Date of Publication: 5 November 2002




On 29 October 2002, President George Bush chose to extend President Clinton's Executive Order 13067 which declared a "national emergency" with respect to Sudan. President Bush stated that Sudan continued "to
pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States". In doing so President Bush illustrated both the double-standards and the grotesquely-distorted domestic politics within the United States with regard to Sudanese affairs that have long been at the heart of American-Sudanese relations. It is regrettable that Bush would appear not to have risen above either of these impediments to constructive and meaningful dialogue with Sudan, a country with a clear insight into the Islamic world. Moreover, Sudan has been one of Washington's most effective allies in the "War on Terrorism". The most benign reading of Bush's decision is that he is pandering to several domestic political constituencies pursuing a grotesquely-distorted agenda with regard to Sudan. In so doing, the Bush Administration undermines its credibility, and that of its campaign against international terrorism, within the international community, and particularly Arab and Islamic countries.

It is all too obvious that Clinton's 1997 Order was motivated more by propaganda than reality. The Order, for example, "declared a national emergency with respect to Sudan pursuant to the International Emergency
Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701-1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of the Government
of Sudan". The Executive Order cited "continuing concern about the presence and activities of certain terrorist groups, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the prevalence of human rights violations, including slavery, restrictions on religious freedom, and restrictions on political freedom." In October 2002, President Bush
stated that "[b]ecause the actions and policies of the Government of Sudan continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, the national emergency declared on November 3, 1997, and the measures adopted on that date to deal with that emergency must continue in effect beyond November 3, 2002." Quite how one of the poorest countries in the world that has
never harmed a single American citizen qualified as an unusual and extraordinary threat to the world's Superpower has never been articulated. It also followed on the passing by the United States Congress of the so-called "Sudan Peace Act", legislation which provides questionably-motivated Sudanese rebels with hundreds of millions of dollars in assistance. On a human level, the Executive Order continues to impose comprehensive American economic sanctions on Sudan, to the obvious detriment of the Sudanese population.

This decision by the Bush Administration is regrettable for several reasons.

First and foremost, it perpetuates a transparently discredited position. The Bush Administration is fully aware that the Clinton Administration's Sudan policy was a farcical failure which succeeded only in demonising
Khartoum. (1) The previous Administration's claims about Sudan and terrorism were exposed for all to see by the fiasco of its cruise missile attack on the al-Shifa medicine factory, the fact that over one hundred CIA reports alleging Sudanese involvement in terrorism were subsequently found to have been fabricated. Its unforgivable
incompetence was manifest when it repeatedly rebuffed Sudanese offers to extradite Osama bin-Laden and share intelligence on the al-Qaeda organisation. Similarly, Clinton claims that Khartoum was the obstacle
to peace in Sudan were exposed by former President Carter's repeated observations that Washington was the biggest single obstacle to peace. Despite being aware of all this and much more, the Bush Administration
appears to be content to let crassly ill-informed domestic constituencies dictate American foreign policy towards Sudan.

The Clinton White House, and its officials, had long shown criminaldishonesty with regard to Sudan, especially regarding its claims of Sudanese involvement in terrorism. (2) The Bush Administration's lack of leadership on Sudan is also clear. It has demonstrated a lack of courage and intellectual honesty in not addressing what it must know were unjust and unwarranted claims about Sudan and "terrorism", knowingly full well that these sorts of claims have fuelled anti-Sudanese sentiment domestically. The Clinton Administration listed Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism in August 1993. It was clear, however, that Sudan was listed without any evidence of its alleged support for terrorism. As much was established by former United States President Jimmy Carter.
Long interested in Sudanese affairs, Carter went out of his way to see what evidence there was for Sudan's listing. He 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 strong allegations." (3) The United States ambassador to Sudan at the time of Sudan's listing, Donald Petterson, also stated on record that he was "surprised"
that Sudan was put on the terrorism list. (4) Nevertheless, the Clinton Administration's listing of Sudan set the tone for all future American claims about Sudan and terrorism. Not only was this a clear abuse of United States anti-terrorism legislation for propaganda reasons, it also badly damaged American claims about "terrorism" within the wider international community, including its closest allies. In February 2001, for example, the British government stated that it would be "quite wrong" to describe Sudan as a terrorist state. (5)

The Clinton Administration's spin-doctoring over Sudan had disastrous consequences. In January 2002, 'Vanity Fair' published a devastating expose of the Clinton Administration's mishandling of repeated offers by
the Sudanese government, some dating back to 1996, to provide Washington intelligence on terrorism - particularly with regard to the al-Qaeda terrorist network. (6) Part of what was offered to the Clinton Administration were several hundred Sudanese files on al-Qaeda and its members. (7) The Administration also passed up the opportunity of interrogating two al-Qaeda members who had clearly been involved in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in east Africa. Washington also turned down repeated Sudanese government requests that the United States send CIA and FBI counter-terrorism teams to Sudan to investigate and
follow-up any information they may have about Sudan's alleged involvement in terrorism. In keeping with its very questionable Sudan policy the Clinton Administration rejected all of Sudan's repeated offers (the request for a continuous American anti-terrorist presence was eventually taken up in June 2000) (8). The implications of this
studied indifference are clear. As 'Vanity Fair' stated: "September 11 might have been prevented if the U.S. had accepted Sudan's offers to share its intelligence files on Osama bin Laden and the growing al-Qaeda files." It had also earlier been revealed that in addition to offering the Clinton Administration intelligence on al-Qaeda, the Sudanese government had in 1996 also offered to arrest Osama bin-Laden and hand him to Washington (there was no reason to suspect that Khartoum would not, given that it had extradited "Carlos the Jackal" to France in 1994) (9) This offer was also rejected by the Clinton Administration. Former President Clinton described his Administration's refusal to accept Sudan's offer as "the biggest mistake" of his presidency. (10) The
Administration was party to one of the most serious foreign policy failures in American history. Had they not put spin before truth the events of 11 September may well not have happened.

In August 1998, the Clinton Administration vividly illustrated howunreliable its claims about Sudan were. Its cruise missile attack on the al-Shifa medicine factory in Khartoum followed the murderous bombings of
the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The Clinton Administration erroneously claimed that the factory was owned by Osama bin-Laden and produced chemical weapons. The Clinton Administration failed to produce any evidence for these claims, and blocked any subsequent United Nations inspection of the factory. Every one of the American claims about the al-Shifa factory subsequently proved to be false. Independent tests
carried out on the factory by a distinguished American chemist showed no traces of anything associated with chemical weapons. (11) Agence France Press reported that "Western diplomats in Khartoum and other analysts
have rejected the US claims that the factory was used for such a purpose". (12) It is now accepted that the attack was a disastrous blunder by the American government. (13)

The degree of incompetence on the part of the American intelligence community with regard to Sudan also subsequently emerged. The 'New York Times' and the London 'Times' reported that the Central Intelligence
Agency had 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. (14) The 'New York Times' observed: "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...Washington has conspicuously failed to prove its case." (15)

In continuing to actively project Clintonian disinformation and lies about Sudan, especially about terrorism, the Bush Administration only damages its reputation further within the international community. It also undermines the ethos of Washington's much-hyped "War on Terrorism". This sort of double standard on the part of the United States merely perpetuates the problem Washington faces, making its European allies uneasy and fuelling Arab and Muslim resentment.

The transparently dishonest nature of the Executive Order's citing of terrorism is but the tip of the iceberg. Executive Order 13067 also cited political and religious restrictions. In July 2002 a somewhat more objective and independent assessment of the Sudanese political situation by Associated Press stated that "Sudan has come a long way since its militant heyday in the 1990s...the changes in this country...are too sweeping and popular to be rolled back. Human Rights and civil society groups operate openly. Press censorship has been lifted and independent newspapers freely criticize government policies." (16) With regard to religious freedom, the 'New York Times' journalist has observed: "Khartoum's churches on Sunday are filled to overflowing with Christians, worshipping freely, and those congregations are growing. One measure of the strength of Christianity here is that in recent years Catholic priests have been performing more than 7,000 baptisms of new-borns every Easter, church officials said...In dozens of interviews, Christians acknowledged they do not face overt oppression. By and large they are free to go where they please and to worship at the existing churches." (17)

One would have hoped for considerably more leadership on the part of President Bush. His renewal of comprehensive economic sanctions based on claims that are deeply questionable where not transparently false
devalues his reputation and that of the United States within the international community at a particularly crucial moment in time. It is time that his Administration cut away the dead wood of anti-Sudanese propaganda that for so long obstructed American-Sudanese relations.


1 For a critique of the Clinton Administration's Sudan policy, see David Hoile, 'Farce Majeure: The Clinton Administration's Sudan Policy 1993-2000', The European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council, London, 2000
(available at

2 See 'The Clinton Administration and Sudan: A Systemic Intelligence Failure', The European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council, London, January 2001 at

3 'The Independent' (London), 17 September 1993.

4 Donald Petterson, 'Inside Sudan: Political Islam, Conflict and Catastrophe', Westview Books, Boulder, 1999, p.75.

5 See comments by Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, House of Lords Official Report, 26 February 2001, column 935.

6 David Rose, "The Osama Files", 'Vanity Fair', December 2001, pp 50-55.

7 These offers had also been documented in "Resentful West Spurned Sudan's Key Terror Files", 'The Observer' (London), 30 September 2001, and "US Rejected Sudanese Files on al-Qaeda", 'The Financial Times' (London), 30 November 2001.

8 See, for example, "US Intelligence Delegation Still in Sudan: FM", News Article by Agence France Presse, 16 August 2001.

9 See, for example, "In '96, Sudan Offered to Arrest bin Laden", 'International Herald Tribune', 4 October 2001.

10 "US Missed Three Chances to Seize Bin Laden", 'The Sunday Times', (London), 6 January 2002.

11 See, "U.S. Evidence of Terror Links to Blitzed Medicine Factory Was 'Totally Wrong'", Andrew Marshall, 'The Independent' (London), 15 February 1999; "No Trace of Nerve Gas Precursor Found at Bombed Sudan Plant", 'Chemical & Engineering News', 15 February 1999.

12 "Khartoum Doubtful Over Likelihood of US Strike on Sudan", News Article by Agence France Press, 16 September 2001.

13 "Clinton Bombed Civilians on Purpose. American Tests Showed No Trace of Nerve Gas at 'Deadly' Sudan Plant. The President Ordered the Attack Anyway", 'The Observer' (London), 23 August 1998.

14 'The Times', London, 22 September 1998; 'The New York Times', 21 and 23 September, 1998.

15 "Dubious Decisions on the Sudan", Editorial, 'The New York Times', 23 September 1998.

16 "Seeking Friends in the West, Sudan Tempers its Islamic Zeal", News Article by Associated Press, 13 July 2002.

17 "Christians Face Difficulties in Arab Khartoum", 'The New York Times', 5 April 1998.

Espac Published by The European - Sudanese Public Affairs Council Copyright © David Hoile 2005
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