Editor’s note: Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin is an online, subscription intelligence news service from the creator of WorldNetDaily.com – a journalist who has been developing sources around the world for the last 25 years.
The U.S. is prepared to overlook the deaths of 2 million mostly Christian Sudanese in return for a new strategic relationship with Khartoum, reports the latest issue of Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
State Department officials say they are on the verge of removing Sudan from its list of “terror countries,” where it was placed in 1997 by the Clinton administration.
A glance at the map clarifies Sudan’s strategic importance. The country is close to the new headquarters of the U.S. Combined Joint Task Force relocated from the Gulf to Djibouti at the entrance to the Red Sea. Another element of importance is the short distance, of some 250 miles, between Sudan and Saudi Arabia across the Red Sea. Other advantages are Sudan’s borders with Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, the Congo, Central African Republic, Libya and Egypt. Sudan is also the largest African country with some 2.5 million square kilometers, a nation that controls the flow of the Blue and White Niles, Egypt’s lifelines. The confluence of the two rivers runs through Omdurman, just north of Khartoum.
An Egyptian official who was asked about the surprising change in American policy said: “In the post-Iraq War reality, it is important for the U.S. to improve relationships with Sudan and to assist Egypt in her campaign against militants operating from Sudan and to counter the danger of Wahabi activities from that country.”
A case in point is the May 27 Sudanese raid on a terror training camp in Kardafan. Four Saudis were killed and other extremists were captured. The official also stressed that his country is trying, with the help of the U.S., to arrange a peace accord between the Khartoum government and rebels in the south and the Nuba mountains. This would enable Sudan to direct more resources to development and to improve her position in the new American strategic global deployment.
In this context, Secretary of State Colin Powell met last week with anti-government leader John Garang and assured him the U.S. would do the utmost to assist Sudan in the search for a peace accord. However, a new guerrilla group, Sudan Liberation Movement, said on the same day its units had destroyed an army battalion near Darfour. Meanwhile, the government, which had pledged peace, arrested in Khartoum a high-ranking opposition Umma Party official. Adam Mussa Madibbu was picked up by the Internal Security Service and is now held “for questioning.”
The same day the C-130 landed in Khartoum, Powell and his Sudanese counterpart, Osman Ismail, met in Washington. The two were talking about a new era in the bilateral relationship between the two countries. Powell promised his guest the administration would work to remove Sudan from the list of terrorist countries. This, in turn, would lead to end U.S. sanctions. Powell was quoted by Sudanese sources as saying the U.S. would do its utmost to end the 10-year-long civil war that has killed more than 2 million people and created major humanitarian disasters.
The civil war has its roots in religious rivalries between Muslims and Christians. The population in Sudan is comprised of 50-60 percent Muslims, about 15 percent Christians and the rest animistic pagans. There are also inter-tribal rivalries between Arab and pure African tribes. Fifty percent of the Sudanese perceive themselves as Arabs and the others are Africans of various origins. The overall population of the Sudan is estimated at close to 20 million, with at least 115 different languages, 26 of them regarded as major languages. In the non-Arabic south, English is the common language.
It seems that at this stage the administration is willing to forgive Sudan for what international relief organizations describe simply as “atrocities” – a term which includes a variety of problems ranging from civil rights issues, Islamic religious coercion against non-Muslims and moderates, child soldiers and slavery.
“At this moment it is suitable for Sudan to agree to anything the U.S. wants,” said a Sudanese journalist.
The new military relationship with the U.S. is regarded as highly important. The same view is being voiced in Khartoum about the Egyptian-sponsored peace talks between the government of Sudan and the country’s opposition groups. These are mainly the Sudan’s People Liberation Movement, headed by John Garang and others under the umbrella of the National Democratic Alliance opposition groups.
Powell heard from his guest that the Khartoum government is determined to reach a peace agreement no later than at the end of June 2003. He also pledged that the Muslim government, with the support of the U.S. and Egypt, will work relentlessly to achieve regional stability. Another important issue brought up by the Sudanese Foreign Minister was his government’s assurance they would put every effort into abolishing any al-Qaida activities in the Sudan.
The forceful actions taken by the Sudanese government became evident May 1, when Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak paid a surprise visit to Khartoum. The visit, which was conducted under strict security measures, was the first by an Egyptian president following 14 years of tense relationships between the countries and signals a new era. Sources in Cairo agreed Mubarak’s visit was meant to apply more pressure on Khartoum regarding concessions the Sudanese opposition had demanded. Egypt presented the Sudanese government with requests for more compromise on legal issues, the sharing of revenues accrued through mineral and oil resources, the demand for autonomy in some regions and for terminating Sudanese-Ugandan military cooperation. This cooperation is described by the opposition as a direct threat to peace and stability.
The government in Khartoum re-affirmed its July 2002 declaration that “Egypt’s relationship with Sudan is a question of life and death.” By making this statement, the Sudanese hinted at their historic concern about Egypt’s intentions towards their country. There exists a historic fear of Egypt and her ambition to control the Sudan to gain larger portions of the Nile water allocations and the access to fertile lands in and around the Nile basin. An Israeli intelligence evaluation paper outlines an estimate that Egypt’s need for water until 2010 will increase from the present allocation of 48 million cubic meters to about 60 million, and that there are four major issues at stake.
- Egypt’s total dependence on the Nile and her concern of losing control over its sources, as well as her influence over Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan.
- Lack of fertile land capable of fulfilling the desperate need for agricultural resources.
- Rapid population growth at a rate of 2.5 percent annually, which could reach 60 million in just a few years.
- Lack of suitable areas for housing the growing population.
This issue has been closely monitored by Sudan since her independence in January 1956, aware that the rapid population growth in her northern neighbor Egypt and its lack of land suitable for farming is the main issue in any future Egyptian socio-economic and geo-political plans.
Now, as the U.S. is apparently returning to Sudan, the government in Khartoum can begin to rely on Washington for securing the country against any Egyptian threats. Egypt is traditionally the main backgammon player on the Sudanese board, and at this stage with American “encouragement” looming in the background, she declared her commitment to respect Sudan’s integrity.
The consequences of the Sudanese-U.S. cooperation in the war against terror increases the importance of U.S. strategies. According to some sources, the U.S. is eyeing the use of Sudanese air bases and naval facilities, such as Port Sudan on the Red Sea, as part of her improved relationship with Sudan.
Meanwhile, Sudanese opposition groups continue to meet in Cairo and some of them declared their readiness to cooperate with the government and to re-establish a new relationship with Khartoum. On May 28, the Sudanese opposition said it supports the 2002 Machakos agreement brokered in Kenya. Those officials said the leader of the Umma Party and the chairman of the Democratic Federation, Mohammed Othman al-Meighani, and the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army, John Garang, endorsed the agreement and promised to work toward a peaceful solution. This does not include rebels in the Darfour region of the Sudan Liberation Movement, who still refuse to accept any agreement with the Sudanese government.
A major obstacle on the road to peace is the government’s refusal to change the status of Khartoum to a secular administration and its insistence that Islamic Shari’a remain the law of the capital.