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Vol 42 No 7

Published 6th April 2001


Caution, lobbies at work

Oil, religion and human rights - a powerful mixture for Bush's new government to digest

The debate on Washington's Sudan policy touches two of the Republican government's core constituencies, big oil and the religious right. Their countervailing pressures may delay a radical shift in policy but Sudan has an unexpectedly high profile in the early months of George W. Bush's presidency. His Secretary of State, General (Retired) Colin Powell, told the House of Representatives International Relations Committee that there was 'perhaps no greater tragedy on the face of the earth today' than the war in Sudan. The following week, an article in the Sudanese daily El Rai el Aam called Powell 'the black Jewish general' and argued that if the USA proposed a Jewish Ambassador ('You know them by their names') Khartoum should refuse to accept them. The billing contact on the newspaper's website is Fatih Erwa, Sudan's United Nations Ambassador, who headed the Sudanese side of 'Operation Moses' which secretly moved Ethiopian Jews via Sudan to Israel in the early 1980s and whom Washington discreetly turned down as Sudanese Ambassador a decade later.

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