Recent comments in Khartoum by Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Steven Feldstein warrant serious scrutiny in light of the elections in Sudan scheduled for a month from now. Most significantly, “[Feldstein] reiterated U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts” (State Department media note, 28 February 2015). This preposterous optimism about the nature and prospects of true national political dialogue in Sudan under the current regime is of a piece with Obama administration policies and statements over the past six years, and signals in advance of the elections that the “victory” that will be represented by President Omar al-Bashir’s “re-election” will be accepted, thereby providing the “legitimacy” that members of the regime see as the real goal of this electoral charade—boycotted by a growing number of important political constituencies and simply unable to be conducted in many parts of the country wracked by violence.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Steven Feldstein
It would be a long chronicle indeed that managed to record even briefly the various moments of disingenuousness and outright mendacity on the part of the Obama administration in speaking about Sudan and articulating what passes for a “Sudan policy.” Whether it is the refusal to acknowledge realities in Darfur and the need for meaningful civilian protection; the duplicitous means by which Abyei was abandoned (notably, President al-Bashir recently declared officially that Abyei is part of Sudan); the expedient failure to acknowledge the implications of Khartoum’s military actions in South Kordofan in summer 2011; or the absurd claim by former special envoy Princeton Lyman that the current National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime (NCP) is capable of overseeing democratization in Sudan—at countless points the Obama administration has failed to take issues in Sudan seriously or speak of them honestly. The secession of South Sudan marked the end of engagement with the real issues in Sudan; and the continuing lust for counter-terrorism intelligence has ensured that Sudan policy has moved further out of the State Department and into the multifarious U.S. intelligence community.
Obama’s first special envoy, retired Air Force Major General Scott Gration, declared soon after taking the position that only “remnants of genocide” remained in Darfur. A literally incoherent statement as it stood at the time, Gration’s evident claim has been thoroughly belied by the continuing ethnically-targeted human destruction, suffering, and engineered deprivation that never ceased and have dramatically accelerated for the past three years, reaching a current crescendo that has put more than half the population of Darfur at risk—more than three and a half million people. What the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs calls the “GAM load” for Sudan as a whole is 2 million, i.e., 2 million people are at risk because of “Global Acute Malnutrition” (GAM).
Air Force Major-General (retired) Scott Gration, President Obama’s disastrous first special envoy for Sudan; declared in 2009 that “only remnants of genocide” could be found in Darfur; some 2 million Darfuris have been newly displaced since he made this absurd statement, overwhelmingly from the non-Arab/African tribal groups and overwhelmingly by means of ethnically-targeted violence
It must also be noted that almost 3 million people are either internally displaced within Darfur or refugees in eastern Chad, the latter figure approaching 400,000. Approximately 2 million Darfuris have been newly displaced since special envoy Scott Gration made his now infamous remark about only there being “remnants of genocide” in Darfur (many hundreds of thousands more Sudanese civilians have been displaced in South Kordofan and Blue Nile States since 2011). The disastrously conceived UN/African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) is collapsing and significant elements have been already been withdrawn by the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations—not always publicly. The Mission’s UN Security Council authorization, which expires this June, will not be renewed—certainly not in any meaningful form in the face of veto threats from Russia and China; for its part, Khartoum has in recent months adamantly insisted that UNAMID be withdrawn. Humanitarian organizations that have withstood all that the Khartoum regime has inflicted upon them are at the end of their tether. Certainly the end of UNAMID, and thus any international protection force, will compel withdrawal by those that have not already suspended operations or been expelled by the regime.
The targets of militia attacks by Khartoum’s redeployment of Janjaweed elements as the Rapid Response Forces (RSF) continue to remain overwhelmingly populations from the non-Arab/African tribal groups in Darfur, as do attacks on civilians—including rape—by the regular Sudan Armed Forces (SAF).
Following the March 2009 expulsion of thirteen international humanitarian relief organizations and the closing of three important Sudanese national relief organizations, total humanitarian capacity in Darfur was reduced by approximately 50 percent, according to one extremely well-placed UN official (confidential e-mail received March 20, 2009). Moreover, institutional memory, administrative organization, and camp leadership provided by these organizations were devastated. It was impossible to replace the capacity that existed prior to March 2009, and in fact the international relief presence has actually been further reduced by subsequent expulsions, denial of access in many areas of Darfur, and Khartoum’s relentless war of attrition against humanitarian organizations.
The Obama administration response at the time of the expulsions was a mixture of helplessness, expediency, and disingenuousness—what has become a familiar pattern. President Obama declared a week after the expulsions that such actions were “not acceptable” (March 15, 2009). But he and representatives of his administration subsequently took to a vague language of accommodation:
“We have to figure out a mechanism to get those [expelled international humanitarian organizations] back in place [in Darfur], to reverse that decision, or to find some mechanism whereby we avert an enormous humanitarian crisis, [Obama said].” (Reuters [Washington, DC] 30 March 2009)
Such a “mechanism” was of course nowhere in sight, weeks after Obama’s initial declaration—and it was left to special envoy Gration to declare a month into the crisis, “We have to come up with a solution [to the humanitarian crisis] on the ground in the next few weeks” (Agence France-Presse [Khartoum], 4 April 2009). But in the absence of a “solution” or a “mechanism,” (then) Senator John Kerry, chair of the Senate foreign relations committee and an Obama administration surrogate on Sudan, offered an obscenely disingenuous claim of triumph: “‘We have agreement [with Khartoum] that in the next weeks we will be back to 100 percent [humanitarian] capacity,’ said [Senator John] Kerry” (Reuters [el-Fasher], 17 April 2009). Kerry knew full well that Khartoum’s promise was utterly worthless, but by citing it he tuned down international pressure on the regime to respond to actions that dramatically increased the risk faced by millions of Darfuris. Tremendous human suffering and destruction followed from this disingenuousness, and the diffusing of pressure on Khartoum over humanitarian presence and access.
Former Senator and current Secretary of State John Kerry betrayed the people of Darfur in April 2009, declaring that “one hundred percent of humanitarian capacity in the region” would be restored “in a few weeks”—this because Khartoum had “promised…”
Gration’s successor as special envoy, Princeton Lyman, refused for months in summer 2011 to characterize the atrocity crimes in South Kordofan and the Nuba Mountains in remotely appropriate fashion. He denied the existence of mass graves in and around Kadugli following the large-scale and systematic targeting of Nuba civilians in June 2011, despite compelling satellite photographic evidence and reports from the ground by UN human rights officials. In a June 28, 2011 interview with the NewsHour (PBS) he scoffed at claims that what was occurring in the Nuba Mountains amounted to a reprise of the genocide of the 1990s:
“Nuba Mountain people are fighting back and I don’t think the North is capable of dislodging large numbers of people on an ethnic basis…. That’s the reality on the ground. Second, I’m not sure that’s the objective of the government….”
Princeton Lyman, the second Obama administration special envoy for Sudan—convinced that the current Khartoum regime can preside over the “democratic transformation of Sudan”
The current reality on the ground is that many hundreds of thousands of Nuba have been displaced over the past three and a half years—and more than 220,000 have fled from the Nuba and Blue Nile to South Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of other civilians live at acute risk of military assault from the air and on the ground. The agricultural economy of the region has been devastated. And as to Lyman’s declaring, “I’m not sure that’s the objective of the government [ethnic cleansing and destruction of the Nuba people],” President al-Bashir provided a forceful rebuke of such expedient skepticism just days later:
“[President and Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir] directed the armed forces to continue their military operations in South Kordofan until a cleansing of the region is over,” SUNA [Sudan News Agency] quoted Bashir as telling worshippers during Friday prayers.” (Reuters [Khartoum] 1 July 2011)
It was on the orders of President Omar al-Bashir that ethnically-targeted war in the Nuba Mountains raged on, despite an agreement his own senior advisor, Nafie Ali Nafie, had negotiated with the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North
Lyman had downplayed the significance of Khartoum’s preparation for the military annexation of Abyei (May 20 – 22, 2011)—and following the event did little to suggest the U.S. was particularly concerned. This had an immediate impact on Khartoum’s thinking and was instrumental in unleashing the military campaign that began in South Kordofan two weeks later (5 June 2011).
One might have thought that Lyman learned something of the character of the regime during his tenure as special envoy; instead, he declared in a 3 December 2011 interview with the distinguished English-language Arab news outlet Asharq Al-Awsat:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] “The US administration has welcomed the Arab Spring which has overthrown a number of dictatorships in the Middle East and led to free and fair elections being held. Are you calling for the Arab Spring to encompass Sudan, as well?”
[Lyman] “This is not part of our agenda in Sudan. Frankly, we do not want to see the ouster of the [Sudanese] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.”
The sheer preposterousness of such a notion—that the Khartoum regime could “carry out reform via constitutional democratic measures”—is what provides the context for Feldstein’s visit to Khartoum and his comments on departing: “[Feldstein] reiterated U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts.” For Feldstein’s “National Dialogue” read Lyman’s “the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.”
Khartoum’s “National Dialogue”: A deadly political farce
Feldstein’s “reiteration” is not merely preposterous but sends to Khartoum a clear signal: the U.S. will welcome any effort, however specious, to present the April 2015 presidential election as somehow an advance in the democratic process. This is what lay behind the regime’s announcing a wholly factitious “National Dialogue,” which senior regime officials have themselves repeatedly described as a political ploy, designed to give credibility to the foregone conclusion of President Omar al-Bashir’s “victory” in the election. I offer in Appendix A many examples of such comments, which come from the now fully authenticated leaked minutes of the meeting on August 31, 2014 of the regime’s most senior security and military officials, as well as the minutes for a similar meeting on July 1, 2014, also substantially authenticated by native Arabic-speaking/writing Sudanese familiar with the practices of the regime. There have been other significant leaks as well, making clear that there is a serious internal breach in the regime’s security and giving added credibility to the authenticity of these particular sets of minutes.
And yet as widely as the proposed “National Dialogue” has been rejected by the most important political constituencies in Sudan, and despite the many actors who have vowed not to participate in what is transparently a rigged electoral process, the U.S.—with far too much international company—is content to pretend that the regime’s efforts are genuine, and that the “National Dialogue” is meant to include, in meaningful fashion, other political voices.
[I attach below (Appendix B) the lengthy comments of 31 August 2015 by senior regime political official Ibrahim Ghandour on the preparations the NCP had already made in fixing the April 2015—and this was half a year ago.]
The disingenuous suggestion by Feldstein that Khartoum’s version of a “National Dialogue” has any real meaning works precisely to disenfranchise those within Sudan who truly want such dialogue. (Feldstein is evidently the most senior official Khartoum would allow, following the set-up visit by Ghandour to Washington last month; current U.S. special envoy for Sudan Donald Booth cannot obtain a visa to Khartoum.) As well as expressing support for the regime’s “National Dialogue,” Feldstein invoked in obligatory and entirely meaningless fashion the idea of “human rights” in Sudan:
“Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein said the United States will continue to emphasize key democracy and human rights priorities in Sudan.”
And yet there is absolutely nothing suggesting that past Obama administration “emphasis” on “human rights” or “democracy” has borne any fruit; but of course using the words provides at least a fig-leaf of cover for an administration that is looking for a cost-free way to manage the Sudan relationship.
Words without consequence
The substitution of words for meaningful changes in policies toward Khartoum has been evident since the beginning of the Obama administration. Indeed, this was the only task for which special envoy Gration was qualified. But the substitution continues. When U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, in an unusually forcefully worded statement (12 June 2014), “condemned in the strongest possible terms” the deliberate and intensifying bombing of schools, hospitals, and “ordinary people” (Agence France-Presse [UN/New York], 13 June 2014), Khartoum had a ready response: four days after Power’s tough talk, the regime bombed the Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital in South Kordofan:
During an aerial attack on a Sudanese village, Sudan’s air force bombed and partially destroyed a hospital run by the international medical humanitarian organization Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in the war-torn South Kordofan region on Monday, depriving civilians of critical medical care, the organization said today. As bombs struck the village of Farandalla [more commonly spelled Frandala] on 16 June, two hit the MSF hospital. (MSF Press Release, 17 June 2014)
There was no U.S. response of consequence to this outrageous war crime, one that makes a mockery of Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein’s sanctimonious words in Khartoum about “human rights.” Indeed, in the final State Department read-out from the visit, Feldstein disingenuously spoke of the Obama administration’s
“…concern about targeted attacks against civilians in Darfur and the Two Areas [South Kordofan and Blue Nile], including aerial bombardments of civilian targets, and attacks on aid workers. He called upon the Government of Sudan to fully investigate and hold perpetrators of these acts accountable.”
Absurdity reaches new heights with such expression of “concern”: Feldstein and everyone else knows that there is only one air force in Sudan, and that orders for the attacks come from the most senior members of the regime’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). Are we really to believe that the “Government of Sudan” will “fully investigate and hold perpetrators of these acts accountable”? That the regime’s senior military officials will “investigate” their own actions and “hold themselves accountable”? The pretense that any of the aerial attacks on civilians and humanitarians throughout Sudan are not at the behest of the “Government of Sudan” is simply despicable.
Such pretense and the lack of any meaningful response to the attack on MSF in Frandala—on the part of the U.S. and other international actors—is the primary reason Khartoum felt free to bomb the hospital again, this time with a Russian-made Sukhoi-24 advanced air-to-ground military jet aircraft.
The Russian-made Sukhoi-24 air-to-ground military attack aircraft; this is the type of aircraft that deliberatedly bombed the Doctors Without Borders/MSF hospital in Frandala, South Kordofan on January 22, 2015
This attack occurred less than two months ago—and only a little more than a month prior to Feldstein’s talk of “human rights” and “democracy” in Sudan. MSF reported (22 January 2015):
A hospital operated by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was directly targeted in an aerial bombing in Sudan on January 20, forcing the suspension of medical activities, MSF announced today [22 January 2015]. The hospital, located in the Nuba Mountains village of Frandala in the South Kordofan region of Sudan, was bombed by the Sudanese Air Force (SAF). Repeated and targeted bombings in the region prevent the safe operation of medical activities, depriving the local population of lifesaving care…
“With more than 100 patients present, we were very lucky not to have more casualties because people simply had no time to seek protection. Everyone is shocked and frightened of further attacks.”
We should not be surprised by such attacks: for more than twenty years they have been a regular feature of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime’s conduct of war. Moreover, we have the benefit of the behind-closed-doors views expressed by Defense Minister (and former Interior Minister) Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, indicted by the International Criminal Court for massive “crimes against humanity” in Darfur. Minutes from the 1 July 2014 meeting of senior regime officials, including not only Hussein but President al-Bashir, are startlingly frank—about both “human rights” and “democracy”:
[Hussein]: “We won’t stop the war on Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Our National Dialogue initiative is just a maneuver to provide us with political cover for a continuation of the war against the rebellion.
We have instructed the Air Force to bomb any place, whether it is a school, hospital, or a nongovernmental humanitarian organization operating in rebel-controlled areas without permission from the government. Such presence is offensive and should be destroyed.”
Indicted from crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court in Darfur, continues to push for the same crimes in not only Darfur but South Kordofan and Blue Nile
Such views—of which the Obama administration is well aware—call into question the appropriateness of lifting any economic sanctions against this regime, which remains committed to war, committed to a wide range of atrocity crimes, and committed to using the notion of a “National Dialogue” not to promote democracy but to subvert it. And yet this is precisely what occurred on 17 February 2015. Sudan Tribune reported (17 February 2015) that the U.S. Treasury Department had lifted sanctions on “exports of personal communications hardware and software including smart phones and laptops.”
President Obama’s third special envoy for Sudan, Donald Booth
In justifying this action, current Sudan special envoy Donald Booth declared that, “These changes are consistent with our commitment to promote freedom of expression through access to communications tools.” This is of course nonsense and Khartoum would never allow the import of anything that might “promote freedom of expression.” Importing up-to-date American computers on the other hand is certainly on the regime’s wish list, and with its total control of Internet access in Sudan, the regime hardly fears that it will be loosing the forces of free speech. During the popular uprising in September 2013, Internet access was shut down entirely at the height of the crisis, and the same will be true for any using “smart phones” in the event of a similar uprising.
Bizarrely, noting the seizure of fourteen Sudanese newspaper editions earlier in the week, Booth claimed that such repressive actions “offer a prime example of the need to enable people to have access to communication tools.” On the contrary, Khartoum will be no more tolerant of telecommunications and social media than it is of newspapers—and it has learned a great deal from the experience of its “Arab Spring” neighbors. As the minutes from the August 31, 2014 meeting of senior officials make abundantly clear, Khartoum’s intercept capabilities have grown prodigiously in recent years, giving them access even to highly secured foreign intelligence data. Controlling domestic Internet and mobile phone use will not be a problem, as many in Khartoum can attest—and as can I, having recently seen my computer in the U.S. hacked and my Sudan websites compromised for any who were on my frequently visited Facebook page (now de-activated) devoted to Sudan issues.
“Democracy” in Sudan: Expedient self-delusion
It is far past time that we ask some hard questions of the Obama administration, which has gotten a “pass” from most news media on its Sudan policy. What possible meaning can “human rights” or “democracy” have in the context of the regime’s severe political repression, its increasing crackdown on the news media, its total monopoly on broadcast programs, its exceedingly well-funded propaganda machine for both domestic and international consumption—and a willingness to deny legitimacy to all who would indeed wish to participate in a true national dialogue but are consistently rebuffed? Major coalitions have developed over the past several years: the Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), uniting the rebel forces of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile; the large National Consensus Forces, which while not supporting armed insurrection has made common cause with the SRF in its ambition to bring about regime change; and most recently the signatories to the Berlin Declaration, an even more expansive group of political actors. The response to this Declaration by the regime was entirely predictable and delivered by President al-Bashir. Sudan Tribune reports (14 March 2015):
The Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir has described the Berlin Declaration signed by the political and armed opposition groups as a “failure” considering it “as if it had not taken place.” During the last week of February, the “Sudan Call” forces, including the National Consensus Forces (NCF), the rebel umbrella Sudan Revolutionary Forces (SRF), National Umma Party (NUP) and civil society groups announced readiness to participate in a meeting with the Sudanese government to discuss requirements and procedures of the national dialogue.
This came just two weeks after Feldstein’s reiteration of “U.S. support for an inclusive and comprehensive National Dialogue to resolve Sudan’s conflicts.”
Do Feldstein and the Obama administration think that merely uttering the words “democracy” and “human rights” makes the slightest difference to the regime’s ruthless survivalists? Do they think that should there be renewed popular demonstrations of the sort we saw in September 2013 the regime would hesitate to issue renewed “shoot to kill” orders to security forces? Such orders, authoritatively confirmed by Amnesty International, resulted in the deaths of more than 400 people in Khartoum, Omdurman, and other cities throughout Sudan.
But the recent peremptory rejection by President al-Bashir of the Berlin Declaration, coming just two weeks after Feldstein’s trip to promote “democracy” in Sudan, forces a question that the Obama administration has so far refused to answer directly: is the U.S. willing to accept a “National Dialogue” defined by the machinations and duplicity of the regime? Or does it support a truly national dialogue, between multiple important political constituencies? I queried the State Department official designated in the 28 February 2015 State Department press release in Khartoum, but was offered only a belated response, noting that my queries had been forwarded to Deputy Assistant Secretary Feldstein and Special Envoy Booth. Given the history of my past queries of the State Department, I am not optimistic about a meaningful response. [10 April 12015 update: I have still received no response to my queries from any State Department official.]
But we will have an answer in less than a month: the grotesque spectacle of an “election” that guarantees five more years of power to the NCP, and in the words of several senior regime officials, “five more years of legitimacy,” will make a mockery of the phrase “National Dialogue.” It will be clear that Defense Minister Hussein’s view prevails within the regime: “Our National Dialogue initiative is just a maneuver to provide us with political cover for a continuation of the war….”
Will the Obama administration accept these realities and all they imply for millions of Sudanese? Will it accept, if with a dutiful grudgingness, the “re-election” of Omar al-Bashir as génocidaire-in-chief? Let us assume that the answer hinges on whether the Sudan file is now at the State Department or within the intelligence community; the election will clarify this question as well.
President Obama: “Sudan on his watch”
Appendix A: Examples of statements about the uses of the “National Dialogue” by senior officials of the Khartoum regime (from both the 1 July 2014 minutes and the 31 August 2014 minutes):
1 July 2014:
- Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein:
“Our National Dialogue initiative is just a maneuver to provide us with political cover for a continuation of the war….”
- General Engineer Imadal-Din Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations:
The National Dialogue will serve to provide us with political cover. We will continue with this effort because it will serve us in our war against the rebellion in the coming dry season.
- President Omar al-Bashir:
[The National Dialogue] is also intended to provide political cover for the present Constitution and the Decisive Summer Campaign [against the SPLA-North].
We don’t negotiate outside the country, and if such negotiations occur, we have used them as a means to take us to the elections in April 2015.
We will not accept a halting of the war; the solution is military victory. That will be obtained in the Decisive Summer Campaign. You are now instructed to crush the armed movements in all three fronts (Nuba Mountains, Darfur, and Blue Nile). The war against the rebellion must continue.
I am glad from what I have heard that we agree on the following: —
 Preparation for the Decisive Summer Campaign is to continue.
 Elections to be held on time April 2015.
 There will be no holding of any constitutional conference or formation of a transitional government.
31 August 2014:
- General Hashim Osman Al-Hussein, Director General of Police:
Let us go ahead and prepare a force to protect the elections. Secondly, if negotiations are necessary let them take place after the elections. Also, the internal national dialogue can continue after we hold the elections. We will continue recruiting and splitting the field commanders, and winning them to our side since we have all the information about the rebels.
- General Mohammed Atta, Director General of National Intelligence and Security Services:
We said the National Dialogue must be held inside the country, elections must take place on schedule, the decisive summer campaign must continue. We should step-up the recruitment to increase the RSF.
• Ibrahim Ghandur, Deputy Chairman of the NCP
We want a slow dialogue in order to allow for maneuvering. If we see that we are benefiting from it we can accelerate it, but if it is not in our favor, it can go slowly and the elections can take place in time. Our aim is to go to the election enjoying legitimacy accorded by the National Dialogue process. [See fuller comments in Appendix B]
- General Bakri Hassan Salih, First Vice President:
The negotiations, the National Dialogue, the Paris Declaration and all their statements are needed to take us to the elections.
Try to manage this crisis until we see the result of the National Dialogue, the elections, and wipe out the rebellion to end the war. We don’t want any foreign solutions again. Any agreement should be achieved inside Sudan.
Appendix B: Ibrahim Ghandour, Deputy Chairman of the NCP, discussing electoral machinations and payoffs, from the minutes of the August 2014 meeting of senior military and security officials in Khartoum:
“First our preparations for the elections are going according to plan. Our party conferences are being held all over the country and the convention will take place on time, except that, we are going to delay naming our candidate for the presidency until the last moments so as to take the political arena by surprise. We want our security agencies to inform us ahead of time about the opinion of all political parties, loyal or detractors concerning the elections so we influence things at an early stage.
“We have already arranged with the Public Congress Party (PCP), and we are paying them individual and party compensations for their loss, in addition to funds to be used to induce opposing PCP members. The total amount is three (3) billion to be paid in three installments. The first amount is to be paid at the beginning of the National Dialogue. The second amount is to be handed at the nomination for the elections. The third, and last, is to be paid during the election campaign. We made this agreement that way in order to guarantee the participation of all the PCP in the election process.
“We agreed to it because Turabi’s support for us has another dimension. It guarantees the consent and support of all the Islamic movements who are members of the International Islamic Movement, and in case there is any security threat, he can join us in the jihad against our common enemy. We will be able to bring all the Islamists together by that agreement on the basis of a program that holds mutual benefit to all. It is not necessary to come under one organization, the most important thing is the common objective against the secular forces or currents and the conspiracies targeting the Islamists all over the Arab land.
“Regarding Al-Marghani group, (DUP) half of the party is with us, but we still need to concentrate on Hasan Hilal, Ahmed Saad and Omer Al-Shariif (currently ministers). We stand behind them, give them information on how they are targeted within their party. Also half of Ghazi Salah al-Din’s party is ours.
“We want our security agencies to maintain and keep the opposition elements so there will be a criticizing voice among us. This will help us convince the international community that ours is a mature and genuine democracy. Our relation with the EU is good and all the attempts of the SRF to enjoy recognition by the EU has failed. They only meet parliaments and not the governments who hold the decisions. We want a slow dialogue in order to allow for maneuvering. If we see that we are benefiting from it we can accelerate it, but if it is not in our favor, it can go slowly and the elections can take place in time. Our aim is to go to the election enjoying legitimacy accorded by the National Dialogue process…”
“That same night I went with Mustafa to see Al- Ziber Ahmed the S/G of the Islamic Movement and found Dr. Kamal Obeid and Dr. El- Fateh Ezz el-Din. As soon as he saw us he asked us if we were coming regarding “Sadiq and the Rebels’ declaration” and he said that after consultations they rejected it part and parcel. They considered it a conspiracy directed against us. He told us that you must criminalize anyone who attended or participated in this [Paris] Declaration, the media must be directed to campaign against it and intimidate people from joining this declaration. This declaration was supervised by foreign circles that are endeavoring to destroy Islam and the Muslims and it is tainted by the SPLM vision.
“So we asked Mbeki and Mohammed [Ibn Chambas, former UNAMID chief—ER] to bring together the rebels for consultation about the National Dialogue and both are in agreement with us.”