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Opening Statement on Sudan Before The Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Andrew Natsios, Special Envoy To Sudan
Washington, DC
April 11, 2007

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As Delivered

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for inviting me before the committee. President Bush appointed me to this position in September of last year about seven months ago. Actually, my first trip to Darfur was in 1990, 17 years ago, during the first Darfur war. This is the third war in twenty years and by far the most destructive. I do have written testimony. I'm not going to read that, it's very long. But for the record, I'd like to submit that, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you.

I went then as a USAID official. My job then was to make sure people didn't die in what was a drought and a war at the same time and I wasn't focused on the politics of it. It was a tribal war between Fur people, an African tribe and the Arabs. And so -- and then there's another war in the 1990s between the Masalit tribe which are Africans and the Arabs and now this is the third war between the Masalit, the Fur and the Zaghawans and the Arabs. And it's mostly the northern Arabs, not the southern Arabs. The southern Arabs, the Southern Rizegat actually have been neutral in the war and the Nazar of the Southern Rizegat have actually helped to protect some of the African tribes from attacks from the Janjaweed. So I think it's a very bad idea to assume this is all Africans versus all Arabs. That is simply not true and it may make peace harder if people think the bad guys are all the Arabs and the good guys are all the African tribes. That's simply not the case.

The war has been dangerously regionalized at this point. It's destabilized Chad, it's poured now into the Central African Republic and we are very worried about the regional consequences of this, not just from a political -- a humanitarian standpoint. There were 400 people killed or who died from exposure in attacks in Chad in the last week which is very disturbing, according to reports coming from the field.

We believe the only way to deal with this is ultimately a negotiated settlement because over the long term, we have to have some kind of an agreement between the people who live there, who've been at war with each other, with one side with support of the Government of Sudan for the economy and the social structure and the social fabric of the province to be put back together again. We think coercive measures will be necessary, in fact, are necessary. When you said, Senator, I gave them a deadline at the end of end of December, actually they met the deadline for that phase.

In December I met with President Bashir and I told him that he had said under no circumstances would there ever be a blue helmet ever in Darfur. Under phase one, phase two or phase three of the Kofi Annan plan which we negotiated on November 16th with 30 countries and three international organizations at the meeting. And he said: That's still my position. I said, "that's completely untenable." And I said, "We're going to have to impose these course of measures if you refuse to do that." He agreed at that point to allow blue helmets and blue helmets are in Darfur now -- not a large number of them, but he has agreed to all of the provisions of the first phase which is about 190 people.

And so there was in fact some action, but it's very slow and there's a reason it's slow. The Sudanese Government sees the peacekeeping force as regime threatening. And the reason they see that is they believe that if a UN force enters Darfur, they will begin to arrest people for war crimes trials in Europe under the ICC. And there is a fear that -- I've told them that is not in the resolution, that's not what they're there for. They said, well, it may not be now, but once the troops arrive, you can change the resolution later on.

In any case, that's the fear and it's a real fear because of course they committed crimes and they're going to be held accountable and we know that the ICC has already announced they're investigating people and will be shortly making some indictments of some major figures in the regime.

We believe finally that a negotiated settlement is the only way. But we must deal with the property, livelihoods and security issues for the people in the province in a peace agreement that has to be implemented. I mean, there's a lot of broken agreements that have been signed over the years. I've watched them for 17 years between the north and the south. They sign agreements, they sign agreements and then they don't implement any of them. So it's not a function of simply signing things, it's a function of doing them. Once the blue helmets arrived in Darfur under phase one, I complemented them publicly for agreeing to what they did agree to. But before that, I didn't talk about it because I wasn't sure they were going to actually physically let them in.

Where are diplomatic efforts in our policy? Our focus is on human rights and on humanitarian issues. We have no military or economic interests in Darfur. I repeat that because this is a refrain that is being used to sort of exaggerate among the Arab tribes about the purpose of the United States and other countries' interests in Darfur are there for oil, they're for building a military base, other ridiculous arguments are being made to fuel tensions, ethnic tensions within the country in a very unhelpful way.

We believe that that we need to energize, although this is not the purpose of this hearing, the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South. We think there's a direct relationship between peace in the South and peace in Darfur. We have asked the southerners, who are actually the most influential with the rebel groups, to get involved in this. I asked them last December. I asked them again in March and they have done that. Salva Kiir is getting involved, who's the president in the South and the First Vice President of the Northern Government. At first the Northern Government said absolutely not, you will not do this. Overtime, we -- I think convinced the Sudanese Government it was in their interest to have them involved and they are involved now.

The rebels I met with in January in Chad told me the most influential group for them were the southerners, because together the South in Darfur make up half the country. And the model for this CPA, the Darfur Peace Agreement that was signed last May, is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South. They see their brothers in the South as a model for what they want to do in Darfur.

We have encouraged -- I have personally encouraged -- I spent a week in Chad in January working with the rebels and working with Jan Eliasson and Salim Salim to unify the rebels. They're broken down now into 14 or 15 different groups depending on the week. It is a very chaotic situation. One of the problems with the security situation at this point it is not two sides fighting against each other -- it's anarchy. The government has lost control of large parts of the province now and some of the rapes by the way that are going on are by rebels raping women in their own tribes. We know in one of the refugee camps that's now controlled by the rebels formally, there have been atrocities committed by the rebels against the people in the camps.

We also believe that there needs to be one negotiating process. When I started last year there were six different tracks for negotiations between the rebels and the government -- with the Sudanese Government. We said that is not going to work. There has to be one route and we've actually moved toward that and what is part of the Addis agreement was to have just the UN and the AU track. Our job is to support them, not to set up separate independent negotiations which will be used as a mechanism for forum shopping by the rebels or even the government. We don't want that to happen. The only way this is going to be solved in a comprehensive settlement that is between two sides with one negotiating position on each side, which we're encouraging the rebels to have.

I might add, the southern agreement would never have taken place if there were 12 John Garangs. There was one John Garang leading the southern negotiations and one northern government official, the Vice President Ali Osman Taha, who negotiated the agreement. It would never have happened if there were multiple parties on each side with different agendas and different positions.

The current situation is very troubling to us because of the government's loss of control, because of rebel attacks on aid agencies, which are now increasing. Of the 120 vehicles that were stolen by -- from aid agencies, and by the way the United States Government has spent $2.4 billion keeping people alive over just the last two years. We are by the far the largest international donor. I think 65 percent of all of the food comes from the United States to feed people -- two and a half million people are in over 200 displaced camps all over Darfur. And there are hundreds of NGOs and eight UN agencies that are at work and they all have heavy funding from the United States. But 128 trucks were looted last year. The great bulk of those actually were from the rebels and a few from the Janjaweed militias.

We now have Arab-on-Arab violence. The principal people getting killed right now are one Arab tribe fighting with other Arab tribes. Since February 11th, there has actually been no aerial bombardments according to very credible sources on the ground, so there's been two months of no aerial bombardments.

Secondly, the principal deaths since the beginning of the year actually have been Arabs being killed by this Arab-on-Arab violence. There have been about 80,000 new IDPs in January and February, that slowed down in February and March. And right now we're seeing a relative lull in the fighting in Darfur. The fighting, however, has intensified to a dangerous degree in Chad and that's where the bulk of the people getting killed are at this point.

Just like to make a quick point on the CPA, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It is not the case that the CPA is not being implemented. It is being implemented, parts of it. A billion dollars in oil revenues have been transferred from the North to the South; that's a significant change. There is no war in the South. There is no famine in the South, the economy's picking up, roads are being built -- a lot with U.S. Government support, I might add -- and health clinics built and schools being built, teachers being trained. The economy is moving.

However, the transformational provisions of the CPA, which John Garang insisted on being in there, elections, the sharing of revenue not just with the South, but all of the provinces in the North, because many of the rural provinces in the North are getting no money from the oil revenues at all. That is in the CPA. It's not just a transformation of the South. Those difficult provisions of transformation are not being implemented.

They're the most dangerous in terms of the stability of the central government and its own interests and it sees those interests under attack right now because of the instability in Darfur and so they have been unwilling to implement those provisions. It's critically important that the CPA be implemented if we're going to have a model for successful implementation of a peace agreement in Darfur.

There is little progress on border demarcation. There's an impasse in Abyei. I've raised all these issues repeatedly with President Bashir and told him if he wants to stabilize Darfur, he needs to implement the CPA with the South because if the rebels see that the CPA is being implemented, I believe there's a greater likelihood they will return to the negotiating table.

Our policy is in three areas; that is, to stabilize the humanitarian situation, particularly the -- while the death rates in the camps are well below emergency levels, we are nervous because access by the NGOs has deteriorated because of the anarchy in the province now and the attacks on aid agencies which has led to a couple of them leaving, very dangerous situation. Two, we are very nervous about -- the rainy season is coming up. We have a lot of food, more than enough food in the capital cities, but the problem is getting it without attacks on the convoys into the camps before the rainy season starts in nine weeks.

Secondly, our political solution is simply to get the rebels back to the negotiating table with the government. The government has not put precondition other than one; they want to use the DPA as a base for further negotiations with additional amendments and they've told me they will be flexible on that. I talk to Jan Eliasson quite often. He's an old friend of mine. He's leading the negotiating teams and he has a plan in place for how we can proceed in the next month to move toward that.

And finally, we want the full three phases of the Bashir -- I'm sorry, the Kofi Annan-Ban Ki-Moon plan that was agreed to and had us implement it. As of today, the UN has announced with the AU that the Sudanese Government has agreed, it appears, two -- what is called the heavy support package, phase two, which they trashed in a letter to Ban Ki-Moon a month ago when I was -- they signed it when I was there. Literally, when I was in the city, they signed it and sent it but not -- give us a copy.

They appear to have reversed themselves on this. Now I have to say appeared, because there's a long history of them signing things, announcing things in communiqués and they're not doing them. So what will be the proof of this is whether or not we're allowed to go ahead with the work we're going to do in building more camps to house more soldiers. The big impediment to phase one has been the absence of barracks which we are now constructing for the 190 troops that'll be arriving. And then there will be assistance that will be given by the international community for the construction for the additional 3,000 people under phase two.

They have not agreed to phase three and there are two remaining issues on phase three called the hybrid force. One is UN command and control. I put UN command and control in the text of the Addis agreement. I insisted on it. I said, "That is the bottom line for the United States. If there's no UN in command and control, we do not support the agreement." Two -- and the Sudanese Government is resisting that. They don't want orders coming from -- to these troops from New York directly.

Two, they do not want any troops from outside Africa. We believe and I believe there's people in the United Nations who can confirm this, that there are not sufficiently trained peacekeeping troops in Africa to handle this, that we need troops from other peacekeeping countries outside Africa which the Sudanese have been very resistant on. And there are a number of other smaller issues, but those are the two central issues at this point.

Let me just conclude by saying we were about to impose plan B, at least this phase of it, and we did not want to announce them, frankly, when a congressional delegation was in Khartoum. We didn't think that was particularly good timing. And then there's been a request made by Ban Ki-Moon, the Secretary General, of our Secretary of State and of me -- I met with him last Monday -- and he repeated, "I need two weeks to four weeks to try to see if the current round of negotiations is going to work to get the paralysis that we're facing moving."

As a courtesy to the Secretary General, we've agreed to that delay, but there is a finite limit to it and if we continue to see stonewalling, then those measures are going to be implemented. That's up to the President. It's his decision to make, but I know where he is on this. He's as angry as all of us are on this and wants action, but the Secretary General requested it. He did it publicly. It's not a secret. And we've agreed to wait a short time while we let the negotiations that he's undertaking now take their course.

I'll be glad to answer questions, Mr. Chairman.

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Released on April 13, 2007

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