ABSTRACT

The missile attack on the Shifa pharmaceutical plant had shown the frustration of the Clinton administration. The regime in Sudan had not been overthrown in spite of several years of apparent US hopes, and forms of support for the southern Sudan in particular; and the al-Shifa attack had given the Sudan government something of a boost, especially internationally where it added to the sense that it was an inappropriate way to tackle the Sudan problem. A number of European states, that unlike the US had ambassadors in Khartoum, reported a willingness by the government to engage with the international community once more; Middle Eastern governments, amongst which Egypt was predictably prominent, were developing closer relations; as were Sudan’s African neighbours. Even in the US critical voices were being raised. Former president Jimmy Carter’s interest in Sudan had continued, including an active involvement in health issues in the south, and he had been critical of the Shifa attack. Humanitarian organisations also became more vocal in their criticism with three leading bodies, CARE USA, Oxfam America and Save the Children USA putting out a joint statement in May 1999 calling for a ‘Peace First’ policy rather than confrontation (Hoile, 2000, p.102). Talk turned instead to the possibility of peacemaking, but the US was hardly in a position to rush forward and policy needed to be re-appraised.