported
by the government of Sudan. It has admitted as much in its own
reports. Neither has the Administration identified a single
"terrorist training camp" in Sudan: had any such data
been available it would undoubtedly been attacked at the same
time as the al-Shifa factory. Senior European diplomatic sources
in Khartoum have questioned whether these camps ever existed.
The hundreds of news and sensation hungry journalists who flooded
into Khartoum following the attack on the al-Shifa factory,
all eagerly exploring any terrorist link, were also unable to
find any evidence of terrorists or terrorist camps. What the
Administration did "identify" as a chemical weapons-producing
facility, the al-Shifa plant, is now internationally acknowledged
to have been nothing more than a medicines factory.
The Clinton Administration is also guilty of turning a blind
eye to crucial intelligence opportunities in the war against
terrorism. The Administration chose not to accept two offers
by the Khartoum authorities for American intelligence and counterterrorist
personnel to carry out whatever investigations they wished to
in Sudan. An even more questionable Clinton Administration decision
was to ignore repeated Sudanese requests that they interrogate
two suspects in the Nairobi embassy bombing who had been arrested
by the Sudanese authorities in Khartoum while renting accommodation
overlooking the American embassy. The Clinton Administration
would appear to have ignored this vital opportunity as it would
have been inconvenient given that they intended to attack Sudan
because of its alleged complicity in the Nairobi bombings.
It is evident that the Clinton Administration has barely, if
at all, acknowledged Sudan's efforts to address American concerns
about its alleged support for terrorism. It is difficult to
see what more Khartoum could have done in this respect. Sudan
arrested and extradited Illyich Ramirez Sanchez, "Carlos
the Jackal" to France, and, as requested by Washington,
it expelled Osama bin Laden, and his associates, from Sudan.
In September 1995 Sudan imposed strict visa requirements on
visitors to Sudan, ending its no visa policy for Arab nationals.
It has signed various United Nations, international and Arab
anti-terrorist accords. In April 1998, for example, Sudan became
a signatory to the Arab Agreement for Combating Terrorism. The
Sudanese ministers of internal affairs and justice signed the
agreement on behalf of Sudan. In August, 1998, the Sudanese
ambassador to Egypt stated Sudan welcomed an Egyptian proposal
to convene an international conference on combating terrorism.
Sudan has also signed the chemical weapons convention in May
1999. On several occasions, Sudan invited the American government
to send CIA and FBI counter-terrorists teams down to Sudan to
investigate any concerns they may have about Sudan and terrorism.
Not only did Sudan immediately condemn the embassy bombings,
it actually arrested two prime suspects in the bombings and
repeatedly requested that the American authorities interrogate
4.4: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: IN SEARCH
OF NEW ENEMIES ?
Since the end of the cold war [America] has
been in search of an enemy
In addition to understandable attempts by Washington to distance
itself from the American government's previous institutional
support for "Islamic terrorism", that is to say its
support for tens of thousands of Islamic fighters in the Afghan
war, there is another obvious reason for Washington's attempts
to present Muslim countries such as Sudan as state sponsors
of terrorism. It is clear that Sudan's listing was motivated
by policy considerations. It is also clear that attempts to
identify Sudan with "Islamic terrorism" fits into
a bigger policy picture. In an article entitled 'In Search of
a New Enemy', Iviews, the online Muslim newspaper, points
to distinct motives for pushing the issue of "Islamic"
terrorism and the subsequent need to label Islamic "rogue"
states as state sponsors of terrorism:
Last week, testifying on security threats against the
United States before the United States before the Senate
Select Intelligence Committee, CIA director George Tenet
laid out a blueprint for America's national security doctrine
in the twenty-first century. Toping Tenet's list of principal
threats was terrorism committed by Muslims.Like many of
his colleagues in the national security profession, Tenet
paints a picture for Congress and the American people of
a vast conspiracy of 'Islamic terrorists' stretching across
the globe; irrational fanatics who burn with rage at American
and probe out weaknesses for a chance to strike. Of course,
that is the picture he must paint - his agency's funding
depends on it. This is the dilemma of America's intelligence
community. The Evil Empire has crumbled.How will career
spooks continue to justify their existence, in an America
with no enemy looming outside its gates, no convincing threat
to its survival.One faction of the American political and
security establishment believes the 'Islamic terrorist threat'
is the perfect savior for their uncertain careers.
The hysteria of people such as Director of Central Intelligence
Tenet fuels tension and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.Even
worse, people in Washington listen to these people, often
with disastrous results. The Clinton Administration is still
hoping the world will forget about the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical
plant in Sudan, which it bombed on the advice of the CIA.
The incident eroded America's credibility overseas - the
inevitable outcome of all decisions spurred by ideology,
not by real intelligence work or a sound understanding of
what our national interests are.
There is some justification for the Iviews line of argument.
The theme of "Islamic terrorism" has been echoed time
and again. On 21 August, 1998, for example, Madeleine Albright
stated that the Islamic terrorist threat is "the war of
the future". In January 1999, President Clinton approved
the biggest increase in defence spending since the cold war.
Despite the absence of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, American
defence spending was scheduled to increase by $12 billion in
1999, and by a total of $110 billion over the next six years.
This budget increase represented the first increase in defence
spending in ten years, and the biggest increase since 1984.
And yet, claims about an "Islamic" terrorist threat
are not borne out by the facts. The 1998 Patterns of Global
Terrorism stated that "the number of international
terrorist attacks actually fell again in 1998, continuing a
downward trend that began several years ago." Interestingly,
with regard to "Total Anti-U.S. Attacks", which are
listed by region, the following pattern emerges: Africa 3, Europe
3, West Europe 13, Middle East 5, and Latin America 87. These
figures speak for themselves. And as stated in an article by
John Mueller and Karl Mueller, published in Foreign Affairs,
"On average far fewer Americans are killed each year by
terrorists than are killed by lightning, deer accidents or peanut
allergies. To call terrorism a threat to national security is
Amazingly, two years after the al-Shifa factory "weapons
of mass destruction" fiasco, the Clinton Administration
has once again attempted to associate Sudan with weapons of
New York Times columnist William Safire presented allegations
that Iraq's Saddam Hussein was involved in the construction
of a US$ 475 million missile factory in Sudan. The source for
this somewhat improbable disinformation had been a "Pentagon
intelligence agency report".
This disinformation, again at the expense of Sudan and Sudan's
reputation, can clearly be linked to the Clinton Administration's
controversial attempts to introduce a National Missile Defence
shield, dubbed the "son of star wars" after President
Reagan's attempts to create a similar anti-missile defence during
the Cold War. The Clinton Administration has stated that it
will soon decide whether to give the thirteen billion dollar
project the final go-ahead. Robert Walpole, the top United States
intelligence officer dealing with missile defence has stated
that "We are looking at reactions in different countries,
allies as well as potential enemies." Mr Walpole has stated
that European political and public opinion was less convinced
than the Americans of the need for such a defence shield. The
London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies,
for example, has reported that:
The US has had little success in convincing its European
critics that its plans for deployment are sensible, or useful.
There are few in Europe who believe that the so-called 'rogue'
states are led by men so irrational that they would threaten
the US with weapons of mass destruction carried on ballistic
missiles - even if they were able to do so.
The National Missile Defence also has powerful domestic critics.
It is all too obvious that in its search for "new enemies",
and in its attempts to justify billions more in defence spending,
the Clinton Administration, through its intelligence agencies,
has yet again used Sudan as a convenient 'rogue' state in order
to invoke "national security" considerations. There
can be little doubt that American intelligence claims of a ballistic
missile factory being built in Sudan by North Koreans and paid
for by Saddam Hussein are as unfounded as claims of the al-Shifa
factory's involvement with chemical weapons.
5: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION, ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM AND SUDAN
The Clinton Administration has repeatedly attempted to invoke
the image of Islamic extremism with regard to Sudan's Islamist
model of government. This stated concern is somewhat undermined
by the fact that Washington has shown no such concern about
the most fundamentalist state of all, Saudi Arabia, and turned
a blind eye to the fundamentalist regime introduced by their
then ally in Sudan, General Nimeiri. As then United States vice-president
George Bush pointed out in March 1985, some two years after
Nimeiri introduced a very strict version of sharia law
throughout Sudan, the United States has "provided unprecedented
amounts of relief aid to Sudan.the largest recipient of U.S.
development aid in sub-Saharan Africa". Mr Bush was not
exaggerating. In 1985, U.S. aid to Sudan topped $400 million.
This was in addition to over $300 million in military assistance
between 1982 and 1985. The American government's selectivity
about its concern about "Islamic fundamentalism" and
sharia law is self evident.
What is also self-evident is that while successful as a propaganda
projection, the Clinton Administration's claims about Islamic
extremism in contemporary Sudan are simply not borne out by
Dr Hasan Turabi has been seen as the architect of Sudan's present
Islamic model. He was elected speaker of the Sudanese Parliament
in 1996. In a 1995 interview Dr Turabi outlined his concepts
of Islamic government and society:
What would an Islamic Government mean?.The model is very
clear; the scope of government is limited. Law is not the
only agency of social control. Moral norms, individual conscience,
all these are very important, and they are autonomous. Intellectual
attitudes toward Islam are not going to be regulated or
codified at all. The presumption is that people are free.
The religious freedom not just of non-Muslims, but even
of Muslims who have different views, is going to be guaranteed.
I personally have views that run against all the orthodox
schools of law on the status of women, on the court testimony
of non-Muslims, on the law of apostasy. Some people say
that I have been influenced by the West and that I border
on apostasy myself.I don't accept the condemnation of Salman
Rushdie. If a Muslim wakes up in the morning and says he
doesn't believe any more, that's his business. There has
never been any question of inhibiting people's freedom to
express any understanding of Islam. The function of government
is not total.
Respected Africa analyst and commentator Colin Legum has defined
some of the differences between Turabi and Islamic fundamentalists:
Turabi's policies are out of step with other Islamic
fundamentalist organisations on a number of important issues.
For example, he strongly opposes the idea of a Pan-Islamic
movement, which brought him into conflict with other (Muslim
Brotherhood) parties in Egypt and elsewhere. He insists
that the Sudan has its own national problems which require
a particularist approach.
One of Turabi's fundamental breaks with the strict Islamic
traditionalists is over the place of women in Muslim societies.
As a declared supporter of women's liberation, he insists
on their right of equality and their right to full membership
of the (Muslim Brotherhood), the only Islamic movement that
Legum also commented on the particular difficulties faced by
Islamic leaders in the Sudan in trying to "reconcile the
demands for an Islamic state with the interests of the sizeable
minority of non-Muslim Southerners". Legum states that:
The solution proposed is that non-Muslims should have
the right to live according to their own traditions and
desires just as Muslims have the right to live in a system
governed by sharia laws within a democratic society.
A significant example of Khartoum's effort to accommodate the
interests of Sudan's non-Muslim southerners was the 1991 exemption
of the largely non-Muslim southern Sudan from sharia
law. Even the Clinton Administration has had to admit that sharia
law was not applied in the south. The American State Department's
Sudan Country Report on Human Rights Practices, for example,
Sudan's 1991 Criminal Act, based on Shari'a law, (prescribes)
specific "hudud" punishments. The Government officially
exempts the 10 Southern States, whose population is mostly
non-Muslim, from parts of the 1991 Criminal Act. But the
Act permits the possible future application of Shari'a law
in the south, if the local state assemblies so decide.
It was the present Sudanese government, therefore, that exempted
southern Sudan from the Islamic sharia law introduced
by Washington's ally General Nimeiri, and kept in place by the
democratically-elected government of Sadiq al-Mahdi. Such behaviour
sits uncomfortably with Washington's projections of Sudan as
an extremist Islamic state.
This view has also been supported by respected commentators
such as the veteran American journalist Milton Viorst, New
Yorker columnist and author of Sandcastles: The Arabs
in Search of the Modern World. Viorst has written that "Sudan
is the only state in our age that has formally opted for Islam
as its system of government". He has also compared the
Sudanese model to others in the region:
By the standards of other Arab societies, Turabi's concept
of Islam is open-minded and tolerant. Though he sees no
reason to emulate Western liberalism, few would contradict
his assertion that "we do not advocate a very strict
form of Islam". The signs are plentiful, in a visit
to Sudan, that the Islam practiced there is less strict
that that of Egypt, to say nothing of Saudi Arabia. One
scarcely sees the hijab, the head-covering that makes many
women in Egypt appear so forbidding, much less the Saudi
veil. Most Sudanese reflected Turabi's preference for a
genial, non-rigorous Islam, more in keeping with Sudan's
special experience within the flow of Islamic history.
Viorst has also interviewed the Sudanese head of state Omer
al-Bashir. President al-Bashir stated with regard to the Sudanese
model of Islam that:
Not all groups agree on how we are interpreting the sharia,
but we believe there is wide latitude. We have chosen a
moderate way, like the Koran itself, and so the sharia in
Sudan will be moderate. The dispute over what it requires
lies not in the area of private but of public affairs. Unfortunately,
there is no model in history for Islamic government. Fourteen
centuries have gone by since the prophet, and everyone now
has his image of an Islamic state. Some countries confuse
traditions - like the suppression of women - with religion,
but tradition is not Islam.
Professor Tim Niblock is one of the foremost British authorities
on Islam and Sudan. He has pointed out two areas in which Sudan's
model differs from maintstream Islamist thought. One is the
Sudanese Islamists' "explicit acceptance of liberal democracy
as the appropriate form of political organisation for Sudan.
The advocacy of liberal democracy by the N.I.F. went well beyond
the stress which Islamist movements customarily place on the
need for shura (consultation)." Secondly, the Sudanese
model with regard to women is "qualitatively different
from that proposed in most Islamist programmes. The emphasis
is on women 'escaping from social oppression' and 'playing a
full part in building the new society', rather than on their
primary duty lying within the family". Even the New
York Times, a source not noted for its affinity to Islamic
models of government, said of Turabi in 1996: "He voices
a tolerant version of political Islam - far less conservative
than Saudi Arabia's, far less militant than Iran's".
And there is no doubt that the Sudanese model is under attack
for its moderate interpretation of Islam. In February, 1994,
for example, extremist gunmen opened fire in the al-Thwarah
mosque in Omdurman, Sudan. They killed nineteen people and wounded
twenty others. New African magazine reported that the
Muslim extremists involved "showed that they did not think
that the government of General Omar Al-Bashir was sufficiently
fundamentalist for them." One of the targets on their hit
list was Dr Turabi. The London-based Arabic language newspaper
Al-Sharq al-Awsat has stated with regard to the threat
posed by Islamic extremists to the Khartoum authorities, that
the government: "Now.senses that it is under threat from
factions that can brook no deviation from their hard-line interpretations
of religion, which are incompatible with the requirements and
conditions of political activity in any Muslim state on earth.
Khartoum has been describing them as 'religious fanatics'.certainly
the slaughtering of Muslims in a mosque, as occurred in Sudan,
is fanaticism. It is the same fanaticism whose effects we can
witness in Egypt and Algeria, regardless of the causes".
The newspaper concluded that "Sudan's government and people
stand in the same trench as the other countries who live in
fear of the extremist organisations".
The Clinton Administration's apparent concern about Islamic
fundamentalism, while useful in attacking Sudan, does not of
course extend to Saudi Arabia. As has been stated in Foreign
The greatest hypocrisy in the debate over political Islam
is the fact that the Americans have fought a war and committed
their military and diplomatic power to secure the survival
of the most fundamentalist state of all - Saudi Arabia.
The Saudi regime's own legitimacy is based on an alliance
with the Wahhabi movement, and extremely conservative Sunni
sect. The Saudi government is actually more rigid in its
application of Islamic law and more repressive in many respects
than the one in Tehran. Saudi Arabia has no form of popular
representation, political rights are totally denied to women
and non-Muslims, and the regime has consistently applied
sharia to criminal justice. It has financed a variety of
Islamic groups worldwide, including the Hamas.Saudi Arabia,
like all the other Arab oil-exporting states of the Persian
Gulf, is an absolute monarchy that does not recognize the
concepts of civil rights or civil liberties.
By way of comparison, Sudanese Christians occupy key posts throughout
Sudanese political life. They include the Sudanese vice-president,
cabinet members, ambassadors, legislators and civil servants.
And, in the words of the Pan African News Agency: "Women
have also moved to assume senior positions in most occupations.
They are already cabinet ministers, high court judges, ambassadors,
university professors, medical doctors and police and army officers."
The Clinton Administration's violent opposition to Sudan should
perhaps be evaluated not so much in its concern about the "extremism"
of the model as much as the fact that it presents the threat
of a good example, a modern, liberal model of Islam which intellectually
undermines those fundamentalist states in the Gulf states. Far
from its stated concern about fundamentalism, one could argue
that part of the Administration's moves against Sudan was to
help protect the most fundamentalist state of all.
| CHAPTER 6: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION
AND "SLAVERY" IN SUDAN
[O]vereager or misinformed human rights advocates
in Europe and the US have played upon lazy assumptions
to raise public outrage. Christian Solidarity International,
for instance, claims that "Government troops and
Government-backed Arab militias regularly raid black
African communities for slaves and other forms of booty.".This
despite the fact that there is no evidence for centrally
organized, government-directed slave raiding or slave
Alex de Waal
[T]he charge that government troops engage in raids
for the purpose of seizing slaves is not backed by the
The Clinton Administration has repeated alleged that "slavery"
exists within Sudan, and that the Sudanese government was involved
with the events described as "slavery". It is clear
that the Administration has used these allegations to considerable
propaganda effect within the international community. These
claims have come to characterise much of the propaganda levelled
at the present government in Sudan. The facts are clear. There
has long been a history of tribal raiding in several parts of
central and southern Sudan, often between tribes competing for
water and pastures at given times of the year. A spate of such
raids was normally settled at an inter-tribal peace meeting
which would traditionally return those abducted. In central
Sudan traditional rivals have been the Dinka and various Arabised
Baggara tribes. These rivalries were exploited and heightened
in the 1980s, during the administration of Sadiq al-Mahdi, when
both the government and the SPLA armed various tribes with modern,
automatic weapons, and encouraged them to attack each other.
Since then there has been considerable inter-tribal conflict,
in the course of which men, women and children have been abducted
and kidnapped. The vastness of Sudan, much of which has always
proved difficult to administer - even without the dislocation
of civil war - has made it very difficult for effective action
against those responsible for such activities.
It is these tribal raids, and the abductions which have occurred
during such conflict, that have been presented by Christian
fundamentalist groups such as Christian Solidarity International
(CSI) and other activists as "slavery". Despite the
fact that the Dinka are overwhelmingly animist, these groups
have additionally presented the conflict between the Dinka and
the Arabised Baggara as a religious one. These groups have also
claimed that the Sudanese government are themselves intimately
involved in these "slave raids". It is also a matter
of fact that almost identical patterns of inter-tribal raiding
and abduction between the Dinka and Nuer, two black southern
Sudan tribes, has not been described as "slavery",
while the same activity when it is between the Baggara and Dinka
is presented as "slavery" and "slave raiding".
As can be seen by the above quotations, both Alex de Waal and
Anti-Slavery International are critical of the irresponsible
claims made by CSI.
It is perhaps appropriate to note the sober and common sense
comments of the Sudan Foundation in addressing the claims made
by Christian Solidarity International:
[D]uring the past 13 years, the population of Greater
Khartoum has increased by several million. Most of this
new population is made up of black people from the south
fleeing the civil war. There are many other places they
could go - Kenya, Uganda, Chad, and other neighbouring countries
that have not the ability to seal their borders against
refugees. But they have gone to Khartoum. And once in Khartoum,
they have proved unwilling to return to their homes. If
these people were as much at risk of being enslaved by northerners
as [alleged by CSI] Khartoum would have been their last
place of refuge. It would make as little sense to go there
as would have for Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe to have sought
refuge in Berlin. That Khartoum was their first place of
refuge must be taken as important evidence against [CSI]
claims. [CSI] offer eyewitness testimonies by often unnamed
individuals. We offer the actual testimony of millions whom
any tourist can see.
Christian Solidarity International has also been closely identified
with a process of what it claimed was "slave redemption",
whereby it allegedly bought the freedom of "slaves"
captured in raids. It is also now clear that these claims have
also been contradicted by other independent sources. One of
these sources was the Canadian government's special envoy to
Sudan, Mr John Harker. One of Mr Harker's specific tasks was
to "independently investigate.allegations of slavery and
slavery-like practices in Sudan". While Mr Harker was rightly
critical of many human rights abuses in Sudan, he clearly questioned
the credibility of large-scale "slave redemptions"
as arranged by groups such as Christian Solidarity International:
[R]eports, especially from CSI, about very large numbers
were questioned, and frankly not accepted. Mention was also
made to us of evidence that the SPLA were involved in "recycling"
abductees.Serious anti-abduction activists.cannot relate
the claimed redemptions to what they know of the reality.
The Harker Report went on to state that:
Several informants reported various scenarios involving
staged redemptions. In some cases, SPLM officials are allegedly
involved in arranging these exchanges, dressing up as Arab
slave traders, with profits being used to support the SPLM/A,
buy weapons and ammunition.
The Sudanese government position on slavery is very clear. Sudan
is a signatory to several key international conventions outlawing
slavery. These include the 1926 Slavery Convention, as amended
by the New York Protocol of 1953, and the Supplementary Convention
on the abolition of slavery, the slave trade and institutions
and practices similar to slavery which was ratified by the Sudan
in 1956 and 1957. Additionally, the 1991 Criminal Law Act clearly
defines abduction, forced labour, kidnapping, unlawful confinement
and unlawful detention as criminal acts punishable by imprisonment.
It should be noted that the 1999 resolution on Sudan passed
by the United Nations' Commission on Human Rights in Geneva,
while critical of many excesses, pointedly did not use the word
"slavery", referring instead to abductions and kidnappings.
This resolution was carried unanimously by the Commission. The
Clinton Administration was unhappy with this wording and has
continued to use discredited propagandistic terms such as "slavery"
CHAPTER 7: SUDAN, OPERATION LIFELINE
SUDAN AND HUMANITARIAN ASSISTANCE
The Clinton Administration has repeatedly claimed that the
Sudanese government has deliberately interfered with humanitarian
assistance to those parts of Sudan affected by the civil war.
The Administration has distorted the reality.
Humanitarian relief to the war affected parts of Sudan is provided
by Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS). Operation Lifeline Sudan
began in 1989 under the auspices of the United Nations, and
with the approval and cooperation of the government of Sudan.
Operational Lifeline Sudan is a consortium of aid agencies bringing
together the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the UN Children's
Fund and 35 other non-governmental organisations. It seeks to
bring food and humanitarian aid to those communities in southern
Sudan most affected by the fighting and drought, communities
within both government and rebel-held areas of the south. OLS
is present in 69 locations throughout southern Sudan. It has
355 international staff members, who in turn are assisted by
2000 Sudanese employees.
Operation Lifeline Sudan was unprecedented in as much as it
was the first time that a government had agreed to the delivery
of assistance by outside agencies to rebel-controlled parts
of its own country. As the London Guardian observed:
Most of the people affected live in areas controlled
by anti-government rebels and.they were reached by flights
from Kenya. Governments involved in civil wars usually refuse
to authorise cross-border feeding.
The Sudanese model, developed during the tenure of the present
Sudanese government, has subsequently been used in several other
areas of civil conflict, including several in Africa. It is
also a matter of record that the number of Khartoum-approved
Operation Lifeline Sudan feeding sites in southern Sudan has
grown from twenty in the early 1990s to well over one hundred
by 1998. During the 1998 famine, the number increased to more
than 180 locations.
The Clinton Administration's portrayal of Sudan as obstructing
the delivery of food aid is somewhat dented by the fact that
the number of food delivery sites (almost all of which are to
rebel-controlled areas) has increased eight-fold in the past
several years. These increases in food delivery sites were agreed
by the Khartoum authorities despite it being widely known that
the SPLA were diverting very sizeable amounts of this aid for
its own uses. (Unlike in northern Sudan or those parts of southern
Sudan administered by the Sudanese government, where aid is
given to various international and domestic non-governmental
organisations for distribution, in southern Sudan such food
aid is handed over directly to the SPLA).
Washington's claims about Sudanese non-cooperation with humanitarian
relief are also undermined by the fact that unanimous United
Nations resolutions have acknowledged "with appreciation"
the cooperation of the Sudanese government with agreements and
arrangements facilitating "relief operations".
The nature of the Clinton Administration's "humanitarian"
assistance to Sudan has itself come into focus. The Administration,
for example, has given millions of dollars in funding to Norwegian
People's Aid (NPA), a non-governmental organisation active in
southern Sudan. A November 1999 Norwegian television documentary,
entitled 'Weapons Smuggling in Sudan', has highlighted the role
played by NPA in logistically and politically perpetuating the
Sudanese civil war. There had always been considerable speculation
as to whether NPA was militarily involved with the SPLA. This
documentary confirmed that the NPA has for several years organised
an air-bridge for the supply of weapons to battle zones within
Sudan. One of the NPA pilots involved in the gun running stated
that on one occasion his plane had landed at SPLA bases with
some 2.5 tonnes of weapons. It was stated that Norwegian People's
Aid had flown between 80 - 100 tonnes of weapons into Sudan
in aeroplanes supposedly carrying humanitarian assistance. Among
the tonnes of weapons flown into Sudan were landmines. The documentary
also placed on record other clear evidence of NPA military involvement
with the SPLA. Two questions must be asked. The first is how
much American taxpayers money has been used to provide the SPLA
with weapons of war, including landmines? And secondly, was
the Clinton Administration aware that it was in effect funding
The activities of Norwegian People's Aid had long been of concern
to some of its donors. The Norwegian government had previously
commissioned an independent investigation into NPA. The subsequent
report documented NPA complicity in the diversion of food aid
to the SPLA. It stated that:
NPA's intervention is that of a solidarity group. It
has taken a clear side in the war. It supports the causes
of SPLA/M.NPA's solidarity approach means that in practice
the activities of NPA are closely related to the political
and military strategies of the rebel movement.
The report also mentioned that:
The position of NPA in supplying resources to one party
in the conflict has been quite exceptional. The agency has
repeatedly stepped beyond the boundaries of what is generally
considered humanitarian practice in its support to the rebel
It is clear that the Administration and the United States Congress
have been critical of neutral food relief delivery mechanisms
such as Operation Lifeline Sudan. While providing some humanitarian
assistance through OLS, the Clinton Administration has also
chosen to provide groups like Norwegian People's Aid with millions
of dollars in funding. Norwegian People's Aid openly states
that "[a] major contributor to our programme in Sudan,
is the USAID". How much of this American funding is then
deliberately diverted by NPA and provided to the SPLA to sell
to buy more weapons or to use to sustain its combatants in the
field is unclear. What is undeniable is that at least some of
the Clinton Administration's funding is being used to artificially
prolong the Sudanese civil war.
|CHAPTER 8: SUDAN AND THE GULF WAR
It has been stated that another reason for the Clinton Administration's
hostility to Sudan was that Sudan was in some way an ally of
Iraq's during the 1991 Gulf war. What is true is that Sudan
chose to pursue a neutral course during the conflict. Those
Arab countries that were not part of the anti-Saddam Hussein
coalition included Jordan, Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Mauritania
and Sudan. While these countries remained outside of the anti-Saddam
coalition that was built up, they all - including Sudan - endorsed
the United Nations sanctions imposed on the Iraqi regime. At
two meetings of the Arab League in the week after the invasion
of Kuwait on 2 August 1990, the Council of Foreign Ministers
on 3 August and the summit of Arab heads of state on 10 August,
several Arab countries expressed reservations about the wording
of Arab League statements and were also concerned about the
deployment of American and British servicemen in the Gulf.
The respected study of the Gulf war, The Gulf War
Reader: History, Documents, Opinion, published by Random
House, stated in respect to Sudan and other countries:
It was not only the pressure of their publics that dictated
their voting on 10 August.they were all genuinely concerned
at the danger of a military confrontation between the US-led
coalition and Iraq and fearful of its consequences for themselves
and for the region as a whole. Nor did any of the dissenting
countries at the government level condone the invasion of
Kuwait or the violation of the moral and legal principles
it entailed. All of them denounced the invasion in face-to-face
meetings with Saddam and in repeated unilateral public statements.
In the British Government's official publication Britain
and the Gulf Crisis, Sudan is mentioned once. The publication
records that Sudan "entered reservations" regarding
the Arab League's resolution to send a pan-Arab force to defend
Saudi Arabia. Algeria, Yemen, Libya, Mauritania and the Palestine
Liberation Organisation also either expressed reservations or
voted against the resolution. In The Gulf War Assessed,
a 287-page study written by John Pimlott, Stephen Badsey, and
other staff members of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst,
the British Army's military academy, Sudan is mentioned once.
That reference is to Sudan having voted along with Jordan, Yemen,
Djibouti, Libya, Iraq and the Palestine Liberation Organisation
against a further Arab League resolution.
It is unclear how Sudan's public and private denunciation of
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, as well as its support for several
of the United Nations sanctions in respect of Iraq's invasion
could have made Sudan an ally of Saddam Hussein during the Gulf
conflict. Along with several other Arab states it opted for
neutrality. It is also clear that the Clinton Administration
did not victimise other Arab League members such as Jordan or
Algeria who abstained or registered reservations in international
votes on the issue. In any instance, Sudan's relations with
both Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are good, and have been restored
to their pre-Gulf War levels.
| CHAPTER 9: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S
SUPPORT FOR THE SUDAN PEOPLE'S LIBERATION ARMY
John Garang's S.P.L.A. has squandered
a sympathetic cause.they have behaved like an occupying
army, killing, raping and pillaging.
The New York Times
[T]he United States is believed
to be helping the SPLA, through neighbouring countries.
The Clinton Administration's stated desire to provide food aid
to the SPLA made public already existent links between Washington
and the SPLA. The Administration's military, diplomatic and
political support for the SPLA has long been an open secret.
In its programme of supporting the SPLA, tens of millions of
dollars worth of covert American military assistance has been
supplied to the rebels. This has included weapons, logistical
assistance, and military training. On 17 November 1996, the
London Sunday Times reported that:
More than $20m of military equipment, including radios,
uniforms and tents will be shipped to Eritrea, Ethiopia
and Uganda in the next few weeks.much of it will be passed
on to the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which is
preparing an offensive against the government in Khartoum.
This was confirmed by the newsletter Africa Confidential:
"The United States pretends the aid is to help the governments
concerned...to protect themselves from Sudan...It is clear the
aid is for Sudan's armed opposition." The Clinton Administration
has used the same covert warfare tactics that the Reagan Administration
used against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
As much has been unambiguously stated by the man who should
know, John Prendergast, the National Security Council's Sudan
expert, who went so far as to make a direct comparison between
Sudan to Nicaragua:
The parallels to Central America in the 1980s are stark.
The US provided covert aid to the Contras (and official
aid to the regimes in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatamala)
and because of domestic public pressure urged numerous reforms
on the Contras (and the three Central American governments),
especially in the area of human rights and institutional
reform (though the pressures were undercut by an administration
in Washington not serious about human rights).
It is obvious that the Contras in the Sudanese example
are the SPLA. In addition to using surrogates, the United States
has also provided military training to the SPLA by CIA and special
forces instructors. United States army generals, for example,
have been present during Ugandan army exercises held in conjunction
with SPLA forces and Eritrean army units. The American military
presence in these "front line" states was under the
guise that U.S. advisers were providing "antiterrorist"
training. Africa Confidential has confirmed that the
SPLA "has already received US help via Uganda" and
that United States special forces are on "open-ended deployment"
with the rebels. The Sudanese government has also specifically
accused the United States of supplying SPLA rebels with landmines.
It is clear that American support resulted in intransigence
on the part of the SPLA with regard to a negotiated, political
solution to Sudan's conflict. The SPLA have repeatedly paid
lip service to the various rounds of IGAD peace-talks, and have
rejected other peace initiatives, and offers of cease-fires.
9.1 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND "PRE-EMINENT
The Clinton Administration's close association with an organisation
that has so evidently and so consistently abused human rights
in southern Sudan has been of particular concern domestically.
The New York Times has publicly opposed any American
support, describing the SPLA as "brutal and predatory",
stating that they "have behaved like an occupying army,
killing, raping and pillaging" in southern Sudan, and calling
SPLA leader John Garang one of Sudan's "pre-eminent war
criminals". The American Secretary of State, Madeleine
Albright, prefers to refer to Garang as "a very dynamic
leader". She also described him as "sophisticated
and dedicated and determined." Eight US-based humanitarian
organisations working in Sudan, including CARE, World Vision,
Church World Service, Save the Children and the American Refugee
Committee have outlined the consequences of Garang's dedication,
stating that the SPLA has:
engaged for years in the most serious human rights abuses,
including extrajudicial killings, beatings, arbitrary detention,
Human Rights Watch, similarly no friend of Khartoum, also stated
in response to the Clinton Administration's eagerness to provide
logistical support to the SPLA that:
The SPLA has a history of gross abuses of human rights
and has not made any effort to establish accountability.
Its abuses today remain serious.
The Economist also summed up the international community's
perception of the SPLA when it stated that:
[The SPLA] has.been little more than an armed gang of
Dinkas.killing, looting and raping. Its indifference, almost
animosity, towards the people it was supposed to be "liberating"
was all too clear.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in Sudan
has provided graphic proof of this behaviour. He documented
an incident in which John Garang's SPLA forces attacked two
villages in Ganyiel region in southern Sudan. The SPLA murdered
210 villagers, of whom 30 were men, 53 were women and 127 were
children. The Special Rapporteur stated that:
Eyewitnesses reported that some of the victims, mostly
women, children and the elderly, were caught while trying
to escape and killed with spears and pangas. M.N., a member
of the World Food Programme relief committee at Panyajor,
lost four of her five children (aged 8-15 years). The youngest
child was thrown into the fire after being shot. D.K. witnessed
three women with their babies being caught. Two of the women
were shot and one was killed with a panga. Their babies
were all killed with pangas. A total of 1, 987 households
were reported destroyed and looted and 3, 500 cattle were
The New York Times' use of the term war criminals
in connection with the SPLA is all too accurate. Had the above
incident happened in Bosnia or Kosovo, those involved in these
murders, and other similar incidents, and those commanding them
up to and including Garang, would have been indicted as war
criminals. The added irony is that the United States government
is clearly aware of this particular incident, having recorded
the above-mentioned massacre, and the SPLA's refusal to account
for this atrocity, in its own Country Reports on Human Rights
Practices. The Ganyiel incident is, sadly one of many similar
instances of gross human rights abuses against civilians that
can only be described as war crimes.
Amnesty International, for example, recorded another incident
in which SPLA forces lined up 32 women from the village of Pagau,
12 kilometres from Ayod in southern Sudan, and then shot each
once in the head. Eighteen children were reported to have been
locked in a hut which was then set on fire. Three children who
attempted to escape were then shot. The rest burnt to death.
In Paiyoi, an area north-east of Ayod, Amnesty International
reported that 36 women were burnt to death in a cattle byre.
Nine others were clubbed to death by the SPLA.
The SPLA have also engaged in ethnic cleansing every bit as
murderous as that carried out in Bosnia or Kosovo. Following
a split in the SPLA, Amnesty International stated that the two
groups which emerged attacked each other and civilian groups
"for ethnic reasons". Amnesty International stated
that Garang's faction of the SPLA (largely Dinka, and known
then as SPLA-Torit) ethnically cleansed Nuer and other civilians
suspected of supporting the other faction:
In the early part of 1993 SPLA-Torit began an operation
which involved the destruction of villages thought to be
sympathetic to the Unity group. In January, 17 Latuka villages
around the Imatong and Dongotona mountain ranges were destroyed,
displacing tens of thousands of people. In the same month
Torit faction forces moved further north and attacked Pari
villages around the densely populated area of Jebel Lafon,
some 100 kilometres east of Juba. Scores of civilians remain
unaccounted for and are alleged to have been killed.
Amnesty International reported that in April 1993, SPLA forces:
massacred about 200 Nuer villagers, many of them children,
in villages around the town of Ayod. Some of the victims
were shut in huts and burnt to death. Others were shot.
SPLA ethnic cleansing continues to this day. Throughout 1999,
for example, the BBC and other reliable sources, reported on
SPLA violence towards non-Dinka ethnic groups, groups which
"accused the SPLA of becoming an army of occupation".
The SPLA has also murdered dozens of humanitarian aid workers
from the mid-1980s to the present. In one attack alone, for
example, SPLA gunmen killed 23 relief workers, drivers and assistants.
In 1998, the SPLA murdered relief workers in the Nuba mountains,
and in 1999 the SPLA murdered four aid workers assisting with
a Red Cross project in southern Sudan. Prendergast has confirmed
that: "The SPLA-Mainstream has engaged in major diversion
as well as torturing or killing relief personnel".
These examples are but a tiny fraction of the many war crimes
against civilians carried out by the SPLA. In Civilian Devastation:
Abuses by all Parties in the War in Southern Sudan, a 279-page
study, Human Rights Watch devoted 169 pages to SPLA human rights
abuses (government violations were dealt with over 52 pages).
What must be borne in mind is that it is rare that the incidents
mentioned above are actually documented by Western sources.
In most instances there simply are no survivors left in such
The SPLA has not only carried out war crimes against civilians.
Reputable human rights groups have reported the SPLA's cold-blooded
murder of prisoners of war. Africa Watch, for example, reported
that after the SPLA captured the southern town of Bor there
were "reports that a large number of captured soldiers,
possibly running into the hundreds, were executed by the SPLA
immediately following the capture". Africa Watch also quoted
a SPLA source who stated that government soldiers captured after
fighting were routinely killed. The human rights group also
recorded that there were "no accounts of the SPLA holding
prisoners of war from (pro-government) militias." In 1998,
the Sudanese Advisory Committee on Human Rights and the human
rights committee of the Sudanese Parliament both issued statements
which reported that the SPLA had murdered more than one thousand
prisoners of war.
Amnesty International has also documented that the SPLA is ruthless
in preventing civilians from leaving its areas for refuge in
government-controlled areas. In the Nuba mountains, for example,
the SPLA imposed a "civilian exclusion zone" around
areas it dominated in order to deter civilians leaving. Those
leaving were murdered by the SPLA. African Rights has spoken
of "a nihilistic attitude towards civilians and existing
An even more chilling account, which directly echoes that of
African Rights, is provided by Dr Peter Nyaba, a current member
of the SPLA National Executive Committee. As such he is an unassailable
source. As a former SPLA military officer, Nyaba is in a unique
position to describe the behaviour of the SPLA within those
areas of Sudan which it controlled or was active in:
Once they were deployed at the war front, their first
victims became civilians, whom they.terrorised, brutalised,
raped, murdered and dehumanised.
Nyaba himself quotes a senior SPLA administrator as saying that
the SPLA "looked down upon the people without arms like
conquered people at their mercy". Nyaba then goes on to
(W)ithout sufficient justification, the SPLA turned their
guns on the civilian population in many parts of the South.
The consequence of this was that many communities turned
against the SPLA and migrated en masse to the government
garrison towns.As a consequence of all these factors, the
SPLM/A.degenerated into an agent of plunder, pillage and
destructive conquest.an SPLA soldier operating in any area
different from his own home saw no difference between the
civil population.and the enemy. The SPLA became like an
army of occupation in the areas it controlled and from which
the people were running away.
Within this SPLA regime in areas of southern Sudan occupied
by the SPLA, Nyaba further records that:
Encouraged by the examples of grabbing, looting, murder
and rape committed by some senior officers in the Movement,
many of the commanders at various fronts turned their attention
to amassing wealth looted from the civilian population.In
many places, the civilians fled from the so-called 'liberated'
areas, which had become nothing but ruins.
The SPLA has also callously and indiscriminately used landmines
within civilian areas. The US Department of State's Sudan
Country Report on Human Rights Practices, for example, documented
that rebel forces "indiscriminately laid land mines on
roads and paths, which killed and maimed.civilians." An
Africa Watch report stated that SPLA "land mines are planted
at well-heads, on roads, near marketplaces, and close to injured
people, so that would-be rescuers are blown up."
The Clinton Administration must also be aware of the SPLA's
systematic theft of humanitarian aid and its diversion for its
own purposes. In July 1998, at the height of the devastating
1998 famine, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the starvation-affected
diocese of Rumbek, Monsignor Caesar Mazzolari, stated that the
SPLA were stealing 65 percent of the food aid going into rebel-held
areas of southern Sudan. Agence France Presse also reported
Much of the relief food going to more than a million
famine victims in rebel-held areas of southern Sudan is
ending up in the hands of the Sudan People's Liberation
Army (SPLA), relief workers said.
SPLA National Executive Committee member Dr Nyaba is once again
well positioned to describe SPLA policy in respect of the diversion
of food aid from civilians to the SPLA:
[S]ince humanitarian assistance is only provided for
the needy civil population, the task of distribution of
this assistance fell on specially selected SPLA officers
and men who saw to it that the bulk of the supplies went
to the army. Even in cases where the expatriate relief monitors
were strict and only distributed relief supplies to the
civilians by day, the SPLA would retrieve that food by night.
The result of this practice led to the absolute marginalisation
and brutalisation of the civilian population.
There is also a direct link between the supply of food aid to
the SPLA and the prolongation of war in southern Sudan. It has
been conclusively documented that the SPLA has having engaged
in the systematic theft and diversion of emergency food aid
intended for famine victims and refugees. The SPLA has repeatedly
used food aid, and its denial, as a weapon in their war against
the Sudanese government. In so doing it has been at least partly
responsible for the famines that have resulted in the deaths
of so many Sudanese civilians. Perhaps the most disturbing aspect
of SPLA food aid diversion is that there is evidence that the
SPLA sells diverted humanitarian aid, either stolen from civilians
or directly from aid agencies, in order to purchase weapons
and munitions with which to carry on the war.
It is against this backdrop, that the New York Times
has said of the SPLA:
[C]hanneling assistance to southern rebels would ally
Washington with a brutal and predatory guerrilla army. One
of the tragedies of Sudan's war is that John Garang's S.P.L.A.
has squandered a sympathetic cause. Though its members claim
to be "Christians resisting Islamization, they have
behaved like an occupying army, killing, raping and pillaging.
In February 2000, because of unacceptable demands made upon
them by the SPLA, eleven international non-governmental aid
organisations were forced to leave southern Sudan. These NGOs
included CARE, Oxfam, Save the Children and Medecins Sans Frontieres.
These NGOs handled about 75 percent of the humanitarian aid
entering southern Sudan. The SPLA had demanded that all aid
agencies active in southern Sudan sign a memorandum which dictated
SPLA control over their activities, and aid distribution, as
well as which Sudanese nationals the agencies employed, and
which stipulated a swath of "taxes" and charges for
working in southern Sudan. The European Union described the
SPLA demands as a serious violation of humanitarian law and
suspended its substantial aid program to rebel-controlled areas.
9.2 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION'S SUPPORT
FOR TERRORISM IN SUDAN
It is perhaps ironic that the United States government has listed
Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, without having produced
any such evidence, while at the same time the United States
itself clearly qualifies as a state sponsor of terrorism by
its military training, logistical and diplomatic support for
the SPLA. American support for the SPLA, by Washington's own
definition, also clearly qualifies as support for international
terrorism as the SPLA activities involve more than one country.
In addition to the SPLA's close identification with widespread
human rights abuses with Sudan, the SPLA has also been guilty
of widescale terrorism during its conflict with the Sudanese
government. This has included the widespread murder of Sudanese
men, women and children, indiscriminate mortaring and rocketing
of urban areas in southern Sudan, resulting in hundreds of further
civilian deaths, extensive pillaging and shooting of civilians
along the Sudan-Ethiopian border, the torture and execution
of opponents, the murder of international relief workers, and
the laying of landmines. The SPLA has also admitted the shooting
down of civilian airliners within Sudan, incidents involving
considerable loss of civilian life. In one instance the SPLA
shot down a civilian airliner taking off from Malakal in southern
Sudan, killing sixty people. Two days later the SPLA announced
it would continue to shoot down civilian aircraft. A further
civilian aircraft was downed: thirteen passengers and crew died.
The American government, in its own Country Reports on Human
Rights Practices, has documented examples of SPLA terrorism,
including that the SPLA "conducted indiscriminate mortar
and rocket attacks on the southern city of Juba, killing more
than 40 civilians and wounding many others. These attacks...seemed
intended to terrorize the inhabitants". In another instance,
the American government stated that the SPLA had continued the
random shelling of Juba, killing over 200 southern civilians.
It is clear, therefore, that according to the United States
government's own definition of terrorism and international terrorism,
that the SPLA is a group guilty of both terrorism and international
terrorism. The relevant definitions come from Title 22 of the
United States Code, Section 2656f (d): "The term terrorism
means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated
against noncombatant targets by subnational or clandestine agents,
usually intended to influence an audience" and "The
term international terrorism means terrorism involving citizens
of the territory of more than one country".
9.3 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND DIRECT
FOOD AID TO THE SPLA MOVEMENT
This is likely to prolong the war, ally Washington
with one of Sudan's pre-eminent war criminals and enlist
America in the conflict's most pernicious tactic - the
use of food as a weapon of war
The New York Times
It would set a terrible precedent
Recent moves in Washington, including legislation passed by
the United States Congress, and actively supported by key members
of the Clinton Administration, which authorised direct American
government food aid to the Sudan People's Liberation Army, provoked
considerable controversy in the United States and within the
international community. The military implications of such assistance
were clear. The New York Times, for example, plainly
The plan is designed by its advocates in the State Department
and the National Security Council to strengthen the military
operations of the Sudan People's Liberation Army.
John Prendergast confirmed this motivation: "This is so
forces can eat more easily and resupply forces in food-deficit
areas." He also said that the Administration hoped that
the food aid would allow rebels to "stay in position or
expand positions in places where it is difficult to maintain
a logistical line." The move has been opposed by the international
and American humanitarian aid community for two reasons. Firstly,
it would be of direct assistance to an organisation with an
appalling human rights record. Secondly, it would compromise
existing food relief operations for civilians in southern Sudan,
in particular Operation Lifeline Sudan, the United Nations-directed
effort which brings the Sudanese government, the SPLA and over
forty non-governmental organisations together. There was also
clear dissension within the Clinton Administration itself. The
assistant secretary of state for refugees and humanitarian assistance,
Julia Taft, went public with her concerns: "This is a departure
from the way we should be using food aid."
The United Nations World Food Programme expressed deep concerns
about the American moves. The WFP stated that: "We are
concerned that it could potentially jeopardise our logistics
operations in Sudan." The WFP pointed to possible confusion
between American airplanes delivering food to the rebels, and
their distribution points, and those operated by the UN. SPLA
leader John Garang clearly stated that the proposed American
food aid would boost the SPLA's military capacity in its war
with the Sudanese government. Speaking in December, 1999, he
said that: "We will be able to concentrate more men in
bigger units. Concentration is one of the principles of war.
If you concentrate your manpower or firepower, you get better
Not surprisingly, the Clinton Administration's stated intention
to feed the SPLA was heavily criticised. In a 13 December 1999
press release, Jemera Rone, the Sudan researcher at Human Rights
Watch, stated that "Food Aid is inappropriate for human
rights reasons. The SPLA has admitted diverting relief food
intended for famine victims during the 1998 famine in southern
Sudan. Giving them food aid would reward for that abusive behaviour".
This followed a 10 December 1999 letter by the executive director
of Human Rights Watch, Kenneth Roth, to Madeleine Albright criticising
calls for American food aid to SPLA combatants.
The SPLA has a history of gross abuses of human rights
and has not made any effort to establish accountability.
Its abuses today remain serious.This pattern makes the provision
of any aid to the SPLA wrong, because it would support an
abusive force and make the United States complicit in those
abuses. Moreover, what makes supplying food aid to the SPLA
particularly inappropriate is the group's routine diversion
of relief food away from starving civilians.
This then was the organisation that the Clinton Administration
chose to support politically, diplomatically and militarily.
9.4 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: TURNING
A BLIND EYE TO WAR CRIMES
It cannot be said that the Clinton Administration is unaware
that the SPLA has a long history of what can only be described
as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Indeed, the White
House's own National Security Council, and subsequently the
State Department's, Sudan expert, John Prendergast, has declared
that the SPLA "was responsible for egregious human rights
violations in the territory it controlled". Prendergast's
involvement provides a clear example of the cynicism with which
the Administration must have approached the issue of support
for the SPLA. Prior to his 1997 appointment as the director
for East African affairs at the National Security Council, and
his subsequent appointment as the State Department adviser on
Sudan, Mr Prendergast had worked as a policy and development
aid expert on north-east African affairs, serving as the director
of the Horn of Africa project at the Center of Concern in Washington-DC.
Mr Prendergast's 1997 book, Crisis Response: Humanitarian
Band-Aids in Sudan and Somalia, examined several aspects
of the Sudanese conflict in some detail - particularly the appalling
human rights record of the SPLA.
He wrote, for example, that:
The SPLA has faced a tidal wave of accusations and condemnation
from international human rights organizations and local
churches over its human rights record.
Prendergast documented SPLA involvement in wide-scale killings,
ethnic cleansing, terrorism, widespread raping of Equatorian
women, systematic abuse of humanitarian aid, corruption and
an absolute disregard for human rights. Prendergast confirmed
the existence of ethnic tensions between the largely Dinka SPLA,
and the Nuer tribe, as well as communities in Equatoria in southern
Sudan, ever since the SPLA came into being in 1983, with the
SPLA showing an "absolute disregard for their human rights":
The SPLA has historically utilized.counter-insurgency
tactics against populations and militias in Equatoria considered
to be hostile.By destroying the subsistence base of certain
groups, relations have been destabilized between various
Equatorian populations.This has exacerbated relations between
certain Equatorian communities.The common denominator between
the attacks was the destruction or stripping of all assets
owned by the community, creating increased dependence and
Prendergast also cited one observer as saying "The overwhelmingly
'Nilotic' character of the early SPLA was.enough to alienate
many Equatorians" and personally states that the SPLA is
seen in Equatoria as "an army of occupation." Prendergast
was also able to confirm that, in another echo of the war crimes
carried out in Bosnia, SPLA behaviour included the systematic
raping of women:
Just during the days I was in Western Equatoria in January
1995, there were reports of SPLA soldiers beating civilians
in Yambio and an ongoing forced recruitment drive in Maridi.
Stories were also told of SPLA soldiers at the front line
in Mundri in late 1994 engaging in widespread raping and
forced marriages of Equatorian women.
Prendergast's 1997 book provides ample evidence of the SPLA's
systematic abuse of human rights:
Perhaps one of the most telling signs of SPLA treatment
of civilians resulted from an exercise in which children
in UN High Commission for Refugees' (UNHCR) camps in Uganda
were asked to draw pictures depicting life in a refugee
camp for International Refugee Day 1993. Most of the children
drew harrowing pictures of pre-rape scenes, killings and
lootings, with 'SPLA' written on top of many of the pictures.
He also documented SPLA tactics aimed at destroying civilian
centres in areas not controlled by the Garang faction. The SPLA
sought to "weaken the subsistence base upon which (opposing
groups) depend, utilizing village burning, cattle and crop stealing
and destruction, denial of food aid".
Very significantly, Prendergast's 1997 book also addressed the
SPLA's deliberate abuse of aid and society in those areas it
The human rights abuses of the SPLA are by now well-documented.What
is less understood is the abuse and manipulation of humanitarian
assistance, the undermining of commerce, and the authoritarian
political structures which have stifled any efforts at local
organizing or capacity building in the south. These are
the elements which have characterized the first decade of
the SPLA's existence.
Prendergast's working knowledge of the SPLA led him to describe
the organisation as having:
attained possession of adequate means of coercion and
has terrorized the southern population into passive compliance.
The predominant instruments of the movement since 1983 have
been and still are coercion and corruption. It has not managed
to integrate society around any positive values.
The movement has been able to persist only as long as it
successfully coerces, and demoralises social groups in the
region. Because the cooperation of the civil population
is needed, at times, in order to carry out the liberation
struggle, coercion has not been a successful strategy. Corruption,
in various doses, might have worked for some time, but it
demoralizes both the commanders and the people.Institutionalization
of the top-down arrangements by the socialist group who
initially established the SPLM/A has led to a permanent
oppression of those persons in the area under the control
of the movement.
It is worth noting and comparing the above observations by the
academic John Prendergast, published in 1997, with his subsequent
statements, later that year, as a Clinton Administration official.
In late 1997 he publicly supported the American government's
declared intention to "build the capacity of Sudanese organizations,
particularly in rebel-held areas, to respond to.emergencies
in war-torn areas of Sudan". With Prendergast's blessing,
despite the fact that, in his own words, the SPLA had institutionalised
"a permanent oppression of those persons in the area under
the control of the movement", and that it was only SPLA
"coercion" that "terrorized" the people
under its control into compliance, the Clinton Administration
provided the SPLA with millions of dollars worth of arms, logistical
assistance and "civil society" funding within SPLA
areas. As Prendergast was only too aware, and publicly illustrated,
prior to his appointment, the only organisations which the SPLA
allows to exist within rebel-held areas of Sudan are those which
One would have expected a lot more backbone from Mr Prendergast,
one of the few Americans to have been able to form an accurate
assessment of the SPLA, and one of even fewer Americans in a
position to have been able to significantly influence American
policy for the better. The apparent intellectual dishonesty
of such a position is only exceeded by the Clinton Administration's
Sudan policy in general.
The Clinton Administration's backing of the SPLA highlights
glaring double standards. It apparently has one set of human
rights and values for white Europeans in Bosnia and Kosovo and
another for black Africans in Sudan. War crimes in the Balkans
are condemned by Washington, and those responsible for war crimes
such as mass murder and ethnic cleansing are indicted for trial.
Almost identical SPLA war crimes such the well-documented shooting,
hacking to death or burning alive of hundreds of women and children,
are ignored, and their perpetrators given direct American military,
logistical, political and propaganda support. And, in addition,
the American secretary of state praises the man ultimately responsible
for such crimes, John Garang, as being "very dynamic".
|CHAPTER 10: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION
AND THE REGIONAL DESTABILISATION OF SUDAN
To the peril of regional stability, the Clinton Administration
has used northern Uganda as a military training ground for southern
Sudanese rebels fighting the Muslim government of Khartoum
The Boston Globe
It is also on record that the Clinton Administration has publicly
encouraged the regional destabilisation of Sudan. This encouragement
took the form of political, financial and military support to
several of Sudan's neighbours, including Uganda, Ethiopia and
Eritrea. The tip of the iceberg in respect of encouragement
to Sudan's neighbours was the American government's grant of
$20 million in military assistance to Eritrea, Ethiopia and
Uganda. This was in effect a public statement of intent on behalf
of the United States government that it encouraged or certainly
envisaged a violent solution within Sudan, especially given
that it was widely known that Sudanese armed opposition groups
would be the direct recipients of this military aid. This policy
was incorporated into the Clinton Administration's broader Africa
policy, which welcomed the leaders of Uganda, Eritrea and Ethiopia
as the leaders of a new African "Renaissance".
Washington's attempts to destabilise the biggest country in
Africa, a politically tense country made of more than 450 ethnic
groups and tribes and 132 languages, and an Islamic-Christian
fault line, can only but be viewed with disbelief. Sudan has
ten neighbouring states. A successful attempt to destabilise
and fragment Sudan would very likely lead to the "Lebanonisation"
of the country, with all the grave implications that would entail.
Alternatively, Sudan might become another Somalia, an anarchic
patchwork of clan and tribal allegiances. The Clinton Administration's
policy is also deeply questionable bearing in mind the genocidal
fury that broke out in Rwanda and Burundi when those states
imploded. Yet a policy of destabilising Sudan was avidly pursued
10.1 ENCOURAGING UGANDA, ERITREA AND
ETHIOPIA TO DESTABILISE SUDAN
This United States military encouragement and physical assistance
was well documented. On 17 November 1996, the London Sunday
Times reported that "The Clinton administration has
launched a covert campaign to destabilise the government of
Sudan". It further stated that:
More than $20m of military equipment, including radios,
uniforms and tents will be shipped to Eritrea, Ethiopia
and Uganda in the next few weeks. Although the equipment
is earmarked for the armed forces of those countries, much
of it will be passed on to the Sudan People's Liberation
Army (SPLA), which is preparing an offensive against the
government in Khartoum.
This was confirmed by Africa Confidential: "The
United States pretends the aid is to help the governments concerned...to
protect themselves from Sudan...It is clear the aid is for Sudan's
armed opposition, which badly needs the promised communications
equipment, uniforms and tents."
Eritrea proved to be a particularly enthusiastic respondent.
Despite the fact that the Eritrean war of liberation had in
large part been based in Sudan, in late 1995, President Afewerki
stated his regime's hostility to Sudan: "We are out to
see that this government is not there any more...We will give
weapons to anyone committed to overthrowing them". In 1996,
Aferweki was quoted as saying that "Eritrea will provide
any type of support...The sky is the limit." Sudanese rebels
were allowed to establish several training camps in western
Eritrea. The Eritrean government also admitted training some
of the rebels themselves. The United States government was also
directly involved in this training process. Ethiopian support
involvement in destabilising Sudan was also clear. In the words
of Africa Confidential: "As in the days of Colonel
Mengistu's dictatorship, the Ethiopians are helping train the
SPLA and sending it arms through Gambella. This time they are
encouraged not by Russia, but by the USA."
It is also common knowledge that the Ugandan government under
Yoweri Museveni has long supported the SPLA, both politically
and militarily. The military assistance over the years has been
considerable, ranging from logistically assisting with the movement
of SPLA mechanised regiments into Sudan in 1989, the provision
of rear-bases and weapons through to the use of Ugandan air
force helicopters in support of SPLA operations, and direct
Ugandan military involvement inside Sudan. After years of denying
such military assistance, testimony before the Ugandan parliament
itself revealed the close relationship between the Ugandan army
and the SPLA, including direct supplies of weapons. Ugandan
defence spending in 1996 rose by 36 percent. There was considerable
concern at the fact that the Ugandan army has upgraded its armoured
units, now possessing over one hundred tanks, given that tanks
are almost useless in counter-insurgency operations, but are
of course particularly useful in conventional military warfare.
It is also a matter of record that Uganda has enjoyed "most
favoured son" status from the United States, with the resultant
economic and financial assistance that comes with such an association.
There is also evidence that there has been direct American military
involvement with the SPLA. An American military presence in
"front line" states was camouflaged by claims that
U.S. advisers were providing "antiterrorist" training.
In 1996, Africa Confidential reported that the SPLA "has
already received US help via Uganda" and that United States
special forces are on "open-ended deployment" with
the rebels. United States army generals, for example, have been
present during Ugandan army exercises held in conjunction with
SPLA forces and Eritrean army units.
The Sudanese government reported that on 12 January 1997, the
Ethiopian army had shelled and rocketed Kurmuk, the capital
of Kurmuk province and other border towns such as Gizan, Yarada
and Menza within the Blue Nile State of Sudan, from within Ethiopia.
This shelling was followed by an incursion by some six thousand
Ethiopian regular soldiers supported by armoured units and accompanied
by elements of the Sudan People's Liberation Army. These forces
occupied the above mentioned towns. The following day saw further
shelling, and then occupation, of other towns and areas within
Sudan. Similar activity began simultaneously from the Eritrean
The National Democratic Alliance claimed, from Eritrea, that
it had been responsible for the attacks in the Blue Nile State.
The Guardian on 16 January 1997, reported that the rebels
have "tanks and mortars" and Eritrean backing. Ethiopian
involvement was also clear. The Guardian of 23 January
1997 quoted a senior SPLA officer as saying that "Ethiopia
provides us with a corridor" and that Ethiopia accommodated
the SPLA. The London Times reported that "[b]oth
countries have denied any involvement with the SPLA, but Eritrean
and Ethiopian officers have been seen commanding SPLA soldiers",
and quoted African diplomatic sources as saying "There
is no way that the SPLA are not being supported by the Eritreans
and Ethiopians". The Times also reported that this
aggression has the "enthusiastic backing of the United
The dangers of the Clinton Administration's policy of politically
and militarily encouraging Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea to engage
in the destabilisation of a politically very delicate and ethnically
sensitive region would have been crystal clear to any competent
Africa analyst. Either Washington's policy and their intelligence
analysts were not up to their jobs, or it was decided to ignore
whatever caution they may have counselled. Despite attempts
to project them as examples of the "African Renaissance",
all three regimes were undemocratic by Western standards, all
being defacto one-party or "no-party" states.
All three of these governments have demonstrated a predisposition
to interfere in the internal affairs of their neighbouring countries.
All three countries are also led by "strongmen" who
came to power by armed force. It is a matter of record that
Harry Johnston, while still a U.S. Congressman, was particularly
critical of Ethiopia. Speaking in late 1995, he stated that
there were still fifteen hundred political prisoners in Ethiopia
that had not been charged with any offence. Some had been held
for as long as three or four years. Johnston also stated that
he believed that there were more political prisoners in Ethiopia
than the rest of sub-Saharan Africa combined. Yet, less than
one year later, Harry Johnston's own Clinton Administration
was unashamedly providing the same Ethiopian regime with military
assistance and actively encouraging it to engage in regional
destabilisation. In March 1998, Newsweek magazine reconfirmed
that: "None of the countries now squeezing Sudan is a multiparty
It was claimed by the State Department that the $20 million
of American military assistance for Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda
was to assist those countries to "protect" themselves
against Sudan. This was undermined by the fact that these three
countries were the ones that actually invaded Sudan, rather
than the other way around. The track record of these countries
also presents further examples of their involvement in the destabilisation
of other neighbours. Eritrea, for example, came into military
conflict with Yemen and Dijbouti before its incursions into
Sudan and subsequent war with Ethiopia. Uganda has attempted
to militarily destabilise every one of its neighbours, with
the exception of Tanzania, and is currently heavily committed
in the spiralling conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In its encouragement of Uganda, over the past several years,
to destabilise Sudan, the Clinton Administration turned a blind
eye to the Museveni government's poor human rights record and
one-party state system. The American government had previously
voiced several deep reservations about the Museveni regime.
In May, 1996, the London Observer newspaper reported
that: "The Americans are leading the charge to warn that
he is heading towards the kind of one-party dictatorship the
continent knows only too well. At the heart of the issue is
Museveni's ban on multiparty politics." American criticism
of Museveni waned as Uganda was drawn into the Clinton Administration's
Once again, the administration knew the undemocratic and unpredictable
nature of the regime with which it was dealing. It nevertheless
decided to arm, equip and financially aid the Ugandan government
in return for a commitment to supporting Sudanese rebels from
Ugandan bases and Ugandan military support for SPLA incursions.
10.2 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND
AFRICA'S "FIRST WORLD WAR"
It is obvious that the Clinton Administration's attempts to
regionally destabilise Sudan has backfired. What was even more
important in many ways than the physical transfer of military
equipment to governments who then sought to use it against Sudan,
were the clear political ramifications and consequences of this
Clinton Administration policy. In 1996 and 1997 the Clinton
Administration actively encouraged the governments of Eritrea,
Ethiopia and Uganda, all unstable and undemocratic regimes,
to destabilise one of their neighbours, Sudan, the largest country
in Africa. In their enthusiastic naivety, what the Administration's
policy makers did not realise was that superpower encouragement
for African countries to destabilise neighbouring countries
in Africa has clear consequences. To an unstable regime, insulated
by American support, an American licence to destabilise one
neighbour can lead to the wider destabilisation of other neighbours.
And this is precisely what has happened in the Horn of Africa
and in central Africa. By its clumsy and ill-judged interference,
the United States has precipitated widespread conflict between
a number of countries, several of them pivotal states in strategic
In an area noted for instability, an area that had just experienced
the genocidal madness in Rwanda and Burundi, the Clinton Administration's
carte blanche for destabilisation prompted Uganda to
unilaterally destabilise the Mobutu, and then the Kabila, regimes
in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Eritrea
then went to war with Ethiopia, having previously skirmished
with Djibouti and Yemen. As early as February 1997, commentators
were outlining the possible regional consequences of Washington's
policies. In an article entitled 'US Masterminds 3-Pronged War
on Sudan', Africa Analysis reported:
There is growing anxiety in eastern and central Africa
that Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda, the Americans and their
European friends are steering into open warfare with Sudan.
This is in turn stimulating contrary alliances extending
to the shifting frontline of the Great Lakes region.The
ramifications are alarming diplomats [in Nairobi].
The Congolese civil war that followed has spiralled out of control
into a vicious war in which Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Chad, Angola,
Zimbabwe and Namibia have become militarily entangled. Other
countries, such as South Africa, remain poised to intervene.
It is not an exaggeration to say that these conflicts are at
least in part, and probably in large part, the result of the
Clinton Administration's disastrous Africa policy in general,
and Sudan policy in particular.
It is ironic, therefore, for Clinton Administration officials
such as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan
Rice to then warn of the dangers of such conflagrations as she
did in October, 1999: "The more countries we have involved,
the more complicated it becomes to unravel. This is becoming
akin to Africa's first world war." Somewhat incongruously,
given Washington's Sudan debacle, Rice also claimed that American
policy in Africa is to limit "trans-national" conflicts.
Once again, the Clinton Administration's intellectual dishonesty
is all to clear.
By 2000, at least in part because of "Africa's first world
war" in the Congo and the 1998 Eritrean-Ethiopian war,
Sudanese relations with Ethiopia, Eritrea and Uganda normalised
to a greater or lesser extent. This has been acknowledged and
welcomed by the international community. In March, 2000 Sudan
and Ethiopia announced that their countries' ties were "now
much stronger" than they were in early 1990s. They announced
that they had signed agreements on cooperation on political
and security issues as well as in trade, roads, communications,
agriculture and other fields. In January 2000, Eritrea and Sudan
resumed diplomatic relations with each other. Eritrea handed
back the Sudanese embassy to the Sudanese government. The embassy
had previously been given to Sudanese rebels. In December, 1999,
Sudan and Uganda also normalised relations, signing a peace
agreement brokered by Jimmy Carter.
10.3 THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: ALIENATING
EGYPT OVER SUDAN?
the Clinton Administration has noticeably come into conflict
with Egypt regarding Washington's policy towards Khartoum. Egypt
has previously been hostile to some of Sudan's policies, and
there has been a border dispute over the Red Sea area of Halaib.
Whatever differences there may have been in the past, from 1998
onwards Egypt and Sudan have sought to normalise their relations.
The Egyptian government has also entered into a constructive
dialogue with Sudan. The Egyptian foreign minister, Amr Moussa,
has stated: "There's now an openness in Sudan's government.
It is prepared to listen and negotiate and reach a vision for
a new Sudan that accepts all opposition factions". The
warmness of Egyptian-Sudanese relations were summed up by the
Egyptian foreign minister on the occasion of President al-Bashir's
state visit to Egypt in 1999: Moussa stated that "Egypt
sees al-Bashir as the head of the Sudanese state and as a representative
of his country". Egypt and Sudan were bound up by "eternal,
special, historical, and future relations".
Up until Sudanese independence in 1956, Egypt and Sudan had
been one country. Egypt still looks on Sudan as its hinterland,
and has long been concerned about the unity of Sudan. The Egyptian
government now clearly believes that the Clinton Administration's
policy towards Sudan can only but destabilise Sudan. Egypt is
also concerned that American support for the SPLA might result
in attempts at succession in southern Sudan, something that
would have consequences with regard to the Nile river upon which
Egypt is so dependent.
It is for these and other reasons that Egypt has thrown itself
vigorously into finding a peaceful solution to the Sudanese
conflict. Egypt has outlined a peace plan designed to secure
a comprehensive political settlement of the Sudanese conflict.
Unlike the IGAD peace process, which only involved the Sudanese
government and the SPLA, this peace plan called for the involvement
of all other parties to the conflict, including the northern
opposition parties. This peace initiative called for a permanent
cease-fire, and a national peace conference. Sudan immediately
accepted the Egyptian-Libyan proposals. The SPLA rejected the
plan outright. The Clinton Administration also rejected the
The Egyptian government has criticised American efforts to undermine
their attempts to secure an all-inclusive peace settlement.
Egyptian presidential adviser Osama el-Baz stated that "The
US opposition.does not concern us much and will not change our
stance at all". He also stated that:
No American blessing is requested, no American approval
is requested, no American intervention is requested.Now,
if the United States is still opposing this, well, this
will not be of any importance to us.
Egypt is clearly one of the cornerstones of American foreign
policy in the Middle East. The Clinton Administration appears
to be in danger of alienating a key ally in its pursuit of its
failed anti-Sudanese policies
|CHAPTER 11: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION:
AT ODDS WITH THE AMERICAN HUMANITARIAN AID COMMUNITY
We would support promoting negotiation
rather than backing one side in an extremely complex
In addition to criticism of its Sudan policies from the United
Nations and international humanitarian aid agencies such as
the World Food Programme, the Clinton Administration has also
received considerable criticism from the American humanitarian
community. The criticism in November 1999 by eight reputable
US-based humanitarian organisations working in Sudan, including
CARE, World Vision, Church World Service, Save the Children
and the American Refugee Committee, of the Administration's
intention to feed the SPLA, was merely the latest expression
of the American humanitarian aid community's unease with American
policy towards Sudan. They pointed out that such a policy would
"undercut whatever chance exists that the United States
would be able to effectively promote a just peace.Food used
as a weapon of war such as this can only exacerbate the present
conflict, continue the death and suffering of the Sudanese people,
and do nothing to promote finding a just peace." Oxfam
America stated that: "Food should be used to feed people.
We would support promoting negotiation rather than backing one
side in an extremely complex conflict".
There have been several previous calls, from American non-governmental
organisations most involved in humanitarian aid relief in Sudan,
for a more constructive approach on the part of the Administration.
In January 2000, the Washington Post reported that Save
the Children had "joined most of the private and religion-based
aid agencies that operate a $1 million-a-day relief program
in Sudan in beginning to criticize Clinton administration policy
as one-sided in its hostility toward the Khartoum government
and insufficiently committed to promoting a just peace."
In September 1999, Save the Children, CARE, Oxfam America, World
Vision, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Lutheran World Relief,
and other humanitarian, groups met with Madeleine Albright and
called upon the administration to make peace its primary objective
in Sudan, to support development efforts in the north as well
as in the south and for President Clinton to become personally
engaged and "to announce a new policy". The president
of CARE USA, Peter Bell, a former deputy under-secretary of
health, education and welfare, acted as spokesman for the ten-strong
group of relief agencies, and urged the State Department to
pursue a Sudan policy that was more neutral and less antagonistic
In May 1999, the American branches of three leading humanitarian
organisations called on the US government to change its policy
toward Sudan. In a joint statement entitled 'U.S. Government
Policy Towards Sudan Must Change, Say Leading U.S. Humanitarian
Agencies', CARE USA, Oxfam America and Save the Children USA
called on the Clinton Administration to adopt a "Peace
First" policy aimed at ending the Sudanese conflict. The
aid agencies called on the American government to: promote a
comprehensive cease-fire; support and reinforce the efforts
of the IGAD Partners Forum and UN to strengthen the peace process;
work with the Partners Forum and UN to establish the means to
objectively monitor adherence by all parties to the peace process
time-table and hold them accountable; re-establish regular American
diplomatic contacts with the Sudanese government that emphasise
the need for peace; engage in persuading the SPLA and its regional
allies to accept a comprehensive ceasefire and increase their
commitment to the peace process; support continued access by
all communities to humanitarian assistance; to bring marginalised
parties in north and south Sudan into the peace process; commit
to humanitarian assistance that will stimulate longer-term development
as the peace process moves forward; seek out and support those
prominent Sudanese individuals and third party nations with
access to the Sudanese government and SPLA to find a way out
of the current stalemate; to take a leading role in persuading
all third parties to end their financial and military assistance
to all sides in the war. The agencies also stated their support
for a referendum on self-determination for southern Sudan. They
also stated that the Sudanese conflict was an unwinnable one
for all sides.
It is evident that these calls by American humanitarian agencies,
made over the past eighteen months or so, for a more constructive
engagement between Washington and Khartoum, have been ignored
by the Clinton Administration.
| CHAPTER 12: THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS
AND SUDAN: POORLY INFORMED AND CONFRONTATIONAL
One of the usual mechanisms of oversight on the Administration,
the United States Congress, has itself been caught up in the
anti-Sudanese frenzy set into motion by the Clinton Administration
itself. The United States Congress, the legislature of the most
powerful country in the world, has passed resolutions on Sudan
whose poor drafting and factual inaccuracies would embarrass
a high school debating society. The 1999 Sudan Peace Act, a
horrendously misnamed piece of legislation, committed the United
States to providing US$ 16 million to the SPLA to develop "a
viable civil authority, and civil and commercial institutions".
The Act also specified that the President detail options and
plans for the "provision of nonlethal assistance to participants
of the National Democratic Alliance". Both these items
served to materially bolster the SPLA and to encourage it to
continue with its war. The Act spoke in terms of an "ongoing
slave trade" (S.1453, 106th Congress, 1st Session, 19 November,
1999). A typical Senate resolution (S. Res. 109, 106th Congress,
1st Session, 1 July, 1999) spoke of "slave raids",
"slave markets", "tens of thousands" of
slaves, stated that Sudan was a "rogue state because of
its support for international terrorism", stated that Sudan
was implicated in the "World Trade Center bombing in New
York City in 1993" and that on August 20, 1998, American
forces "struck a suspected chemical weapons facility in
Khartoum" in retaliation for the bombings of the United
States embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The Senate resolution
contained, therefore, as two major indictments, the al-Shifa
"chemical weapons" factory and the World Trade Center
allegations, which were simply untrue. Other, similarly flawed,
resolutions, such as House of Representatives Resolution 75,
also passed in 1999, spoke of genocide and an "extremist
and politicized practice of Islam". Resolution 75 also
called for the provision of anti-aircraft missiles to the SPLA,
and to provide the SRRA with funds and assistance.
It can be argued that the Clinton Administration's questionable
Sudan policies have come full circle. The US Congress has been
the focus of pressure group politics, by organisations and individuals
themselves at least in part reacting to the demonisation of
Sudan by the Clinton Administration. The Administration's own
rhetoric and propaganda with regard to Sudan has painted it
into a corner. Deeply questionable and unproven allegations
about Sudan have been accepted at face value by a Congress led
on this issue by a handful of anti-Sudanese legislators influenced
by questionable and discredited groups such as Christian Solidarity
International. These legislators have also aligned themselves
with a rebel movement in southern Sudan that has been responsible
for some of the most brutal and cold blooded war crimes of the
Even a cursory examination of some of the sources from which
the United States Congress draws its information on Sudan explains
its poor judgement with regard to the Sudanese situation. The
Congress, and the Washington establishment, appear to be content
to form their opinions from congressional hearings limited time
and time again to the same circle of discredited and partisan
anti-Sudanese activists. These include people such as Roger
Winter, director of the federally-funded United States Committee
for Refugees. He has openly admitted that he was "not neutral
in this situation", and that he "promotes" the
"demise" of the Sudanese government. Winter also refers
to SPLA-controlled areas as "liberated areas".
Another frequent "witness" appearing before Congressional
hearings has been Baroness Cox, an anti-Sudanese activist associated
with Christian Solidarity Worldwide and Christian Solidarity
International. Her claims with regard to Sudan have long been
questioned. She has been described as "overeager or misinformed"
by reputable human rights activist Alex de Waal, with regard
to claims about slavery in Sudan. Her claims that Sudan was
involved in chemical weapons have been denied by the British
government and UNSCOM. Cox's claims about genocide in Sudan
were contradicted by the British government. And her claims,
as late as 1999, that Sudan was involved in the World Trade
Center bombing have even been contradicted by the Clinton Administration
itself. Even the very sympathetic biography of Cox records that
full-time humanitarian aid workers in Sudan "feel she is
not well-enough informed. She recognizes a bit of the picture,
but not all that's going on". Nonetheless, Baroness Cox
is presented to Congress as a key commentator on Sudan.
One particularly partisan vehicle for anti-Sudanese activity
has been the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom,
a body created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act,
passed by Congress. This Act requires an annual report on religious
freedom. It comes perhaps as no surprise that Sudan features
among the five countries cited as "countries of particular
concern". The others are China, Iran, Iraq, and Myanmar.
Indeed, at the March 2000 United Nations Commission on Human
Rights meeting in Geneva, Rabbi David Saperstein, the chairman
of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and
Ambassador Robert Seiple, U.S. Ambassador-at-large for international
religious freedom, chose to focus on Sudan during their discussions
with non-governmental organisations and the press. It also perhaps
comes as no surprise that Saudi Arabia was not singled out in
the Congressionally-funded Commission's first annual report
on religious freedom. nor was Saudi Arabia, or any other countries
apart from Sudan and China, mentioned in the comments of Rabbi
Saperstein and Ambassador Seiple during their presentation at
the Commission on Human Rights.
The blatant double standards of the U.S. Commission on International
Religious Freedom are central to its usefulness to the Clinton
Administration. These double standards are highlighted by the
fact that the Commission has also taken a stance, on grounds
of "religious freedom" against investment in Sudanese
oil projects, while it remains mute with regard to the Saudi
Arabian oil industry. It is a matter of record that the Sudanese
government had on several occasions invited the U.S. State Department's
Committee on Religious Freedom, the Commission's forerunner,
to visit Sudan to assess at first hand the religious situation
in Sudan. They never visited.
Even Congressional research organisations such as the House
Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare
have produced patently false claims with regard to Sudan. In
February 1998, this organisation claimed, amongst other things,
that in the wake of the Gulf War, Iraq had secretly transferred
400 Scud missile systems, some twelve hundred vehicles, to Sudan.
This was supposedly accomplished in the face of the unprecedented
satellite, electronic and physical surveillance of that country
by the United States, the United Nations and other concerned
members of the international community. Even the Clinton Administration
felt it necessary to contradict these wild claims:
We have no credible evidence that Iraq has exported weapons
of mass destruction technology to other countries since
the (1991) Gulf War.
Claims made in the House Task Force report were also contradicted
by the British government, the British Defence Intelligence
Staff, and UNSCOM, the United Nations body tasked with disarming
Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction. On 19 March 1998, the
British government stated:
We are monitoring the evidence closely, but to date we
have no evidence to substantiate these claims.Moreover,
we know that some of the claims are untrue.The defence intelligence
staff in the [Ministry of Defence] have similarly written
a critique which does not support the report's findings.Nor
has the United Nations Special Commission reported any evidence
of such transfers since the Gulf War conflict and the imposition
of sanctions in 1991.
The Federation of American Scientists also stated with regard
to this report that "material produced by this Task Force
has historically consisted of an uneven admixture of unusually
detailed information and blatantly incredible fabrications".
"Opinion" on Sudan has also in part been led by other
Congressionally-funded bodies such as the United States Institute
of Peace (USIP). While claiming, despite its federal funding,
to be "independent" and "nonpartisan", USIP
has merely echoed the Administration line on Sudan. It has held
"consultations" on Sudan during which the Sudanese
government perspective was noticeably absent. Present were several
Sudanese opposition groups, Sudan "experts" such as
John Prendergast and Roger Winter as well as Congressional aides
and government departments hostile to Sudan. Since the board
of directors of the United States Institute of Peace includes
senior Administration officials, including intelligence and
defence chiefs, USIP's anti-Sudanese stance is unsurprising.
Given that the United States Congress derives at least some
of its information regarding Sudan from the above selective,
partisan and questionable sources, it is not surprising that
the United States Congress is as ill-informed as it so clearly
is regarding the reality of Sudan. In passing, it should be
mentioned that there is also considerable hypocrisy with regard
to Congressional positions on Sudan. In April 1998, for example,
the Clinton Administration, in response to lobbying from its
grain producers, lifted sanctions with regard to Sudanese imports
of grain. An Administration official stated that: "I believe
the change came from a lot of pressure from [Congress], from
agricultural senators who want to sell their wheat".
|CHAPTER 13: REPEATED SUDANESE
CALLS FOR DIALOGUE IGNORED
Sudan has long sought a constructive dialogue
with the US, a dialogue based on mutual understanding,
respect, non-interference in internal affairs and observance
of constructive criticism.
Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir
Toward March , I delivered to the State Department
a message from the president of Sudan to the president
of the United States. The president, our president,
requested in that letter that the two nations engage
in open and cooperative dialogue aimed at resolving
any differences that might have existed between our
two governments.President Clinton never afforded President
Bashir with the courtesy of a response to that important
Ambassador Mahdi Ibrahim Mohamed,
Sudanese Ambassador to the United States
In parallel with the Clinton Administration's hostile policy,
have been the Sudanese government's repeated public and private
efforts to enter into a more constructive dialogue with Washington.
Not only has Khartoum refused to respond to what can be described
as systematic provocation by Washington - Sudan's listing as
a terrorist state, sanctions, support for Sudanese insurgents,
etc - it has actively sought dialogue. There have been several
requests for American intelligence and counter-terrorism teams
to come down and work in Sudan. Even after the al-Shifa bombing,
the Sudanese government continued to call for dialogue rather
than confrontation, making it clear that any argument Sudan
had was with the Administration, and not the American people.
These calls for dialogue continue to this day.
The Sudanese ambassador to the United States, Mahdi Ibrahim
Mohamed, has placed on record the Clinton Administration's indifference
with regard to Sudan. Speaking in September 1998, he stated
Since becoming ambassador to the United States from Africa's
largest nation, I have attempted on numbers of occasions
to arrange meetings with the assistant secretary of state
for Africa, in her two capacities, when she was the senior
adviser of the president for Africa in the National Security
Council and later when she became the assistant secretary
for Africa. Never had the assistant secretary taken the
time to meet with me - not as a matter of diplomatic courtesy
and not even as an attempt to refute - an opportunity for
me to refute the highly defamatory analyses that were being
published and perpetrated by the State Department regarding
my country and my people.
Ambassador Mahdi also placed on record the Clinton Administration's
unwillingness to even answer Sudanese requests for contact:
Toward March , I delivered to the State Department
a message from the president of Sudan to the president of
the United States. The president, our president, requested
in that letter that the two nations engage in open and cooperative
dialogue aimed at resolving any differences that might have
existed between our two governments. And namely, the message
addressed the issue of peace, establishing peace in the
Sudan; addressing the problems of neighborly relations and
destabilization in the subregion, the issue of terrorism
and the general issue of human rights.It was communicated
with the most sincere of intentions and meant to end an
era of misinformation, disinformation, and open a time for
cooperation and goodwill. President Clinton never afforded
President Bashir with the courtesy of a response to that
In March 1999, as one example of many similar statements, the
Sudanese foreign minister called for a "serious and frank
dialogue" with Washington, which would lead to the "removal
of the causes of strain in the bilateral relations and for restructuring
good ties that serve the interests of the two countries".
In May 1999, the foreign minister once again stated that it
was time to mend ties with the United States: "We are not
for confrontation with the United States, but for dialogue.We
hope this dialogue will lead us to a new page with full transparency".
Later that month, the Sudanese government signed the chemical
weapons convention, an international instrument outlawing chemical
weapons. The foreign minister stated that the signing was an
explicit "overture" to the Clinton Administration.
On 10 June, Sudanese President al-Bashir stated that Sudan is
ready to co-operate with the United States to "make sure
that Sudan is not committed to any practice that could be taken
as supporting terrorism". Fatih Erwa, Sudanese Ambassador
to the United Nations has also summed up the Sudanese position:
"We are not against the United States, we are not against
the American people. We just want a normal relationship with
the United States."
In March, 2000 President al-Bashir reiterated that: "Sudan
has long sought a constructive dialogue with the US, a dialogue
based on mutual understanding, respect, non-interference in
internal affairs and observance of constructive criticism".
|CHAPTER 14: THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION: OBSTRUCTING PEACE
Instead of working for peace in Sudan, the US
government has basically promoted a continuation of
Former US President Jimmy Carter
There is no doubt that the United States is pivotal to a peaceful
resolution of the Sudanese conflict. And there is also no doubt
that the conditions for just such a resolution are better now
than they have been for some time. The offer of an internationally-monitored
referendum whereby the people of southern Sudanese can decide
their own destiny is on the table. The former Prime Minister,
Sadiq al-Mahdi, himself ousted in 1989 by the present government,
and a pivotal opposition leader, has declared that:
There are now circumstances and developments which could
favour an agreement on a comprehensive political solution.
The Egyptian-Libyan peace initiative has reenergised the search
for peace in Sudan. The Sudanese Government has stated that
"IGAD is for the problem of the south, while the Egyptian-Libyan
initiative offers a comprehensive settlement for the whole problem
of Sudan." The Clinton Administration, however, remains
the single biggest obstacle to peace in Sudan. Former President
Carter has been very candid about the Administration's Sudan
policy as he made clear in 1999:
The people in Sudan want to resolve the conflict. The
biggest obstacle is US government policy. The US is committed
to overthrowing the government in Khartoum. Any sort of
peace effort is aborted, basically by policies of the United
States.Instead of working for peace in Sudan, the US government
has basically promoted a continuation of the war.
This is not the Sudanese government speaking. It is a man respected
the world over for his work towards peace in various conflicts.
Former President Carter is also a man who knows Sudan, and the
Sudanese situation well, having followed the issue for two decades
If the United States would be reasonably objective in
Sudan, I think that we at the Carter Center and the Africans
who live in the area could bring peace to Sudan. But the
United States government has a policy of trying to overthrow
the government in Sudan. So whenever there's a peace initiative,
unfortunately our government puts up whatever obstruction
Carter bluntly stated that the Clinton Administration's US$20
million grant in military aid to Eritrea, Ethiopia and Uganda
was "a tacit demonstration of support for the overthrow
of the Khartoum government". He also believed that this
behaviour by Washington had a negative effect on the SPLA's
interest in negotiating a political settlement: "I think
Garang now feels he doesn't need to negotiate because he anticipates
a victory brought about by increasing support from his immediate
neighbors, and also from the United States and indirectly from
While encouraging war, the American government's then regional
allies also impeded Sudanese attempts to secure peace. The American
government has repeatedly declared that the IGAD peace process
is the only one they recognise. Given that three of the IGAD
countries, with seats on the IGAD peace committee, are Eritrea,
Ethiopia and Uganda, it is unsurprising that the IGAD process
spent much of the mid-to-late 1990s in what might be seen as
deliberate stalemate. And, as we have seen, the Clinton Administration
has publicly opposed any new initiatives to resolve the Sudanese
civil war, including the Egyptian peace plan. U.S. opposition
to this plan has also gone hand-in-hand with public attempts
to assist the SPLA logistically by, for example, direct food
aid to combatants.
|CHAPTER 15: CONCLUSION
The government in Sudan has made some effort to
open up. We Europeans think there is hope for improvement,
but as the situation seems to be moving in the Sudan,
it does not seem to be moving in Washington.
Bujon de L'Estang, French Ambassador
to the United States
The Clinton Administration's Sudan policy has been characterised
by failure. It has also been characterised by farce. Perhaps
the most farcical aspect has been the Administration's repeated
claim that Sudan, one of the poorest countries in the world,
a country that has not harmed a single United States citizen,
a country that has repeatedly sought a dialogue with the United
States, somehow constitutes "an extraordinary and unusual
threat" to the United States. Exactly who posed a threat
to whom was perhaps best highlighted by the American Cruise
missile attack on the al-Shifa medicines factory. The Administration's
attempts to dress up its hostility to Sudan by invoking concerns
about human rights, democratic pluralism and religious freedom
are fatally undermined by, amongst other things, Washington's
unconditional support for Saudi Arabia. The double standard
The Administration's seven year policy of seeking to isolate
Sudan politically and diplomatically has failed. Sudan's political
relations with the key groupings such as the European Union,
Egypt and the rest of the Arab world and especially the Gulf
States - key components in Washington's attempts to isolate
Sudan - have never been better. The attack on the al-Shifa medicine
factory provoked calls of solidarity with Sudan from the Non-Aligned
Movement, the Organisation of African Unity, the Arab League,
the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, groupings bringing
together well over one hundred countries. It is the United States
which stands isolated and alone.
The Clinton Administration's policy and actions with regard
to Sudan have been characterised by repeated intelligence failures.
These have included failures with regard to evaluating the nature
of the Sudanese government and the Islamic model it presents.
There has also been a failure to substantiate any allegations
of Sudanese involvement in terrorism, despite Washington's listing
of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism. The Clinton Administration
partially evacuated its embassy in 1993, and actually withdrew
all its diplomats and their dependants in 1996, on the basis
of intelligence reports subsequently revealed to have been based
on fabricated claims by unreliable sources. The Administration
then used the fact that the Sudanese government had been unable
to respond to these fabricated "terrorist threats"
as yet more evidence of Khartoum's complicity with terrorist
elements. And all the way through, Washington refused to provide
evidence for any of its claims, invoking the need to protect
"intelligence" sources. On the only occasion when
the Administration reluctantly attempted to justify its allegations
that the al-Shifa medicines factory was owned by terrorists
and manufacturing chemical weapons, its "intelligence"
crumbled in the face of media reporting.
In 1997 the Washington Post remarked, with regard to
the Clinton Administration's abuse of American anti-terrorism
legislation, that the "elasticity of the law as it comes
to US interests.will not go unnoticed" in Washington's
attempts in 1996 to grant exemptions to American oil companies
that had contributed to the Democratic party, to engage in the
Sudanese oil project. There has been a similar elasticity when
it came to propaganda considerations. The Administration's listing
of Sudan as a "state sponsor of terrorism" has even
further devalued and abused American anti-terrorism legislation.
The Clinton Administration's refusal to accept responsibility
for the mistaken bombing of the al-Shifa medicines factory continues
to weaken its credibility within the international community.
This has been confirmed by Human Rights Watch who have stated:
"The misguided U.S. bombing of al Shifa factory in Khartoum
in August 1998 severely hampered the U.S. government's ability
to lead its allies on Sudan issues".
The Administration's attempts to militarily overthrow the Sudanese
government by logistically and politically assisting southern
Sudanese rebels and encouraging three of Sudan's neighbours
to intervene militarily in Sudan have also failed. Despite considerable
American assistance to the SPLA, the civil war is clearly a
no-win war. Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea, formerly the handmaidens
of regional attempts to overthrow the Sudanese government, are
now at war either with each other or other neighbouring states.
In its clumsy attempts to destabilise Sudan, the Clinton Administration
appears to have helped sparked off the most serious inter-African
war, that in the Congo, yet seen in Africa.
The Clinton Administration's increasingly desperate attempts
to unify the Sudanese opposition have also failed. The biggest
Sudanese opposition party, the Umma party, led by former Prime
Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, the mainstay of the National Democratic
Alliance, has left the opposition alliance, and entered into
domestic constitutional politics within Sudan. It has stated
that conditions are right for a political solution to the Sudanese
The Administration's attempts to economically isolate Sudan
by impeding Sudan's access to international investment and lending
has been off-set by the Sudanese oil project, brokered by the
Khartoum government. Oil revenues are set to transform the economic
development of the country.
The Washington Post has documented the "near-collapse
of the isolation strategy";
European nations have entered a dialogue with the Sudanese
government. The "front-line states" bordering
southern and eastern Sudan - Uganda, Ethiopia and Eritrea
- have made pacts with Khartoum to refrain from supporting
rebels on each other's territories. And Egypt has joined
with Libya in seeking a solution to Sudan's civil war.
The Washington Post has also quoted one Washington-based
Africa expert as saying: "The Sudanese government has come
out of its isolation. We're the ones isolated now". This
feeling was echoed by Bujon de L'Estang, the French ambassador
to the United States, who has also publicly stated that the
Clinton Administration's policy towards Sudan "pitches
the United States against the rest of the world". And,
as has become very evident, the Administration's Sudan policy
has also antagonised Washington's key Middle East ally, Egypt.
Where the Clinton Administration's policies have succeeded,
however, is in preventing a peaceful resolution of the Sudanese
conflict. As former President Carter pointed out, Washington
is the obstacle to a negotiated settlement. The Administration's
continued encouragement of southern rebels to pay only lip service
to peace talks while continuing with their ultimately futile
war against Khartoum is virtually all that keeps the war going.
The Clinton Administration makes much of human rights abuses
within Sudan. It is widely acknowledged that the great majority
of human rights abuses in Sudan are a direct consequence of
the vicious civil war that is being fought in that country.
Human rights always suffer grievously in war, and particularly
civil war - as the United States should be only too aware of
from its own history. It is an inescapable fact, as former President
Carter has stated, that the Clinton Administration is artificially
sustaining the Sudanese civil war. It is itself at least partly
responsible for any human rights abuses that take place.
Perhaps the Clinton Administration has simply been captivated
by the arrogance of power. In this respect, Washington's policy
towards Sudan is but one example of a general shortcoming on
the part of the Clinton Administration. In 1997, even Time
magazine dedicated a cover page and story to the question "Power
Trip. Even its Best Friends are Asking: Is America in Danger
of Becoming a Global Bully?". The Economist has
also stated: "The United States is unpredictable; unreliable;
too easily excited; too easily distracted; too fond of throwing
its weight around." It is always bad when a superpower,
and especially the superpower, behaves like a bully.
It is even worse for its reputation when its policy has been
as transparently questionable as American policy has been towards
The Clinton Administration's failure with Sudan is in the first
instance the fault of a handful of political appointees. Madeleine
Albright, a Secretary of State perhaps more intellectually and
mentally equipped for the Cold War than for the realities of
post Cold-War Third World international politics, and, in Susan
Rice, a clearly inexperienced and unquestioning appointee as
assistant secretary of state for Africa. The United Kingdom's
former ambassador to the United Nations, Sir John Weston, observed
of Mrs Albright that "[she has a tendency] to create a
fixed position and then look around for others to save her from
the detailed consequences." One need only point to the
Congolese civil war, which is the result, at least in part of
Mrs Albright's courting of the Ugandan regime and of her encouragement
of the regional destabilisation of Sudan, to illustrate Weston's
point. The Clinton Administration's failed Sudan policy should
also be seen in the context of the failure of the Administration's
Africa policy in general, a failure sadly manifested in its
attempts to project an "African Renaissance". The
Administration must also accept direct responsibility for the
disastrous events in Somalia, and for allowing events in Rwanda
to reach their genocidal climax. It is upon the shoulders of
Albright and Rice that the responsibility for a failed Sudan
policy must rest, with all its tragic consequences.
In his choice of these appointees and his inability to change
direction when his Administration's policy towards Africa, and
particularly Sudan, was so obviously failing, however, President
Clinton is himself ultimately accountable for Washington's deeply
questionable policy towards Sudan. It is for that reason, perhaps,
that the Clinton Administration will be remembered in posterity
for the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the al-Shifa factory fiasco.
The final proof of the failure of the Clinton Administration
Sudan policy is Sudan itself. Sudan has hardly reacted as its
stereotyped image would have suggested. In the eight years of
the Administration's onslaught, Sudan has been remarkably measured
in its responses to a welter of American policy positions ranging
from the deeply questionable to the murderous, as in the case
of Washington's support of the SPLA and the al-Shifa factory
bombing. Sudan has repeatedly turned the other cheek and has
constantly called for dialogue and an end to confrontation.
Surely, it is now time for dialogue.
The American government is faced with two choices. It can continue
its policy of destabilisation and conflict even though this
has clearly failed, or it can enter into a constructive engagement
with Sudan. To the latter end, there is a course that the United
States could follow.
- The United States should as a matter of urgency re-open
and expand its embassy in Sudan.
- The United States must radically overhaul its intelligence
gathering and analysis procedures with regard to the situation
within Sudan. This overhaul must reach from the National
Security Council down to the various desk officers, and
American embassy officials, charged with monitoring and
evaluating Sudanese affairs.
- The United States government must end its support to Sudanese
opposition groups engaged in seeking a military solution
to a conflict that can only be settled by political means.
- The United States government should take a positive role
in seeking a peaceful settlement of the Sudanese conflict.
Rather than fuelling further conflict in Sudan, the American
government should be a peace-maker within Sudan. Washington
could bring all sides to the conflict towards a negotiated
settlement of the conflict, based on the offers of an internationally-monitored
referendum on the status of southern Sudan and multiparty
elections that are already on the table.
- The United States government should lift the comprehensive
economic sanctions that are currently in place against Sudan.
- The United States should provide humanitarian assistance
to both northern and southern Sudan, rather than just to
rebel-controlled areas in the south. It should also channel
its humanitarian assistance through independent and neutral
non-governmental organisations in order to ensure that American
aid does not continue to be diverted by combatants and used
to continue the conflict.
- The United States government should respond positively
to repeated Sudanese requests that should Washington have
any concerns about the presence of terrorists or support
for terrorists in Sudan, American intelligence and counter-terrorist
teams should travel to Sudan to investigate any information
Washington may have to support its claims.
- The United States government should work with the United
Nations to remove the limited diplomatic sanctions that
were introduced against Sudan in 1996.
- The United States government should remove Sudan from
its list of state sponsors of terrorism.
- The United States government should support repeated Sudanese
requests for a detailed scientific examination of the al-Shifa
medicines factory in Khartoum to establish whether chemical
weapons were ever made there. If such an examination does
not support the Clinton Administration's claims about the
al-Shifa factory, the American government must unconditionally
apologise to the Sudanese people and the factory owner,
and offer full compensation for the destruction of the factory
and the consequences of its destruction with regard to workers
employed at the factory.