by Paul Brandus
November 15, 2016 (WASHINGTON) - Had Hillary Clinton won, it would have been easier to answer, but since Mr. Trump’s victory over her came as a surprise, there are no clear answers. Trump has never mentioned Sudan. His advisors—who are scrambling for roles and power in the new White House—have never mentioned Sudan.
The Trump administration will likely support democratic development in Sudan—as the Obama administration has and the Bush administration before that—did. But financial aid could be challenged by both the new administration and Republicans, who will continue to dominate both chambers (the House and Senate) in Congress.
Between 2002 and 2015 the United States provided $7.1 billion for humanitarian, transition and reconstruction assistance, and peacekeeping support in Sudan. But no U.S. assistance has been provided directly to the government of Sudan. This policy seems unlikely to change, for now, under a Trump administration.
Trump’s foreign policy advisors—who are still being named—will work with outgoing Obama advisors in both the White House and State Department. They will get an update on current American policy, which outlines three key objectives: 1) an end to the conflict with South Sudan and what the U.S. calls “gross human rights abuses, and genocide in Darfur;” 2) Full and ongoing implementation of the North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and 3) Ensuring that Sudan does not provide a safe haven for international terrorists.
The U.S. is also concerned about what the State Department calls “the Sudanese government’s ongoing detention of at least 15 Darfuri individuals, including one Sudanese national employee of the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).” The detentions followed a visit by Donald Booth (the Special Envoy to Sudan and South Sudan) to Sudan’s North and Central Darfur states as well as internally displaced persons (IDP) camps at Sortoni and Nertiti in the Jebel Marra region of Darfur from July 26-28, 2016. Many others who were not detained were nonetheless questioned by security officials about the nature of their contact with the Special Envoy.
Here is what the State Department says:
“The United States immediately expressed its concern about the reported detentions to senior Sudanese officials, and we call on the Government of Sudan to immediately release all of those detained. These actions are particularly unfortunate as they undercut the Government of Sudan initially granting permission for the Special Envoy’s fact-finding visit and allowing him to travel to areas and speak with individuals of his choosing. Such firsthand knowledge is important to shaping future U.S. engagement with the Government of Sudan and opposition groups and leaders regarding Darfur.”
These ongoing issues, for now, continue to cloud U.S.-Sudanese ties, and the possibility of any normalization if relations. It is too early to say just what—if any—changes could result from the surprising election of Dinald Trump as president of the United States.