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DATE=5/4/99 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT NUMBER=5-43307 TITLE=PRIVATE DIPLOMACY IN SUDAN BYLINE= ED WARNER DATELINE= WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: FORMAL DIPLOMATIC EFFORTS OVER MANY YEARS HAVE FAILED TO END THE LONG WAR IN SUDAN BETWEEN THE MUSLIM NORTH AND THE NON-MUSLIM SOUTH. SO PRIVATE, NON-GOVERNMENTAL GROUPS ARE OFFERING THEIR SERVICES, WITH AN EMPHASIS ON PERSONAL TIES AND RELIGIOUS BELIEFS THAT ARE HELD IN COMMON. V-O-A'S ED WARNER REPORTS THE ACTIVITIES OF ONE OF THESE GROUPS, AND ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR HELPING SOLVE OTHER CONFLICTS AROUND THE WORLD. TEXT: HASSAN AL-TURABI, SPIRITUAL LEADER OF SUDAN, IS CONSIDERED BY MANY TO BE THE EVIL GENIUS OF MILITANT ISLAM. BUT HE DOES NOT COME ACROSS THAT WAY IN PERSON, SAYS DOUGLAS JOHNSTON, WHO RECENTLY VISITED SUDAN. HE BELIEVES THAT MR. TURABI -- SUAVE, ARTICULATE AND PERSUASIVE -- SEEKS PEACE AND A FORM OF ISLAM THAT WILL HAVE WIDE APPEAL. THAT VIEWPOINT DISTINGUISHES MR. JOHNSTON FROM MORE CONVENTIONAL OPINION, WHICH CITES THE SUDANESE REGIME'S LONG, BRUTAL WAR WITH ITS SOUTHERN REBELS, AND ITS ENSLAVING OF CAPTIVES. THEY SAY THERE IS NOTHING TO DISCUSS WITH SUCH A GOVERNMENT. BUT MR. JOHNSTON, PRESIDENT OF THE CENTER FOR RELIGION AND DIPLOMACY, SAYS PRIVATE, NON-GOVERNMENTAL GROUPS LIKE HIS OWN CAN TAKE CHANCES FOR PEACE THAT FORMAL OFFICIALS CAN NOT: /// FIRST JOHNSTON ACT /// I WENT OVER THERE WITH THE COMMON IMPRESSION THAT UNDER [MR.] TURABI, SUDAN WAS BEING USED AS A SPEARHEAD FOR THE ADVANCE OF MILITANT ISLAM THROUGHOUT NORTH AFRICA AND BEYOND. AND WHAT I FOUND WAS A MORE PROGRESSIVE FORM OF ISLAM THAN I HAD HEARD OF BEFORE. A MINIMUM NUMBER OF SEATS IN PARLIAMENT ARE DESIGNATED TO BE FILLED BY WOMEN, AND EVEN CHRISTIANS OCCUPY TOP MINISTERIAL POSTS. [THERE WERE] MORE WOMEN THAN MEN IN THE UNIVERSITIES, AND NONE OF THE WOMEN WORE VEILS, EITHER. /// END ACT /// MR. JOHNSTON SAYS SUDAN HAS MADE CERTAIN CONCESSIONS THAT HAVE BROUGHT NO RESPONSE FROM THE UNITED STATES. BOWING TO U-S PRESSURE, KHARTOUM REMOVED TERRORISTS FROM THE COUNTRY, INCLUDING OSAMA BIN LADEN. THE SUDANESE WARNED, HOWEVER, THAT AS LONG AS MR. BIN LADEN WAS IN SUDAN, HE COULD BE WATCHED. OUTSIDE, HE WOULD BE MORE OF A THREAT, AS HE PROVED TO BE WITH THE BOMBING OF THE U-S EMBASSIES IN KENYA: /// SECOND JOHNSTON ACT /// THEY HAVE ALSO INVITED US TO SEND OUR F-B-I [FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION] AND C-I-A [CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY] OVER, TO ESTABLISH A PERMANENT OFFICE IN KHARTOUM AND TO SEE FOR OURSELVES, BUT THERE HAS BEEN NO WILLINGNESS TO ACCEPT THAT INVITATION. I THINK THAT WHEN WE HAVE OPPORTUNITIES LIKE THAT, WE SHOULD EXPLOIT EVERY ONE OF THEM. THE BEST DEFENSE YOU HAVE GOT AGAINST THE SPECTER OF RELIGIOUS-BASED FANATICISM MARRIED TO WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION IS HAVING PEOPLE ON THE GROUND IN AREAS WHERE YOU ARE CONCERNED ABOUT THIS POSSIBILITY. /// END ACT /// ALLAN GOULTY, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO SUDAN, SAYS IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO HAVE A U-S EMBASSY IN KHARTOUM, TO PROVIDE SOME SKEPTICISM FOR OVERLY-SUSCEPTIBLE AMERICAN VISITORS. BUT, SPEAKING AT A MEETING ON SUDAN (AT THE NATIONAL CATHEDRAL) IN WASHINGTON (MON., MAY 3), HE EMPHASIZED THE NEED FOR VARIOUS GROUPS TO HELP END A WAR THAT IS RUINING THE COUNTRY AND NOW SPREADING BEYOND ITS BORDERS: /// GOULTY ACT /// IN A COUNTRY THAT IS WAR-WEARY FROM TOP TO BOTTOM, FROM NORTH TO SOUTH AND EAST TO WEST, WHERE THE LEADERS EVEN RECOGNIZE THAT THERE IS NO MILITARY VICTORY, IT IS NOT AN OPTION TO SAY THAT THERE HAS TO BE MORE FIGHTING. SO EVEN IF TALKING IS DIFFICULT, IT SEEMS TO ME AN OPTION THAT HAS TO BE PURSUED. AND THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ARE DOING A LOT MORE NOW THAN THEY WERE. /// END ACT /// WILLIAM KONTAS, FORMER U-S AMBASSADOR TO SUDAN, AGREES IT IS TIME TO TALK, BUT WITH CARE. HE SAYS SINGLE-ISSUE GROUPS SOMETIMES MISS THE LARGER PICTURE: /// KONTAS ACT /// THERE IS INDEED WAR WEARINESS ON BOTH SIDES. SO I THINK THAT IS ANOTHER REASON WHY THIS IS A GOOD TIME FOR U-S INITIATIVES, PARTICULARLY FROM THE U-S GOVERNMENT ITSELF, AS WELL AS FROM THESE PRIVATE OUTFITS. THE IMPORTANT IMPETUS FOR HASTENING THE NEGOTIATIONS FOR PEACE IN SUDAN SHOULD COME FROM THE U-S GOVERNMENT, BUT I THINK THESE PRIVATE INITATIVES ARE USEFUL. /// END ACT /// PRIVATE DIPLOMACY IS LONG-TERM WORK, SAYS CHRIS MITCHELL OF THE INSTITUTE FOR CONFLICT ANALYSIS AND RESOLUTION. HE TOLD THE WASHINGTON TIMES NEWSPAPER: "PEOPLE ASK: 'HOW MANY CONFLICTS DID YOU SOLVE LAST WEEK?' IT'S MUCH SLOWER AND MORE COMPLICATED THAN YOU MIGHT THINK." (SIGNED) NEB/EW/WTW 04-May-99 1:49 PM EDT (1749 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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