Two months after stepping down as President Barack Obama's special envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, veteran U.S. diplomat Princeton Lyman has joined the U.S. Institute of Peace as a senior advisor. According to a USIP memo, Lyman, 77, will focus on the roles of special envoys, "such as when and under what conditions they are most effective," and how the United States can successfully deal with rogue states with whom it has shared interests.
Since March 2011, Lyman, a former ambassador to Nigeria and South Africa, served as the president's chief troubleshooter in Sudan as the country split into separate pieces. The U.S.-backed peace deal, midwifing South Sudan's secession, ended decades of civil war, but left a number of disputes unresolved. (That includes border hostilities, which flared up as recently as Sunday, when at least 20 were killed including an Ethiopian U.N. peacekeeper in a shootout along a disputed oil-rich border.) Before his tenure as special envoy, Lyman worked as a U.S. senior advisor on North-South negotiations.
From his new perch, Lyman might be able to shed some light on delicate diplomatic dances like last week's controversy -- when the White House invited Nafie Ali Nafie, a Sudanese presidential aide accused of human rights abuses, to Washington for negotiations. Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf, in a blazing letter sent to the White House, noted that Nafie had been accused of "torturing enemies" and "cozying up to Osama bin Laden in the 1990s." Justifying the visit, Hillary Fuller Renner, a spokeswoman for the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. State Department, said the delegation was invited to launch "a dialogue on issues of concern to the U.S."
Lyman's move to USIP is something of a homecoming, as he served as a senior fellow at the institute from 1999 to 2000. "Ambassador Lyman brings an immense breadth and depth of knowledge to USIP, particularly in African affairs," said USIP President Jim Marshall in the memo. "We are glad that his long-standing relationship with USIP will continue in this new role."
The institute, which was created by Congress, bills itself as an independent, nonpartisan conflict-management center that works to "increase the government's ability to deal with conflicts before they escalate, reduce government costs, and enhance our national security."
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