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Issue Brief March 8, 2018

Sudan: Soft power, cultural engagement, and national security

By Tim Carney and Mary Carlin Yates

The third paper in the new Atlantic Council Sudan Task Force series, “Sudan: Soft Power, Cultural Engagement, and National Security” examines the importance of people-to-people engagement and its relevance to broader US strategic aims in Sudan.

More than two decades of isolation have succeeded in funneling Sudan’s best and brightest to seek higher education and post-graduate employment in locations other than the West. The United States has lost valuable ground to other actors, ranging from the benign to the malicious, who are influencing Sudan’s youth and wider population in ways that almost certainly will not serve US interests.

Authored by Ambassador Tim Carney and Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates in collaboration with the Council’s Sudan Task Force, the issue brief argues that as Washington seeks to re-engage with Khartoum on a series of political, economic, and diplomatic matters, it should also focus its efforts on engaging the country’s twenty-two million youth, who make up nearly 60 percent of Sudan’s total population. Doing so immediately is the United States’ best chance to prevent a “lost generation” of Sudanese youth, with no linkages with or affinity toward the United States—and to avoid the potentially devastating consequences therein.

Carney is a Sudan Task Force member and was the last accredited US ambassador to Sudan, where he served from 1995 to 1997. Yates, a board director at the Atlantic Council and co-chair of the Sudan Task Force, was interim chargé d’affaires to Sudan from 2011 to 2012 and previously served as senior director for African affairs at the National Security Council and ambassador to Ghana and Burundi.


Image: Class 5 students with teacher Asia Ebrahim; Asfia Badr Basic School for Girls, Nile East Locality, Alfayhaa Administrative Unit, Al-Baraka District, near Khartoum, Sudan