In 2011, the Republic of South Sudan, a country located in north-eastern Africa, broke away from the Republic of the Sudan. Before South Sudan gained independence, the country fought a brutal war with the Republic of the Sudan. Leading Western nations, especially the self-styled ‘policeman’ of the world, the United States, favored an independent South Sudan.
During the war between the two countries, it became clear that South Sudan was using child soldiers in its army; the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). The United States provided military assistance to South Sudan in the war.
Human rights groups campaigned vigorously against the use of children as combatants in the war. United States lawmakers were forced to pass a law in 2008, barring the country from providing military assistance to nations that use child soldiers.
With the Child Soldiers Prevention Act (CSPA), the United States stopped assisting the SPLA militarily in the war. This action taken by the United States helped in speeding up negotiations to end the war. Finally, South Sudan voted in a referendum to secede from Sudan. On July 2011, South Sudan became Africa’s newest country.
Immediately after South Sudan gained independence, the United States, under the Obama administration, jumped back into the country. The White House issued annual waivers that allowed aid, including military aid to flow to South Sudan, despite the fact that the country was still using children in the SPLA.
President Obama reportedly stated in 2012 that the waiver was in the national interest of the United States. However, the move was heavily criticized by rights groups and various politicians.
The Republican Representative from Nebraska, Jeff Fortenberry, who authored the CSPA described the use of child soldiers as an unthinkable practice. Fortenberry said the United States “must not be complicit in this practice” , and that “The intent of the law is clear — the waiver authority should be used as a mechanism for reform, not as a way of continuing the status quo.”
At this stage, criticisms directed at President Obama suggested he architected the waiver.
However, in a new painstaking investigation carried out by The Intercept, the truth regarding the waiver surfaced. Revelations suggest that President Obama acted on the recommendation of the head of the State Department, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The United States Department of State is responsible for Foreign Affairs of the country.
From 2009 to 2013, Mrs Clinton served as the Secretary of State. During that time, she oversaw the State Department and foreign policy of the Obama administration. Hillary Clinton, according to recent discoveries, is the suggested mastermind behind the waiver. As Secretary of State, Mrs Clinton traveled to South Sudan in 2012. Meeting with the country’s President Salva Kiir, Clinton promised that the United States would resume aid to the country. Below is a photo proving when Mrs Clinton visited South Sudan.
Daniel Mahanty, who served in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in the State Department during the tenure of Mrs Clinton, confirmed to The Intercept that the State Department, in consultation with the White House, controlled the waiver process. The State Department drafted all waiver materials and all recommendations to President Obama, on behalf of then Secretary Clinton, with her full approval.
Mahanty said “We will have already drafted the letter from the president to Congress that says what waivers he’s going to invoke. So it goes up to the secretary [of state], then over to the White House, and from the White House out to the public.”
Another person who followed the waiver closely, the advocacy director of the children’s rights division at Human Rights Watch, Jo Becker, also told The Intercept that Mrs Clinton played a central role. Clinton ensured South Sudan received aid from the United States, despite the country still using children in its army. Quoting Becker, “It’s the State Department that gives the recommendations to Obama on who he should waive.”
Shortly after Mrs Clinton left the State Department; after South Sudan receiving military hardware from the United States in 2013, the country descended into a bloody Civil War. The war is ongoing; so far costing more than 50,000 lives and forcing more than 2.4 million people to flee their homes.
Glaring evidence of children used as combatants between the warring factions is evident. Particularly, numerous weapons used in the fighting are United States supplied. Another mess Mrs Clinton has left behind her.
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