We must exercise caution with the government of Sudan (Sen. Sam Brownback and Rep. Donald Payne)

Recently Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) traveled to Sudan to offer the government of Sudan a path toward receiving much-desired incentives in exchange for progress on the ground in Darfur and implementation of the CPA. We share concern about the need to ensure that the United States doesn’t give away too much to Khartoum in exchange for too little or nothing. We encourage the administration to proceed with caution, and not to award any key incentives before the government of Sudan has accomplished critical priorities necessary for long-term peace in the entire country and accepted the outcome of the referendum in South Sudan.

One incentive under discussion is the possible removal of Sudan from the State Sponsor of Terror List — which the administration has said could happen as early as July. Before taking such a step, we urge the administration to ensure that the government of Sudan is not supporting and providing safe havens for international, local, and regional terrorist organizations. Sudan’s potential removal from the terror list must be contingent not only on progress toward peace, but also upon the government of Sudan clearly distancing itself from terror groups and individuals, such as the Lord’s Resistance Army, Hamas, and al-Qaeda. Let us remember that the government of Sudan and its proxies have been and continue terrorizing the people of Darfur. We should not rush to reward a government that has committed genocide. Peace without justice cannot be sustained.

When detailing incentives, the administration must also be clear about what punitive measures will be applied should the government of Sudan continue to serve as a destructive force in the country, or — in the event that positive changes are achieved — revert back to their old behavior and negate any positive steps. Given our experience with Khartoum over the years, we must be prepared for the possibility that progress may be fleeting. The ongoing crisis in Darfur offers plenty of evidence of the government of Sudan’s malice. Should the current diplomatic efforts fail, the United States must be willing and prepared to take additional action in support of peace and justice in Sudan, as circumstances require.

As Sudan’s referendum approaches, the administration and many in Congress have understandably been focused on ensuring that voting is allowed to occur and that results are respected. However, the referendum is just one key step in forging a sustainable peace between north and south Sudan. Even if the voting goes off peacefully, there are myriad other threats to peace and violence could break out. The potential scenarios range from small-scale local violence within the south, to the resumption of all-out war between north and south. The United States must be prepared to respond to any eventuality. To this end, we must carry out comprehensive contingency planning, which must be continually reviewed as events on the ground progress. This planning will be needed not only in the lead up to and during the referendum but throughout the foreseeable future.

Over the years, we have witnessed the government of Sudan sign agreements and quickly renege. We can hope for the best outcome but we should never trust the promise of that. As the late Dr. John Garang once said, “the Khartoum government is too deformed to be reformed.”

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