Extended excerpts from the 31 August 2014 meeting of senior military and security officials, providing greater detail and context for comments on Sudan’s relationships with Iran and Saudia Arabia then—and the dramatic about- face now evident in Khartoum’s support for Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against Houthi insurgents in Yemen, supported by Iran (brief excerpts cited at http://wp.me/p45rOG-1F0 ).
The leaked minutes of the 31 August 2014 meeting in Khartoum may be found at: http://sudanreeves.org/2014/10/22/new-and-exceedingly-accurate-translation-into-e/
General Siddiq Amer, Director General of Intelligence and Security:
I agree to all what has been said. 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.
Currently, the Arab World got divided into two axis or alliances, the Resistance axis and the Moderate axis. We must have a foothold in both camps. This situation became apparent when we nominated General Mahjoub Sharafi as ambassador to Cairo so he could supervise the activities of the Islamic Movements in the Arab countries in North Africa and monitor the Sudanese Opposition activities in Egypt. The Egyptians rejected him and we understood the message. Again the Egyptians want us to take the side of Saudi Arabia and the Emirates. Before that, the Egyptians held the funds intended for our embassy, at Cairo Airport. We told them that, we are not in a position to transfer the money through a bank. One of them said: “But Saudi Arabia can solve this problem of money transfer.” This is the second message.
In my opinion we should not leave Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to receive Sadiq al-Mahdi and allow the SRF activities. We should confront them and present to them the evidence: audio tapes, names of intelligence officers and contact persons proving that they, Saudi Arabia and Emirates, are the ones who financed September 2013 uprising and demonstrations in Khartoum to bring our government down. They are always attempting to recruit Islamic leaders and it happened that, they contacted two of our officers—Brigadier Generals—and met with them here in Khartoum. Before that meeting, Mohammed Atta and I met with the two officers and encouraged them to meet the Saudis to find out what they want. We provided them with complete security guarantees against questioning by any one.
After five meetings with the Saudis the two officers reported to us that hose meeting with them wanted Islamist officers who are pro-Saudi Arabia to carry out a coup. The President, the Chief of Staff, Minister of Defense, Security Chiefs and Public Security were all informed of this taking place. Then we all agreed not to take any action that may disturb the relation with the Saudi Kingdom since we are in control of the situation. At the end the two Brigadiers told them that, carrying out a coup is difficult, because all the current army officers and the Islamic Movement Members are elements of the Public Security Agency. We managed through the two officers to follow the threats coming from the side of Saudi Arabia to our regime.
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.
The secret of the strength of the National Salvation Revolution (NCP) Government lies in the smooth management of the alliance with Shiia of Iran on one side and the alliance with the Sunni Islamic groups on the other side.
General Yehya Mohammed Kheir, Minister of State for Defense:
Our relationship with Iran is strategic. We will inform them of our intention to close down their cultural centers for security reasons; because there is a threat to these centers from some Sunni radical groups who may target them and cause conflict. But again we must take a similar step towards the Wahabi group, to avoid any misinterpretation by the Iranians of these measures as targeting only the Shiite group. In which case, the Sudanese Shiia will be pushed to go underground and operate secretly, and this can pose a greater threat. Any limited and temporary step we take, to serve and secure our interests with the Saudis and Gulf States is welcome. But we should not rush into anything, because they have made an attempt to change our government, when they supported September 2013 demonstrations. It was an offending action by Saudis that we cannot forget. They were afraid, thinking that we will react by supporting some radical groups in their country, since we have not pointed our finger to anybody.
Major General Mohammed Atta, Director General of National Intelligence and Security Services:
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 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. That is why Egypt, Saudi Arabia and 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. They talked to Ali Karti asking him to stop collaboration with Iran, and promising to support us. Ali told me, but Ali didn’t know anything. So they are now sending mediators to help improve the relations.
They are asking us not to supply the Huthi of Yemen with any weapons. Also they asked us to remove our Air Defense and they will replace it for us no matter the cost.
In regards to the Shiia activities, the Religious Intelligence branch is keeping a file with all the names of those converted to the Shiia’ belief. It has not reached the level of a threat yet. Whenever a problem arises, I always call the Consul or contact the Iranian national security director and inform him about the risks connected with open proselytization. We have radical groups and fundamentalists who can react and cause troubles.
The Sudanese are Sunni and reject the Shiia belief. But not all the Sudanese are followers of the Islamic movement. Anyhow, there are regular meetings between us to overcome any misunderstanding. The most difficult problem was the incident of killing a Shiite in Western Sudan because he declared his new belief and engaged in a debate with a Sunni in the state of Western Darfur. As soon as the incident happened, I received a call from the Iranian Security Advisor and the Chief of Republican Guards. We agreed to separate between the two issues: The strategic military and security relationship on one side, and the cultural relationship on the other. After that they reported the agreement to their leadership.
I say that our relationship with Iran is strategic and should be above all other interests. Anyone who wants to sabotage it doesn’t understand the art of keeping balances and lacks the necessary information.
General Abd al-Rahim Mohammed Hussein, Minister of Defense:
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.
There is one full battalion of the Republican Guards still with us here and other experts who are constructing interception and spying bases in order to protect us, plus an advanced Air Defense system. They built for us Kenana and Jebel Awliya Air Force bases. One month ago they transported to us BM missile launchers and their rockets using civil aviation planes. We stored them in Kenana and sold part of them to Qatar to support Libya fighters after they were subjected to attacks by the Egyptian and Emirates air forces. That helped them to achieve victory. I say the military relationship should be separated from the religious one.
We did a great job with the Ethiopians in terms of securing the borders. The Egyptians conceded a lot. They prevented the opposition from conducting any activities in Cairo, but this is not enough. They must deport all the movements and close their offices. Up to now we have not treated them equally. But I spoke to their Minister of Defense and they know what we can do in collaboration with Qatar and Libya, because the Islamists movements took the initiative in Libya.
General Imad al-Din Adawy, Chief of Joint Operations:
This agreement 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 Opposition Leader) from holding his party’s convention in Cairo as a sign of good will. On top of that, they rushed to open the Occhett Crossing at the border near Halfa and they extended an invitation to the President to visit Egypt. This means lifting the ban on the Muslim Brothers. We must take advantage of this change in the position of the Egyptian government and ask them to control and limit Sadiq al-Mahdi and other opposition leaders’ activities in Cairo. We also expect President Sisi to help improve our relation with the Gulf States in exchange for securing his country against the Muslim Brothers, conducting a peace pact between the Muslim Brothers and the regime and finding a way to cease confrontations, at least for the time being.
Our joint forces with Tchad are in their best state. The Libyan border is totally secured, specially 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.
Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, Political Secretary of the regime’s National Congress Party:
Our brothers in the Gulf States complained about the spread of Shi’ism and the expansion of the Irania influence in Sudan, which are the reasons why their countries refuse to invest in Sudan. They said they request a balanced relationship compared to Iran.
In my personal view our relationship with Iran is strategic in the areas of defense and security… but allowing them to operate more than 200 cultural centers that are proselytizing Sh’ism creates many problems with the other radical Islamic Sunni groups, given the fact that we have many Islamic Sunni Salafi organizations belonging to different radical groups from all over the world. We need to strike a balance in our relationship with the Gulf States and Iran. I suggest that we maintain good relations with the Gulf States in principle, yet work strategically with Iran, in total secrecy and on a limited scale, through the Military Intelligence and security. Thus, diplomatic relationships remain the same.
I have met with the president and presented to him a report on how we can improve our relations with the Gulf States without affecting our strategic alliance with Iran. We agreed to consult with the Iranian leadership before we take any action. So, the president assigned each person his role and we reached an agreement to halt the promotion of the Shiia cultural centers, without affecting the Cultural Chancellery and the Diplomatic Missions.
We can also win the Gulf States and work closely with them in order to read their minds and plans. We can find out whether they are intending to support us or just conspiring to spoil our relationship with Iran and expose our back to the enemy… Iran will benefit, either way, and we will come to know the Moderation Axis and build a real strategy for cooperating with them. We have security and political agreements with Iran and they might refuse the suggestion of fresh relationships with the Gulf States, especially that Saudi has concerns regarding the Iranian military presence in Sudan. If they become aware of our moves they may encourage investments and open the Saudi banks to transactions with Sudanese banks in terms of letters of credit for export/import traders and the expatriate’s transfers to their relatives which will harm the economy for lack of sufficient guarantees.