An Open Letter to Ibrahim Ghandour, Deputy Chairman of the National Congress Party, on the occasion of his visit to meet with Obama administration officials in Washington, DC
[Sudan Tribune, 7 February 2015]
Forgive me, Ibrahim Ghandour, if I’ve got your title wrong: I was guided simply by what appeared in the 31 August 2014 minutes of a meeting in which you participated, along with the most senior military and security officials in your regime (see | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1tC). You, of course, have denied that such a meeting took place, and declared that the minutes that came to me—in Arabic and English—are “total fabrications.” Unfortunately, you are in a very distinct minority: no one outside your regime agrees with this claim. In fact, a great many highly knowledgeable people, whose first language is Arabic and who are from Sudan, insist that all evidence indicates the minutes are authentic; so do a number of Sudan experts (see http://wp.me/p45rOG-1w5). And of course the notion that a document so complex, so richly detailed, so completely knowing might have been spun out of thin air in a matter of weeks is preposterous. So for purposes of commenting on your upcoming visit to Washington, DC to meet with the Obama administration, I’m afraid I must assume their authenticity. Certainly those who will be greeting you outside the State Department will have made the same assumption, and their “welcome” will be accordingly animated.
Ibrahim Ghandour, Deputy Chairman of the National Congress Party
Notably, during the August 31 meeting you spoke after all but Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh had spoken, and you began your comments with the statement: “I agree with all that has been said so far.” One must construe this as meaning that you agree with the following comments, all preceding your own:
 Perhaps most striking are the statements by General Siddiq Amer, Director General of Intelligence and Security:
“We must not allow them [the people of the Nuba Mountains] 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.”
He is echoed by General Imad al-Din Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations:
“My personal opinion is that any negotiations with the rebels are a waste of time. They will not get what they want…. It is better that we defeat them with military action and those who remain, we must bring them back under Daniel Codi, Siraj and Al-Sese who are all inside movements. We should attack them before the harvest and bombard their food stores and isolate them completely.”
Since you agree with these extraordinary statements, I’ve presumed to add emphasis to the key words. Perhaps you are not aware that what you are agreeing with is not a military strategy but a campaign of civilian starvation, meant to deny the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army food by denying it all in the Nuba Mountains. This amounts to a vast crime against humanity. I suspect, however, that you know this full well.
 You apparently agree with the statement by General Amer:
“The victory of our people in Libya [the radical Islamist organization Libya Dawn] is an indication that we will also achieve victory over the New Sudan Project.
He is echoed by General Adawy with whom you also presumably again agree:
“The Libyan border is totally secured, specially after the victory of our allies (Libya Dawn Forces) in Tripoli.”
By the “New Sudan Project” I assume you and your fellow confabulators mean efforts among disparate groups of Sudanese to press for democratic freedoms, citizenship not based on ethnicity or religion, and an end to the marginalization of all the peripheral regions of Sudan that has been a constant over the past 25 years of rule by your National Islamic Front, renamed (conveniently) the National Congress Party after the split with Hassan al-Turabi fifteen years ago.
 You evidently agree with the statement by General Abdalla al-Jaili, Popular Defense Forces General Coordinator:
“We have been targeted for the last twenty-five years because of our relationship with Iran. Both revolutions are committed to Islam. 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.”
The general’s sentiments are of course repeatedly echoed throughout the meeting by nearly all present. As an aside, I can’t help but wonder if the fact that General al-Jaili has Ali Karti’s old job means he also has political ambitions.
 You must also agree with another statement by General Amer:
“My comment concerns our relationship with Saudi Arabia and 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. They are backed by the Americans and Israel and have concerns regarding our relationship with Iran which is beneficial to us, because Iran is our biggest ally in the region, in terms of the cooperation in the areas of intelligence and military industrial production. We have relations with all the Islamic Movements World Wide and we represent a door for Iran to all these Islamic groups.”
Do you intend to be frank about these views in discussions with Ambassador Booth and the State Department in talks next week?
 The assessment offered by General Yehya Mohammed Kheir, Minister of State for Defense seems also to have secured your agreement:
“This year will mark the end of the rebellion, because we shall send a huge force to attack from all directions. We shall take them by surprise, by sending forces from Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile and Darfur in an offensive by both land and air, carried out by people from the movement in this area who have joined the security forces. We shall turn them into a political opposition that is easy to dismantle.”
Certainly the brutality with which the Rapid Support Forces have been deployed in Darfur and South Kordofan has made the general as good as this word—and presumably yours.
 Since you devote so much of your own contribution to a discussion of how you are presently engineering the re-election of President al-Bashir’s—which might be made a bit more difficult because he has been indicted by the ICC for genocide and crimes against humanity in Darfur—I assume you must also support enthusiastically the statement by Major General Hashim Osman Al-Hussein, Director General of Police:
“There must be strict control over the freedom of the press and the political statements from the party leaders. National security should remain a red line. Any political or press statement should not violate the laws…. Let us enforce the criminalization of anybody who supports the rebellion or criticizes the national armed forces.”
This insistence of course comports well with the rather dramatic demand by Major General Mohammed Atta, Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Services:
“Any journalist or politician who criticizes the Rapid Support Forces must be arrested and charged with spying.”
 Perhaps it was news to you when Major General Hashim Abdalla Mohammed, Chief of Joint General Staff informed the group that:
“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-Houthi’s Shiia group in Yemen.”
This (the getting caught part) certainly must have been generally irritating, especially given the international prominence the Houthi forces in Yemen have achieved with the resignation of President Abed Rabbo Hadi (you might be interested in my analysis of this at | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1zB). It must be somewhat inconvenient to have the entire region know that you and your regime are responsible for fomenting conflict on the Arabian Peninsula, especially since the rebel Houthi’s have now seized power in Sana’a, creating much greater opportunities for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
 The general was also rather forceful in his comments on the increasing influence of the military in deciding issues of peace and war; I yet again assume you agree:
“The Sudan Armed Forces are against any dialogue that is supervised by foreigners. Any parties calling for the dialogue to be supervised by foreign agencies merely target the security and stability of the country and desire to dismantle the SAF so that Sudan will fall under the mercy of the armed militias. The Islamist officers refuse any form of dialogue interfering with the SAF. We support separate forums for negotiation with the rebels, each in his place, no unification of forums or negotiation with them as a group.”
You, of course, are aware that this piecemeal approach is destined to yield no meaningful peace. Indeed, I assume that’s why you agree with the general, and that’s why there has been no progress in the separate negotiations with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North, negotiations in which you are the regime’s lead negotiator.
 I must say it did seem rather inflammatory of the general to go on to say:
“We can bring all the Islamic movements to fight [the rebels]. We only have to say that these rebels are agents of America. We can create conflict for them with the Islamic radicals, just so they realize their true size, but that is a card we have not used until now.”
I can’t say whether this is true or not, but it does seem an unorthodox way of motivating or enlisting soldiers. But again, I can only assume you agree with the assessment, and the convenience of lying as necessary. Perhaps you can discuss this further with Ambassador Booth and others in the Obama administration next week.
 I also can’t say whether General Atta is boasting or not in his comment below; but certainly there is good evidence that you are in fact able to intercept electronic communications nationally and internationally in highly sophisticated fashion:
“We intercepted all the telephone calls coming from Saudi, Emirates and Egyptian intelligence. Some people from the political parties of the Sudan say they orchestrated the demonstrations, yet they brought experts to administer the demonstrations. We were monitoring the telephones and other communications…”
 What I find particularly interesting in your support for General Atta’s proposals is the following:
“With the appearance of ISIS, Europe and America must cooperate with us for combating terrorism. This is where we can bargain the Sudan Revolutionary Forces case.”
I can only construe this to mean—especially in light of comments by others—that you believe the Obama administration is willing to provide intelligence on the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF) in exchange for anything that can help in the war with ISIS. I base this assumption primarily on the remarkable comments by General Abdel Rahim Mohammed Hussein, Minister of Defense:
“America is facing the crisis of the ISIS and the other Jihadist movements that are newly formed and can move freely outside the traditional surveillance networks. 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 on that as the one we have. We release only limited information to the Americans according to request, and the price is the armed movements file. The coming days carry a lot of surprises.”
The impressive data-base seems indeed a good negotiating lever, but it is unfortunate for your plans that General Hussein was quite so specific:
“We release only limited information to the Americans, according to request, and the price is the armed movements file.”
Perhaps you might gloss that sentence for the American intelligence community, which seems so eager to have what you offer in the form of counter-terrorism intelligence. Perhaps also you can clarify for all of us whether the “armed movements file”—the price the Obama administration must pay for this intelligence—has in fact been given to your comrades in arms during current genocidal counter-insurgencies.
 Finally, in speaking about your own comments—which are so thorough in explaining how you plan to rig the April 2015 presidential election—I must say I was taken aback by your general assessment of the economy:
“The economic crisis is temporary. It will improve, since programs were put in place to solve the problems. It will be over soon by increasing the agricultural and animal production.”
In fact, your group seems remarkably ill-informed—or perhaps simply in deep denial—about the extremely dire straits into which the Sudanese economy has fallen (I except here the quiet alarm registered by Mustafa Osman Ismail, Political Secretary of the NCP). Inflation is above fifty percent (really, let’s not pretend that your Bureau of Statistics has any integrity); there is extremely high unemployment and under-employment; the agricultural sector is collapsing—alas, mainly the doing of your corrupt regime and the political cronies who have benefitted so enormously from this corruption—all at the expense of the Sudanese people. It would seem that you are oblivious to Khartoum’s almost total lack of Foreign Exchange Currency (Forex), and hence your inability to import key commodities such as wheat for making bread and cooking gas cylinders; this has created serious shortages and long lines of which you must be aware. Are the “dots” really so hard to connect?
The Sudanese Pound has plummeted in value; and the security and military budget—let’s be honest for a moment—is well in excess of 50 percent of the annual budgetary expenditures. On top of all this is an external debt of approximately US$47 billion—the vast bulk of it accrued during your 25 years in power, and accelerated by continuing profligate military purchases from abroad. You must know that this debt can’t be serviced, let alone re-paid (I present all this information about the Sudanese in rather detailed fashion at | http://wp.me/p45rOG-1sa).
You indeed give us much to think about by agreeing with such a wide range of opinions as they were expressed in the August 31 meeting, Ibrahim Ghandour. But perhaps in return you might entertain questions that I am not alone in asking. Indeed, you could start by answering the questions posed by Yasir Arman, Secretary-General of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North in Sudan Tribune, 6 February 2015: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article53904.
But I’ve got a few of my own questions about recent events; many more would present themselves if we ranged back before August 31, 2014.
 Have you anywhere, at any time, distanced yourself from the claims by Foreign Minister Ali Karti and senior officers in the Sudan Armed Forces, adamantly denying that mass rapes occurred in Tabit, North Darfur (October 31 – November 1, 2014)? I’ve started off with an easy question, one that pretty much answers itself: No, you have not! And yet Human Rights Watch is about to release a report, based on extensive research and interviews, about the Tabit rapes, declaring in a press release of 5 February 2015:
Between October 30 and November 1, 2014, Sudanese government forces entered Tabit, North Darfur, and carried out massive abuses against the town’s residents, including a mass rape of women and girls. Sudan responded by denying the abuses and has refused to allow international peacekeepers and other independent monitors to investigate the crimes. This report, based on two months of research, details the abuses and recommends steps to protect civilians from further abuse.
Is there any reason to doubt the integrity of the Human Rights Watch conclusion? Is there any reason to believe you are not complicit in the extensive cover-up of this atrocity crime?
 Can you provide any evidence that you are serious in your role as lead negotiator in talks with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North? All the evidence—much of it provided by your colleagues in the August 31 meeting—suggests that you have no intention of negotiating and are pressing relentlessly for military victory—and that you are willing to “starve” innocent civilians in the process.
 Do you support the expulsion of Ali al-Za’atari as UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Sudan along with other UN personnel? You’ve raised no objections publicly. Does this decision have anything to do with al-Za’atari’s assessments of the humanitarian situation in Darfur?
A team of emergency directors from various United Nations humanitarian agencies has described the situation in Darfur as “severely deteriorating” and disclosed that numbers of IDPs are increasing dramatically, revealing rampant cases of malnutrition throughout the restive region. (Sudan Tribune [Khartoum], March 18, 2014)
Do you support Ali Karti’s threat to expel more UN humanitarian officials?
 Officials in your regime regularly deny that you target civilians with your military aircraft. And yet beyond the inherently indiscriminate nature of attacks by retrofitted Antonov cargo planes—flying at altitude of 5,000 meters to avoid ground fire and equipped with no bomb-siting mechanism—you have also used your advance military jet aircraft to attack civilian targets. Recently, a Sukhoi-24 attacked the hospital of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières—the second time their hospital in Frandala, South Kordofan has been attacked. Your forces have also bombed the Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, near Kauda in the Nuba Mountains—the second time again with a Sukhoi-24 air-to-ground attack plane.
I have posted on my website scores of photographs of the civilian victims of attacks such as these, very often children. I have chronicled your attacks going back to 1999 (www.sudanbombing.org), a chronicling authoritative enough to have been cited by the UN Panel of Experts in Darfur (Report S/2014/87 on page 33/147, footnote 42). The Panel, charged with monitoring military aircraft flights in Darfur, all of which constitute violations of UN Security Council Resolution 1591 (March 2005), has been consistently thwarted by your regime, which neither investigates nor permits investigations to take place (in nearly all cases). Why is this? Can you explain any of the savagery that is so conspicuously the responsibility, indeed the intention of your regime?
 What exactly is the “mechanism” First Vice-President Bakri Hassan Saleh is referring to when he says in his summary remarks at the end of the August 31 meeting: “Support the mechanism intended to disperse or empty the Internally Displaced Persons camps [in Darfur]”? Although you are unlikely to acknowledge the research that indicates how severe a problem displacement is in Darfur, the First Vice President acknowledges the existence of the camps, and demands that you and others “support the mechanism” by which the camps are to be emptied. Where do you expect the more than 2.5 million Internally Displaced Persons to go once they have been “emptied” from the camps that are presently all that provide humanitarian relief and some small measure of security?
And what of the more than 380,000 Darfuri refugees in eastern Chad? What are they to make of your plans to “empty” the IDP camps? Why should they infer anything but the worst of intentions on the part of your regime?
Of course I have a great many more questions, but I’ll let these stand as representative for the present. One way or another, if you come to Washington next week, expect to be met by people—Sudanese and American—who are asking the same and other questions.