The Trump Administration and Sudan: Another Charlottesville Moment


Photo Credit: Sudan Tribune


According to the Sudan Tribune, the Special Assistant of the U.S. President and Senior Director for African Affairs of the National Security Council, Cyril Sartor, met on Monday with Sudanese Assistant President Faisal Hassan Ibrahim Ali, at the presidential palace in Khartoum to discuss U.S.- Sudanese Relations.

Despite the fact that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has conducted a decade-long genocide, and that peaceful, nationwide protests calling for al-Bashir to step down have erupted, this meeting reaffirmed America’s desire to normalize relations with the oppressive Sudanese regime even if it costs human lives. This, of course, is of little surprise considering the Trump Administration’s friendly foreign policy towards dictators of all sorts.

But the way Mr. Sartor described the situation not only hearkened back to President Trump’s regrettable “both sides” comments following the violence, including a murder, by white supremacists in Charlottesville but demonstrated just how comfortable the U.S. administration is with using and supporting banana republic tactics.

After saying that “no external solutions will be imposed on Sudan,” Mr. Sartor stressed the importance of “the Sudanese government’s respect of the citizens’ right to peaceful expression, while demanding at the same time the other side to abide by the same peaceful commitment.”

Mr. Sartor’s comment came as a shock to the Sudanese people and those of us working on human rights in Sudan.

The violence by the al-Bashir regime against this peaceful protest is well documented.  More than 50 protesters have been killed, well over a thousand jailed, and reports of torture are common.  27 doctors have been jailed, six hospitals have been attacked, tear gas has been used in extreme fashion—even leading to death, the free media has been silenced, and journalists have been jailed.  But Mr. Sartor and the Trump Administration want to make sure that “both sides” act peacefully.  In his 30 years of ruling, al-Bashir has never acted peacefully.  This is a man with one of the poorest human rights records in history.

Of course, this sort of rhetoric is like gold to al-Bashir who uses it to back his false claims of violence against his government.  Experience shows that the more legitimacy he gets from the U.S., the more violent his regime becomes. This includes the free pass that President Bashir received from the previous administration that is now directly impacting peaceful people who have grasped an opportunity to take control of their lives.  The U.S. policy towards Sudan has been a mess for years, and has only emboldened al-Bashir to kill his own citizens. This policy needs immediate attention and redirection, and it needs the truth on its side to be successful.