Cameron Hudson on Sudan war: ‘I do not expect anything from the Jeddah negotiations’

Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow in the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington (Photo: Supplied)

After the US special envoy to Sudan, Tom Perriello, told Radio Dabanga that the Jedda negotiations will resume in May, Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow in the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, has ruled out that the talks would yielded positive results, unless what he described as some basic conditions are met.

Jeddah negotiations

In an interview with Radio Dabanga this week, Perriello said that the negotiations will resume in May, expressing his hope that they will be the last negotiations. However, speaking to Radio Dabanga reporter Abdelmonim Idris from Washington yesterday, Cameron Hudson says he does not have high expectations of the Jeddah talks, and stressed to that the talks will not succeed unless all parties related to the conflict seriously participate in them, and warned that they may lead to further security deterioration.

“I do not expect anything from the Jeddah talks because we have been talking about the Jeddah talks for months and there are no peace talks in Jeddah, so until there is someone to negotiate in Jeddah there is really nothing to talk about. As I understand it, Washington wants broad cooperation in the Jeddah talks to involve the countries of the region.

”Which has an impact on the warring parties, and what I understand is that Saudi Arabia rejects the UAE’s presence in the Jeddah talks, and of course the absence of the UAE that strongly stands behind one of the parties to the conflict will undermine the purpose of these talks, and I say that the only way forward in the solution is through building a diplomatic alliance that gives hope. With the success of the talks, by involving all parties to this conflict outside the state who supply and support one party or the other, they must all be included in these talks and they must agree that the war must stop, until that happens. There is no point in trying to hold talks because it will create expectations and will not be fulfilled. These are expectations and the situation will get worse.”

During this week’s interview, US Envoy Perriello told Radio Dabanga about efforts to include both Egypt and the UAE alongside the African Union in the talks, and pointed out that neighbouring countries and the Gulf states had begun to realise that the conflict had begun to expand in Sudan and that other parties had begun to intervene in it.

The late American role

The US envoy pledged that the American government would make every effort to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict, and said: “I can tell you that the United States will do everything in its power to ensure that the outcome of this process is to end the war and restore the democratic process, but we will need this to be a joint effort from countries around the world, we will need to see the leadership of the Rapid Support Forces and the army, and I believe that we have worked over the past year to have the voice of the Sudanese people heard. This is one of the issues that I tried to emphasise in Paris and elsewhere.”

In response to questions from Radio Dabanga about the delay in the US response to decisively to resolve the conflict in Sudan, Cameron Hudson says: “I think there are two reasons. First, I think that early in the conflict, there was increasing confidence in the Gulf Arab states and the Arab states in general in managing the conflict. I think they saw it as an opportunity to cooperate with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates and Egypt and countries that frankly Washington needed for matters. Other, and in doing so, by allowing these countries to intervene, Washington was creating friendship and influence with those countries to use in other matters, but I think over the past year, what we have seen is that many of these countries instead of using their influence to try to de-escalate or end the conflict. It has exacerbated the conflict, and therefore now Washington realises the mistake of allowing these countries to intervene, and it is now moving forward to appoint a special envoy to Sudan, and we have now perhaps begun to participate more, but the question is, is it too late for Washington to regain its lost influence? “Certainly, I think there has been a lot of blood spilled, and there will be more blood, so it is very late in the game for Washington to try to gain leverage over the conflict.”

Secret negotiations

The American envoy had told Al-Sharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the negotiations had not begun after the Eid holiday, as previously announced, due to arrangements made by the Saudi government, but he indicated that they were negotiating daily with the parties to the conflict to clarify an end to the conflict.

A report in the British newspaper The Guardian this week says that the UK government is engaged in secret negotiations with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), without further details. Regarding the nature of those secret talks, Hudson said:

“I don’t know. The report did not specify that, but the truth is that they may try to influence the RSF to respect human rights. They may try to force them to negotiate. We do not know the subject of those talks. I think that many parties are talking with the RSF. I am sure that Washington is talking.” With the Rapid Support Forces, so I think it is necessary to talk with the Rapid Support Forces. I think that if you are serious about trying to resolve the conflict, you should talk to the people. They are waging war on the people of Sudan. This does not give them legitimacy or credibility, but it is an admission that they are holding the country hostage, and if someone is holding you hostage, you have to talk to the kidnappers. If you are not prepared to go in yourself with your own army and solve the case, which no one really wants, then you have to talk to the people who are holding the country hostage. I don’t think the talks with the RSF or the staff mean anything important in and of themselves,” Hudson concluded.

See links below to first and second episodes, as well as the interview with Radio Dabanga by the US Special Envoy Tom Perriello:

Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow in the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington (Photo: Supplied)

Cameron Hudson to Dabanga: The Paris conference is useless and the American role is strange

Cameron Hudson talks to Dabanga about how the war broke out and the role of Islamists

US Special Envoy to Sudan Tom Perriello (File photo: US Congress)

Exclusive: US Special Envoy for Sudan says ‘priority is to end the war’