Countdown perks for ‘the devil’: Obama grants reprieve to Sudan

by WorldTribune Staff, January 15, 2017

Another in a series of last-minute executive orders issued by U.S. President Barack Obama is being slammed by critics as “a deal with the devil.”

Obama on Jan. 13 eased a 20-year-old trade embargo on Sudan, “reversing a policy towards an Islamist regime that massacred its own people and sheltered Osama bin Laden,” the UK’s Telegraph reported.

President Barack Obama’s order to ease sanctions on Sudan ‘boggles the imagination,’ one analyst said. /AP

Human rights activists were infuriated by an order that offers even limited reconciliation to Sudanese President Omar Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of carrying out genocide in Darfur.

The Sudan order was one of a slew of policies and regulations Obama has rushed to enact in the final days of his presidency.

Most recently, Obama ended the “dry foot, wet foot” policy on Cuban immigrants, designated three new national monuments and expanded another two, issued new efficiency standards for air conditioners, and added the rusty patched bumble bee to the list of endangered species.

The move “represents the culmination of a grand rapprochement by his administration towards ‘rogue’ regimes like Iran, Cuba and Burma,” the Telegraph report said.

“He is clearly using executive power aggressively and trying to do as much as possible in his final days,” Princeton University history and public affairs professor Julian Zelizer said. “It is clear that a president who was once reluctant to use the power of his own office has changed his heart, especially now that he sees a radically conservative Congress and Republican president-elect are getting ready to dismantle much of what he has done.”

According to the UN, some 300,000 people have been killed, and 2.7 million more forced to flee since 2003, when Bashir responded to rebellion in Darfur by sending militiamen on horseback to raze several villages.

“To overlook the crimes of a regime that for 27 years has waged genocidal counter-insurgency campaign after genocidal counter-insurgency campaign boggles the imagination,” said Eric Reeves, an American academic who has accused Obama of making “a deal with the devil.”

The White House said Obama was rewarding Sudan for progress the Khartoum regime is said to have made in countering terrorism, sharing intelligence and reducing the number of civilians it kills in the Darfur region and other conflict areas.

One analyst said that by easing sanctions on Bashir’s regime, Obama was encouraging moderates in the regime to build on any progress that has been made so far.

“They are using a carrot,” said Magnus Taylor, Horn of Africa analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank.

“For the last decade there has been a lot of stick and the stick didn’t work. The trouble with having pariahs is that is is very hard to have any meaningful engagement with them. So it is definitely time for a different strategy.”