“Fallout from Leaked Minutes of August 31 2014 Military/Security Meeting: Khartoum’s Obligatory Lies”
Eric Reeves | 29 October 2014 | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1wo
The effects of widespread circulation of the minutes of an August 31 meeting of senior military and security officials of the Khartoum regime are becoming increasingly conspicuous. This is in part because the document containing the minutes has been found to be authentic by nearly all those in a position to make such an assessment. Of course the regime lies publicly about the authenticity of the document, but I have yet to talk to or communicate with a Sudanese or other native Arabic speaker who is not convinced that the document is authentic. Notably, Sadiq al-Mahdi, prime minister of Sudan before the National Islamic Front coup (30 June 1989) and leader of that National Umma Party in Sudan, today (29 October 2014 declared at a public meeting in London (Chatham House) that the document is authentic. A linguistic analysis by a Sudanese graduate student in the U.S. is forthcoming and will add to the already overwhelming evidence of authenticity. There can be no reasonable skepticism
[page one of the August 31 minutes]
THE OBLIGATORY LIES
Some of the recent travels of President Omar al-Bashir have been especially revealing of the regime’s efforts to deal with the consequences of the leaked document, as have diplomatic travels to Khartoum. Various statements by regime officials seem crude efforts at damage control as the full implications of the statements recorded in the minutes make their way further and further into the Arabic-speaking and -reading world. There has never been such a revelation of the innermost workings of the cabal that now runs Sudan, and mining the implications of this document is an ongoing process. Having been forced to deny the authenticity of the document—a denial that is credited only by those who don’t wish to see the regime for what it is—the men in Khartoum have responded in a variety of ways to the range of extreme diplomatic challenges they have created for themselves.
Ibrahim Ghandour, Deputy Chairman of the National Congress Party/National Islamic Front (NCP/NIF), was present at the meeting and was one of the first to suggest a counter-attack: “the leak of the documents [by Eric Reeves] is a war [and] will be lost by those who started it” (Sudan Tribune, 14 October 2014). Unfortunately for Mr. Ghandour, I’m not his problem except insofar as I was the recipient of these leaked minutes, and have done what I can to push them into the world of electronic communication by all means possible. He would appear to be “making war” on the messenger rather than addressing the extraordinary message these brutal men have sent into the world with their unintentionally candid statements and policy pronouncements.
A great deal of the meeting is given over to how to manipulate the upcoming national elections—what it will cost to rig them, what security measures must be in place, and how to ensure that there is no genuinely free and open political space. There are also some remarkably detailed accounts of the massive amounts of government monies that have been spent buying party loyalties, putting surveillance measures in place, and engaging in other electoral machinations; the avowed goal is to ensure “another five years of legitimacy,” according to Mustafa Osman Ismail, Political Secretary of the NCP/NIF.
Notably, there is virtually nothing about the imploding economy or the growing malnutrition that is plaguing all of Sudan but especially Darfur. A subsequent analysis will juxtapose what few comments are made about the national economy with what Sudanese economists are saying. The sharp contrasts are telling.
The current analysis looks at what we learn from the August 31 minutes about how Khartoum views regional actors, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, South Sudan, terrorist groups active in North Africa and the Middle East, Israel, and the African Union.
Al-Bashir went to Saudi Arabia in earlier October not so much to participate in the Hajj as to deny what is repeated at least a dozen times in the minutes of the August 31 meeting, again a gathering of the most senior members of the military and security force, as well as two powerful political figures: Mustafa Osman Ismail and Ibrahim Ghandour. All of them make a point of declaring that “Iran is a strategic partner”:
- “In my personal view our relationship with Iran is strategic in the areas of defense and security,” (Mustafa Osman Ismail, Political Secretary, NCP/NIF) (all emphases in all quoted material have been added–ER]
- “There is no country, other than Iran, who has the courage to say no to the whole West. Iran is an essential partner to the National Salvation Revolution. It was Iran who provided us with free and unlimited support…” (General Abdalla al-Jaili, Popular Defense Forces General Coordinator)
- “I say that our relationship with Iran is strategic and should be above all other interests.” (Major General Mohammed Atta, Director General of National Intelligence and Security Services)
- “Our relationship with Iran is strategic.” (General Yehya Mohammed Kheir, Minister of State for Defense)
- “My comment concerns our relationship with Saudi Arabia and the Emirates on one side and IRAN on the other side. We are capable of misleading the Gulf States by taking open, declared steps and procedures towards improving diplomatic relations with them… I think we should improve the relation with the Saudis and benefit from them, but it must be clear that they are not trustworthy. At the same time we maintain our strategic relationship with Iran.” (General Siddiq Amer, Director General of Intelligence and Security)
- “There is no connection between the strategic relation with Iran and the spread of the Shiia belief.” (Major General Hashim Osman Al-Hussein, Director General of Police)
- “In any case, our relation with Iran is a red line for without the support of Iran, the National Salvation Revolution [the name the regime has given to their June 1989 military coup—ER] would have been defeated.” (Major General Hashim Abdalla Mohammed, Chief of Joint General Staff)
Most emphatic is Defense Minister Hussein:
- “I shall start with our relationship with Iran and say it is a strategic and everlasting relationship. We cannot compromise or lose it. All the advancement in our military industry is from Iran. They opened the doors of their stores of weapons for us, at a time the Arabs stood against us. The Iranian support came when we were fighting a rebellion that spread in all directions including the National Democratic Alliance. The Iranians provided us with experts and they trained our Military Intelligence and security cadres. They also trained us in weapons production and transferred to us modern technology in the military production industry.”
The inevitable conclusion is offered by Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh, under his list of recommendations:
- “Maintain and protect the relationship with Iran. Managing this relationship through the military and security agencies.”
Given the already strained relations between Khartoum and Riyadh, the last thing President al-Bashir wanted to be doing in Saudi Arabia was explaining what the Saudis surely knew to be the truth: the statements in the minutes reflect critical, defining decisions by the regime with respect to Iran, the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. And yet there was no escaping the need to attempt some damage control:
We admit that our ties with Saudi Arabia were frosty but this never reached the level of being strained. Relations would not have reached this stage were it not for false information being leaked about the situation in Sudan and the country’s foreign ties, particularly with Iran…
“There are no strategic ties between [Sudan] and Iran. Our ties with Iran are very normal. As I said, some sides with particular agendas aim to pump exaggerated information . . .The bottom line is that any talk of us having strategic ties with Iran is pure fabrication and cheap propaganda through which some sides seek to achieve their goals at the expense of our ties with our brothers in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia in particular.” (Asharq al-Awsat, 11 October 2014)
This is nothing more than obligatory lying, and al-Bashir understandably does not speak to another issue raised by the minutes:
“We have a problem with Saudi Arabia because they found out about the weapons we sent by way of the Red Sea to Abd al-Malik Al-Huthi’s Shiia group in Yemen.” (Major General Hashim Abdalla Mohammed, Chief of Joint General Staff) [The al-Huthi terrorist organization controls much of northern and western Yemen, immediately across the Red Sea from Sudan, as is Saudi Arabia—ER]
Traveling to Khartoum this month, the Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani undoubtedly had the August 31 minutes much on his mind when meeting with regime officials. Libya comes up frequently in these minutes, and at several points in ways that must be deeply disconcerting to the struggling Libyan government, and reveal yet again the depth of the mendacity that characterizes the regime. On 7 October 2014 Sudan Tribune reported:
The head of the Libyan government, Abdullah al-Thani, will visit Khartoum in response to an invitation extended by Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir, a government source disclosed this week. “The Libyan government welcomes the invitation received from president al-Bashir. (The government) considers it as a step in the right direction and a confirmation of Sudan’s support to the democratic process in Libya,” a Libyan official told the Libyan Bawabat Alwasat on Monday.
The official further said that al-Thani accepted the invitation after Khartoum’s full recognition of the House of Representatives as the sole legitimate body representing the will of the Libyan people. Observers in Khartoum says the public acceptance of the invitation is seen by the Sudanese government as the first positive signal from Tripoli after repeated Libyan accusations of supporting extremists groups in the north African nation. On 2 October, Sudan’s foreign ministry for the second time within a less than three weeks summoned the Libyan ambassador in Khartoum to protest against these accusations.
Earlier, on 2 October 2014, the Sudan Tribune reported more particularly on the accusations by Libya against Khartoum:
The Sudanese foreign ministry announced on Thursday that it summoned the Libyan charge d’affaires to protest recent remarks by an army general in which he accused Khartoum of backing extremist groups in the North African nation. This follows a similar move on September 15th by the ministry in which the acting Libyan CDA was summoned to complain over same allegations made by Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni. The latter warned that Tripoli may sever ties with Khartoum as well as Doha if they continue aiding these militias. Sudan’s foreign ministry reiterated its denial of meddling in Libyan internal affairs or taking sides in the ongoing conflict.
“The misleading information transmitted by media that is attributed to Libyan [army] officer claimed Sudan’s interference in the internal affairs of his country,” the ministry said in a statement adding that this information is “unfounded.” It denounced attempts seeking to involve Sudan in the Libyan conflict and noted the Sudanese government’s recognition of the legitimacy of the elected Council of Representatives, which meets in Tobruk.
So Khartoum would appear to be ready to bluster with denial of what is revealed clearly in the minutes of the 31 August 2014 meeting of senior regime officials:
“We have intensified the work to train and graduate Libyan [Islamist rebels] Military Intelligence cadres. Currently, they are doing an advanced course on Internet operation, deciphering of codes, interception of telephones and wireless radios. Their leadership requested us to train and establish for them a strong Military Intelligence system.” (General Siddiq Amer, Director General of Intelligence and Security)
“Our intelligence and security files can play a role in the improvement of our economy [how is never explained—ER] and diplomatic relations. They can also be used to abort the conspiracies of the rebellion against us. The victory of our people [Islamists of the Libya Dawn rebel movement—ER] in Libya is an indication that we will also achieve victory over the New Sudan Project [“New Sudan Project” is Khartoum’s catch-all phrase for any movement toward democratization, press freedoms, equality in citizenship, and secular governance—ER]
And there seems no way to deal with this assertion by General Imad al-Din Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations:
“The Libyan border is totally secured, especially after the victory of our allies [Libya Dawn forces] in Tripoli. We managed to deliver to them the weapons and military equipment donated by Qatar and Turkey and we formed a joint operations room with them under one of the colonels in order to coordinate and administer the military operations. Turkey and Qatar provided us with information in favor of the revolutionaries on top of the information collected by our own agents so they can control the whole country.”
Radio Dabanga reported very recently (28 October 2014) on further details of the Libyan accusations:
[In] late September, Libyan army officers intercepted a Sudanese convoy with Yemeni fighters at El Kufra on the Sudanese-Libyan border. On 6 September, a Sudanese military aircraft was grounded at El Kufra airport, “laden with weapons bound for [Libya Dawn] rebels.” The week before, the Sudanese military attaché in Tripoli was declared persona non grata, after being accused of supporting Libyan militia groups.
Our best news account of what is really at stake here, and the character of Libya Dawn militias is The Guardian [Tunis], 7 September 2014:
Libya has expelled the Sudanese military attaché after accusing Khartoum of flying weapons to Islamist rebels in Tripoli, raising fears of a widening regional conflict. The government, which has fled Tripoli for eastern Libya, accused Khartoum of sending a transport plane loaded with munitions for the Islamist-led Libya Dawn militias who control the capital.
“Sudan is interposing itself by providing arms to a terrorist group that is attacking the headquarters of the state,” said a government statement. “This also represents a clear violation of international resolutions, and the latest UN Security Council resolution.” The government said the plane entered Libyan airspace without permission on Thursday, making a refueling stop in the southern oasis town of Kufra, where the weapons were discovered. It said the weapons were destined for the Tripoli airport of Mitiga, controlled by Libya Dawn. Sudan, which is sympathetic to Libya’s Islamists, confirmed sending the plane but insisted the weapons were intended for legitimate border forces patrolling the southern desert.
Sudan has no more important relationship than the one it has fashioned over centuries with Egypt. There has always been a high degree of ambivalence on both sides, and certainly Sudanese have not forgotten that governance in Sudan from 1898 to 1956 under Anglo-Egyptian Condominium rule.
And no issue is presently of greater concern to Egypt than the fate of the Nile Waters, a true life-line for extremely arid Egypt. The White Nile and Blue Nile meet in Khartoum and then flow onto Egypt; the White Nile meanders up from South Sudan, but some 80 percent of the total water flow comes from the Blue Nile, which emerges into Sudan from Ethiopia. That Ethiopia continues with its immense “Renaissance Dam” project has rankled Egypt and even prompted on occasion the suggestion of military force if no satisfactory resolution of various issues is reached. As a consequence, Egypt is likely to find dismaying a range of statements made during the meeting of August 31; but for now Egyptian President General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi seems willing to let the past go…perhaps. Al-Bashir indirectly but unmistakably suggests that the leaked minutes have created a real problem in the relationship between Cairo and Khartoum:
[Al-Bashir] urged the media to play a positive role in supporting and enhancing relations between the two countries. “What we agreed upon, myself and president Sisi, will not be [adversely] impacted by the [negative] media because this agreement is built on solid foundation that wouldn’t be shaken by winds or storms whatsoever,” he added. (Sudan Tribune [Khartoum] 19 October 2014)
But al-Sisi is not likely to be fooled by al-Bashir’s blaming of the “media,” and its reporting of the contents of the minutes from August 31. He has seen for himself, we may be sure, the comments on Egypt by the most senior military and security officials:
“This [broad-ranging agreement with Ethiopia] also caused the annoyance of the Egyptians who considered it a military pact signed against their interests in the waters of the Blue Nile. That prompted them to concede with us and they decided to prevent Ali Mahmud Hasaneen [Sudanese political opposition leader] from holding his party’s convention in Cairo as a sign of good will.” (General Imad al-Din Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations)
Al-Sisi is no stranger to Realpolitik of the most brutal sort, so it is unclear how the pact with Ethiopia will affect relations down the road. But what will be lost on no one is the way in which Khartoum is playing one regional actor against another at every turn where it might secure an advantage—and then baldly lying about their strategy as needed. Certainly it must have been disconcerting for the Egyptian leadership, including Military Intelligence and security, to read:
“We intercepted all the telephone calls coming from Saudi, Emirates, and Egyptian intelligence. Some people from the political parties of Sudan say they orchestrated the demonstrations [of September-October 2013], yet they brought experts to administer the demonstrations. We were monitoring the telephones and other communications and we managed to arrest the real players. They confessed and disclosed all the details about the conspiracy and the names of officers assigned to supervise the demonstrations and the leadership in each country who were receiving daily reports.” (Major General Mohammed Atta, Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Services)
And one can easily imagine that the Egyptians were unnerved by the intelligence assessment offered in boastful fashion by Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein:
Currently, there are twenty thousand (20,000) Jihadists and fifteen (15) newly formed Jihadist Movements who are scattered all over, from Morocco to Egypt, Sinai, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, all the Gulf States, a wide presence in Africa and Europe and nobody owns a data-base [such] as the one we have.
As to Khartoum’s cooperation on counter-terrorism with the Obama administration, which lusts after whatever regime security officials choose to throw their way, we learn a good deal from the conclusion to this paragraph:
We release only limited information to the Americans according to [their] request, and the price is the armed movements file. The coming days carry a lot of surprises.
It is difficult not to read this as declaring two important facts:  the regime provides the U.S. only what it specifically asks for, and that it is anything but overly generous in passing on information about known terrorist groups;  “the price is the armed movements file.” What precisely this means is not clear even in the new translation, but one may be forgiven for thinking that “the armed movements file” includes not only the Darfuri rebel groups but the armed force Khartoum fears most, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-North), especially in South Kordofan. Is the U.S. providing intelligence to Khartoum that works to sell out men like Abdel Aziz el-Hilu, Yasir Arman, and Malik Agar? Is this occurring even as the Obama administration has given up on serious efforts to move humanitarian supplies into SPLM/A-North-controlled areas—leaving more than 1 million people seriously at risk from starvation and disease?
This is especially likely if Khartoum is successful in its repeatedly avowed campaign to deliberately “starve” the people of South Kordofan by destroying this year’s healthy sorghum crop:
“This year the Sudan People’s Army (SPLA) [SPLM/A-North, and of course the people of South Kordofan, not the rebel forces, are responsible for this year’s crop—ER] managed to cultivate large areas in South Kordofan State. We must not allow them to harvest these crops. Good harvest means supplies for the war effort. We must starve them, so that commanders and civilians desert them and then we can recruit the deserters to use them in the war to defeat the rebels.” (General Siddiq Amer, Director General of Intelligence and Security)
Many of the countries noted in the minutes have evidently had their secure communications compromised by Khartoum’s rapidly improving intercept capabilities (see above).
Intelligence on terrorists and radical Islamist and Islamic groups also seems to suggest a deep knowledge of the very organizations and individuals that are supposed to be reported to Washington as part of the “arrangement” between the U.S. and Sudan. Sudan of course tends to shy away from use of the words terrorism or terrorist: they appear only seven times in the 27 pages of the new English translation (22 October 2014), and almost always in connection with the “U.S. war on terrorism.” Only twice is the term “terrorist” deployed in the document without a direct connection to the “war on terrorism” that binds Washington and Khartoum in a grim, hypocritical, and expedient relationship (see an account of this relationship here). Both uses of “terrorism”/”terrorist groups” are revealing of the character and capabilities of the regime. In the first, the terrorism counter-intelligence of the Gulf States is revealingly derided:
“The Gulf States have only very weak information about the terrorist groups that are based in Libya, Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, North Africa Arab Countries and Afghanistan, because there is a lot of tension in their relations with these radical groups. They want us to cooperate with them in the war against terrorism, because the radical groups constitute a direct threat to them. Their relation with ISIS, Nusra Front, Muslim Brothers, and Palestine Islamic Movement is even weaker.” (General Yehya Mohammed Kheir, Minister of State for Defense)
The second comment is a good deal more ominous, and contains the explicit threat to use terrorism in dealing with Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States—all accused by Khartoum of supporting the September/October 2013 popular uprising in a number of cities in Sudan:
“[The Saudi, Egyptian, and Emirate intelligence services] confessed and disclosed all the details about the conspiracy and the names of officers assigned to supervise the demonstrations and the leadership in each country who were receiving daily reports. That is why Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates are concerned/afraid after all their agents have been exposed and arrested by our security forces.”
“On our side we did not disclose anything up until now, we want to use this file to blackmail them instead. They have taken many measures fearing that we may use or release terrorist groups to revenge from them. No need to fear or hurry, we shall use this file to the maximum. We will not disclose it.” (Major General Mohammed Atta, Director General of National Intelligence and Security Services)
This is a deeply cynical, indeed sinister attitude toward the use of terrorism as an agent of fear, even if not actually deployed—yet.
As I have noted in a previous analysis, the minutes of the 31 August 2014 high-level meeting return on a number of occasions to South Sudan and, in particular, the role Khartoum intends to play in determining the outcome of the conflict. The concerns are final determination of the North/South border (still not delineated, let alone demarcated, with key areas in dispute) and more specifically the ability to control and define a “de-centralized” “Greater Upper Nile”—location of the most lucrative oil production—with Riek Machar as puppet “governor. Thus there is considerable discussion of the very substantial military assistance the regime intends to provide Riek.
Seen collectively, the statements below make clear that war between the South and the Khartoum regime is increasingly likely. At the very least, the regime is helping to prolong a civil war that has produced near-famine conditions in South Sudan and has given rebel leaders Riek Machar and Taban Deng reason to believe that they might prevail militarily or enter negotiations in a much stronger negotiating position by virtue of military strength on the ground.
Khartoum seems to have found common ground with Riek Machar:
“We must change the balance of forces in South Sudan. Riak, Taban and Dhieu Mathok came and requested support in the areas of training in [Military Intelligence], and especially in tanks and artillery. They requested armament also. They want to be given advanced weapons. Our reply was that we have no objection, provided that we agree on a common objective. Then we train and supply with the required weapons. For sure we will benefit from their discourse. Taban apologized for the support he rendered to Darfurian movements and the role he played in Hijliij [Heglig] battle. That Dinka used them in that battle to spoil their relation with the North. But they discovered the mistake of late.” (Major Hashim Abdalla Mohammed, Chief of Joint General Staff)
The general continues by speaking about what amounts to the secession of “Greater Upper Nile” under cover of “federalism.” Of course, this is precisely the region where the most productive oil sites lie. Khartoum, as I warned last January, sees as a distinct possibility the de facto annexation of Upper Nile in partnership with Riek and forces loyal to him (which certainly does not include all those in military opposition or the SPLA-“In Opposition”). From another perspective, Riek sees this as an opportunity to create a lucrative fiefdom in the oil regions:
“Now they [Riek and Taban] are fighting to achieve a federal system or self-rule for each region. I think any self-rule for Greater Upper Nile is good for us in terms of border security, oil resources, and trade. Now we have to study how to enable them [on?] a well-trained force with efficient [Military Intelligence] and logistic staff.” (Major General Hashim Abdalla Mohammed, Chief of Joint General Staff)
Of course Riek is not fighting for the principle of federalism, or indeed any principle at all: he is a ruthless, power-hungry man indifferent to the suffering that a prolonged civil war will bring. And certainly if he is supplied by Khartoum with logistics, tanks, artillery, and advanced weapons, he will be in a position to fight on indefinitely. General Hashim Abadalla Mohammed declares that “we have no objection,” stipulating only that “we agree on a common objective.” The oil of Upper Nile is that “common objective.”
Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein certainly shares this view:
“The people of South Sudan must accept to meet us and tell us their opinion on the drawing of the zero line and the buffer zone. [This is simply a bald lie: it has been Khartoum that has for years resisted all efforts to resolve the North/South border disputes, short of total concession by the South. One must wonder if lying is so habitual in some men that it becomes for them the “truth”—ER.]
“If they refuse, we can deal with them in a manner that suits the threat they pose to us. I met Riak, Dhieu and Taban and they are regretting the decision to separate the South and we decided to return his house [in Khartoum—ER] to him. He requested us to assist him and that he has [a] shortage in [Military Intelligence] personnel, operations command, and tank technicians. We must use the many cards we have against the South in order to give them [an] unforgettable lesson.” [Yet again use of the “card” metaphor, a reflection of Khartoum’s constant calculation of the “odds,” and when a gamble should be taken. Given the economic implosion in Sudan, the gamble of the moment in the oil regions seems increasingly attractive—ER]
Hussein’s is a thinly disguised and completely unjustified basis for military seizure of contested regions, with “Greater Upper Nile” nominally governed by Riek thrown into the deal. Hussein’s “reasoning” has the support of Major General (PSC) Imadadiin Adawi, Chief of Joint Operations:
“Riak and Taban during their visit to Khartoum disclosed to us everything about the logistical support from Juba to the rebels, the route of supply and who transport it to them. Also gave us information about the meetings held between Juba and the rebels in regards to the disengagement between the two divisions and the SPLM/A South.”
But there has never been strong evidence of substantial support from Juba for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North. Small Arms Survey has found only limited evidence of assistance, and nothing that could seriously assist the war effort; indeed, SAS concludes that “the vast majority of the weapons documented with rebel groups originated in Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) stockpiles” (2014 Yearbook, page 20, Chapter 7). The two divisions of the SPLM/A-North—in South Kordofan and Blue Nile—were largely self-equipped when the breakup of the so-called Joint Integrated Units occurred prior to Southern independence. And particularly in the Nuba, General Abdel Aziz el-Hilu of the SPLM/A-North has seized tremendous quantities of weapons and ammunition from Khartoum’s SAF and its militia allies. Moreover, desperately embattled as it is, Juba is simply in no position, logistically or otherwise, to assist the SPLM/A-North. Here the minister reflects simply more angry fantasy presented as deliberation.
But guided by the same instincts, Major General Siddiig Aamir, Director of Military Intelligence and Security, is willing to invade South Sudan surreptitiously:
“The South is still supporting the rebels with the aim to change our government in Khartoum. In order to counter that danger, we are pre-empting them by a plan to infiltrate and empty the refugee camps [in Unity State and Blue Nile State—ER], recruit field commanders, and train the sons of the war affected areas to fight and defeat the rebellion [by the SPLM/A-North—ER].
What is clear throughout is that Khartoum sees no reason not to support the rebel groups in the South:
“[Juba is] still supporting the two divisions of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile [This is simply not true in any significant sense now, if it ever was—more self-reinforcing mendacity within the regime, used as a means of explaining the crushing military defeats suffered earlier in the war in the Nuba Mountains—ER]. Accordingly, we must provide Riak forces with big support in order to wage the war against Juba and clean the whole of Greater Upper Nile area.” (Major (PSC) Imadadiin Adawi, Chief of Joint Operations) [The verb “clean” here has extremely ominous implications, given the history of the regime’s engaging in what many—on many occasions—have called “ethnic cleansing”—ER]
There could hardly be a more explicit declaration of strategic ambition. That this will entail military conflict likely costing hundreds of thousands of civilian lives seems not to occur even as a passing thought to these men.
The African Union
In some ways the most dispiriting parts of these minutes are those that reveal the total corruption of the African Union as a mediating party in various peace talks over a number of years now, with files that include Darfur, Abyei, Southern independence, Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and internecine fighting in South Sudan. Led by the thoroughly incompetent and duplicitous Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa, the roster of those whom Khartoum claims as its own is terrifyingly large.
The continued AU support for the farce that is the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD)—which enjoys no support in Darfuri civil society or among the rebel groups of consequence—is only the most egregious example of diplomatic malfeasance, something on which Khartoum evidently feasts:
“[The SPLM/A-North] do not trust Mbeki. AU representative, Abdul, told me that Malik and Yasir have complained against him to the Ethiopian President and the American envoy.” (General Salah al-Tayeb, DDR Commissioner)
The same distrust of Mbeki was clear during his stint working on Darfur, and equally clear in the dismay on the part of the indigenous Dinka Ngok of Abyei over Mbeki’s unbalanced diplomacy. But the corruption within the ranks of AU officials runs much deeper than Mbeki, as Defense Minister Hussein asserts with dismaying confidence:
“I told [Mbeki] that we trust Mohamed Ibn Chambas [Joint AU-UN Special Representative for Darfur, Head of UNAMID and Joint Chief Mediator—ER] who will bring all the Darfur movements to Addis Ababa. The purpose of the Addis meeting with them is only consultation and not negotiation [in short, for show only, as a public relations exercise—ER]. In case any of them is interested in negotiation let [them] go to Doha [which Khartoum knows full well is a diplomatic dead-end—ER].
“He is going to bring all of them together and seek their opinion on the proposal; if they reject the [regime-led “National”—ER] dialogue, then the position of Sudan will be safe, and we will be able to defend it in front of the international community. In that case Sudan will be seen by the international community to have done its best. Mbeki will participate in the internal dialogue as an observer. Also I, met Ali al-Zaatari (UN), Salah Halima (Arab League), and Haile Menkerios [Special Envoy of the Secretary-General for Sudan and South Sudan and head of the UN Office to the AU] and all of them support us. We have achieved a lot.
Some had held out hope for Ibn Chambas, but if we believe what Khartoum’s brutal leaders say in private, he is little more than a stooge for the regime. (Menkerios has also steadfastly revealed himself as such, especially around the Abyei crisis.) Here is Hussein again:
“When I met Mohamed Ibn Chambas, he said the UN is going to investigate into the reports of the UNAMID Mission and advised me to correct things on the ground to conform to their reports about our performance. He told me that Darfur has no case or problem, the remaining movements should join Doha agreement, and if they want to join the internal national initiative it is up to them and let them come. We leave the invitation to the dialogue to be the responsibility of the AU.”
Here is clear evidence that Ibn Chambas has taken sides with Khartoum, as the people of Darfur certainly believe. Given then incompetence, misrepresentations, and gross self-celebration that define his predecessors Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria) and Rodolphe Adada (Congo), it is perhaps not surprising to find another diplomatic disaster.
Moreover, it is hardly surprising that Khartoum views African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa as an ideal location to gather intelligence on the SPLM/A-North:
“Some collaborators are sent to the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa to monitor SPLM activities, such as: who do they meet, their impressions, their understanding of the internal affairs, etc? Our elements use different means to collect strategic information plus defining the elements of strength and weakness in the SPLM. Hamed al-Aghbash’s movements have been monitored. We have people who spotted him in Ethiopia, and they contact him through the different means of communication. The rebels always distrust the people around them, and we have dealt with them based on this understanding. We have our cadres resort to building friendly relationships, and they document everything with photos. They must be active, communicating with everybody and collecting strategic information.” (General Al-Rashiid Faqiri, Director of National Security)
There are simply too many reports confirming that Iran has and continues to move weapons to Hamas in Gaza by using Sudan as a conduit for their to be any reasonable skepticism. As Israeli intelligence has improved in tracking these movements, it has felt an increasing need to forestall delivery, as the Jerusalem Post reported this summer (“Report: Alleged Israeli strike on Sudanese weapons arsenal,” 21 July 2014)
Sources in Khartoum claimed on Monday that Israeli forces struck a weapons arsenal which held long-range missiles for Hamas. The Arabic-language UK-based newspaper Al-Arab reported that the government in Sudan is not confirming the incident in order to cover up relations with the terrorist organization in Gaza. Such ties could entangle the country’s president Omar al-Bashir with an accusation of supporting terrorism from the U.S. and Western nations. The attack came only hours after Israel accused the Sudanese government of storing long-range missiles for Hamas. Eyewitnesses claimed to have seen a “huge explosion” and billows of smoke before ambulances and firefighters arrived at the scene. Six people were allegedly wounded in the attack. Sudanese security forces stated that the huge explosion in a weapons arsenal was the result of a fire that broke out and took place on Friday morning in the al-Jili neighborhood of the capital. Two weeks before the alleged Israeli strike, Sudan’s President al-Bashir was seen meeting with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar.
The role of Qatar in supporting radical Islamic groups, including terrorists, needs much closer scrutiny. But the meeting in Qatar of President al-Bashir and Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal speaks for itself. There have been repeated reports, including Wikileaked U.S. State Department cables, making clear that Sudan continues to develop its “strategic relationship” with Iran by supporting its terrorist proxy in Gaza. There is no sign that this key element in the relationship between Iran and Sudan has ended.
[ A subsequent analysis will look at the extraordinary omissions from the minutes of August 31, preeminently the realities of an imploding national economy and the disastrous malnutrition rates that prevail throughout Sudan, especially in Darfur. The economic views of the security and military officials who gathered for this meeting, insofar as they are expressed, are all too aptly represented by Defense Minister Hussein, who manages in an exceedingly short space to reveal himself as a myopic, self-serving idiot, who lives by cruelty and lies:
The economic situation is being addressed and will improve due to the fact that our country has all the requirements for industrialization, agriculture, basic infrastructure for the oil industry, and there is no hungry person. This [economic implosion] is temporary; these days will pass. The military industries will cover all our needs in the armed forces.
Analysis of what is represented by such fantastic self-deception will be the point of departure for the next brief. For now two recent reports (26 and 28 October 2014) from Radio Dabanga give a sense of just how far from reality the regime is in acknowledging the largest costs of buying its political support and its obscene self-enrichment. Two Sudanese economists are cited:
“Khartoum’s financial policies crime against Sudan”: economist
KHARTOUM (28 Oct. 2014) – Sudanese economist Mohamed Ibrahim Kebej has accused the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) of “squandering” $70 billion of oil revenues between 2000 and 2011. He warned that Sudan’s debts will “weigh heavily on future generations,” and called Khartoum’s financial policies a crime against Sudan.
“Ruling party manages Sudan through private companies”: economist
NAIROBI (26 Oct. 2014) – A prominent Sudanese economist has reported that the Sudanese government spent at least $65 billion of oil revenues on security measures between 2000 and July 2011, when South Sudan seceded from Sudan. He also outlined how the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) controls all financial and economic fields in Sudan through about 500 companies it owns. In a paper presented at a consultative meeting recently convened in Nairobi, Kenya, on institutional reform in Sudan, the Sudanese economist Dr Siddig Ombadda stated that more than $65 billion has been spent on the military and security since Sudan began exporting crude oil at the end of 1999, until the secession of South Sudan in July 2011.