Sudan’s Bashir Opens “Gateway for Russia” and Jihad in Africa
Sudan President al-Bashir and Russia President in Sochi (Source: TASS)
The news media is preoccupied with the US confrontation in the Middle East with Russia and Iran and its proxies in Syria after allegedly crushing the Islamic State. Africa, especially the Sahel region, has seen the loss of US and French counterterrorism commitments to eradicate Jihadist groups spawned by ISIS and Al Qaeda. Since the 1989 Sudan takeover, President Bashir’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood regime has continuously engaged in Jihad committing genocide against the indigenous people of Darfur. A genocide that has taken the lives of more than 600,000 indigenous African people of Darfur, over 5 million were forced to live in Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) camps. Several hundred thousand fled to UNHCR camps in neighboring Chad and the turmoil of the Central African Republic (CAR). Based on evidence of these heinous crimes, the International Criminal Court at the Hague (ICC) indicted President Bashir in 2009 and 2010.
As the authors have documented in Genocide in Sudan: Caliphate Threatens Africa and the World; President Bashir has given sanctuary to African and Middle East Islamist terror groups. He provides them with Sudanese nationality, recruiting them to create a Jihadist army to complete the Arab Coalition Plan to eradicate indigenous African people of Darfur and the other conflict regions of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile states. Bashir has been aided by the Emirates of Qatar, a backer of the same Muslim Brotherhood Islamist agenda, as well as, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Turkey. These countries seek to maintain Bashir’s Islamist regime and exploit Sudan’s potential mineral resources and turn it into a bread basket for the Arabian Peninsula. Sudan contributed paid mercenaries to the Saudi-UAE war effort against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. President Bashir is committing genocide in Darfur, causing instability in the African Sahel. He has also contributed to a humanitarian crisis in war-torn Yemen producing famine and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Saudi Arabia paid Bashir’s regime billions of dollars for Sudan troops in Yemen, the proceeds of which were used to recruit more RSF/Janjaweed militias to kill and displace the indigenous people of Darfur.
The arrival of Muslim Brotherhood ally, President Erdogan of Turkey with promises of rebuilding an Ottoman-era port of Suakin on the Red Sea, funded by billions from ally Qatar, presented a new development complicating the strategic security policy in Africa for the Trump Administration. The situation was further aggravated by a new development, triggered by Bashir’s opening to Putin’s Russia to obtain weapons and offering to build a base on the Red Sea. Using the threat of this potential alliance with Russia, Bashir’s regime put pressure on the Trump Administration to take the final step in ending the Emergency Orders of the 1997 sanctions, amended in 2006 and 2017. It was a ploy endeavoring to force the US to lift the designation of Sudan as a state supporter of terrorism. Khartoum was accused by UN experts of collaborating with countries such as Iran and North Korea that the US State Department had also designated as supporting terrorism. UN reports revealed that North Korea had supplied Sudan with weapons that the latter had denied.
Bashir offers Putin a Gateway to Africa
A Newsweek article on August 17, 2018 was headlined ‘Battle for Africa’: Russia pushes into ‘free country for the taking’ in attempt to rival the West”. The ‘free country” was the Central African Republic (CAR) adjacent to Bashir’s Sudan. A second Newsweek article on November 19, 2018 expanded on these concerns headlining, “Russia and China Replacing U.S. in Africa?”.
It drew attention to the deepening Russian presence in the CAR and criticism from France:
Central African Republic Defense Minister Marie-Noëlle Koyara and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu were discussing agreements on closer military cooperation between their countries at an Army-2018 exhibition in Moscow. Russia has played a growing military and humanitarian role in the war-torn African country.
Responding to French criticism at the United Nations over Russia’s involvement in CAR, the Russian Foreign Ministry said [in July] that it “seems like some countries are feeling somewhat ‘jealous’ in relation to Russia joining the process of Central African regulation,” announced by the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.
On the same day, Tass reported that the special representative for the Middle East and Africa Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told reporters that “there will be more” military support for the Central African Republic if needed. Russia has deployed an estimated 175 military and civilian advisers in CAR.
The Newsweek report also noted that the Chinese military presence in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa threatening the US AFRICOM base at Camp Lemonier. As a furtherance of China’s “One Belt, One Road” project, it cited the concerns of US Senators Mario Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Coons (D-DL) objecting to a Chinese takeover of operations of the container port in Djibouti from a UAE group. As reported on September 17, 2018 by Ha’aretz, a similar offer by a Shanghai-based port management group for operations of Israel’s port of Haifa have raised both Israeli and US national security concerns.
These strategic developments in the Sahel followed President Bashir’s trip to Moscow earlier in 2018 with Putin’s announcement of weapons aid and possible construction of military bases on the Red Sea. This sent a clear message to the Trump Administration that President Bashir was establishing closer relations with both Russia’s Putin and Turkey’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood President for Life, Erdogan.
During President Bashir’s visit to Sochi, Russia in 2018; the ICC-indicted war criminal requested President Putin to protect him from “US aggression”. He also told the Russian President that Sudan will serve as a “gateway” to Africa aiding in fulfillment of President Bashir’s Jihad objectives in the 2020 Arab Coalition Plan. President Bashir already had close relations with the newly elected CAR government. Since he was elected as CAR President, Faustin-Archange Touadera has visited Khartoum twice.
If Chinese, Russian and Turkish incursions in Africa are not checked the entire African Central and Eastern subregion will have ominous geo-political relations suborning US interests. These competitors are all racing to exploit African mineral resources and obtain control of strategic international commercial maritime choke points on the Red Sea
Western countries ignored their commitments under the Treaty of Rome to address international crimes such as genocide in Sudan. Effectively, they turned a blind eye to human rights and war crimes violations by the Bashir regime, especially in Darfur and the other conflict regions of South Kordofan and the Blue Nile. That was reflected in the failure by signatories of the Treaty of Rome to apprehend and prosecute President Bashir when on state visits for war crimes he committed in Sudan. The US was making concessions to Khartoum on issues of counterterrorism and illegal immigration using them as an incentive to lift the Emergency Order sanctions. These were made at the expense of the victims of Darfur and other indigenous African people in Sudan. Meanwhile, the Chinese, Russians and Turks were provided a gateway to Africa by Bashir to establish important strategic bases in Africa threatening US security interests.
Trump’s Executive Order Offering Terms for Lifting Sudan’s Designation as State Supporter of Terrorism
On October 12, 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13804 lifting the 20-year economic sanctions under the Emergency Order against the Bashir’s Regime as it allegedly showed progress in meeting five conditions set under former President Obama’s January 13, 2017 Executive Order 13706. The Federal Register noted this language in the Trump Executive Order:
These actions included a marked reduction in offensive military activity […] and steps toward the improvement of humanitarian access throughout Sudan, as well as cooperation with the United States on addressing regional conflicts.
The progress mentioned in the five areas has not been clearly verified, especially in the war-torn Darfur region. Bashir’s Rapid Support Forces/Janjaweed militias (RSF/Janjaweed) continued attacking civilian population in Jebel Marra throughout 2017 and 2018. Thousands of people were newly displaced. Atrocities and human right violations continued in Darfur as farmers are shot and killed daily in their farms and villages. More than 3 million people are still living in IDP camps because their villages and farms are occupied by new settlers, the families of RSF/Janjaweed militias.
The co-operation in regional conflicts was primarily on counterterrorism efforts, mainly the tracking of renegade Ugandan Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Ironically, Bashir had given Kony sanctuary in Darfur near the CAR border. Our colleague and co-author General Abdallah had informed USAFRICOM of Kony’s location.
On September 23, 2018, the Sudan Tribune revealed the deepening US interaction with Sudan military on counterterrorism issues. It reported that US Charge d’Affaire Stephen Koutsis in Khartoum extended a formal invitation to Sudanese Army Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Kamal Abdel-Marouf to a counterterrorism conference organized by the US administration in Washington. This was the first time that US Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine General Joseph Dunford had invited Sudan Military to such a conference. The Tribune noted:
In April 2017, Sudan participated for the first time in the meeting of the United States Africa Command known as “AFRICOM”. At the time, the Sudanese army Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Emad al-Din Mustafa Adawi took part in a meeting of AFRICOM chiefs of general staff in Stuttgart, Germany.
On September 19, 2018, the State Department issued its annual report on terrorism still listing Sudan as a state supporter. However, it argued that this wouldn’t impede progress with Sudan on counterterrorism.
On October 31, 2018, President Trump signed a new Executive Order regarding continuing the Emergency Orders of 1997, as amended. The rationale was:
Despite positive developments…These actions and policies continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. I have, therefore, determined that it is necessary to continue the national emergency declared in Executive Order 13067, as expanded by Executive Order 13400, with respect to Sudan.
On November 7, 2018, a meeting was held in Washington, DC between US Undersecretary of State John Sullivan and Sudan Foreign Minister El-Dirdeiry Mohamed Ahmed at which a bi-lateral agreement was announced committing Sudan “to Strengthening Cooperation and Meaningful Reforms.” That opened the door to possible lifting of the US State Department designation of Sudan as a state supporter of terrorism subject to review of progress in six conditions. Primary among them was arrangements for payment by Sudan of $7.3 billion in compensation to US victims for its complicity in the 1998 Al Qaeda bombings of US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya and the USS Cole in Aden, Yemen in 2,000 in a ruling by a US District of Columbia Appellate Court in July 2017. The remaining five conditions involved “improving human rights, delivering humanitarian aid, cessation of hostilities and seriously engaging in the peace process”. Allegedly, there was an understanding in these bi-lateral discussions that the US would fast track possible lifting of state supporter of terrorism designation giving Sudan nine months to demonstrate ‘progress’ in the six requirements.
This announcement of a bi-lateral agreement brought a demarche in the form of an open letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from Abdul Wahid al-Nur, Chairman of the Sudan Liberation Movement & Commander in Chief of the Sudan Liberation Army published on November 9, 2018 by the Sudan Tribune with the headline, Sudan’s removal from terror list taints U.S. values . Al-Nur argued strenuously against the myopia of alleged progress on these six conditions. He wrote:
It is as if Washington has discovered an alternate reality, we who have buried the bodies of our six hundred thousand, primarily civilian dead, whom the UN inexplicably stopped counting a decade ago, halving and freezing the butcher’s bill, often cited erroneously, weren’t aware of. It is rather remarkable what you see so clearly from so far away, our eyes have never gazed upon when we endure the waking nightmare of an unabated genocide and the institutional brutality, repression and multiple abuses of dictatorship. The dungeons of Khartoum, the vanished villages, mass graves, serial rape victims and the children burned and choked by chemical weapons in Darfur, tell a different story to yours.
In closing Al-Nur reminded Secretary Pompeo of US moral leadership:
And as you gird to place more pressure on the dictatorship in Tehran, from which we have also suffered in recent living memory, as it previously sponsored our oppressors, since Wahhabi Saudi Arabia has now replaced Iran as the primary sponsor for those that murder us, together with the Gulf Cooperation Council nations, we grasp your strategic alliance with Riyadh, makes our suffering an expendable, acceptable, sacrifice for you. It does not make it morally right or excusable, however, and history will record Washington’s indifference and now direct tacit, complicity in the Darfur Genocide, as it marked the moral collapse of the Clinton Administration during the Rwandan Genocide and the lethal US military aid that earlier enabled Siad Barre’s Isaaq Genocide in Somalia under President Reagan’s tenure.
We are weak, and you are the last superpower on earth, but are you a moral superpower at this juncture in history or do you wield great power just for its own sake and self-interest and not for the nobler cause of a greater humanity? And thus, what will be your epitaph when posterity records that our mass murder meant nothing to you? We pray that in time, you may recognize that to live up to the promise of your nation’s great ideals and the first American, founding father, Thomas Jefferson, to hold the very office you occupy, you should not turn away from us, and whitewash mass murders, and instead embrace us as your natural allies, who only wish to live in peace and democracy as you do.
As if on cue a week later Bashir used the bully pulpit of the celebration of the 29th anniversary of the Popular Defense Forces in Kosti in the White Nile State to suggest that he would not negotiate concessions with the US, “stressing that Sudan will not bet its decision to anyone, whatever the impact . . . We have to stand by God alone and we will not kneel, and we will not worship except for God,” he said. Referring to the death toll of 20,000 PDF forces in the jihad against South Sudan, Bashir said he was eager to meet the martyrs “Zubayr and his companions” support for the popular defense . . . and that the banner of jihad will continue to be raised”.
Radio Dabanga in a November 15, 2018 report on Bashir’s Kosti speech noted that the US State Department had voiced its commitment “to initiate the process of rescinding Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism if the determination is made that all of the relevant statutory criteria have been met.” An analyst cited in the Radio Dabanga report cautioned about the consequences of Bashir’s Kosti hortatory warning: ‘Such statements weaken Sudan’s negotiating position and lead to questioning the seriousness of the regime in the bilateral negotiations with the US administration”.
Meanwhile the latest in interminable peace talks reported by Radio Dabanga “were held with the Qatar mediator in Doha and leaders of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM). The Sudan Liberation Movement’s Minni Minawi faction (SLM-MM) leadership held similar talks in Doha at the invitation from the Qatari mediator. The discussions focused on ways to facilitate the signing of a preliminary agreement before the negotiations”. With Muslim Brother allies like Qatar presiding over these staged ‘peace talks’ Bashir has no fear anything will prevent his pursuit of jihad against these resistance forces and genocide against indigenous African peoples.
Sudan is fast becoming the fusion center fostering destabilizing conflicts in the Africa Sahel region. President Bashir’s regime is supporting Russia and China gaining a foothold in the African continent. Bashir has brought a Russian private company training CAR rebels of the Seleka faction in areas of Amdafok, South Darfur region. While training rebels to further destabilize CAR, Bashir dispatched his Minister of Foreign Affairs to convince France of his efforts to bring peace to the war-torn African nation. He also invited some heads of African states to attend the inaugural launch of CAR peace negotiations that Sudan and Russia are organizing in Khartoum on Nov 19, 2018. Training of rebels indicates that the peace that Bashir and Russia are trying to bring in CAR is just a cover up. Meanwhile, Bashir’s RSF/Janjaweed militias continually commit serious human right violations including genocide in Darfur. President Bashir’s extremist Islamic regime is working against US policies supporting terrorism and human right violations. In his address at the graduation of the Peoples Defense Forces militias in Kosti, on Nov 12, 2018, President Bashir called on the continuation of Jihad. He also said he wanted to die for in order to become a martyr.
Bashir’s call for Jihad is a clear indication that Sudan has not stopped supporting terrorism. Those believing that Bashir had stopped supporting terrorism, human right violations and undertaken reforms are just deceiving themselves. Bashir’s RSF/Janjaweed forces continue unabated genocide in Darfur, South Kordofan and the Blue Nile regions. The US should stop its policies of engagement with the Bashir regime and assist in fostering regime change in Sudan. The US needs to formulate a strategy to address security and human right issues in Africa particularly in Darfur and the CAR. The Bashir regime’s training of rebel forces increases security problems for the CAR and the Sahel. The US must formulate new strategies and security policies to stop Russian and Chinese intrusions destabilizing Sahel Africa, particularly in CAR and Djibouti. These intrusions are providing a gateway for Bashir to pursue his dream of a Caliphate ruling the Sahel in Africa.
Jerome B Gordon is a Senior Vice President of the New English Review and author of The West Speaks, NER Press 2012. Mr. Gordon is a former US Army intelligence officer who served during the Viet Nam era. He was the co-host and co-producer of weekly The Lisa Benson Show for National Security that aired out of KKNT960 in Phoenix Arizona from 2013 to 2016. He is co-host and co-producer of the Middle East Round Table periodic series on 1330amWEBY, Northwest Florida Talk Radio, Pensacola, Florida.
Lt. Gen. Abdallah is Chairman of the Sudan Unity Movement. He is a native of North Darfur who joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in 1984 and became active in the Nuba Hills and Darfurians resistance movements. In 1989 he joined the Patriotic Salvation Movement in neighboring Chad based in Darfur. He served as an officer in the Chadian army for 23 years. He held senior intelligence and counterterrorism posts including as Coordinator of the Multi-National Joint Task Force of Nigeria, Chad and Niger. He was Coordinator of Pan-Sahel Initiative (PSI) Anti-Terrorism Unit of Chad and Commander of PSI Anti-Terrorism Battalion of Chad 2004. He is a December 2002 graduate of the Intelligence Officers’ Advanced and Combating Terrorism Courses, US Army Intelligence Center and Schools, Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He was a Counter Terrorism Fellow and a Graduate of the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University, Washington, DC, 2005. He was an International Fellow and Graduate of the US Army War College, Class of 2008. He was Graduate of Nigeria Armed Forces Command and Staff College Course 22, of the year 2000.
Deborah Martin is a 35-year veteran linguistics specialist and consultant on Sudan culture and affairs.
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