There may be a lot of strategic reasons for recent U.S. friendliness to Sudan. But not a lot of human ones. Even as the U.S. secretary of state met last month with his Sudanese counterpart in Washington, government military forces in Sudan killed 59 people in simultaneous attacks on primarily Christian villages.
After Colin Powell's meeting with Sudan's Osman Ismail, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher exulted: "We think there is a real prospect to reach a just and lasting conclusion to the [Sudanese] civil war."
Sudanese government soldiers must have missed the memo. They attacked 10 villages in Eastern Upper Nile, killing 59, wounding 15, and abducting 10 children and six women whose whereabouts remain unknown. The dead included Jacob Gadet Manyiel, Presbyterian Church of Sudan pastor, his wife, and four children. Eyewitnesses say government soldiers burned the family to death inside their home.
Villagers have been able to come up with a complete list of the abducted-ranging from a 2-year-old girl to a 62-year-old woman-as well as names of the government commanders who led the attack: 2nd Lt. Mohammed Idris and Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Saleh.
Those kinds of atrocities tell some Sudan experts to be wary of diplomatic chumminess and trips to Khartoum like that made recently by Gary Kusunoki of Safe Harbor. "There is no question about his motive and courage," said Smith College professor Eric Reeves. "But Khartoum needs to come up with a straight-up, unvarnished position, not a charm offensive designed to manipulate the American Christian advocacy community."