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Research Report


Mary Carlin Yates
with Kelsey Lilley
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2017
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 44
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)
    Frederick Kempe

    At the Atlantic Council, we believe in the power of engagement to serve US interests across the world. We are driven by the conviction that if the United States shapes the future constructively with its friends and allies, the world will thrive. If we fail to do so, less benevolent forces—or chaos—will fill the void.

    It is with this mindset that eighteen months ago the Council’s Africa Center embarked on its ambitious Sudan project, co-chaired by Atlantic Council Vice President and Africa Center Director Dr. J. Peter Pham and Atlantic Council Board Director Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates. The...

  2. (pp. 3-5)

    During his eight years in office, President Barack Obama attempted to advance US policy in Africa, despite turbulence in East Africa and the Sudans. He spent a considerable amount of political capital dispatching three presidential special envoys to negotiate and oversee the birth of the Republic of South Sudan, and shortly thereafter watched it descend into civil war.

    Largely overshadowed in this policy was any strategy for the Republic of Sudan, the country from which South Sudan seceded in 2011. Over the administration’s final six months, the United States undertook a serious review of its approach toward Sudan, ending with...

  3. (pp. 6-7)

    In the early months of the new US administration, there is an opportunity to closely assess the impact of past US policies toward Sudan and lay out a future policy to further the primary interests of the United States and its allies—to advance peace and stability in the region and improve conditions for the Sudanese people. These interests include stemming security threats that could affect the United States; a commitment to Sudanese and regional stability by ending the country’s internal conflicts; working to promote basic human rights, access to information, good governance, freedom of religion, and rule of law;...

  4. (pp. 8-13)

    Sanctions are a tool that the United States uses to change behavior by creating negative incentives and externalities—levied against a government, individual, or commercial entity involved in activities to which the United States or international community is opposed. Sanctions, particularly comprehensive ones that block most—if not all—trade and assistance, are also blunt instruments of political and economic power that sometimes result in unintended consequences. The US response to national security threats emanating from Sudan and punishment for the government’s genocidal campaign in Darfur has created a complex and interlocking set of sanctions and other coercive restrictive measures,...

  5. (pp. 14-21)

    Sudan’s people have borne the brunt of their government’s actions, so US policy should continue to prioritize them—both because doing so aligns with US values and because supporting the average Sudanese will advance US interests in the long run. Critical elements of this platform include bringing peace and security to all of Sudan’s people, reducing suffering via sustained humanitarian and development assistance, addressing refugee and migrant flows, and empowering the next generation.

    Historically, the US-Sudan relationship has included large amounts of humanitarian aid to relieve the ongoing suffering of the Sudanese people. Traditional USAID programs in health, education, economic...

  6. (pp. 22-25)

    The new administration has taken over a complicated relationship with Sudan, but it does not have to be a fruitless one. Considering Sudan’s strategic position, as well as its complex historical relationship with the United States, this report concludes that sustained, well-resourced, and thoughtful US engagement with Sudan has the potential to deliver more progress—for the bilateral relationship between our nations and for the people of Sudan—than does isolation. While punitive measures—including sanctions—are an important tool, they are only part of a comprehensive US strategy. Despite a checkered diplomatic history with the United States, the Obama...