On the authenticity of “Minutes of the Military and Security Meeting held in the National Defense College [Khartoum],” 31 August 2014 (minutes of the meeting are dated 1 September 2014): Updates
[ Update, August 12, 2015: Highly authoritative sources confirm that the Obama administration understands that the minutes of the August 31, 2014 meeting of senior military and security officials in Khartoum are authentic. Given the power of U.S intelligence-gathering, we may take this as the last word on the question of authenticity, given the abundance of corroborating assessments of the minutes by non-governmental professionals.
One wonders why, then, given the extraordinary contents of these minutes of a year ago, more has not been done to hold the Khartoum regime accountable for the actions threatened and consummated by its military and militia forces—particularly in South Kordofan, where a humanitarian embargo remains in place, and one senior military official present at the meeting is reported as declaring that in light of a bumper sorghum crop, there should be an effort to burn food stocks, this as a way of “starving” the people of the Nuba.]
[ Update, 20 March 2015: Secretary-General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army Yasir Arman confirms in an interview with Radio France Internationale the authenticity of both the 1 July 2014 and 31 August 2014 minutes, as well as the existence of other leaked documents: https://soundcloud.com/radiofranceinternationale/splm-ns-arman-speaks-on-lack-of-national-dialogue-in-sudan ]
[ Update, 18 February 2015: Concerning the leaked minutes of the 1 July 2014 meeting of senior regime officials:
This link | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1Ca | provides comments by politically knowledgeable, Sudanese native speakers/readers of Arabic, speaking to the authenticity of the more recently leaked minutes of the 1 July 2014 meeting, again with senior regime officials in attendance, including President Omar al-Bashir |
[ Update, 6 February 2015:
“Machiavelli in the Twenty-First Century: Sudanese Security Leaks in Perspective,” by Jean-Baptiste Gallopin, Yale University, offers a detailed account of the minutes and concludes in a lengthy Annex that they are authentic. His account, while not flawless, should end all debate about authenticity of the minutes:
Sufficient public scrutiny and expert assessments can allow us to say that it is must be considered authentic until proven otherwise.
I have found no elements in the document that would indicate that it is forged. Its idiosyncrasies–use of dialectal Sudanese Arabic, spelling mistakes, shorthands–are consistent with the usage and tacit knowledge we’d expect within the Sudanese leadership and intelligence apparatus. There are no glaring contradictions between what is publicly known about the regime’s perceptions, alliances, strategies and practices and what is found in the document. It merely provides a greater degree of detail and depth.
Forging such a lengthy and detailed document would require expert knowledge of the Sudanese leadership, extensive exposure to similar documents from the regime, and time. In theory, this would not be out of reach of a number of intelligence services. However, only three weeks separate the document’s date of creation from its publication on Reeves’ website, which would be a short timeline for a forgery of this magnitude. Given that the minutes concern events that have occurred in August 2014, we can rule out the possibility of a forgery planned over many months. These elements militate significantly, though not conclusively, against the forgery hypothesis.
The minutes have received wide attention since their publication, including in newspapers printed in Khartoum. Deputy Chairman of the NCP Ibrahim Ghandur, who appears in the document, denied their authenticity in a press conference in October. He called it a forgery manufactured by intelligence services to harm Sudan’s relations “with all the countries in the world.” In support of his argument, he said that there was no such thing as a Defense and Security Committee, and that purported participants were attending other meetings on that day (something it is impossible to independently verify). He added that the document gave military ranks to National Service Coordinator Abdel Qader Mohammed Zein and Popular Defense Forces Coordinator Abdallah al-Jayli, even though they are civilians. Yet the document does no such thing.”
[ Update, 29 October 2014: Former Prime Minister of Sudan (deposed in the June 1989 National Islamic Front military coup) and leader of the National Umma Party, Sadiq al-Mahdi, today publicly confirmed in London (Chatham House) the authenticity of the document containing the minutes of the August 31 meeting of senior military and security officials. Sadiq retains a great many contacts within the regime and in Khartoum generally, and is certainly exceptionally well-informed. This should put enormous pressure on other parties in Khartoum to declare their own convictions concerning this critical document.
For its part the regime has nowhere in English denied the authenticity of the document; there is much bluster about media distortions, misinformation, and enemies of the Islamic state—but nowhere has anyone representing the regime declared, at least in English: “The document purporting to contain the minutes of a meeting of senior military and security officials in Khartoum on 31 August 2014 is a total fabrication; it has no authority or authenticity.” The reason there has been no such denial—merely indirect and non-specific hostile commentary by representatives of the regime—is that they know full well the document is authentic and fear that there is as yet undisclosed corroborating evidence of that authenticity. Such evidence does indeed exist, and the regime, we may be sure, is working very hard to destroy it. The purpose is to try to make it impossible to establish publicly the “chain of custody” for the document before reaching my source in Sudan. But meanwhile, the document stands unchallenged, even by those who are directly implicated in the finally genocidal policies that are articulated in the course of the minutes, as well as the commitment to engineer a NCP victory in the 2015 election at whatever cost and whatever suppression of free political expression.
Former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi
I should also note that no Arabic-speaking Sudanese with whom I have spoken or communicated has expressed the slightest doubt about the authenticity of the document containing the minutes of the August 31 meeting. As keynote speaker at the recent conference organized by Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) in Washington, I was able to speak to many Darfuris and other northern Sudanese. Again, there is simply no skepticism about authenticity. I have also received from trusted sources accounts of their own communications with individuals either previously or currently in one of the several security services in Sudan; here again, authenticity has been confirmed by every individual queried.
Other sources confirming the authenticity of this document appear below:
 Africa Confidential, October 10, 2014 (Vol 55, No 20)
Most of the Sudanese activists and officials (serving or former) that we have contacted believe the leaked reports of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) meeting on 31 August are an authentic account. Indeed, one former official has confirmed the NISS meeting took place and a serving official said the documents were genuine.
The first question is whether the minutes are authentic (see Khartoum in fact and fiction). Most of the Sudanese politicians, and serving and former officials that Africa Confidential has spoken to reckon they are and that there have been serious security breaches in Khartoum.
 “Sudanese writer comments on leaked documents on leadership meeting”
Text of report by privately-owned, pro-ruling party Sudanese newspaper Al-Ra’y al-Aam on 12 October [Commentary by Amir Babikr Abdallah]
A controversy has been triggered by the “document” revealed by American Eric Reeves, said to be of the minutes of a meeting by the Higher Political-Security Committee of the ruling National Congress Party [NCP]. It has opened the door for speculation on the phenomenon of leaks of political documents. That document was followed by another on the NCP’s strategy for the coming elections. A friend of mine commented that the NCP “has become the government and the opposition at the same time” and that the ruling party itself was leaking documents on corruption deliberately to newspapers within a struggle for power among various wings in power.
Many questions are being raised about the identity of the “NCP’s Julian Assange,” whether an individual or a body performing its role professionally to convey messages to certain quarters. But the political confusion prevailing on the arena imposes other assumptions. It is possible that there are major leaks in the ruling party as a result of erosion and splits. This assumption is supported by leaks within the State itself which officials have admitted and which enabled Israeli Intelligence to pinpoint targets and hit them more than once while they were on the move.
One of the two documents was about the minutes of a meeting by the highest political and security committee. It centres on Sudan’s relations with Iran and indicates that we still have close relations with Tehran, even after the NCP appeared to bow to regional and international pressures. The implication was that we were not going to sell Iran without getting a rewarding price in return. The second document on the NCP’s strategy for the coming elections contained nothing new and merely reiterated the uling party’s bid to give itself legitimacy through the polls.
 Osman Mirghani in Asharq Al-Awsat, 4 Oct 2014
Opinion: Business as usual in Khartoum
That Sudan’s Islamist regime is using trickery and prevarication is not strange for a group that has made deceit and pretense a key part of its political culture. But a recently-leaked document highlighting what happened during a meeting between military, political and security leaders in Khartoum in late August reveals how far the regime is willing to go in order to maintain its grip on power.
The document was first leaked by Sudanese affairs specialist Eric Reeves, who obtained it from a Khartoum source he described as very reliable. It documents the proceedings of a meeting attended by 14 of the most prominent military, political and security figures in the Sudanese regime. Regardless of any attempt on the part of the regime or its supporters to question the document’s veracity, anyone with any experience of Sudan’s government will find it an accurate reflection of Sudan’s domestic and foreign policy. It also reflects the regime’s approach to staying in power, an approach that is based on maneuvering and deception.
On the foreign policy level, the document reveals the nature of the regime’s ties with Iran, the Gulf’s Arab states, Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood. The Khartoum regime, as the deliberations between its senior figures confirm, seeks to deceive concerning its ties with the Gulf states and Iran. On the one hand, it maintains its ties with Tehran, which it considers a strategic asset and not subject to change. On the other hand, when it comes to relations with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Khartoum wants to appear as if it is opposed to Tehran. This casts new light on Khartoum’s recent decision to order the closure of Iranian cultural centers in Sudan. The purpose, the document confirms, is to mislead the countries that have shown concern over Sudanese-Iranian ties, and at the same time contain domestic and foreign outrage over what has been described as the spread of Shi’ite proselytism in Sudan. Those who were present at the meeting were unanimous about the importance of Sudan’s military and security ties with Iran, which they described as “the most important in the history of the country.” In fact, one of the attendees went as far as to say that the secret behind the strength of the current regime lies in its alliance with Iran and the Islamists.
The Sudanese regime is trying to mislead as much as it can, but at the end of the day the country depends on its ties with Iran and the Islamist movements more than with the Gulf states, save Qatar. This trend is nothing new. The regime has adopted this approach since its first year in power, when it sided with Saddam Hussein’s regime following the invasion of Kuwait, a stance many Brotherhood-affiliated groups also adopted. Therefore, it is not inconsistent with the Sudanese regime’s approach that its military, political and security leaders insist on maintaining ties with Iran and the Brotherhood, and prioritize them over the country’s historical ties with its Arab neighbors and the Gulf states, where three million Sudanese nationals work.
The regime’s ties with Islamist movements started a feud with Egypt so bitter that it got involved in an assassination attempt against former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 1995. The recently-leaked document confirms that the feelings of hostility are still lurking and may have started to resurface after the overthrow of the regime of the former President Mohamed Mursi and his Brotherhood-affiliated regime. The document confirms the presence of Egyptian Brotherhood members in Khartoum and the regime’s attempt to scatter them in more than one place, at the same time keeping them under surveillance for fear their ranks may be infiltrated. The document also reveals that Turkey has been bankrolling these efforts. The officials’ remarks at the meeting signal that ties with Egypt will be further disturbed over the Sudanese regime’s joy at Islamists, some of whom it has armed, assuming control over Tripoli. In fact, one of the attendants crowed that Egypt is well aware of what Khartoum can do with the help of Qatar now that parts of Libya are in the hands of Islamists.
On the domestic level, the document confirms what every wise observer already knows—that the regime is manipulating the opposition and employing talk about dialogue and reconciliation to gain time and fragment its political opponents. In fact, the regime desires to use talk about dialogue to legitimize the presidential and legislative elections scheduled for next year.
The attitude of the regime, which is already well-known, is not strange. But what I find strange is the position of the opposition, because it always falls victim to the regime’s tricks and gambits. The regime’s talk about dialogue and reconciliation is nothing new either, and the meetings with the opposition have become a well-known tactic the regime has employed on several occasions to drive a wedge into the ranks of its opponents. What makes some of the opposition welcome the regime’s call for a dialogue they already know is neither credible nor serious? This is a different story that needs to be addressed in another article.
Osman Mirghani Osman Mirghani is Asharq Al-Awsat‘s former deputy editor and senior editor-at-large.
 Radio Dabanga, 14 October 2014
“Sudan dissident confirms authenticity of ‘leaked security document’”
KHARTOUM (14 Oct.) – A senior official of the opposition Reform Now Movement (RNM) has confirmed that a leaked document containing the minutes of a Sudanese high-level security meeting in August is “100 percent genuine”. Dr Osama Tawfig, prominent member of the RNM, established early December by dissidents of the ruling National Congress Party, told reporters in Khartoum on Sunday that the document is certainly genuine. “I know their tactics because I was part of them.”
The document was leaked to the American Sudan researcher and analyst, Dr Eric Reeves, in September. It contains the “Minutes of the Military and Security Committee Meeting held in the National Defence College” in Khartoum on 31 August. The minutes disclose numerous highly consequential internal and external policy decisions, Reeves wrote in a comment published by Sudan Tribune on 26 September.
“We learn, for example, of Sudan’s continuing involvement with international terrorism and radical Islamic groups, including an ongoing “strategic” partnership with Iran. There is certainly evidence here that Khartoum has reneged on its putative commitment to provide the US intelligence community with information relevant to counter-terrorism.”
“More explicitly, the document reveals a determination to continue bombing agriculture and food supplies as a means of waging war against the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, with an explicit, declared goal of starvation,” the researcher commented.
According to Reeves the document is authentic. RNM member Tawfig agrees. “The minutes confirm the methods adopted by the Khartoum regime to dismantle the political parties and the armed movements, and buy their leaders during the past period,” Tawfig said. “They planned to instigate dissent within the Sudan Revolutionary Front rebel alliance, the Eastern Front, and the traditionally largest political parties, the National Umma Party, and the Democratic Unionist Party.”
“That the meeting agreed on continuing to break down demonstrations and protests with live ammunition, is far from surprising,” the RNM official said. “It is also no news that politicians or journalists criticising the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), will be charged with cooperating with the enemy and espionage.”
The meeting was attended by First Vice President of the Republic, Bakri Hassan Saleh; Minister of Defence, Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein; NISS director Gen. Mohamed Atta; director general of the police forces, Hashim Osman Hussein, along with the director of the People’s Security, the coordinator general of the paramilitary Popular Defence Forces, and the coordinator of the National Military Service, according to the leaked minutes.
 A highly credible source has indicated to me that Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Atabani has confirmed the authenticity of the document. Ghazi was previously a senior member of the NCP inner circle, including as Secretary-General of the Party from 1996 – 1998. Until he withdrew from the party in October 2013, following the murderous suppression of demonstrators throughout Sudan, he was an elected member of the NCP’s “Leadership Bureau.” By virtue of his background, he is an excellent source for confirming authenticity of the document.
Ghazi Salah al-Din al-Atabani
 News outlets appearing to presume authenticity of the document by virtue of what they have published:
• The Washington Post fact-checks its op/eds carefully, and published my piece “Sudan embraces genocide, terrorism—and now Iran,” November 30, 2014
• The highly respected and carefully edited Christian Science Monitor refers to the document as “leaked” without qualification or any mention of controversy about its authenticity (3 November 2014)
• Sudan Tribune (a number of publications)
• al-Hurriyat (AlHag Warrag, the editor and human rights award winner for championing press freedoms, published my initial analysis early on, entirely convinced that the minutes document was authentic)
• South Sudan News Agency, and a wide range of other Sudanese on-line sources
• Business Insider (USA), Associated Press, US News and World Report