Panel One of a Hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: "Darfur: A Plan B to Stop Genocide?"
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you for being here, Mr. Ambassador. Welcome. And welcome to our outside witnesses as well: Susan Rice, the former assistant secretary of State for Africa, now at Brookings; Stephen Morrison, one of the leading think tank experts on Africa from CSIS; and Larry Rossin, the leader of the Darfur -- Save Darfur movement.
Folks, it's been four years now since the crisis in Darfur erupted, four years since the genocide began. And it's been three years and nine months since Congress formally recognized this as genocide. The resolution in both the House and Senate passed three years and nine months ago, and it passed unanimously. Not a single member denied the horror.
It's been three years and seven months since the administration added its own recognition. On September 9th, 2004, in testimony before the committee, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell said clearly that the killings in Darfur was genocide. Shortly thereafter, so did President Bush.
So now, all these years later, the question still remains: What are we going to do about it? What are we going to do to stop the slaughter; to return the survivors to their homes; to bring those responsible for the murder, rape and terror to justice, and to build a lasting peace? What are we going to do about Darfur?
That's the question I've asked the ambassador -- he's the administration's point person for Darfur. And like his predecessor, Deputy Secretary Zoellick, I have no doubt about this dedication and determination to do the right thing. In December, the ambassador told a group of senators that Khartoum had until the end of the month to agree to the deployment of United (Nations) peacekeepers. That deadline has long since passed with no agreement by Khartoum to accept the peacekeepers, and no reaction from the United States or the international community to its refusal.
Today this committee expects to hear from the ambassador a concrete plan of action. I hope he'll flesh out the administration's Plan B, as was referred to earlier, and tell us how and when the administration will act on that plan.
What should we do about Darfur? Well, that's the question I've asked our outside witnesses because there are almost certainly steps the administration is not planning to take that this committee should consider from these outside witnesses.
I have my own strongly held view on what we should do. Most importantly, we need a comprehensive approach to what is a complex problem. We have to work all six sides of what John Prendergast, one of the leading experts on Darfur, rightly calls the "policy Rubik's Cube." That will require the kind of resources, coordination and sustaining vision at the highest levels that in my view we have not yet seen or we have not -- not only from this administration, but also we have not seen from our partners around the world.
Let me quickly suggest some of the pieces of a complex approach that needs to be taken.
First, pursuing Khartoum is necessary, but not sufficient. We need to work on the major rebel groups, as well. Three years ago, after visiting a refugee camp on the Chad-Darfur border, I met with the leaders of two of the major rebel groups. I urged them to come up with a common program. I offered to host them in Congress if they did. I warned them that if they did not, Khartoum would use their division as an excuse to do nothing. We need a major sustained diplomatic initiative to bring these rebels together.
Second, peacekeepers are essential but they're not enough. We need a peace process. If we end the violence but fail to achieve a sustained political settlement in Darfur, the violence will return. That puts a premium on a single peace process, supported by the international community, including the African Union and the United Nations, and managed by an oversight group of concerned countries.
Third, unilateral sanctions may be necessary but will not suffice. We need a coordinated action from many other countries. The United States has had significant sanctions on Khartoum since 1990. We're almost sanctioned out, to use a phrase the president used in another context. For pressure to be meaningful, it must be multilateral. The Chinese, the Arab world, the Europeans, the African Union, everyone should be joining together in this campaign. Without American leadership, I see absolutely no prospect of that happening.
Four, limiting our focus to Darfur is too narrow. We have to include the neighbors, especially Chad and the Central African Republic. I saw firsthand the spillover effects of the Darfur crisis on Chad, and it has gotten much worse over the past three years. The crisis is putting an incredible strain on the neighbors, and at the same time, they have tremendous influence with some of the key players. On Darfur, diplomacy and initiatives -- excuse me. Our Darfur diplomacy and initiatives must include the neighborhoods.
Finally and most urgently, convincing Khartoum to accept a meaningful peacekeeping force should be our goal, but if it refuses, imposing such a force -- imposing such a force -- must be our mission. I wish that the African Union had the mandate, the manpower and the material to do the job, but it does not.
We must set a hard deadline now on Khartoum to accept a hybrid AU-U.N. force, and we must start planning to impose that force if Khartoum refuses, and to take other concrete steps that can start saving lives now.
I've long advocated a NATO-led no-fly zone to stop the air support Khartoum provides to the Janjawid. Recently, Khartoum has stepped up its slaughter from the skies. It is within our power to clip their wings. Yes, a no-fly zone could make it more difficult for humanitarian groups to operate, so we should do everything possible to design it with their concerns in mind, and I expect to ask the witnesses about that.
I hope that we come out of this morning with a clear plan for action. For too long, all of us have expressed our outrage at the destruction of Darfur without doing anything meaningful to stop it. I think it's long past time. We must act, even if that action is in the face of the refusal of Khartoum, to accommodate anything. I realize that sounds reminiscent of what I said 12 years ago about Bosnia, but I think it is -- this is incredible. Our grandkids are going to be seeing their own version of "Hotel Rwanda"; it's going to make it look like it was not nearly as bad as what they're going to be seeing.
So I thank you very much. I also want to point out that Senator Lugar will be here, but he is testifying before the Armed Services Committee on Nunn-Lugar, and he's introducing a judge before the Judiciary Committee from Indiana, but he will be here.
I thank you again, Mr. Ambassador. And I indicated to the senator from New Hampshire, if he had an opening comment on the Republican side, he's welcome to it, but suggest that --
SEN. JOHN E. SUNUNU (R-NH): If I might just offer a couple of brief comments.
SEN. BIDEN: Please.
SEN. SUNUNU: First, I want to mention that Senator Feingold isn't here, but he chairs the Africa Subcommittee. I'm the ranking member, and I know he has a great interest in both the testimony from Mr. Natsios and in the situation. There is no greater man-made humanitarian crisis that I can think of in the world today, and, Mr. Chairman, I think you've outlined very effectively the moral obligation that we have to pursue really a just outcome here. The slow pace that we've seen is absolutely unacceptable, and we need not just a proper response and an effective plan, but we need to understand what the reasons are for such a slow pace.
I was in the room with you when Secretary Powell testified before our committee and talked about the genocide that was occurring; that was two and a half years ago, and to be sure, that's when the expectations were much, much higher. So we need to understand exactly what the reasons are for the slow pace of progress, and I think we need to be very frank. If there are disagreements within the State Department or within the administration about the path we should be pursuing, we need to know about that, we need to understand that so that we can, you know, best decide as legislators what might be done to either help build consensus or pursue a particular path that might reinforce the goals and objectives of Mr. Natsios and those that have spent the most time in the region.
So I hope this hearing might put out some of those sort of frank assessments of what can be done better, what can be done differently, and where there might be alternatives and options in order to deal with this incredible humanitarian crisis.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much.
Mr. Ambassador, again, welcome. Thank you. You got a difficult job. We're anxious to hear what you have to say.
MR. NATSIOS: (Without microphone.) Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: Turn the mike --
MR. NATSIOS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for inviting me before the committee.
President Bush appointed me to this position in September of last year, about seven months ago. I -- actually, my first trip to Darfur was in 1990, 17 years ago, during the first Darfur war. This is the third war in 20 years and by far the most destructive.
I do have written testimony. I'm not going to read that. It's very long. But for the record, I'd like to submit that, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Without objection, it will be placed in the record.
MR. NATSIOS: Thank you.
I went then as a USAID official. My job then was to make sure people didn't die in what was a drought and a war at the same time. And I wasn't focused on the politics of it. It was a tribal war between the Fur people, an African tribe, and the Arabs. And so -- and then there was another war in the 1990s, between the Massalit tribe, which are Africans, and the Arabs, and now this is a third war, between the Massalit, the Fur and the Zaghawas and the Arabs.
And it's mostly the northern Arabs, not the southern Arabs. The southern Arabs, the southern Rizeigat, actually have been neutral in the war, and the nazir of the southern Rizeigat have actually helped protect some of the African tribes from attacks from the Janjawid.
So I think it's a very bad idea to assume this is all Africans versus all Arabs. That is simply not true, and it may make peace harder if people think the bad guys are all the Arabs and the good guys are all of the African tribes. That's simply not the case.
The war has been dangerously regionalized at this point. It's destabilized Chad. It's poured now into the Central African Republic. And we are very worried about the regional consequences of this, not just from a political stand (sic) but from a humanitarian standpoint. There were 400 people killed or who died from exposure in attacks in Chad in the last week -- which is very disturbing -- according to reports coming in from the field.
We believe the only way to deal with this is ultimately a negotiated settlement, because over the long term, we have to have some kind of an agreement between the people who live there, who have been at war with each other, with -- one side with support of the government of Sudan, for the economy and the social structure and the social fabric of the province to be put back together again. We think coercive measures will be necessary, in fact; in fact, are necessary.
When you said, Senator, I gave them a deadline of the end of December, actually, they met the deadline for that phase. In December I met with President Bashir, and I told him that he had said under no circumstances would there ever be a blue helmet ever in Darfur, under phase one, phase two or phase three of the Kofi Annan plan, which we negotiated on November 16th, with 30 countries and three international organizations at the meeting.
And he said I still -- that's still my position. I said that's completely untenable, and I said we're going to have to impose these new coercive measures if you refuse to do that. He agreed at that point to allow blue helmets, and blue helmets are in Darfur now, not a large number of them; but he has agreed to all of the provisions of the first phase, which is about 190 people.
And so there was in fact some action, but it's very slow, and there's a reason it's slow. The Sudanese government sees the peacekeeping force as regime threatening, and the reason they see that is they believe that if a U.N. force enters Darfur, they will begin to arrest people for war crimes trials in Europe under the ICC. And there is a fear that -- I've told them that is not in the resolution, that's not what they're there for. They said, well, it may not be now, but once the troops arrive, you can change the resolution later on.
In any case, that's the fear, and it's a real fear because, of course, they committed crimes, and they're going to be held accountable. And we know that the ICC has already announced they're investigating people and will be shortly making some indictments of some major figures in the regime.
We believe, finally, that a negotiated settlement is the only way, but we must deal with the property, livelihoods, and security issues for the people in the province in a peace agreement that has to be implemented. I mean, there's a lot of broken agreements that have been signed over the years. I've watched them for 17 years between the North and the South. They sign agreements, they sign agreements, and then they don't implement any of them. So it's not a function of simply signing things; it's a function of doing them.
Once the blue helmets arrived in Darfur under phase one, I complimented the public for agreeing to what they did agree to. But before that, I didn't talk about it because I wasn't sure they were going to actually physically let them in.
Where are our diplomatic efforts in our policy? Our focus is on human rights and on humanitarian issues. We have no military or economic interests in Darfur. I repeat that because this is a refrain that is being used to sort of exaggerate among the Arab tribes what the purpose of the United States and other countries interest in Darfur are -- they're for oil, they're for building a military base, other ridiculous arguments are being made to fuel tensions -- ethnic tensions within the country in a very unhelpful way.
We believe that we need to energize -- although this is not the purpose of this hearing -- the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South. We think there's a direct relationship between peace in the South and peace in Darfur. We have asked the southerners, who are actually the most influential with the rebel groups, to get involved in this. I asked them last December, I asked them again in March, and they have done that. Salva Kiir is getting involved, who is the president of the South, and the first vice president of the Northern government. At first the Northern government said absolutely not; you will not do this. Over time we've, I think, convinced the Sudanese government that it was in their interest to have them involved, and they are involved now.
The rebels I met with in January in Chad told me the most influential group for them were the southerners because together the South and Darfur make up half the country.
And the model for the DPA, the Darfur Peace Agreement that was signed last May, is the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and the South. They see their brothers in the South as a model for what they want to do in Darfur.
We have encouraged -- I have personally encouraged -- I spent a week in Chad in January working with the rebels and working with Jan Eliasson and Salim Salim to unify the rebels. They're broken down into 14 or 15 different groups depending on the week. It is a very chaotic situation.
One of the problems with the security situation at this point -- it is not two sides fighting against each other; it's anarchy. The government has lost control of large parts of the province now. And some of the rapes, by the way, that are going on are by rebels raping women in their own tribes. We know in one of the refugee camps, it's now controlled by the rebels, formally. There have been terrible atrocities committed by the rebels against the people in the camps.
We also believe that there needs to be one negotiating process. When I started last year, there were six different tracks for negotiations between the rebels and the government. And with the Sudanese government, we said, that's just not going to work. There has to be one root. And we've actually moved toward that, and that is what part of the Addis Agreement was, to have just the U.N. and the AU track.
Our job was to support them, not to set up separate independent negotiations, which will be used as a mechanism for foreign shopping by the rebels or even the government. We don't want that to happen. The only way this is going to be solved is a comprehensive settlement that is between two sides, with two -- with one negotiating position on each side, which we're encouraging the rebels to have.
I might add, the southern agreement would never have taken place if there were 12 John Garangs. There was one John Garang leading the southern negotiations and one Northern government official, the vice president, Ali Osman Taha, who negotiated the agreement. It would never have happened if there were multiple parties on each side with different agendas and different positions.
The current situation is very troubling to us because of the government's loss of control, because of rebel attacks on eight agencies, which are now increasing, of 120 vehicles that were stolen by -- from eight agencies. And by the way, the United States government has spent $2.4 billion keeping people alive over just the last two years. We are by far the largest international donor. I think 65 percent of all the food comes from the United States to feed people.
Two-and-a-half billion people are in over 200 displaced camps all over Darfur. And there are hundreds of NGOs and eight U.N. agencies that are at work, and they all have heavy funding from the United States. But 128 trucks were looted last year. The great bulk of those, actually, were from the rebels, and a few from the Janjawid militias.
We now have Arab-on-Arab violence. The principal people getting killed right now are one Arab tribe fighting with other Arab tribes. Since February 11th, there has actually been no aerial bombardments, according to very credible sources on the ground. So there's been two months of no aerial bombardments.
Secondly, the principal deaths since the beginning of the year actually have been Arabs being killed by this Arab-on-Arab violence.
There have been about 80,000 new IDPs in January and February. That slowed down in February and March. And right now we're seeing a relative lull in the fighting in Darfur. The fighting, however, has intensified to a dangerous degree in Chad, and that's where the bulk of the people getting killed are at this point.
I'd just like to make a quick point on the CPA, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It is not the case that the CPA is not being implemented. It is being implemented -- parts of it. A billion dollars in oil revenues have been transferred from the North to the South. That's a significant change. There is no war in the South, there is no famine in the South; the economy's picking up, roads are being built -- a lot with U.S. government support, I might add;, and health clinics built and schools being built, teachers being trained. The economy is moving.
However, the transformational provisions of the CPA, which John Garang insisted on being in there -- elections; the sharing of revenue not just with the South, but all of the provinces in the North, because many of the rural provinces have been getting no money from the oil revenues at all -- that is in the CPA. It's not just a transformation of the South. Those difficult provisions of transformation are not being implemented. They're the most dangerous in terms of the stability of the central government and its own interests, and it sees those interests under attack right now because of the instability in Darfur, and so they have been unwilling to implement those provisions. It is critically important the CPA be implemented if we're going to have a model for a successful implementation of a peace agreement in Darfur.
There is little progress on border demarcation. There's an impasse in Abyei. I've raised all these issues repeatedly with President Bashir and told him if he wants to stabilize Darfur, he needs to implement the CPA with the South, because if the rebels see that the CPA is being implemented, I believe there's a greater likelihood they will return to the negotiating table.
Our policy is in three areas, that is to stabilize the humanitarian situation, particularly the -- while the death rates in the camps are well below emergency levels, we are nervous because access by the NGOs has deteriorated because of the anarchy in the province now and the attacks on aid agencies, which has led to a couple of them leaving -- a very dangerous situation. Two, we are very nervous about the rainy season is coming up. We have a lot of food -- more than enough food in the capital cities, but the problem is getting it -- without attacks on the convoys -- into the camps before the rainy season starts in nine weeks.
Secondly, our political solution is simply to get the rebels back to the negotiating table with the government. The government has not put preconditions, other than one; they want to use the DPA as a base for further negotiations, with additional amendments. And they've told me they will be flexible on that. I talk to Jan Eliasson quite often; he's an old friend of mine. He's leading the negotiating teams, and he has a plan in place for how we can proceed in the next month to move toward that.
And finally, we want the full three phases of the Bashir -- I'm sorry, the Kofi Annan/Ban Ki-Moon plan, that was agreed to in Addis, implemented. As of today, the U.N. has announced, with the AU, that the Sudanese government has agreed, it appears, to what is called the heavy support package, phase two, which they trashed in a letter to Ban Ki-Moon a month ago. They signed it when I was there, literally when I was in the city, they signed it and sent it, but not give us a copy. They appear to have reversed themselves on this.
Now, I have to say "appeared" because there's a long history of them signing things, announcing things in communications and not doing them. So what will be the proof of this is whether or not we're allowed to go ahead with the work we're going to do in building more camps to house more soldiers. The big impediment to phase one has been the absence of barracks, which we are now constructing for the 190 troops who will be arriving, and then there will be assistance that will be given by the international community for the construction for the additional 3,000 people under phase two.
They have not agreed to phase three, and there are two remaining issues on phase three, called the hybrid force. One is U.N. command and control. I put U.N. command and control in the text of the Addis agreement. I insisted on it. I said that is the bottom line for the United States; if there's no U.N. command and control, we do not support the agreement. Two -- and the Sudanese government is resisting that. They don't want orders coming to these troops from New York directly.
Two, they do not want any troops from outside Africa. We believe, and I believe there's people in the United Nations who can confirm this, that there are not sufficiently trained peacekeeping troops in Africa to handle this, that we need troops from other peacekeeping countries outside Africa, which the Sudanese have been very resistant on.
And there are a number of other smaller issues, but those are the two central issues at this point.
And let me just conclude by saying we were about to impose Plan B, at least this phase of it, and we did not want to announce them, frankly, when a congressional delegation was in Khartoum. We didn't think that was particularly good timing. And then there's been a request made by the -- Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary-general, of our secretary of State and of me -- I met with him last Monday -- and he repeated: I need two weeks to four weeks to try to see if the current round of negotiations is going to work to get the paralysis that we're facing moving. As a courtesy to the secretary-general, we've agreed to that delay, but there is a finite limit to it, and if we continue to see stonewalling, then those -- some measures are going to be implemented.
That's up to the president. It's his decision to make. But I know where he is on this; he's as angry as all of us are on this and wants action. But the secretary-general requested it. He did it publicly; it's not a secret. And we've agreed to wait a short time while we let the negotiations that he's undertaking now take their course.
I'd be glad to answer questions, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you, Mr. Secretary -- pardon me -- Mr. Ambassador.
I now understand why you have not begun to implement Plan B, but what are some of the specific coercive steps in Plan B?
AMB. NATSIOS: There are three -- and I might add, Plan B is a series of things that will be phased over time depending on how things go. If we see a deterioration of the Sudanese government's attitude and cooperation on phase one and phase two, which they've clearly agreed to, then there are going to be other measures But the measures now that are before the president are, number one, personal sanctions against one rebel leader who's an obstructionist. I mean, the perception is all the rebel leaders are John Adams and Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. They are not.
Some of them are very able people. I've known for many years. But some of them are dangerous extremists, and one of them has been obstructing any peace deal, and he is on the list. Two war criminals, people who we think have committed terrible atrocities, are on that list. And there will be tribal bands, there will be bans on -- confiscation of bank accounts and other measures against individuals.
Is it going to have a big effect? You know, are they traveling widely in the United States? No, they're not. But it -- they do not like being on this list, I have to tell you. And people are very worried in Khartoum as to who the other two people are in the Sudanese government. Everybody keeps asking us, which, of course, we're not telling anyone. That's the president's decision in the announcement.
The second provision of this round of sanctions that the president decided to go ahead with this is -- are 29 companies that are in fact owned by the Sudanese government that are very large companies, very powerful companies through which a lot of money moves, particularly oil revenues. And many of them do their transactions in dollars, and we believe that under the new enforcement mechanisms, which is part three of this, these sanctioned companies in fact will have some of their operations paralyzed.
Under the third part of this is new enforcement mechanisms to implement the sanctions that the president put in place two years ago and then new sanctions he put in place under the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act that the Congress passed, that were put in place. And I remember distinctly the date, because it was in October, because the executive order was signed the day I arrived in Khartoum, which was one reason the Sudanese -- because they were so furious, they would not let me see President Bashir.
And so we have new mechanisms that we've developed since 9/11 that were not available in the 1990s or even in the earlier period. This was just in the last two years, these new mechanisms have put in place. They are the mechanisms, Senator, that are being used in Iran and North Korea, and we're going to employ those mechanisms to do a much more aggressive enforcement mechanism for existing sanctions plus the 29 new companies that we would add, should the president decide to go ahead with this.
SEN. BIDEN: What impact on their -- 29 -- give us some sense of what these 29 companies, the impact of sanctioning them would have on the overall economy.
MR. NATSIOS: Well, it is -- the 29 plus the existing 130 -- they're already on the list; we're just adding -- we're going to keep adding more and more companies is what we're going to do. And this phase, we have 29 -- you have to go through a long, apparently legal process. It's the Treasury Department that does this; the head of OFAC I meet with constantly. We're -- he spends a huge amount of time on this to make sure that all of the legal hurdles required under federal statute are followed so we don't have lawsuits on our hands and that we effectively can enforce these.
We believe it will have an effect on the economy, a substantial effect. And the reason we know is because it's having an effect on the Iranian and North Korean economy.
I would not be as enthusiastic about these measures, having had experience with sanctions before, except for the fact that we know what it's doing in these two other countries. It's having a real impact.
Finally, I would add that all oil transactions -- and there are a number of oil companies that are state-owned by the Sudanese government and state-run -- all those transactions are in dollars. Even though we don't buy the oil and the oil has nothing to do with American companies, the current practice is all international oil transactions, regardless of which country or which company, are in dollars. And so they have to go through American banks in order to take place, and so that's one of the mechanisms that will be put in place that does not exist at this point.
SEN. BIDEN: What impact would that have on the oil trade that the Sudanese engage in, for example, with the Chinese?
MR. NATSIOS: I don't want to go in in a public session to the details of which companies are on that list and which are not. One, is the president -- I don't want to get into White House prerogatives on announcing which companies are on the list and which companies are not.
I think, Senator, the largest, most powerful effect here is not on individual companies, it's on the enforcement mechanisms which are new, because we didn't have these enforcement mechanisms in place. In fact, we're the only country in the world that has such a powerful enforcement mechanism through the Federal Reserve Bank to actually enforce these sanctions, and that is something that's, as I said before, relatively new.
SEN. BIDEN: The secretary-general has asked you to hold off, but do you support a new Darfur Security Council resolution?
MR. NATSIOS: He asked the British, who were the primary sponsors of that resolution, to hold off as well for two to four weeks for the same reason.
SEN. BIDEN: But my question --
MR. NATSIOS: And we have been working with them on it. Yes, we support a resolution. I don't know the current state -- I'd have to ask Kristen Silverberg -- of the drafting of resolution, but they asked also for that. That's been public comment by Ban Ki-Moon to ask the British to hold off on that temporarily.
SEN. BIDEN: What is the administration's assessment of the utility, the efficacy of imposing a no-fly zone?
MR. NATSIOS: Senator, I recognize there's been a lot of discussion about this. I have made an offer to the committee to come brief you in a classified session. All military options are on the table for discussion within the executive branch, and I'm happy to tell you the state of that in a classified session.
Now, let me tell you why. There are 2.5 million people in those camps, and 13 in the displaced camps in Darfur. And there are 13,000 relief workers working for U.N. agencies and NGOs. They are extremely vulnerable. Every comment I make -- literally every comment -- is in the Darfur newspapers, not just in the Khartoum newspapers, in Darfur. They have TV stations. They broadcast everything we say. It's one thing for someone from the legislative branch to make comments. When I make comments specifically about any kind of military activity, it has a profound effect, and I have to be very careful that it does not cause a reaction that could put people's lives in danger on the ground.
When other people make the comments, that's a different matter. But when someone from the executive branch does it, it causes very severe reactions in the field. So I have been asked repeatedly in the field by my friends in the international community to be very careful of what I say. I'm happy to brief you and your committee privately on this, in a classified session.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, we'll set a time up for that.
My time is up.
(To staff) Is the senator coming back? I guess not.
Governor, you're up.
SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH (R-OH): About a month ago, I had an opportunity to meet with Secretary-General Ban and talk to him at length about Darfur. He claims that it's on his mind early in the morning and late at night. And I'd like your assessment in terms of his commitment to seeing this through and seeing the resolution is implemented. I know he's -- you mentioned that he is discouraged going forward with another resolution. And I'd just like your honest appraisal of his commitment to this and how much support he may or may not be getting from other members of the United Nations.
MR. NATSIOS: Let me first say that I spent an hour with him last Monday, and I was very impressed by his commitment. And the evidence is, from just people I know in the U.N. system, that he is seized with this issue. And he told me this is his number one priority. He has spent a lot of time on it. His staff is spending a lot of time on it. I met all of the undersecretary generals who are dealing with this at length last Monday separately, and it was clear that he had given them very, very aggressive instructions as to what was to happen.
I think we need to give him a chance. I should tell you --
SEN. VOINOVICH: May I ask you -- what does that mean, a chance?
MR. NATSIOS: That means that if he asks for a two- to four-week delay, that we need to respect that. That's what he asked for specifically, publicly.
Secondly, let me just say that there's been a lot of speculation of the role of other countries in the negotiations on Darfur. I believe that the Chinese have already played -- I know the Chinese have already played a constructive role. Ambassador Wang, who's become a friend, who is the perm rep for the Chinese government in New York, in fact came, at Kofi Annan's request, to the Addis conference in November, November 16th, and we worked together on the language. And the Chinese are committed to what we agreed to November 16th. And they now are saying something they seldom do. The Chinese do not conduct diplomacy the way we do; they do it very quietly. But they're now making public statements, telling the Sudanese they must be, number one, flexible; and number two, they must accept and implement the agreement that was reached as it was reached November 16th.
In fact, their special envoy for Darfur just returned to Beijing, and he repeated this.
We have indications at this point that the Chinese are now taking even a more aggressive role than they have in the past. So I actually think we need to encourage Chinese involvement in this. I think they may be the crucial actors. I think there's been a lot of China bashing in the West, and I'm not sure, to be very frank with you, right now it's very helpful. I think the Chinese actually may be the critical factor that led to the Sudanese reversing their position in Addis two days ago on the second phase of the heavy support package of the Kofi Annan plan. We have evidence that they put very heavy pressure on them.
So I don't want to violate confidences, Senator, publicly, but I believe actually other members of the Security Council are working on this. We talk constantly, every week, with the Chinese, at the presidential level, at the deputy secretary -- Negroponte just spoke to the deputy secretary of the Chinese Foreign Ministry I think yesterday or day before yesterday. I met with Ambassador Wang last week in New York. I've met with the Chinese ambassador to the United States, and I think we've had very good conversations on that.
So I think Ban Ki-Moon has the support of member states. I even think now many of the Arab states are fed up with the way in which the Sudanese government is conducting itself and they are beginning to put pressure on in their own way, quietly, on the Sudanese government to resolve this.
SEN. VOINOVICH: Well, that's comforting because there are so many of us that have wondered just how conscientious the United Nations really was about this issue, and it's comforting to know that the Chinese, that have always been held out as the obstructionists, have now seemed to be come on board and use their influence to be successful there.
When you met with the secretary-general, did he raise the issue about the peacekeeping funds in the budget? You know, we're asking the United Nations to do all kinds of things in the area of peacekeeping, but the fact of the matter is that the budget that we have provided, Mr. Chairman, is inadequate. We are not providing the money that we need for peacekeeping. Our dues are in arrears. And this organization, which is really carrying a lot of water for the United States in so many areas, needs the support of this administration and of Congress. And I wonder if he raised that issue with you.
MR. NATSIOS: He did not raise it with me, Senator.
But let me just mention, in the supplemental budget that is before you -- I know other issues are sort of clouding this -- are pushing this aside, but in that budget that you have before you, there's quite a lot of money for Sudan, and there's $150 million in that budget request, the supplemental, for the AMIS force, supporting the AMIS force in Darfur; and there's $99.8 million for the international peacekeeping activities for the United Nations under that. So there's about $250 million -- I'm sorry, the $100 million -- the $99 million -- is in the '08 request.
We have a lot more money in the account for peacekeeping operations, but we have to get agreement first to transfer the cost of this operation in Darfur -- which is one of the critical issues -- we do not want to keep coming back to Congress for special appropriations. It doesn't work, and it's not working for the European Union, either. We want the U.N. to fund this under the regular appropriations so we can go through a normalized process to do this.
In order to do that, we have to have U.N. command and control. So U.N. command and control is not just a matter of military operations, it's a matter of the member states are not going to agree to have the U.N. fund this unless they have control over the operation. I've told that repeatedly to President Bashir and to his ministers. It's not just a function of the United States wanting the U.N. to be in control; it's a function of member states not willing to vote for a resolution that would allow this to be funded by the U.N.
Right now, phase one and phase two of the -- the light support package and the heavy support package under the Addis Agreement of November 16th can be funded out of existing funds and the funds we have in the supplemental appropriations. So we're taken care of in terms of that.
We will have discussions with the Congress later on should there be a transfer of this funding from the -- episodic funding to regular U.N. appropriations. Right now we've put in the current state of affairs. What's in the budget will support the current state of affairs and what we believe is startup money needed to fund the U.N. operation.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Casey.
SEN. ROBERT CASEY (D-PA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Sir, I want to thank you for your testimony, and obviously for your service. I wanted to speak -- or I should say, ask you in particular about legislation which you may have already spoken to this morning, and I apologize for coming in when I did. But we have -- among many things that are being proposed here on Capitol Hill and in the Senate, there's legislation introduced by Senator Durbin, Senate Bill S. 831, the Sudan Disinvestment Authorization Act of this year, of 2007. I wanted to get your perspective on that, and also to ask you in particular about the administration, whether or not the administration has taken a formal position on that legislation.
MR. NATSIOS: Senator, I'm aware of many different pieces of legislation on this issue. And I -- prior to my taking this job, when I was -- I'm still a professor at Georgetown. This is -- I have another job. I have my students.
I've stated my position on this issue, but I am a member of the administration. I support the administration's position. I don't know if it's been made public, but there is a great deal of concern about this legislation in the administration. I do not think the administration supports the notion of divestiture, and there are several reasons for it.
My concern about it personally is, from our past experience with divestiture legislation, it would take a couple of years before it had an effect. And we don't have a couple of years. Divestiture legislation is not going to have an effect on the Sudanese economy in the next year, even if it passed immediately, was immediately enforced. It will take a while; we don't have a while.
Number two, I remember, when I was a state legislator in Massachusetts 22 years ago, I voted for sanctions on South Africa, to purge the state pension fund of any investments of companies in South Africa.
And I remember that.
What people don't realize is, many states still have statutes on the books from 20 years ago. They never rescinded them. So there is a reluctance in the administration to support legislation that would have the states -- and there's been, by the way, a Supreme Court ruling that actually had my name on it, at one point, because I was the chief operating officer for state government. I was being sued by the Board of Trade in -- when I was the secretary of administration in -- staff in Boston, on this issue. So I'm very familiar with it in a legal sense, since I was being sued as a representative of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
There is now a Supreme Court ruling that has three conditions for any state or municipality to do divestiture. And it's a hard standard, and I think one statute in Illinois has already been ruled unconstitutional.
There is a reluctance to support this, because the fear is to have each state and municipality conducting their own foreign policy could create chaotic conditions. And once the legislation -- or the crisis is over and we want to change the sanctions, some states may not do it. That's still the case -- there are still sanctions against South Africa in some state pension funds, because of something that happened 20 years ago, is no longer the case. That's the reason there is concern about the legislation.
SEN. CASEY: Well, do you see it as an either/or, or do you think there's a middle ground? I mean, I support this legislation, but let's talk academically for a second. Don't you think we should create some pressure on companies who are making investment decisions or decisions about capital? Isn't there a way to balance that against the concerns that you raised?
MR. NATSIOS: There is already a lot of pressure. In fact, many companies in Europe, where there are no sanctions, have announced they're not going to do any more investments in Darfur or in Sudan, because of what's happened. And I frankly think that's because of political realities. People are getting so upset over what's happening. So there already is that kind of pressure.
The sanctions regimes that we are considering now -- and the president has before him -- in fact, I think, would have a much more immediate impact than divestiture legislation, because there's a way of enforcing them very quickly.
The problem with this -- it has a symbolic value, the divestiture legislation, but it is actually not going to have a real effect on the Sudanese economy. It would take two to three years, in my view, based on past experience, for it to have any kind of real experience (sic).
SEN. CASEY: The last question I have is in connection with the approach we take, whether -- there are obviously a lot of proposals about a multi-pronged deployment of peacekeeping troops and using all kinds of other pressure, in addition to any kind of use of force. But what's your sense of the right balance of that in terms of a hybrid approach? And how do you think the administration views this? Because when you talk to people -- and I think this is a sentiment we all feel; it's not just people who are outside of Washington, it's all of us -- all of us want to do something. And people are getting --
MR. NATSIOS: Frustrated.
SEN. CASEY: -- frustrated because they don't get a sense that there's any movement, that there's any progress, that there's any consensus.
And I guess it's also a frustration because we feel -- and I think -- I don't think it's any one party or institution to blame, but there's a sense that there's -- we try -- we talk about things, this government talks about strategies, we talk about approaches and they receive attention for a couple of days -- and I'm really honored to be part of this hearing that Senator Biden called -- but that there's no sustained effort to do something that has real impact.
Just from your own experience --
MR. NATSIOS: Well, Senator, I think a lot of the things we do, we're not going to put in the newspaper. In fact, I actually had a ban on talking to the press. I haven't taken any reporters with me on my trips. When I went to Chad, I had a press conference for a Chadian newspaper. I went to Libya a month ago; I didn't have any conversations publicly about what those discussions were because, frankly, I would not be -- people won't talk to me if they think I'm going to talk to the press.
So a lot of the things we do we cannot discuss publicly or my ability as a diplomat to influence other countries is going to be diminished. The Chinese were not happy that I had a press conference in Beijing before I left China in January. I told them I had to say something. I didn't talk about what they said, I just discussed what our position was. And so I'm balancing the need for some confidentiality in these conversations with your need to know what we're doing. You have a right to know.
I'm frustrated. I mean, I have a lot of friends in Sudan. I've been going to Sudan for 18 years, Senator, and I have to tell you, I've seen an awful lot of suffering. I've seen famines go on. I've been in charge of trying to save people's lives not just in the South, but in Darfur. Two and a half million people died in the war between the North and the South -- 2.5 million -- almost all of them southerners. I went through famines where there are mass graves. So I know what people are going through. I have seen the horror of it. And I know what happened in Darfur. I was in Darfur in October of 2003 when these atrocities really started in earnest. And I think I was one of the first Westerners to have a press conference in Nairobi and explain that it appears a new civil war is starting. I mean, it's in a couple of books that I had this press conference. It wasn't widely reported.
So I am deeply concerned about this. We do have a comprehensive plan. We're pursuing the plan. We've been having meetings with the Europeans on what we are doing to enforce the sanctions. Chancellor Merkel said something quiet remarkable two weeks ago publicly, and so did the German defense minister -- and of course the Germans are now in the presidency of the European Union. Both of them said -- so I don't think it was a mistake or a misunderstanding or mistranslation -- they both said we may have to impose sanctions, European sanctions, against Sudan. And Chancellor Merkel said something very unusual. Europeans always say we need a Security Council resolution. She said, even if we have no Security Council resolution, the Europeans may impose bilateral sanctions on Sudan.
That is quite significant. We have been in discussion with them. I met Dr. Solana, the equivalent of Secretary Rice in the European Union, in December, and his views on what needed to be done were the same as our views. And he has been taking leadership there quietly. We've been meeting regularly with European diplomats. There have been working-level meetings in Washington on how sanctions work in the American context, how these enforcement mechanisms -- how powerful they are. So we've been doing a lot of work, very quietly, to set the stage for this, and I think we've made a lot of progress.
There is a plan. We're implementing the plan. We can't always make all of it public because it makes it much harder to get people to talk to us then.
SEN. CASEY: Thank you for your work.
MR. NATSIOS: But there is something you can do. I remembered this. The sanctions that exist in law, that allow us to do what is on the president's desk, have very weak civil penalties for corporations that violate them. If we could get legislation through Congress to dramatically increase the level of those financial penalties, it would be very helpful to the Treasury Department, and it would be very powerful in terms of sending a message to countries that were -- or companies that were considering trying to get around the sanctions. So if we could work with you on that, that is something we would agree -- not only -- enthusiastically agree to.
SEN. CASEY: Thank you, sir.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Lugar.
SEN. RICHARD G. LUGAR (R-IN): Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I think that Senator Casey expresses probably the feeling each one of us has as we visit with our constituents, who are seized with this issue in the same way that we are, and want to know what they can do as groups, as church groups or civil groups in our society. And you've been a very good interpreter for many months, given your own trips, so I appreciate especially your testimony, because it's founded really upon being there.
Let me just ask you to trace potential solutions. If finally things began to move physically, what would happen to those who are now being persecuted or who are in the camps and in danger of being persecuted by the Janjawid or whoever else might attack them?
In other words, try to describe the scene as to so-called rebels who are in the territory, who have a more civil governmental function perhaps, namely upsetting the government itself, leaving aside the agriculture people who have lost their animals, lost their land. Can you, you know, give some scenario or sort of business plan of how life might become potentially normal for them? Who would need to do what?
MR. NATSIOS: Well, let me -- actually, I think, Senator, that is the question. We talk a lot in vague, abstract terms about this. The reality is there are 2.5 million people in those camps who cannot support themselves. That's why we're spending $2.3 billion, along with Europeans and the Canadians and the Japanese, to support those people in those camps. They need to go back to their villages. They need to get their land back and their animals back. I would estimate myself that 2 to 3 million animals were looted from the farmers. People talk about the farmers versus the herders. Most of the farmers have small herds of animals. They didn't -- they were not nomadic. But the investment account for these farmers is the animal herds. They keep them alive during a drought, for example.
And we need to recreate their livelihoods through a reconstruction program. One of the things I've told the Arabs in Darfur through press conferences and meeting -- I've met with some of them -- is if we do a reconstruction program, it's going to be for everybody. It can't be just for the people in the camps, because if it is, we will never have peace, we'll never have peace. We can't argue that all of the Arabs are committing all of this violence because that is not true, and we in some ways have villanized the Arabs in a way that's not very helpful.
I've told them if they sign a peace agreement, there will be projects for the herders as well as for the farmers that will restore livelihoods and bring the economy back. They actually have a symbiotic relationship. When the thing was functioning, the economy was functioning -- you know, the herders don't eat their animals most of them. They sell their animals and buy grown food from the farmers in the markets, and so the two -- that whole symbiotic relationship has been destroyed by this war.
If we do not deal with the property issues in the peace agreement, we're not going to have peace. I think the way this would play out just in terms of sequencing is hopefully in the near future Jan Eliasson and Salim Salim will get the rebels to consolidate, not completely, behind one leader. We're not going to have a John Garang. Don't expect a John Garang, there isn't one for Darfur. But if we consolidate those 15 movements into three or four movements and one negotiating position, the government will sit down with them and they will begin to negotiate amendments to the Darfur Peace Agreement.
The rebels have told me, they just -- they want several issues that have to be dealt with. One is compensation for the damage done to their livelihoods. The amount in the DPA is $30 million. They said it was an insult. The Sudanese have told me they're willing to substantially increase that. They've used very high figures. I think they're serious about that.
Two: There has to be a disarmament of both the rebels and the Janjawid and all the militias, the border patrol, all of the public defense force. There are too many people with heavy weapons. The place is awash in weapons. And unless they are confiscated, we're not going to have an end to the war.
I would add, the only institution in the world that has significant experience in demobilizing rebel forces and government forces in a war is the United Nations. I watched them do a lousy job of this 18 years ago in Somalia. They are doing excellent jobs now in many countries all over the world. They've developed expertise, which is critically important here.
I told President Bashir, the rebels are never going to give their heavy weapons to you or your army under any peace agreement -- I don't care what's written in it. They don't trust you. They're not going to give you the weapons. They told me, if the U.N. comes in and the U.N. troops, we will surrender our weapons to them if the Janjawid do.
So we need the U.N. there, not just for peace and stability now, to enforce a peace agreement, or there's not going to be an end to this violence. Because if those weapons are not confiscated, Senator, people are not going to go back to their villages. The people in the camps have told me, we're not going back until we feel safe, and that means disarmament. Once they go back, then we will start the reconstruction program, which will involve livelihoods, agriculture programs, nomad programs and -- I might add -- health and education programs.
I was in Darfur 17 years ago. There's no difference in Darfur now versus 17 years ago, except that one of the roads was paved in the capital city; the governor's mansion was rebuilt; the governor's offices were rebuilt and the airport was rebuilt. There are no more health clinics, no more agriculture programs, no more water projects.
And people in the rural areas are saying, where is all this oil revenue going? It's not going to us. And that's a legitimate question.
SEN. LUGAR: How will the oil revenue figure into this? Is this a part of the agreement in broad terms that comes with peace, that the government makes a commitment to this sort? What sort of commitment would we need to make?
MR. NATSIOS: There is a commitment in the DPA now, I believe. I don't remember the exact sequencing, but in one year it's $200 million for reconstruction; the next year it's 300 million. That would go to Darfur from oil revenues from the central government.
Now there's another interesting provision of the CPA, the Comprehensive between the North and the South. It says in it, and it's hopefully going to be enforced this year. We're waiting to see if the actual action is taken by the Sudanese government, to take oil revenues and increase the provincial budgets of all the provinces.
Most of the oil revenues are spent in Khartoum now. They never see it in the provinces.
The provinces are -- all of them are as impoverished in the North as the South.
Under the CPA, this year, this calendar year, they're supposed to dramatically increase the revenues going to the provinces. The parliament has -- Sudanese parliament has approved a new budget with dramatically increased spending. The problem is the Ministry of Finance has not yet disbursed that money. We're waiting to have it disbursed. I put it in my written testimony -- we're watching that. If they disburse it, it will be a sign to me that they're serious about sharing oil revenues with the periphery of the country that has been discriminated against for decades in Sudan.
SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Webb, your colleagues -- (off mike) -- early on, and we understand you have another engagement. They've been kind enough to suggest I yield to you.
SEN. JIM WEBB (D-VA): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, I appreciate that. And I also appreciate the fact that my colleagues would allow me to speak at this time.
Mr. Ambassador, first I would like to thank you for the years that you have put into this issue. I have done a few of these in East Asia pretty much in the same way, and I know how vital it is to really give a comprehensive look at what's going on. I first started going back to Vietnam in 1991 when it was pretty much still a Stalinist state. And it's really valuable when you're looking at issues of the moment to sort of understand how this thing is played out on the ground. And I would again express my appreciation to you for having spent so much of your life on this particular issue.
I also would like to say that I would agree with you on your comment about sanctions. We can look pretty clearly, I think, at Iran right now, the evidence that has come out, even with the limited sanctions that were put on Iran the first time around, to see that they're having to make some very hard decisions about whether they want to be isolated from their own people on the one hand, and also from the international community. And there are areas where sanctions are valuable and can work.
I wanted to get a little bit more of your thoughts on the situation with China. You may know, I have written and spoken for more than 20 years about what I saw even back in the late 1980s as China's conscious strategic axis with the Muslim world.
And we can see it particularly in South Asia, to a certain extent in the Middle East, and you can see it to an extent also in Africa. Chinese investment in Africa just over the past five years has quadrupled. And a big part of that is in Sudan.
On the one hand, we have from your testimony you were saying that we look to Beijing to join with the international community in applying more forceful measures should Khartoum become intransigent, and then on the other, your comments orally today, which I think have a validity, that the Chinese are playing a constructive role -- I'd like to see more of that -- and that they are a critical factor.
There's a Reuters article from today talking about the Chinese assistant foreign minister just returning from a three-day trip to Sudan. And in that, he is saying that basically the international community should pay more attention to the way that China has been conducting its diplomacy in Sudan; you know, saying that Beijing was using its influence in its own way; rejected suggestions that there should be further threats; and that the international community should pay attention to the way that the Chinese have been doing this in order to get better results.
So basically my question is, should we be more aligned with the way that China is doing this, or is this a tandem approach?
MR. NATSIOS: I --
SEN. WEBB: Or is it something else, by the way.
MR. NATSIOS: Yes, Senator. I am aware, Senator, of your work in Vietnam. I ran USAID for five years, and there's an AID office there and it has substantial programs. So I'm aware of the progress the country has made and your interest in that, and your interest in China, as well.
I've learned over the years doing this sort of work on the development side that different countries act differently. I mean, United States -- Americans are more confrontational, more direct, more blunt, more black and white than even our European friends are. I actually think that our leadership is critically important around the world, not just in Sudan but in many other countries. If every country behaved the way we did, I'm not sure we could always get done what we need to get done. Sometimes more subtle approaches need to supplement what we're doing.
And my sense from the Chinese, from three days of meetings in Beijing, is the Chinese are taking a more subtle approach that is really affecting the behavior of the Sudanese government. As I said before, I believe the reversal of phase two, the heavy support package, where the Sudanese government basically had trashed the whole thing in a 14-page letter President Bashir sent to Ban Ki-Moon a month ago -- and I was with him in his office. He said, "Mr. Natsios, I just signed a letter." He didn't give us a copy of it. If I had known it was 14 pages long, I would have been a little distraught because long letters mean bad things, usually, under these circumstances.
They reversed their position two days ago in Addis.
They've endorsed -- they said with the exception of the attack tactical helicopters, they've accepted everything else. Now, it remains to be seen whether they actually cooperate with us in bringing those 3,000 troops in. That's a different matter. We have to test this. But I think the Chinese played a role in that. I don't want to discuss publicly what that is. But there's a shift going on, and I don't want to start making statements that are going to discourage the Chinese from using their own influence to help us in this, because I think they can be critically important, and I think they are being helpful.
SEN. WEBB: Okay. Thank you very much.
SEN. BIDEN: No, you're up, Senator. He's already gone. Thank you.
SEN. NORM COLEMAN (R-MN): Okay, thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I apologize. I've been on the floor with another debate, Mr. Natsios, but I'm glad that you're here. And this is an issue that has been very, very frustrating. We continually hear the reaction that our commitment is firm, that we're going to do everything we can, and then we continue to receive reports of violence, and it's almost as if the international community appears to be unable to do the things that have to be done. In your testimony, you say that we continue to monitor the security situation very, very closely. Is it -- can you say that -- when we've talked about Darfur in the past, we've used the word "genocide." Is it fair to say that the genocide has stopped?
MR. NATSIOS: There is a lull in fighting since the 11th of February in Darfur, not in Chad. There is increased violence in Chad. We are trying to find out what exactly caused the incident in Eastern Chad that resulted in 400 people dying in the last week.
There was a(n) incident where the Chadian army was chasing some Chadian rebels into Sudan, who then were intermingled with Sudanese troops, and the Chadian military killed 17 Sudanese troops two days ago. And that was extremely disturbing, because the cease-fire between Chad and Sudan is one of the reasons why the United Nations and the NGOs and diplomats and our embassies believe there's been a substantial reduction in civilian casualties in the last two months.
There was a negotiated truce by the Libyans between Chad and Sudan, which have been at virtual war the last two years. That has exacerbated the violence against civilians.
Whenever you have two countries fighting, civilians get caught in the crossfire. So it is very, very disturbing to me that this happened.
Now, the report we have from reliable field people who said they investigated it, is that this was a mistake on the part of the -- the Chadians did not know they were firing at Sudanese troops, the 17 they killed; they thought they were just firing at Chadian rebels who were trying to unseat President Deby.
I'm hoping -- and I want to say this today because the Sudanese will listen to what I'm saying: Please act with restraint in responding to this incident. If we have a renewal of the Chad-Sudan war, more civilians are going to get killed, and we don't want that to happen.
Two, the rebel leaders have been meeting in northern Darfur for the last month and a half to try to come together to unify. The fact that they're not leading their troops means they're not fighting as much. Now, this lull may well dissolve in the next few weeks, because before the rains start, there's typically military offensives by both the rebels and the government. I hope and pray that in the next nine weeks, both sides will restrain themselves sufficiently, we can minimize civilian casualties, then the 10 weeks of the rainy season, there's very little military activity. You can't move around because the rains are so heavy. So we could have five months of relatively stable conditions, which would be an excellent platform to begin peace negotiations between the rebels and the government.
SEN. COLEMAN: Let's -- I'd like to then explore what our role can be in order to have the structure for a successful negotiation. Do the rebels have a unified political front? And if they don't, is there a role that we are playing to establish the structure that would make a negotiation possibly successful?
MR. NATSIOS: Yes. There is -- the lead for this -- and we have to be very careful we do not create a separate mechanism for talking for the rebels that goes around the U.N. or the AU, because we want one track; we don't want multiple tracks where they're playing us off against each other on either the rebel side or the government side, because that happens too, all the time.
We believe that the rebel movements must be consolidated. We can't have 15 different movements, and that's what we have right now, according to our latest analysis of the situation. When I met with the rebels in January, I asked the American ambassador, Mark Wallace, who is a very able career diplomat, I said, "Mark, what can I do to help consolidate this?" He said, "Your trip helped consolidate it. They've been meeting for six weeks because they don't want to be embarrassed in front of you, and they're going to present a unified position for a large part of the movement."
And they did that. We spent like the entire afternoon. We ate a goat together -- the U.S. government paid for a stuffed goat -- and we talked -- there were 50 of them there, and we spent a long time. I told them you must give up your public statements that you want to violently overthrow the government; you can't be advocating that and expect to negotiate with them. Two, you have to unify. Three, you can't make ridiculous demands. I've read some of your demands; no one will agree to that stuff.
If you plan to give up some of what you're demanding in a negotiation, then that's fine. I understand that. But some of them think, unless they get 95 percent or 99 percent of what they're asking for, they're not going to sign a peace agreement. I said that is not the way negotiating works. Some of them have never negotiated before.
We have gotten involved some conflict prevention institutions in Europe -- I personally asked them to get involved -- in helping to prepare the way for these negotiations. That is ongoing. We did not want the U.S. government to do the training. We wanted someone else, without connection to the U.S. government, that are competent are doing this. And they are engaging in that now.
The third thing we do is, we have U.S. government, State Department and AID officers on the ground in Darfur round the clock. They live there. And they have been in constant contact, meeting with the rebel leaders, urging them, "Time to negotiate," but different ones, to consolidate this.
So there's an ongoing U.S. government effort on the ground with career Foreign Service officers from the State Department. I met with them. I spent several days out in Darfur in March and then in October of last year. And I think they're very capable. They're making those connections. Our charge has been out there to talk to people, as well -- Cameron Hume, one of our most senior diplomats in the Foreign Service. And I think it's having an effect, because the message is clear. You can't wait -- we can't wait forever to have these negotiations start.
Once the negotiations start, it'll be much easier for us to get President Bashir to agree to a cease- -- a formal cease-fire that's enforceable, which is what happened in the south. Once we got the negotiations going, then there was this -- they called -- they didn't call it a cease-fire. They called it a cessation of hostilities. And that allowed them to negotiate without fighting going on, on a large scale in the south. And I think that was one of the contributing factors to success of the north-south peace agreement.
SEN. COLEMAN: I see my time has expired. If I can just -- one last question: In addition -- (inaudible) -- are the other Arab nations, the Saudis or others, involved? Are we doing this alone? Do we got some folks standing by to help?
MR. NATSIOS: There are other countries involved in this. Let me just say -- be a diplomat now -- there are neighboring powers on the periphery of Sudan. Some of them are playing a constructive role, and some of them are not. Some of them are working at cross-purposes with each other. I don't want to start making accusations, because all the ambassadors will be in to see me tomorrow, and I don't want to do that. Okay?
It's not helpful for some of these tracks of negotiation to go on outside the U.N.-AU process. And the reason it isn't is, the rebels simply will say, "Well, I'm not getting what I want from Jan Eliasson and Salim, so I'm going to go to this neighboring country." We don't want that to happen.
And so when I've met with all of the neighboring countries, except for one, I've urged them to unify their position, the way we did in the north-south agreement, together, to have one negotiating track.
I think, Senator, that's a very good question and a critical issue, actually.
SEN. COLEMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Ambassador.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you.
SEN. RUSSELL FEINGOLD (D-WI): Thank you very much.
Mr. Chairman, I'd like to begin by thanking you for holding this important hearing. Previous Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings to consider responses to the horrendous violence in the Darfur region of Sudan in April 2005 and September 2006 were cancelled. So I'm glad that this committee is making this crisis a priority.
However, I am dismayed by how little has changed since that first hearing was scheduled a couple of years ago. I'm hoping this will be a different trend.
Mr. Natsios, while playing an important role in trying to bring peace to Darfur and smooth relations between Chad and Sudan, Libyan President Qadhafi's involvement has seemingly been unhelpful of late.
Do you believe that Libya's involvement so far in Sudan has done more good than harm? And what do you foresee for Libya in facilitating a sustainable political settlement in Darfur and the region?
MR. NATSIOS: I should have left before you started asking these hard questions, Senator. (Laughter.)
SEN. FEINGOLD: (Chuckles.) Well, that's not how it works.
MR. NATSIOS: I know it! (Laughter.) Unfortunately, you're right.
Let me say I spent a couple of days in Libya in March. I'm going to (sic) go through who I met with and what we discussed, because it -- again, it was sensitive information. I think there are some things the Libyans have done that have been constructive, and I want to compliment President Qadhafi -- or the leader, General Qadhafi, to -- the effort to get a cease-fire between Sudan and Chad. That effort, which he tried last year, was unsuccessful. The next day, they started fighting again. Okay? And that was a failure.
This time he tried it, and I don't remember the exact date of the negotiation. I think it was in February. It's been successful until yesterday, two days ago, when there was an incident in which -- before you walked in, I had mentioned there was an incident where Chadean troops, from what our information is, by mistake killed 17 Sudanese troops, according to the Sudanese government.
We do not want this incident to start up the fighting again. And I would ask the good offices, if the Libyans are here listening, to use their good offices to restrain both sides to prevent the cease- fire from collapsing. We do not need another renewal of this conflict, because it is making things much worse for civilians who are getting killed when they get caught in the cross-fire, for the stability of the region, and for the NGOs and U.N. agencies trying to save people's lives, and for peace, for peace. So that has been helpful.
Those are the helpful things, Senator. If you want me to discuss other things, I'd rather do it privately. I don't want to go into it in public.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Well, you know, I don't want to force you to do that at this point, that we can talk in some other setting. But does the Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte's upcoming visit to Libya -- I mean, who is the highest-ranking government official to visit that country since diplomatic relations were renewed last May -- does that symbolize an intent for greater and more regularized U.S. coordination with the Libyans?
MR. NATSIOS: It is not just Darfur, as I understand, that will be on John's agenda. There are other issues, as well. We have raised -- Jendayi Frazer visited Mr. Qadhafi last year and had a very long discussion with him. I followed that up this year. But our ambassador, our charge there is a very experienced diplomat, he's a retired ambassador, and he has been raising these issues with the Libyan government on a regular basis. And so we work through the embassy there on these issues. And he sat through all of the conversations I had. I think he knows where we are and what we're trying to accomplish.
Let me just say the Libyans have invited me back at the end of this month, in two weeks, just as, actually, school gets out at Georgetown.
And I intend to accept the invitation and go back.
SEN. FEINGOLD: But does the visit of Mr. Negroponte to Libya have any significance vis-a-vis the Darfur situation or not?
MR. NATSIOS: Yes, it does.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Okay. Last month, I chaired a hearing on the regional impact of Darfur to highlight the destabilizing impact this crisis is having on the neighboring countries of Chad and the Central African Republic, and your comments here have already highlighted that.
Have you sought to address the regional dimensions of the Darfur conflict? And what contingencies does the United States have in place to address this spill-over aspect of the problem?
MR. NATSIOS: In December, I met with the leadership of the French government on Chad and on the Central African Republic, and we talked about a coordinated approach to how we would stabilize the situation.
Two, in January, I visited Chad not just to meet with rebels, which I did, but I also met with President Deby, his Foreign minister and his senior advisers at length. And we talked over the issues. I offered in December with President Bashir to send messages. I said, "Mr. President, I know you're having problem, but this is a problem between Chad and Sudan. If you wish me to, I will send a message to President Deby when I go visit him. Would you like me to do that?" At that point, he did not want me to do it.
Since then, there have been extra additional diplomatic moves that have led to the cease-fire, and we've encouraged that and we support that. So the cease-fire that existed two days ago, which we hope will continue, in fact is evidence that some of this is bearing fruit.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Okay. What impact do you think a U.N. peacekeeping force for Eastern Chad and the northern Central African Republic would have for Darfur? Is the administration still actively supporting --
MR. NATSIOS: Yes.
SEN. FEINGOLD: -- a strong U.S. peacekeeping force?
MR. NATSIOS: Yes.
SEN. FEINGOLD: And how you, then, if that's the case, going to gain Chadian President Deby's consent for the peacekeeping operation?
MR. NATSIOS: One, we believe that a peacekeeping operation of the United Nations will stabilize the situation for civilians who are at risk. Now some of the worst atrocities are being committed in Chad now, not in Darfur.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Right.
MR. NATSIOS: And two, we believe it will stabilize the security situation in terms of the two sides. It is not large enough. I think there are three different options that have been presented to the secretary-general on how large that force would be. That's a huge border. I mean, this is -- Darfur is the size of Texas, it's not a tiny little area. It's not like Rwanda, you know, where we had the genocide. It was a very small area. This is a huge area, and I've flown over it for years, and it's a vast, vast area.
And so patrolling -- making a commit we're going to patrol the entire border between Chad and Darfur, I think we should be careful not to over promise. But we think that that force would have a substantial affect on the security situation, would stabilize things. We strongly support it still, and there are efforts being made now to advance it.
SEN. FEINGOLD: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
SEN. BIDEN: Senator Menendez.
SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Ambassador, I appreciate your work, but I must tell you, it seems to me that we are being waltzed by people while people die.
And the reality is, as I look at this latest report, where the United Nations refugee agency said that militiamen had killed up to 400 people in the volatile eastern border region near Sudan, leaving, quote, "an apocalyptic scene of mass graves and destruction." And the attacks by the Janjawid took place in that border area, and it goes on to say, "Estimates of the number of dead have increased substantially and now range between two and four hundred," a report by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees said. The report added that many of the dead were buried in common graves, and it says, quote, "We may never know their exact number. The attackers encircled the villages, opened fire, pursuing fleeing villagers, robbing women, shooting the men." The agency said, "Many who survived the attack died from exhaustion and dehydration."
You know, I want to ask you a question. Do you still stand by what you were quoted in the Georgetown Voice, saying that the ongoing crisis in Darfur is no longer a genocide situation?
MR. NATSIOS: Senator, I actually -- there was a retraction of that by the newspaper the following week. I actually looked at my statement. Very clearly, I did not say that at the -- there were three mistakes. And the Georgetown Voice, which is a -- (inaudible) -- student newspaper --
SEN. MENENDEZ: So would you now tell the committee, what is the situation in Darfur? Is it a genocide?
MR. NATSIOS: Darfur -- Senator, right now there is very little fighting in Darfur.
SEN. MENENDEZ: That does not mean that we do not have an ongoing circumstance of genocide.
MR. NATSIOS: Senator, could I finish?
SEN. MENENDEZ: The question is, do you consider --
MR. NATSIOS: Senator.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Answer my question.
MR. NATSIOS: I am answering your question.
SEN. MENENDEZ: I have a limited amount of time, Ambassador.
MR. NATSIOS: Yes.
SEN. MENENDEZ: So I ask you to be specific and answer my question.
MR. NATSIOS: I'm answering your question.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Do you -- you can't answer it if you haven't heard it.
Do you consider the ongoing situation in Darfur genocide? Yes or no?
MR. NATSIOS: What you just --
SEN. MENENDEZ: Yes or no?
MR. NATSIOS: Senator, please, what you just read did not take place in Darfur. It took place in Chad.
SEN. MENENDEZ: I didn't refer to that. I was asking you, yes or no?
MR. NATSIOS: There is very little violence in Darfur right now.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Ambassador, what is the difficulty in my question? What do you not understand?
MR. NATSIOS: Senator, I just answered your question.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Is the circumstances in Darfur today a continuing genocide? Yes or no?
MR. NATSIOS: Senator, there is very little fighting between the rebels and the government, and very few civilian casualties going on in Darfur right now. I just told you the answer.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Ambassador, I'm not asking whether diminished fighting. I'm asking whether the situation in Darfur today is a genocide. Yes or no?
MR. NATSIOS: Senator, the situation is very volatile.
SEN. MENENDEZ: All right.
MR. NATSIOS: There are periods of killings which could be construed as genocide that took place last fall and earlier this year.
SEN. MENENDEZ: You know, in the present convention that the United Nations has on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide, it says, "Genocide means any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy in whole or in part a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, such as killing members of the group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part, imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group and forcibly transferring the children in the group to another group."
It seems to me that those clearly are elements of what is taking place in Darfur.
MR. NATSIOS: Yes, that is correct.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Let me ask you -- you don't want to answer the question yes or no, so let me go on to the following question.
MR. NATSIOS: I did answer the question.
SEN. MENENDEZ: What are we willing to accept from the secretary- general, anything less than the agreements that we have had to date that we expect to be enforced? Do we expect anything less than that?
MR. NATSIOS: Let me just say very clearly, sir. I follow what's going on in the ground every day from cables, from reports. And there are acts of barbarity against people. Some of them are now being committed by rebels. In one of the camps, the rebels have begun to rape women. Rebels, okay? There are -- there is anarchy in much of Darfur now. And there is -- 300 Arabs were killed in Southern Darfur by one Arab tribe against another Arab tribe.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Ambassador, I appreciate your lengthy, anecdotal responses, but please just answer my question.
MR. NATSIOS: I am answering your question.
SEN. MENENDEZ: The question is, what are we willing to accept from the secretary-general's negotiations? Is it anything less than the agreements that we previously thought we had?
MR. NATSIOS: No, we are not willing to accept anything less.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Okay. Are we ready to implement plan B if the secretary-general fails? Yes or no.
MR. NATSIOS: We were asked -- as I said earlier, before you arrived, Senator, Secretary-General Ban asked Dr. Rice, and asked me last week when I met with him, for two to four weeks before we go to plan B. We had actually intended to go to it, and there was a congressional delegation going there, and we decided not to announce it -- or the president decided not to announce it --
SEN. MENENDEZ: I -- I understand all that. The question is --
MR. NATSIOS: The plan is prepared --
SEN. MENENDEZ: -- if the secretary-general fails in his efforts --
MR. NATSIOS: Yes. The answer --
SEN. MENENDEZ: -- I hope he succeeds -- are we ready to go to plan B?
MR. NATSIOS: -- is yes, we are.
SEN. MENENDEZ: And then, are we ready to immediately move to plan B and implement it, in that case?
MR. NATSIOS: Well, once it's signed, it will be immediately implemented.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Once it's signed?
MR. NATSIOS: Well, the president has to sign the orders.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Well, my point is, are we at the point where if the secretary-general fails, the administration is ready to move forward?
MR. NATSIOS: I just said, Senator, if at the end of the two to four weeks he requested, if we haven't made the progress that we believe needs to be made, I believe the president will make the decision -- I'm not going to presume what the president's going to decide and the announcement he's going to make. It's not for my -- my place to do that. But I know how angry he is and impatient he is over this, as I am, as Dr. Rice is.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Well, I think part of our problem is, is that we are quickly losing credibility in this process with Mr. al-Bashir and others because if you -- it's like a child, you continuously tell them, "Don't do that. Don't do that" -- and use your public opportunities to say, "Don't do that. Don't do that" -- and they continue to do it, and they continue to do it, and you say, "Don't do that" -- guess what? That child never believes that in fact you are going to extract a punishment.
MR. NATSIOS: I agree with you, Senator.
SEN. MENENDEZ: And so ultimately, we're at the point that -- it seems to me we're at that point.
Let me just say, I've got the corrected Georgetown version here, and you are quoted in the corrected version in saying, "The term genocide is counter to the facts of what is really occurring in Darfur."
MR. NATSIOS: No -- no, Senator, I did not say that. But that --
SEN. MENENDEZ: That's the corrected version.
MR. NATSIOS: -- look, that's not the point. The fact of the matter is, Senator, there's terrible --
SEN. MENENDEZ: Well, I hope that this administration views what is happening in Darfur as genocide.
MR. NATSIOS: There is terrible violence --
SEN. MENENDEZ: I hope that our words that "never again" are meaningful. And those words can only be meaningful if we act. And I hope that we will not permit this to continue to happen on our watch. I hope you take that back to the administration. It is time to get past the talk about plan B and it is time to begin to enforce plan B.
MR. NATSIOS: If we want to get the international community to support our efforts under plan B, and other countries to implement unilateral sanctions -- or bilateral sanctions against the Sudanese government, we have to cooperate with them, we have to talk with them. We cannot simply ignore what everybody else is doing.
As I said before, Senator, before you came in, we've had extensive meetings with the Europeans over the last three months over how they might unilaterally, without a U.N. resolution, impose their own sanctions, which would be similar to ours.
They would be much more powerful, much more powerful, if a new set of sanctions is both -- uses the dollar and the Euro to enforce. We know that from experiences in Iraq, Iran and North Korea.
We are now engaged in diplomacy to get the Europeans on board. Chancellor Merkel -- I believe it two weeks ago -- and the German Defense minister -- they're in the presidency of the European Union -- have now said even with the absence of a U.N. resolution, the European Union may consider seriously imposing sanctions, which they never do. They always want a Security Council resolution. This was a big change of position.
If we want to affect the behavior of the Sudanese government, we have to have a coordinated international approach. That's what we have right now. It takes a little bit more time to do that, because you have to talk to other people, as I'm sure you're aware, Senator. If we simply do what we want to do, I would have done it a long time ago. But Ban Ki-Moon -- we need Ban Ki-Moon's support on this. He asked for two to four weeks; we're going to give him two to four weeks.
The Europeans asked us to work with them on how this could be done in a way that would effectively paralyze the Sudanese economy. They've asked us how it is that we're going to do this from an enforcement mechanism. We're working with them. We had a meeting in Washington three weeks ago on this, on a technical level, to go through the steps needed for them to impose parallel sanctions to what we're doing.
So if we're going to do this -- whether it's two weeks or four weeks, Senator -- what's -- the important thing is it has the necessary effect on the behavior of the Sudanese government. That's the purpose.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Mr. Chairman, I know my time's over.
SEN. BIDEN: It's all right. Take your time, please.
SEN. MENENDEZ: But I listened to you, I heard you carefully.
A hundred and one days ago, you on behalf of the administration announced plan B. Now, two to three weeks more, what does it matter if it takes a little time? If I was sitting in those camps, I could not stand the counsels of patience and delay. And I hope we get to the point that we understand that.
I understand about multilateral action. But at some point in time, we must lead.
MR. NATSIOS: I agree.
SEN. MENENDEZ: And it seems to me that we have not gotten to the point where we are truly leading, and I hope that the administration will do that sooner rather than later, because people are dying. That's the reality.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you.
I must say, Mr. Ambassador, it sounds like the administration is changing its position. And I thought you said to me that the most useful sanctions available to us were unilateral sanctions that we could impose that weren't available to us in the '90s that we're now using in Iraq -- I mean, excuse me, in Iran -- and that --
MR. NATSIOS: And in North Korea.
SEN. BIDEN: -- and in North Korea. And so I'm confused. What are these multilateral sanctions that are going to be so consequential, that you're worried if we acted on our own we would lose?
MR. NATSIOS: Well, it's not that we would lose it, but obviously our sanctions are going to affect dollarized transactions. They're not going to affect Euro transactions.
SEN. BIDEN: I got that.
MR. NATSIOS: If we can get the Europeans to do the same thing we're doing, it would have a much greater impact, because they're the two currencies of the world right now.
SEN. BIDEN: In the meantime, a lot of people are going to die.
MR. NATSIOS: Well --
SEN. BIDEN: I -- Senator? Sorry.
SEN. BENJAMIN CARDIN (D-MD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Ambassador, first let me say that I concur in Senator Menendez's questions and frustration. And we've run out of patience.
But I want to first thank you for your efforts. You have kept us informed. You have relayed, I think, our message to the players. And I think, as a result of your efforts, lives have been saved, and that's a record that you can be very proud of. You've been very persistent, and I think the administration has been strong in regards to our position on Darfur.
But it lacks a sense of urgency internationally. This month we will commemorate the Day of Remembrance for the Holocaust caused by the Nazis. And since I've been in Congress, we've seen genocide in the former Yugoslavia republics, in Rwanda and now in Darfur. And we need to take action.
The open violence may have been reduced in the Darfur region of the Sudan, but the circumstances in the villages are very vulnerable, the circumstances in the refugee camps are very vulnerable, and relief workers are at extreme risk. At any day, violence could continue and expand, and there could be additional tragedies. And as you pointed out, we do have genocidal conditions every day, with people being killed, displaced and raped.
So we need to move forward at least on two fronts. One is the Plan B, the sanctions. I understand another delay -- I really don't understand another delay. I think we originally said that we were going to impose sanctions several months ago, and that date has passed.
We can be very effective in imposing sanctions, with or without the support of other countries.
I heard you mention some of the other -- same countries that we are not getting the type of cooperation we need in regards to Iran and imposing sanctions against Iran. These are not new issues, and there's a lot of issues on the agendas of these countries.
One thing we can do is act. The United States can. And we need to do that.
I want to mention the second front on which we can act, and that is in the war crimes tribunal. We have not gotten much help internationally on using the International Criminal Courts. But for the action of this Congress in standing up to Serbia and other countries, I doubt if we would have had the type of cooperation in regards to the indictments against those involved in the former Yugoslavia.
I think this Congress is prepared to help in regards to the International Criminal Courts. Clearly two indictments have been issued, as I understand. The investigations continue. And I don't think you can compromise these issues. I understand the nervousness of the Sudanese government. They should be nervous. But this is something that cannot be compromised, because if you compromise now, we're just going to have another problem down the road.
So I would just ask -- we haven't had much discussion here at this hearing on the war crimes issue; I hope that's not being compromised as far as our position in that regard; those that are culpable should be held accountable -- and that we have lost -- we've run out of time on Plan B. It's time to move forward with it.
MR. NATSIOS: Well, with respect to the ICC, I -- there are people who think we should use the ICC investigation and process as a diplomatic tool with respect to the Sudanese government. I don't think we should. I think we need to separate the diplomacy of this from justice. The ICC is a judicial process to determine whether or not people committed acts of genocide or violations -- massive violations of human rights, and they need to prosecute people as they're going to prosecute them.
SEN. CARDIN: I'd just point out the prosecutors -- if they don't have the support of the State Department, if they don't have the support of the diplomatic efforts, they will not get access to the material that they need, the witnesses they need, the preservation of the evidence that they need, and they will not be able to do their work.
So they need your help or it won't happen.
MR. NATSIOS: There is a report that was commissioned by Colin Powell, when he was secretary of State, that I executed for him when I was the administrator of AID. And we sent a team of -- through an NGO associated with the American Bar Association, of police, prosecutors, lawyers, and district attorneys who went to Darfur -- not to Darfur, to Chad and interviewed 1,300 people who had been the victims of these atrocities and whose family members had been murdered in the massive atrocities of 2003 and '04. That report is on the State Department Website. I'm very -- we took a lot of risk doing it. There are 28 officers from -- this was done through, again, an associate organization of the Bar Association. We did it deliberately to have people with legal degrees and prosecutorial background to do this. That evidence is available.
SEN. CARDIN: I guess my frustration is that having gone through this in the debates with the State Department on the issues in Yugoslavia, unless we are raising these issues directly with the Sudanese government through whatever sources we can, unless we let them know that the preservation of evidence is going to be required -- I understand they're nervous about those things -- but it will make it extremely difficult to follow through on this, giving the impression to the Sudanese that this is an issue that can be negotiated away.
MR. NATSIOS: Well, that's what I argued earlier, is we should disentangle those war crimes tribunals from any diplomacy, because diplomacy is where you compromise. You shouldn't be compromising on justice. I don't think we should have that as part of the negotiation.
SEN. CARDIN: I agree with you on that. But you've got to preserve the record. You've got to have access in Sudan. I understand it's important to interview in Chad the victims, but you also have to be on the ground in the Sudan in order to gather --
MR. NATSIOS: You also have to -- right. I am aware of that. I've met with people -- in fact, when I was in Abeche to meet with the rebels in January, some members of the ICC staff were there also searching for evidence. And so I know they're there, but you know, again, I don't want -- I don't want to get into a position where the United States -- and it's not our business anyway to negotiate with the Sudanese government over whether these war crimes trials should go forward. That's not a negotiable issue, as far as I'm concerned.
SEN. CARDIN: It should be on our agenda the cooperation with the ICC.
MR. NATSIOS: A different matter.
SEN. CARDIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. BIDEN: Thank you.
Mr. Ambassador, this hearing to me sounds eerily like a hearing that took place 14 years ago about Bosnia. And -- and the temporizing, the number of times you've pointed out how the -- which is no doubt it occurs, that the -- that the rebels are engaging in atrocities themselves.
I heard that for three years, the last year of the Bush administration and the first two years of the Clinton administration, and yet there is -- and the question I asked them and I'm going to ask you now: Is the -- are the atrocities that are being carried out sanctioned by, cooperated with or a blind eye being turned by Khartoum not significantly greater than the atrocities that are occurring at the hands of the rebels?
MR. NATSIOS: There is no equivalency whatsoever, Senator.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, I wish you'd stop talking about it.
MR. NATSIOS: Well, I'm talking about it, Senator, because the rebels think they can get away with this.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, I'm -- look --
MR. NATSIOS: It's getting worse, and what's happening is no one's saying anything about it because it's political sensitive. We can't let any civilians --
SEN. BIDEN: No, no, it's not politically sensitive. I mean, why -- we went through this exercise a couple years ago in coaxing out of the administration the word "genocide." Why won't you just say, is genocide still the operative word?
MR. NATSIOS: Yes.
SEN. BIDEN: It is. So genocide is being committed --
MR. NATSIOS: Yes.
SEN. BIDEN: -- in Darfur.
MR. NATSIOS: Yes.
SEN. BIDEN: All right. All right, now --
MR. NATSIOS: Let me just add something, not a qualification, but just the reality of what I'm trying to get to here. We want the current lull in fighting -- because there are peaks and lows. You can see the casualty rates from month to month; they're higher, they're lower. We want no casualties. And if you don't make a distinction between no casualties and a lot of casualties, if everything's the same all the time, then how do you tell people they're supposed to extend the period of relative stability. We don't want between now and the beginning of the rainy season anymore civilian casualties on either side of the border, both for humanitarian and human rights reasons, but also because we believe an absence of hostilities could facilitate the peace process between the rebels and the government. We had that happen in the south. We want it to happen again.
SEN. BIDEN: Well, it seems to me that the need for a(n) agreement between the rebels and the government gets trumped by the attitude of the -- Khartoum, that has virtually nothing to do with the rebels, of their supporting an engaging in a systematic effort to engage in genocide. You could solve the -- you could -- not withstanding the fact you may not be able to get an agreement between the rebels and the government, there are things we could do now that could significantly reduce the number of casualties that are occasioned by the Janjawid receiving support from Khartoum. They are distinguishable.
And I am at a loss as to why we aren't engaging in everything, including the use of military force, to stop it.
I met with the NATO commanders in Europe. I then spent time with the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe prior to General Jones leaving. I was told that we had the physical capability of essentially shutting down the Janjawid now; that it would take somewhere around 2,500 troops; that if we were to argue strenuously within the confines of NATO for such a force and the imposition of a no-fly zone, we could radically change the situation on the ground. That does not get you a settlement, but it does have the ancillary benefit of stopping thousands upon thousands of people of being slaughtered and/or left to be slaughtered.
So I find the desire to have a comprehensive settlement -- or it kind of reminds me, if I can use a terrible metaphor, it's kind of like someone who is on the table bleeding to death and they have incurable cancer. And the doctor is standing there saying, "Unless we can come up with a holistic approach to this and figure out how to not only stop the bleeding, but cure this patient of cancer, we should hang on and wait until we get an overall plan here."
People are bleeding to death now. There are -- the camps that I visited, you could see it. When I walked into the camp in Chad on the Darfur border, the northern-most camp at the time, I stunned -- I later learned; I didn't realize I stunned anybody -- but I stunned the U.N. personnel there by insisting I meet with only the women. And the men did not like that at all. And I insisted that happen. And once I got a group of I don't know how many women in one of the tents, it took a while, but then they started talking about what was happening to them. It's happening as we speak right now. Nothing has fundamentally changed.
And so, you know, it's kind of like -- the analogy I'd make is the patient's bleeding on the table, and we talk about making sure that everything's going to be okay, not just, "Let's stop the bleeding. Let's stop the bleeding, or do everything in our power to stop the bleeding unilaterally."
And I must tell you -- well, I won't tell you. I think it's a moral imperative to do that. But I got the same arguments -- you know, it's interesting, when we acted, finally acted in Bosnia and we finally acted in Kosovo, we did it unilaterally first. Everybody talks about how this is -- well, that's a bunch of malarkey. It was finally unilaterally we did it. We acted responsibly and morally, and the rest of the civilized world had to respond.
I would argue the same thing would happen here. I think we could embarrass our European allies into acting more responsibly. And I think it's not only time not to take force off the table; I think it's time to put force on the table and use it, and use it now. But -- and I acknowledge that will not solve the situation. But it will mean there will be 10, a hundred, 500, a thousand, 2,000, 5,000, 15,000 women who will not be raped, children who will not die and people who will not be just murdered just indiscriminately.
But you don't need to hear -- I think you do need to hear that from me, but I don't expect that it will have much impact. But I just want to be clear, I think it is genocide. We can act now, we should act now. If the president were asking me, I would -- or the secretary of State -- I would use American force now. But that's me.
Anyone have anything they'd like to say before -- or would you? I invite you, if you want to make any -- I don't expect you to make a closing comment, but you're welcome to, if you'd like.
MR. NATSIOS: Oh, I would just comment on what you just said, Senator. I went through Bosnia myself, because the beginning of it -- I ran the relief effort there for the U.S. government, and then I worked in the NGO community there.
SEN. BIDEN: Remember the arguments -- if I don't mind me interrupting -- I remember sitting with Lord Owen, saying, you know, we can't use force, because guess what? We may jeopardize the British forces on the ground. We may jeopardize those forces on the ground. We're talking about jeopardizing military force by using force. And now we're using an adjunct to that.
It is true, the use of force will jeopardize the NGOs on the ground. But the NGOs are already jeopardized. They're in tough shape right now. And I'm anxious to hear the other witnesses, but I don't get as -- I won't say "rosy"; that wouldn't be fair -- as optimistic a picture of what's happening on the ground today, in the last month and hopefully the next month as you seem to think exists. But you have more access to information than I do, but it's not my impression.
But anyway, go -- I'm sorry to interrupt you, but --
MR. NATSIOS: The atrocities stopped in Bosnia when we had Dayton. We need a Dayton Accord for Darfur --
SEN. BIDEN: You know how we got Dayton? We got Dayton because we used force. Yes, that's why we got Dayton. This malarkey of -- this whole notion about how we're rewriting history -- we got Dayton because we used force and we killed bad guys. That's what we did. And we got Kosovo because we were prepared and made it clear to Milosevic, we're ready to kill him. That's how we got it.
I'm not big on killing people, but I tell you what, this is incredible, what's happening. And I promise you -- I promise you, we're all going to sit here five and 10 years from now, and we're going to be saying why we didn't we do the things that we can do? There's risk involved. But the risk is relatively low compared to the absolute devastation that's taking place and continuing to.
Anyway, I apologize. I -- (chuckles) -- I just think we're temporizing everything much too much.
I thank you, Mr. Ambassador. Thank you very much.
MR. NATSIOS: Thank you.