Monday, November 8, 2010

Devaluing the state sponsors of terrorism list

"President Obama told Sudan that if it allows a politically sensitive referendum to go ahead in January, and abides by the results, the United States will move to take the country off its list of state sponsors of terrorism as early as next July, administration officials said Sunday." NYT

This is a component of the US' package of incentives for North Sudan to discourage it from any naughtiness for the upcoming referendum. It is also an indication of how stupid and arbitrary the list of state sponsors of terrorism is. I mean, if your willing to take a country off the list simply because it cooperates with you on something completely unrelated to why you put them on the list in the first place, it seriously devalues the list. Would you take a pedophile off the sex-offenders list just because he starts recycling?

I imagine the War on Terror is of greater value to US foreign policy than whatever happens in this big ol' African country. So why is it so easy for the US to offer taking Sudan off the list then? Could it possibly be because the US thinks that Sudan doesn't actually deserve to still be on that list? Well lets look at what the State Department has to say:

"The Sudanese government continued to pursue counterterrorism operations directly involving threats to U.S. interests and personnel in Sudan......[An assessment of the hardliners in Sudan] reflected disappointment that Sudan’s cooperation has not resulted in its removal from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism. Despite this, there was no indication that the Sudanese government will curtail its current level of counterterrorism cooperation despite bumps in the overall bilateral relationship."
"The Sudanese government has also worked hard to disrupt foreign fighters from using Sudan as a logistics base and transit point for terrorists going to Iraq. However, gaps remain in the Sudanese government’s knowledge of these individuals and its ability to identify and capture them."
"There was no reliable information to corroborate long-standing allegations that the Government of Sudan was supporting the LRA in 2009."

Hmmm.....So it seems the biggest reason for Sudan to remain on the list is that it has gaps in its ability to identify and capture terrorist? (seriously, read the whole is ridiculous)

Now what about the argument that Sudan is still on the list because of its hand in Darfur? Well, if that is in fact the reason, then why is it that this incentive has been moved away and unlinked from a "resolution of the violence in the Darfur"? That just makes it worst. That's like telling the molested child that he isn't getting justice because the pedophile has recycled a lot of stuff.

What about when Sudan does do something to help the War on Terror? In '94 it extradited Carlos the Jackal, then in '96 it expelled Bin Laden and yet even after that show of support and before any further terrorist sponsoring act, the US still kept Sudan on the list, crippled its economy and bombed its capital (more on this here) (also, a lot more points to be made on the misuse of the list, e.g. the case of Korea)

Don't get me wrong, there is nothing I would love more than a peaceful referendum, but I don't think that
1) The state sponsors of terrorism list should be used for anything other than discouraging countries from sponsoring terrorism

2) Pedophiles should get to run free just because they decide to recycle

“This proposal from [Kerry] does not matter,” NCP communication officer Rabi Abdel-Atti told the Monitor. “The two sides are already engaged in continuous discussions, and the negotiations are proceeding. We don’t understand what outside proposals have to do with anything.”

The US offer did, though, leave much off the table. US officials have so far made clear to the regime that full US sanctions will not be lifted as long as the ongoing conflict in Darfur remains unresolved.
Because of this, the new proposal offers little economic benefit to Khartoum, especially in relation to the vast southern resources it is being pressured to surrender, according to Bayless Parsley, an Africa analyst for Austin-based global intelligence company STRATFOR.

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