Casey Joins Colleagues In Responding To President's Darfur Policy

WASHINGTON, DC - Senators Chris Dodd (D-CT), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Lieberman (ID-CT), and Bob Casey (D-PA) today sent a letter to President Bush in response to a speech he delivered on April 18 on the genocide occurring in Darfur and his decision to delay implementing additional sanctions. The letter expresses concern about the open-endedness of the time frame he has proposed for implementing these sanctions and notes that these sanctions had been scheduled to take effect over 100 days ago, when the Government of Sudan failed to meet the Administration's January 1st deadline to accept a robust United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force.

The Senators call on President Bush to tighten economic sanctions, sanction specific individuals who are responsible for the atrocities in the region, and establish a clear date by which the Sudanese Government must meet the U.S. and international community's demands or alternatively face even tougher sanctions and, as a measure of last resort, possible military consequences.

"Mr. President, the situation in Darfur is critical. Over 200,000 are dead and 2.5 million displaced while the threat of a regional war looms large. We cannot take a wait and see approach any longer and must do everything we can to avert an even larger humanitarian catastrophe and end this genocide," the letter states.

The full text of the letter is below:

April 30, 2007

President George W. Bush

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write regarding your speech on the genocide in Darfur at the Holocaust Museum on April 18th. While we applaud your call for tangible actions to end this genocide, we believe that additional delays in the implementation of punitive measures are a grave mistake. Indeed, Congress called for some of the punitive measures you outlined over a year ago in the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act. We believe they ought to be implemented immediately, even as a diplomatic solution to this conflict is pursued.

In your speech, you laid out steps that the Government of Sudan must take within "a short period of time," including accepting a joint African Union-United Nations peacekeeping force, ending support for the Janjaweed militia, reaching out to rebel leaders, and allowing humanitarian aid to reach the people of Darfur. We fully agree that Khartoum's compliance with these steps is long overdue and must occur immediately.

However, sanctions that the administration has proposed, should the Sudanese Government fail to comply, are far too late and weak to bring about the changes we all seek. These threats have been made before but were not acted upon. Last November, the Special Envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, stated that if the Sudanese Government failed to accept a UN-AU hybrid force by January 1, punitive measures as part of "Plan B" would be implemented. Some of the details of these measures have been known since January when they were leaked to the press and include the financial sanctions you outlined. Over 100 days have passed since that deadline passed with no hybrid force on the ground and no Plan B in effect, badly damaging US credibility. To again threaten a similar set of sanctions, this time with no clear deadline, has little hope of altering Khartoum's behavior. We must implement those sanctions now or we risk squandering their possible impact.

We understand the sensitivities involved with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's personal request to you delay punitive measures and we fully support all multilateral efforts to bring peace to Darfur. We also agree with you that one final round of diplomacy ought to be given a chance and that the more coercive measures at our disposal ought to be deferred until then. But the measures you have chosen to pursue at the end of an undefined "short period of time" are not the ones to defer and are not a big enough stick. If this is the Sudanese Government's last chance, the US and the international community need to roll out a series of new and tougher sanctions that go far beyond the financial measures in Plan B that should have been implemented four months ago.

Recent reports suggest that the Sudanese Government has agreed to 3,000 more UN troops. While encouraging, this does not in any way justify relaxing pressure on Khartoum. Even if this phase advances, the peacekeeping presence in Darfur will remain far short of the 17,000-strong hybrid force the Sudanese Government initially agreed to last November. That is why we believe that as the modalities of a peacekeeping force are worked out, you should delink elements of Plan B from the administration's broader multilateral strategy and increase the pressure on Khartoum right away by immediately:

Tightening economic sanctions on Sudan and more aggressively enforcing existing sanctions against the Sudanese Government, by blocking any of its dollar transactions within the US financial system, including by adding companies owned or controlled by the Sudanese Government to the Treasury Department's list of Specially Designated Nationals.

Sanctioning specific individuals, both in the Sudanese Government and among the rebel groups, who are responsible for the violence and atrocities in Darfur; and

Establishing a clear date by which the Sudanese Government must meet the demands you have outlined and initiating preparations for tougher follow-on sanctions should the Sudanese Government once again renege.

Robust interagency coordination and regular oversight will be necessary to ensure that these sanctions are effectively implemented. Should Khartoum fail to meet these demands, we urge you to immediately seek a new UN Security Council Resolution, as referred to in your speech, which expands the arms embargo and initiates the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Darfur. As a measure of last resort, we ought to consider pressing for a UN resolution that gives the Sudanese Government an ultimatum: accept the deployment of a robust UN force or face military consequences.

Mr. President, the situation in Darfur is critical. Over 200,000 are dead and 2.5 million displaced while the threat of a regional war looms large. We cannot take a wait and see approach any longer and must do everything we can to avert an even larger humanitarian catastrophe and end this genocide. We stand ready to provide you with the tools necessary to fulfill our collective responsibility to protect innocent civilians in Darfur and urge you to begin implementing elements of Plan B today.

Press Contact

Kendra Barkoff (202) 228-6367