Roger Winter: boss of the warlords

On Sept. 17, Roger Winter, executive director of the U.S. Committee on Refugees, spoke at a conference of the U.S. Institute for Peace, and demanded full-scale backing from the U.S. government for a war "to bring down the Khartoum government" in Sudan, adding, "even though I know it will bring about a humanitarian catastrophe." He reassured the assembled African policymakers present, however, that U.S. troops would not be involved in the effort; this would be a proxy war using Ugandan and Eritrean troops against Sudan, with U.S. weapons and logistical and training support.

To aid this process, Winter is known to have lobbied for the placement of Susan Rice as the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

By all accounts, Winter is a feared person among Africans and in Washington. Not only is he seen as the man behind Rice's appointment, but his underling at the Interaction Council, Julia Taft, is now the head of the U.S. State Department's Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration. Winter is head of the Interaction Council, an umbrella group for all the non-governmental organizations that deal with relief and other humanitarian matters, Winter is reputedly the political director of the entire operation. He and his sidekick John Prendergast, now ensconsed at the National Security Council, have pushed for a policy of politicization of relief agencies, and away from their expected stance of neutrality in other people's conflicts.

Winter's own U.S. Committee on Refugees--75% funded by the U.S. government--never delivers aid to refugees, but is the intelligence nerve center for the entire relief apparatus, and coordinates the political "attitude" to be taken toward refugees. It is also clear from Winter's own public activities, and the most recent caper in which he has been caught, that the "political" direction of relief efforts also includes supplying military aid--that is, using "relief" efforts as the cover for partisan and deadly military support.

Winter's longstanding demands for war against Khartoum are a classic case of such partisan and deadly mis-use of "humanitarian concerns." In 1990, Winter published a paper "War and Famine in Sudan" which called for a complete realignment of U.S. policy in East Africa based on the winding down of the Cold War against the Soviet Union. "For many years," Winter wrote, "Sudan has been an important geostrategic partner of the United States. For more than 15 years, Ethiopia has been viewed by the United States as the destabilizing force in the region--with good reason. Frankly, however, given the overwhelmingly negative changes that have occurred in Sudan at the hands of the Bashir government, there is no reason other than being caught in the Cold War rut to explain the U.S. pattern of tolerating Khartoum's actions during much of the last year and a half.

"In some ways, the pattern has been similar to our pre-August 1 pattern of cozying up to Iraq. When [Sudan President Omar al-] Bashir's coup overthrew [Sudan leader] Sadiq [al-Mahdi], U.S. aid began to shut down, but only because our law required it. The United States continued to support assistance to Sudan through multilateral institutions. Human rights conditions in Sudan deteriorated rapidly and massively, but U.S. criticism was muffled at best; the Bureau of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs was absent. Operation Lifeline Sudan was manipulated into impotence, but the United States (and the UN, for that matter) was not aggressive about preserving Lifeline's effectiveness and humanitarian neutrality.

"Until Saddam.

"Finally, the United States appears to have fundamentally reconsidered its posture regarding Sudan, or, more specifically, a Bashir administration in Sudan."

Winter's complaints against Sudan have not changed; in fact, at the U.S. Institute for Peace conference, Winter's charges against Sudan all reverted back to 1991, even though the Sudanese government has changed major policies and made peace with large sections of the political leadership of southern Sudan, and also permitted Operation Lifeline relief agencies to continue to send food into southern Sudan, while bypassing Khartoum.

Winter argued for support by the U.S. government for John Garang's Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA). His sponsorship of Garang in Washington is legendary; whenever Garang comes to the United States, the itinerary is in Winter's control. Since 1990, Winter has argued for a U.S. policy of de facto recognition of Garang's SPLA as the government of southern Sudan. Winter called this a "people-friendly" policy toward Sudan.

It is noteworthy, however, that since Winter wrote his policy paper of 1990, the military situation in southern Sudan has not changed. What has changed, is the death toll of this war. More than 3 million southern Sudanese, most of them Christian, have fled southern Sudan for Khartoum, to escape the war. Hundreds of thousands were killed in the 1992 fratricidal war between the Garang and Machar wings of the SPLA, not only by military means, but mostly due to the terrible famine that ensued; today millions more are at risk of starvation. In his 1990 paper, Winter predicted military victory just around the corner: "In January 1990, the SPLA began to shell Juba, the so-called capital of the South, and captured Kajo Kaji, Kaya, and Yei town. . . . Virtually all Sudan army actions to regain the military initiative have failed."

But today, the SPLA is no closer to taking Juba than it ever was. In fact, it is not in shelling range of the "capital of the south." The towns of Yei, Torit, and others have changed hands numbers of times, each battle leaving hundreds dead, and thousands displaced, uprooted, left with no means of subsistence.

It really cannot be expected that even if Winter were able to supply the SPLA, that it could achieve military victory, yet he and his cohorts continue a war against Sudan, a policy which, as Rep. Tony Hall accurately told Rice in Congressional hearings on July 29, "is a failure."


Roger Winter is also patron to two other warlords in the region: Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni and his underling, Rwandan Defense Minister and former head of Ugandan military intelligence, Paul Kagame.

His sponsorship of Museveni dates backed to 1982--before the SPLA war against Sudan even began. In one of his first ventures as executive director of the U.S. Committee of Refugees, Winter traveled to Uganda, where he took up the cause of the Banyarwanda refugees--Tutsi Rwandans who had fled to Uganda in the early 1960s--against the government of Ugandan President Milton Obote. By 1983, Winter was regularly visiting Yoweri Museveni in the bush, as Museveni was leading his guerrilla war against the Obote government. Winter became an early publicist for Museveni, centered around charges that Obote was carrying out a campaign of mass murder in the Luwero Triangle--a campaign that many in central Uganda are coming to realize was carried out by Museveni himself.

Through Museveni, Winter became an early patron of Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which was organized in Kampala, Uganda. In August 1988, Winter organized a conference of the Association of Banyarwandans in Diaspora in Washington, D.C., which brought together Rwandan Tutsis in exile to sponsor the efforts of the Rwandan Patriotic Front to come to power in Kigali. Two years later, the RPF, backed by Museveni along with troops of Uganda, invaded Rwanda in October 1990, launching the process that led to the genocide of 1994. In the 1994 RPF blitzkrieg of Rwanda, after the murder of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, Winter told Congress: "I had the great honor of travelling in Rwanda in April, in May, in June, and in July, as the war was occurring. I had the privilege of travelling with the Rwandan Patriotic Front as it gradually increased its control over Rwandan territory."

Hence, Winter is to be found among the earliest sponsors from the United States of the British warlords--Kagame, Garang, and Museveni--who have wreaked so much havoc in East Africa. Their policy has nothing to do with the populations they claim to represent, but the British Commonwealth designs--funneled by Winter through the United States--to break up the nation-states of East Africa with the use of mercenary armies that have agreed to function as the marcher-lords for a total looting of African raw materials and mineral wealth.

It is the myth of the "bogeyman" of Sudan and the alleged national security threat from Sudan that keeps Winter and these warlords in business.

    LEESBURG, Jan. 23 (EIRNS)--RICE-WINTER WAR POLICY AGAINST SUDAN DISCREDITED, BUT STILL IN FORCE. The war policy toward Sudan of U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Susan Rice and her mentor, Roger Winter, of the U.S. Committee of Refugees, is so discredited that even when they mean "war," they are forced to use the word "peace." This is the conclusion that can be drawn from the U.S. Institute for Peace conference held in Washington last week. The conference, which did not include John Garang, but his foreign minister Deng Alur, was opened by National Security Advisor John Prendergast, who called for the revitalizing of the IGAD talks for peace and for a peace process for southern Sudan. But he qualified this by saying that peace should be pursued the way the National Democratic Alliance was pursuing it, by bringing down the Khartoum government.
    In another such strange use of words, Chester Crocker, who was chairing the meeting, asked the Eritrean ambassador, "Isn't it the case that the war between you and Ethiopia has slowed down the peace process (sic) for Sudan?" The Eritrean ambassador answered, "No," saying they have nothing to do with each other. What Crocker really meant is that the war in the Horn had slowed down the war against Sudan. But he could not phrase the question in this way, becuase of the general desire for peace. For the most part, the Americans present did not speak, including Winter and his asteroid Tonto Ted Dagne of the Congressional Research Service.
    Much of the discussion was held between the representatives of the factions of the south, including: the SPLA; Francis Deng, a Dinka ideologue at the Brookings Institution; Bona Malwal, from London's Sudan Resources Group; and representatives of Riach Machar's SSIM. All these groups want peace, as they (understandably) believe that the military option has run out of steam.
   According to one source, there is now a split in the SPLA, between Garang and his commanders in the field. The commanders are tired of the war and want peace; but Garang, who is tightly controlled by Yoweri Museveni, refuses to negotiate seriously. Garang is currently unable to visit southern Sudan, claiming he would be killed there.
    Observers believe that the SPLA, to the extent it engages in any serious negotiations, will try to cut a separate deal with Khartoum, and not sign the April 21, 1997 accord with the government signed by all the other southern factions. This will be unacceptable to the rest of the south, and would cause more war in the southern region.
    According to Deng Alur, however, the SPLA has given up all claims on the Nuba mountains.
    No representative of the Sudan government was present at the conference, and this was noticed and questioned. Prendergast would only answer that they had not been granted visas by the State Department.

    [source: Baltimore Sun 12/11/98] Dec. 12--ROGER WINTER ATTACKS SUDAN GOVERNMENT AGAIN IN A NEW REPORT RELEASED BY THE U.S. COMMITTEE FOR REFUGEES, which claims that the civil war has killed 1.9 million civilians in the South. The report alleges that while only "tens of thousands of combatants" have been killed, it is "as direct result of intentional polices of the Sudan government," that has led to death of nearly 2 million civilians living in the South, due to "war-related violence, famine, and disease." Winter complains that the number of deaths is "greater than the combined toll of civilian deaths in Bosnia, Kosovo, Rwanda..." and more than 1 million civilians killed in the Vietnam War, yet "the international community seems not be interested."
    Winter wants southern Sudan declared a "humanitarian zone" by the United Nations so that Sudanese government air traffic regulations would not apply. Remember, that almost two years ago at a USIP conference in Washington, Winter advocated that a humanitarian disaster be brought on in order to overthrow the elected Sudanese government.

    [Source: White House press release, 11/6/98]: CLINTON GIVES STATUS REPORT TO CONGRESSIONAL LEADERSHIP ON SUDAN; CITES `EXTRAORDINARY AND UNUSUAL THREAT.' Indicating the continuing pressures on the President on the issue of Sudan, President Clinton sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate, giving a status report on the implementation of the U.S. sanctions that the administration placed on Sudan in November 1997, which had been anounced in September under Executive Order 13067. He goes through the fact that the administration approved some exceptions and also refused to grant others in the case of trade and transactions with Sudan. The last paragraph states, however, "The situation in the Sudan continues to present an extraordinary and unusual threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United Sttes. The declaration of the national emergency with respect to Sudan contained in Executive Order 13067 underscores the United States Government's opposition to the action and policies of the government of Sudan, particularly its support of international terrorism and its failure to respect basic human rights, including freedom of religion. The prohibitions contained in Executive Order 13067 advance important objectives in promoting the antiterrorism and human rights policies of the United States."