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Terrorist Appeasement Redux By: Charles R. Smith
Newsmax.com | Friday, March 28, 2003

France is teaming with Libya on the U.N. Human Rights Commission to lift international restrictions on Sudan. The commission, chaired by Libya, is scheduled to meet in Geneva on Thursday and the first item on its agenda is to give Sudan a passing grade on human rights.

France, a leading member of the commission, indicated that it would support Libya's move to change the human rights status for Sudan. The deputy press counsel for the French Embassy in Washington, D.C., confirmed the report.

"There are no more sanctions against Sudan," stated the French Embassy press spokeswoman, Agnes Vondermuhal.

"Sanctions were lifted by the U.N. in 2001. The U.S. still maintains sanctions against Sudan," she stated.

"We are working with the European Union to form a common position on the question of Sudan. The EU is seeking to get people from the U.N. Human Rights Commission on the ground inside Sudan. Discussions are indeed under way on the point nine question, but it is not quite sure that it will pass. We are seeking a resolution that can be voted on," stated Vondermuhal.

The move is expected to further spoil the poor relations between Paris and Washington. U.S.-Franco relations are at their lowest point since the Vichy government of Marshal Petain during World War II because of French opposition to the U.S. war to remove Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The French Embassy spokeswoman confirmed that relations with the United States are strained by denying allegations that France had recently supplied spare parts and weapons to the Iraqi air force.

"If there was any truth to the allegations, I am sure that President Bush would have made some official contact with our government to protest such actions," noted Vondermuhal.

"By the way, we are boycotting NewsMax," she said.

Sudan and Human Rights

The U.N. move will change Sudan's status from "Item 9" – or countries with special problems – to "Item 19" – a nation with no violations. The move by the U.N. commission will effectively free Sudan from all economic restrictions and allow the U.N. to provide financial support for the Khartoum regime.

According to the U.S. State Department, Sudan continues to be a nation that sponsors terrorism, and the Khartoum government frequently targets civilians in its effort to win the ongoing war.

"The United States has reviewed the report released February 9, 2003, by the Civilian Protection Monitoring Team demonstrating that the Sudanese army and their allied-militia forces deliberately targeted and displaced civilians during operations in the oil-rich Western Upper Nile region of southern Sudan in December and January. We condemn these unconscionable attacks and abuses against civilians," said Richard Boucher, the official U.S. State Department spokesman.

The Bush administration opposed Libya becoming chair of a U.N. human rights commission, citing extensive human rights violations by the Tripoli government. The consequences of Libya teaming with France will allow Sudan to seek U.N. financial support.

French Oil Deal in Sudan

"This of course serves the political agenda of Libya, which chairs the commission. It also serves the commercial interests of France, with its huge but inaccessible oil concessions in southern Sudan," stated Eric Reeves, a U.S. advocate against human rights abuses in Sudan.

"Human rights abuses are and have been as serious as ever," asserted Reeves.

"Throughout 2002 Khartoum engaged in deliberate aerial assaults on civilians and civilian structures. Khartoum deployed its own 'weapon of mass destruction' in the form of humanitarian aid denials to as many as 3 million people in southern Sudan. Every report by each of the last three U.N. Special Rapporteurs for Human Rights in Sudan has fully justified the mandate by which the Rapporteurs have been deployed. Daily press reports, U.N. reports and reports from organizations such as the Sudan Organization Against Torture (SOAT) make clear the vast extent of human rights problems in Sudan," stated Reeves.

Sudan has been locked in a brutal civil war since 1983. The war and famine-related effects have left more than 2 million dead and over 4 million people displaced. The war pits the radical Arab/Muslim National Islamic Front in Khartoum against the non-Muslim African rebels in the south. Since 1989, traditional northern Muslim parties have joined with the southern rebels and entered the war as a part of an anti-government alliance.

Sudan Sponsored Terrorists

Sudan has also been directly linked to global terrorism. In the early and mid-1990s, Carlos the Jackal, Osama bin Laden, Abu Nidal and other terrorist leaders resided in Khartoum.

Sudan was designated as a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 because of its links to Islamist international terrorist organizations. In October 1997, the U.S. imposed trade and financial sanctions against the Khartoum regime. In August 1998, in the wake of the East Africa embassy bombings, the U.S. launched retaliatory cruise missile strikes against Khartoum.

Relations reportedly thawed between the U.S. and Sudan after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Sudanese officials made efforts to turn over key information on Osama bin Laden and his assets inside the country.

However, since the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the relations between Washington and Khartoum have remained cold. Sudan publicly supported the international coalition actions against the al-Qaeda network and the Taliban in Afghanistan, but the government also openly criticized the U.S. strikes.

Sudan remains on the state-sponsors of terrorism list.

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