Obama's Envoy Agrees: Sudan Is Urgent

By Chris Good

Though he doesn't agree with the calling out of his bosses, President Obama's special envoy to Sudan does share the sentiment of a coalition of U.S.-based Darfur peace groups that Sudan demands immediate action--action that, from his point of view, is already being taken--a State Department spokesman for Maj. Gen. Scott Gration says. The groups launched a print and web ad campaign yesterday targeting Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Vice President Joe Biden, using statements they'd made about Darfur's immediacy and calling on them to "keep the promise"--essentially accusing them of forgetting Darfur after 2008--and demanding immediate action on the humanitarian crisis there. Gration doesn't agree with the criticism of Obama, Clinton, and Biden, and, as he's been busy working on a Darfur peace agreement, he says he shares the groups' sense of urgency.

Gration recently returned from a trip to Sudan, Ethiopia, and Egypt, where he helped secure and witnessed the signing of an agreement between the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement and the National Congress Party to implement more steps toward a comprehensive peace deal. He then struck an accord between four Darfuri armed movements while in Ethiopia.

An adviser to one of the main groups in the coalition, Omer Ismail of the Enough Campaign, accompanied Gration on the Ethiopian leg of the trip.

In emails to his public listserv for Darfur updates, Gration talks about the need to work with U.S. Darfur groups and take their input. "We have a moment of great opportunity. It is time for all of us who care deeply about the future of Sudan to work together to seize this moment. The opportunity of the present may not come again, and we will be left out at sea, if we don't act now," Gration writes.

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http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2009/08/obamas-envoy-agrees-sudan-is-urgent/23931/