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Looking Directly into the Heart of Darkness: What the Khartoum Regime Really Thinks

(leaked minutes of critical August 2014 meeting of senior military and security official)

By Eric Reeves

September 24, 2014 (SSNA) -- I received on 22 September 2014, from a source within Sudan whom I trust implicitly, a truly extraordinary, indeed explosive document, containing the "Minutes of the Military and Security Committee Meeting held in the National Defense College [Khartoum]"; the meeting referred to took place on August 31, 2014; the date of the minutes for the document is September 1, 2014 (Sunday).

What makes the document so extraordinary is the participation of the regime's most senior military and security officials, expressing themselves freely, and in the process disclosing numerous highly consequential policy decisions, internal and external. We learn, for example, of Sudan's continuing involvement with international terrorism and radical Islamic groups, including an ongoing "strategic" partnership with Iran. There is certainly evidence here that Khartoum has reneged on its putative commitment to provide the U.S. intelligence community with information relevant to counter-terrorism. More explicitly, the document reveals a determination to continue bombing agriculture and food supplies as a means of waging war against the people of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, with an explicit, declared goal of starvation. Regime officials also emphasize that there will be no lifting of the humanitarian embargo that prevents international relief efforts from reaching the desperate civilians in rebel-held territories of South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

There is much in this document making clear that political machinations surrounding the so-called "national dialogue" are nothing but a sham in the eyes of the regime, merely a means of filling time uselessly before the 2015 elections—a constant topic of discussion. We see that Darfur has been largely written off as a military threat, or at least one that requires no more than an expansion of the re-invigorated and openly embraced Janjaweed militias, now known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In addition to encouraging the uncontrolled predations of the RSF, these senior officials speak openly about renewed efforts to empty the camps for Darfuri displaced persons.

We also learn much about the extent to which Khartoum is committed to supporting the rebel groups in South Sudan, promising heavy weapons, including tanks, artillery, and other "advanced weapons"—as well as re-supply and security in Khartoum. Riek Machar and his deputy Taban Deng Gai are reported to have expressed their regret at Southern secession.

And there is a great deal more.

[All quotes included here come from a lightly edited version of the English translation of the original Arabic document; edits are for punctuation errors (including apostrophes indicating possession, extra spaces, gratuitous end punctuation, and a great many unnecessary commas; some unidiomatic passages have been made slightly clearer. As they appear in this analysis, some excerpts have been somewhat more heavily edited, but still limited to matters of grammar and idiom. Brackets [ … ] are used where editorial intrusion has been greatest. All comments by me, including interpolations of explanation and identification, as well as extended critical remarks, are in italics.]


Inevitably there will be questions about the authenticity of this document, marked internally as "Secret," "Confidential," and "Restricted." I should say first that I do not know what the full "chain of custody" for the document is (documents rather: for in addition to the English translation of the Arabic, there are photographs of every page of the original Arabic document, as well as of every page of the handwritten translation into English; there are 46 documents in all, most in .JPG format; typically, however, I will refer simply to "the document").

A close linguistic analysis of the English text makes clear that while the prose is of very good quality, and written by someone with considerable intelligence, there are many small typographic and punctuation errors that are typical of even skilled native Arab speakers writing in English; a few idiomatic errors recur with telling familiarity. The person who produced this text is well-educated person, very proficient in English, whose native language is Arabic (I have taught English as a second language, and specifically to native Arabic speakers.)

That I am not able say to say how the document made its way to my source is hardly surprising: the transfer of such a document would have been extremely dangerous at all stages, given its explosive contents and the greatly enhanced intercept capabilities of Khartoum's security services (something discussed and referred to in authoritative detail at various points in the document). Everyone involved in producing and transporting or transmitting the documents was (and is) at risk of arrest and execution for treason. Gratuitous explanatory communications of any kind explaining movement or transmission of the document would increase the risk of exposing all involved. I have concluded after much reading and reflection that the unknown nature of original transmission or physical transfer of the document is not in itself suspicious.

And there are a great many reasons to believe that the document is authentic. Some are small: the transliterative use of "Hisen" rather than "Hussein" (as in Abdel Rahmin Mohamed Hussein, Minister of Defense) seems odd, but transliteration may not be a familiar exercise for the person(s) who undertook the translation. On the other hand, a skilled fabrication would be unlikely to make such a peculiar choice in transliteration; and if this is indeed a fabrication, it is an astonishingly skilled one, even as it serves no obvious purpose for the regime and in several respects seems quite beyond the capacity of the rebel movements.

Most of the reasons for believing the document to be authentic, on my reading, have to do with the extremely close resemblance of much of what is said by officials in this meeting and what has been said and done publicly by the National Congress Party/National Islamic Front regime, but in the minutes with more detail, specificity, and nuance of expression. To be sure, not all of what is said in the confidence of this meeting would be uttered by regime officials so bluntly when communicating with the international community—within the various worlds in which Khartoum understands itself to be speaking. It uses many "dialects," as these exchanges make clear: to the Saudis and Arab Emirates, to Iran, to the U.S., to the UN and its various representatives in Sudan, to the European Union, and to the African Union.

But why fabricate a document only to persuade an audience of the fact that the NCP/NIF speaks bluntly in private meetings? What could be the motive for the regime to fabricate a document that contains so much of what we know to be the case, if cast in brutally unvarnished and contemptuous fashion?

I believe the congruence between what is in the document and what has long been known, but little discussed publicly by the regime, is itself telling at various points. It has long been known, for example, that many within the regime opposed the Naivasha peace talks that yielded the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between north and south Sudan (January 2005)—that there were a number, especially in the military, who felt too much had been given away, and that this was humiliating to the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), since they had not been defeated in many areas they were obliged to leave.

But there is still some shock in reading the current Defense Minister and former Minister of the Interior during the most violent years of the Darfur genocide, Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein, declare baldy: "If it were not for Naivasha, all the rebellion[s] should have finished" (page 22). Lt. General Bakri Hassan Saleh, current Vice President of the regime, speaks contemptuously of his interlocutors at the time of Naivasha in the context of current efforts to understand Khartoum's multiple and highly secretive security services: "They are targeting the security organs, but they don’t know how these organs work. Even those who came during the days of Naivasha went [away] without knowing how we think or work" (page 19). Notably, of the fourteen participants listed in the documents, twelve have military titles—all generals of some rank, primarily Lt. General. Some wear two hats: Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh also has the specified rank of "First Lieutenant General."

Further Observations on Authenticity

In compiling these documents, someone/some group took an extraordinary risk even in assembling the photographs and written translation records, as well as the final time-consuming translation, and then transmitting them, unless we make the unlikely assumption that the documents were created abroad, smuggled back into Sudan, and then passed on to my source. Certainly one thing we hear again and again in the minutes—nothing really new—is how effective the regime's intercept capabilities are. Perhaps the documents were smuggled out of the country by "flash drive," which might be very small and still contain all these data. But this, it must be emphasized, would entail extreme risk on departing Sudan. Indeed, mere possession of even fabricated minutes for such a meeting as is reported would be considered as treasonous as actually transcribing and translating the contents of a real meeting.

Moreover, the documents reveal considerable disagreement, especially about the strategic relationship with Iran, and how to finesse the problems this has created with Saudi Arabia and the Arab Emirates. In closing the meeting Vice President Bakri declares that: "In this meeting it is not necessary that we agree on every point we discuss"—this to the most hardline elements within the current regime.

In his concluding remarks at the meeting, Vice President and First Lt. General Bakri Hassan Saleh also declares:

"A number of policy options and emphases are considered, not all compatible—what we would expect of a real meeting of the most powerful men in Khartoum, not a fabrication of such a meeting." [The irony here is almost too rich—ER.]

Iran is always referred to as a "strategic issue," a "strategic partner," what again is widely known but not in the nuanced, often urgent terms of policy debate reflected in these documents. It is particularly difficult to imagine the fabrication of this extensive part of the discussion, including the highly detailed accounts of what leverage Khartoum has with neighboring countries, how the regime plans to deal with the issue of Shite proselytizing in Sudan, the extent of Iranian military assistance and help in providing military production capacity, and other very specific topics. Collectively, the details suggest a range of compelling knowledge that would in fact be available only to these men.

To the extent we know anything of the character of the men in this meeting, this knowledge seems to be consistent with what can be discerned of character in various passages—especially the thuggish and clumsy Hussein (who refers at once contemptuously and confusingly to his arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for multiple crimes against humanity). And there is a fearsome bluntness to the comments of Vice President Bakri Hassan Saleh, who has long been known for his brutality and cruelty, his willingness to suppress political dissent by any means necessary, and his loyalty to President al-Bashir. This translates into ruthless political judgments and actions, partially captured in this passage (page 27):

"The negotiations, national dialogue, Paris Declaration and all their statements are needed to take us to the elections." [In other word, Bakri is admitting that all this diplomatic activity is merely a useful distraction from the relentlessly pursued goal of retaining the presidency—ER]

"Those who are interested to join the Ingaz and co-exist with us are welcome. But we are not ready to respond or work under pressure. Nobody is paying us and we are not indebted to anybody." [This seems a spectacularly bizarre view of the US$47 billion that Sudan owes many creditors around the world—ER]

"America deceived us in regards to the separation of the South. They did not lift our name from the list of the States sponsoring terrorism or relieve our debts. So the Envoy should not come." [Nobody is better at the most cynical Realpolitik than Bakri, who might have added his view that American "reneging" justifies what is clearly reneging on the part of the regime in its commitment to provide the U.S. with counter-terrorism intelligence, especially about North Africa and the Gulf States—ER]

A great deal more could be said about what is revealed by a close, detailed examination of the contents and verbal habits of those who speak in this document. From the point of view of such analysis, I believe all evidence points to authenticity.

My source is regarded by all who know him as a man of the greatest integrity; one frequent and highly knowledgeable traveler to Sudan says of him, "he is the most honest, trustworthy and highly principled man" I have met in Sudan. My source is intelligent, highly resourceful, and extremely well-informed; he would not knowingly put my reputation for accuracy at risk gratuitously. I have never, in fifteen years of writing extensively about Sudan, been accused of relying on a fabricated document or source; my source on this occasion is well aware of this, and how destructive to my reputation it would be were the document a fabrication. At the same time, my source sees no point in speaking openly to me in Northampton, Massachusetts about the details of how he came to possess the document in Sudan. He would be particularly vulnerable to Khartoum's enhanced intercept capacity.

The Burden of Proof

It would seem to me that the burden of proof is on those who would argue that the documents are fabrications, that there was no meeting such as described. Moreover, while the motives for fabrication by the regime are murky and implausible at best, there is certainly there is no difficulty at all in imagining the motives of someone who knew of the August 31, 2014 meeting and had access to these highly confidential and equally authoritative minutes. There are a great many Sudanese desperate to bring down the regime; and they know that it will require extraordinary and courageous actions, and that these are likely to be directed against exceptionally well-protected "targets." But given those in attendance and the agenda items of the August 31 meeting, this would be the moment to take the ultimate risk.

The English translation is 30 pages in length (a length that again argues against fabrication, given the continual potency and specificity of the revelations); it will require several thematic analyses to present what stands as consensus within the regime on a range of topics, to parse sometimes partially opaque pronouncements (or translations), and to provide a clear overall view of the regime's thinking at this crucial moment in the political history of Sudan. Additional portions of all documents will be released with these new analyses; eventually all will be released.

Some of the topics to be addressed individually:

[Again, all quotes included here come from a lightly edited version of the English translation of the original Arabic document; edits are for punctuation errors (including apostrophes indicating possession, extra spaces, gratuitous end punctuation, and a great many unnecessary commas; some unidiomatic passages have been made slightly clearer. In the context of this analysis, some excerpts have been somewhat more heavily edited, but still limited to matters of grammar and idiom. Brackets [ … ] are used where editorial intrusion has been greatest; these edits are occasionally the work of the translator, not mine; I've attempted to put all the former in different brackets { ... }. All comments by me, including interpolations of explanation and identification as well as extended critical remarks are in italics; all emphases have been added by me.]

§§§    Reneging on commitment to provide the United States with the intelligence acquired by the regime concerning terrorist groups, including in North Africa:

"The Gulf States have only very weak information about the terrorist groups that are based in Libya, Somali, Nigeria, Mali, North Africa Arab countries and Afghanistan because they have bad relations with these radical groups. They want us to cooperate with them in the war against terrorism because the radical groups constitute [a] direct threat to them. Their relation with ISIS, Nusra Front, Muslim Brothers, and Palestine Islamic Movement is even weaker. We will not sacrifice our relations with the Islamists and Iran for a relation with the Saudis and the Gulf States. What is possible is a relation that serves our economic interests in terms of investments, employment market, etc…," Lt. General Yahya Mohammed Kher, State Minister of Defense (page 12). [Can any reasonable person imagine that Khartoum is sharing with the Obama administration the intelligence bragged about here? – ER]

"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 Gulf States, [a w]ide presence in Africa and Europe and nobody else owns a data-base on that [such] as the one we have. We release only limited information to the Americans according to the request and the price is the armed movements file. The coming days carry a lot of surprises," First Lt. General and Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein (page 24). This clearly suggests reneging on any counter-terrorism effort promised to the U.S.—that if the U.S. doesn't ask the right question, make the right "request," they won't get the information they most want. Moreover, the claim that the price the U.S. is willing to pay is to provide he regime with intelligence on Sudan's rebel movements suggests an unscrupulous betrayal—ER]

[On Sudan's future relationship with international terrorism—ER]:

"We can create them a problem with the Islamic radicals, but we are not going to use this card now," First Lt. Gen. Hashim Abdalla Mohammed, Chief of Joint General Staff (page 17). [The clear implication is that "creating problems" with Islamic terrorists is one of the tools in the NCP/NIF bag of tools—one of their "cards" (a repeated, and telling, metaphor)—ER] 

§§§     The strength of the commitment to Islamism and political Islam, too often played down in current characterizations of the regime:

[Throughout the document the centrality of Islamism and Islamic rule is clear, and the corresponding fear that opposition movements are bent on … "remov[ing] the Islamic movement from power" (page 3).

"[Iran is] our biggest ally [because of] our web-like relations with all the Islamic Movements, world-wide," Lt. General Al-Rashiid Fagiri, Director of Popular Security" (page 9).

[The great rubric for all regime opponents is "supporters of the New Sudan Project," referring to the principle, most forcefully articulated by the late Southern leader John Garang, that neither race nor ethnicity nor religion should be the basis for citizenship in a truly multi-party, democratic Sudan—ER]

The phrase "New Sudan Project" is used incessantly, a sign of what the regime most fears—ER]:

"In order to foil the New Sudan Project we are watching closely all political party activities. When we discover that a politician is going abroad to meet the rebels we usually prevent him not to travel," Lt. General Abdalla Al-Jaili, Popular Defense Forces General Coordinator (page 9).

"We can bring all the Islamic movements to fight [the rebels], just we tell them that these rebels are collaborators and agents of America," First Lt. Gen. Hashim Abdalla Mohammed, Chief of Joint General Staff (page 17).

[Most notably, comments by the Vice President in his "recommendations" section—ER]:

"We consider the New Sudan Project as [the] top internal and regional challenge that endeavours to expand the foreign intervention and division of Sudan [understandably so—ER]. All the political, security, military, and diplomatic organs should change the approach in dealing with it" (page 28).

§§§      Support for Iran as a means of supporting Islamist movements worldwide and gaining important regional support:

"Are you sure Saudi Arabia can change its mind [concerning our relationship] after [the Saudis] classified the Muslim Brothers as terrorists? On the other hand you know that our relation with Iran is part and parcel of our relation with the Muslim Brotherhood International Islamic Organization. Accordingly, we must consult with Iran and our Islamist group, before taking any step in this regard. This is because the Kingdom cannot be trusted despite their knowledge that we are in a position to threaten their rule," Lt. General Abdal-Gadir Mohammed Zeen, National Service Coordinator (page 6).

"We are the only state that will not be affected by the conflicts taking place between Sunni Islamic groups and the Shite’. This is, because we succeeded to manage good relations with all Islamic groups, through the cover of social organizations, and not through the state apparatus. The secret of the strength of the Ingaz (NCP) government lies in the smooth management of the alliance with Shite’ Iran on one side and the alliance with the Sunni Islamic groups on the other side," question and statement from Lt. General Siddiig Aamir, Director General of M.I. [Military Intelligence] and Security (pages 10 – 11).

[Virtually every speaker invokes the "strategic relationship with Iran"; it is a constant in the discussion. In the past this "relationship" has dictated that Khartoum allow for the transfer of Iranian weapons destined for Hamas in Gaza to pass through Sudanese territory—ER]:

"The relation with Iran is one of the best relations in the history of the Sudan. The assistance we received from Iran is immeasurable. Accordingly, the management of this relation requires wisdom and knowledge with all its details. The commonalities between us are many," 1st Lt. General Abdal-Rahim Mohammed Hisen [Hussein], Minister [of] Defense (page 26).

"Our relation with Iran is strategic one and unchangeable. {They} who wants to assist us can do that without conditions."

"Maintenance of relations with Iran [are] to be protected from any threats. Should be managed by military and security organs," (1st Lt. General Bakri Hasan Salih, 1st Vice President of the Republic of Sudan (page 28).

"In the open let us maintain good relations with the Gulf States, but strategically with Iran and to be managed secretly by the M.I. [Military Intelligence] and security organs," Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, Political Secretary of the NCP (page 4).

"There is no state other than Iran who has the courage to say no to the whole West. Iran is a real partner to the Ingaz revolution…. It was Iran who provided unlimited support to us…," Lt. General Abdalla Al-Jaili, PDF General Coordinator (page 7).

[Perhaps most tellingly]:

"[The Gulf States] also fear from our relation with Iran. Our relation with Iran is beneficial to us, because Iran is our biggest ally in the regionin terms of the cooperation in the areas of intelligence and military industrial production. This is due to our web-like relations with all the Islamic Movements World Wide. The importance of this relation comes from the fact that we constitute for Iran [access?] to all the Islamic groups, Lt. Gen. Siddiig Aamir, Director General of [Military Intelligence] and Security (page 9).

§§§     The willingness to destroy agriculture and food supplies as a means of attacking the rebel movements of South Kordofan and Blue Nile (the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement-North, SPLA/M-N); a concomitant commitment not to lift the humanitarian blockade put up around these regions and all civilians caught within them:

"This year the Sudan People’s Army (SPLA-N) managed to cultivate large areas in South Kordofan State. We must not allow them to harvest these crops. We should prevent them. Good harvest means supplies to the war effort. We must starve them, so that, commanders and civilians desert them and we recruit the deserters to use them in the war to defeat the rebels," Lt. General Siddiig Aamir, Director of M.I. and Security (page 10).

[This savage, ruthless assessment neglects to point out that the vast majority of agricultural production is a civilian undertaking, and that it will be civilians—primarily children, women, and the elderly—who will suffer most from this destruction of food supplies—ER]

[Declaring that negotiations with the rebels in South Kordofan and Blue Nile are a "waste of time," a senior general, Chief of Joint Operations, indicates that the military option is the only one to be considered—ER]:

"We should attack them before the harvest and bombard their food stores and block them completely," Lt. General Imadadiin Adaw, Chief of Joint Operations (page 14).

§§§     The determination to complete the destruction of African tribal groups in Darfur:

Vice President Bakri recommends that the regime: "Support the mechanism intended to disperse or empty the IDP camps. Create differences and security strike[s] in the IDP camps" (page 29).

"We must continue the military operations. We shall continue bombarding the rebel concentration areas [in Darfur, as well as South Kordofan and Blue Nile] by air force. In the coming dry season we need any fighter from any country that can fight under our command in addition to the sons of the war-affected areas to act as guides to the rebel defenses," 1st Lt. General Abdal-Rahim Mohammed Hisen [Hussein], Minister [of] Defense (page 22).

[Less is said about Darfur than one might expect; the general tenor of comments suggests that Khartoum believes Darfuri rebels by themselves are no longer a serious threat to the regime—only insofar as they assist the efforts of the Sudan Revolutionary Front (if the U.S. is indeed providing intelligence to Khartoum on the Darfuri rebel groups, this military weakness on their part becomes less surprising). Darfur is a strategic afterthought at this point, no matter how great the violence, displacement, and deprivation of Darfuri people—ER]

§§§     Plans for weakening South Sudan through support of the rebel forces (the Sudan People's Liberation Army-in Opposition):

[Vice President Bakri recommends that the regime]: "Recognize Dr. Riak [Machar] Liaison office and all organs are required to provide protection and security to them."

"I met Riak [Machar], Dhieu and Taban [Deng Gai] and they are regretting the decision to separate the South and we decided to return his house to him. [Riek Machar lived in Khartoum for a number of years during the long civil war (1983 – 2005)—ER.] He [Riek Machar] requested us to assist him and that he, has shortage in the M.I. personnel, operations command and tank technicians. We must use the many cards we have against the South in order to give them unforgettable lesson. [Yet again the "card" metaphor—ER]

The operational military commanders have particularly strong views—ER]:

"[Juba is] still supporting the two divisions of Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile. Accordingly, we must provide Riak forces with big support in order to wage the war against Juba and clean the whole of Greater Upper Nile area. Riak and Taban during their visit to Khartoum disclosed to us everything about the logistical support from Juba to the rebels, the route of supply and who transport it to them" Lt. General (PSC) Imadadiin Adawi, Chief of Joint Operations (page 14). [The verb "clean" here has extremely ominous implications, given the history of the regime's engaging in what many call "ethnic cleansing"—ER]

"We must change the balance of forces in South Sudan. Riak, Taban and Dhieu Mathok came and requested support in the areas of training in M.I. and especially in tanks and artillery. They requested armament also. They want to be given advanced weapons. Our reply was that we have no objection, provided that we agree on a common objective. Then we train and supply with the required weapons," 1st Lt. General Hashim Abdalla Mohammed, Chief of Joint General Staff (page 16).

§§§     The militarization of foreign policy:

[Vice President Bakri recommends that]: "Foreign policy management departments should work under the supervision of the military and security organs responsible for the national security affairs to cope with the new internal and external changes," (page 28).

"We intensified the work to train and graduate Libyan M.I. [Military Intelligence] cadres. Currently, they are undergoing an advanced course in in Internet operation, de-ciphering of codes, interception of telephones and wire-less radios. Their leadership requested us to train and establish for them a strong M.I. apparatus," Lt. General Siddiig Aamir, Director General of M.I. and Security (page 11).

"In the open let us maintain good relations with the Gulf States, but strategically with Iran and to be managed secretly by the M.I. [Military Intelligence] and security organs," Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, Political Secretary of the NCP (page 4).

§§§     The determination to hold the 2015 national elections, including the all-important Presidential election, on time; this entails wholesale bribing of potential opposition parties and individuals, and threatening protestors:

"Demonstrations or uprising is a red line and will be confronted with fire and those who are interested in the New Sudan Project should go to the South," Lt. General Abdalla Al-Jaili, Popular Defense Forces General Coordinator (page 7). [Presumably "fire" means a reprise of the shooting of last September, which occurred under "shoot to kill" orders—ER]

"We still remember [the] September 2013 experience, and that after we fired at them [fired with "shoot to kill" orders, according to Amnesty International—ER] they stopped issuing any statement or movement or talk about the then on-going military operations. The coming demonstrations they are planning to conduct during the elections constitute a crime and we will deal with it firmly and timely [again, presumably on the basis of "shoot to kill" orders]," First Lt. General and Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein (page 23).

[In preparation for the coming elections]:

"… this year we have already trained suicidal teams and strategic battalions to protect the elections and assist the police to suppress any such activities that may be carried out by the rebellion or the supporters of the New Sudan Project," Lt. General Abdal-Gadir Mohammed Zeen, National Service Coordinator (page 7).

"Any journalist or politician who criticizes the RSF (Rapid Support Forces, the most recent incarnation of the Janjaweed militias that became notorious for their savagery and brutal destructiveness in the Darfur conflict—ER] must be arrested and charged with spying [i.e., treason—ER] and collaboration [with the enemy]," 1st Lt. General Mohammed Atta Al-Mowla, Director General N.I.S.S. (page 19).

"The elections must take place on time. Holding the elections constitutes a psychological war against the armed movements and may frustrate them and lead to the end of the project of the New Sudan Project," Lt. Gen. Salah Al-Tayib, DDR [Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration] Commissioner (page 6).

"There must be strict control over the freedom of the press, political statements of the party leaders, and the national security should remain a red line. Any political or press statement should not violate the rule of law…, 1st Lt. General Hashim Osman Al-Hisen, Director General of Police. (page 15). [Those crossing the regime's various "red lines" risk imprisonment, torture, rape, and execution, as well as a dramatic loss of educational and employment opportunities—ER]

§§§     Skill with which the regime plays off regional actors against one another:

[This should be read in light of recently strained relations between Khartoum and Cairo—ER]:

"The Egyptians have no choice, but to establish especial relations with us, given the victory of the Islamists in the battle for Tripoli, despite Egyptian support to Gen. Haftar. They will not dare to open two fronts, one against Libya and the other against us. These are useful cards at hand and we should use them properly," Lt. General Abdal-Gadir Mohammed Zeen, National Service Coordinator (page 6 – 7). [And yet again the "card" metaphor appears—the regime is making clear that it knows exactly how to deploy its various assets, and that it will do so in strategic fashion—ER]

"We managed to secure the borders with Ethiopia and have already signed an agreement to form a joint force covering the whole border between the two countries, exchange of information, prevention of any insurgency that can start from one country against the other, and our contribution or role in the protection of Nahda Dam (Renaissance Dam). This agreement is beneficiary to us because we can use it to cross into the Ethiopian side of the boarder in the name of visiting the refugees, which can allow us to recruit Ethiopian soldiers who can collect and supply us with the necessary information about SPLA-N camps in Yabus and other areas to be bombarded by air force," Lt. General Imadadiin Adaw, Chief of Joint Operations (page 13).

§§§     Skill in co-opting and disrupting international and regional diplomatic efforts; UNAMID head Mohamed bin Chambas and AUHIP chair Thabo Mbeki seem the most fully corrupted by contact with the regime;

"No dialogue to take place abroad." "Mbeke meeting with the armed forces in Addis Ababa is just a public relations exercise." "The AUHIP representative Abdul Mohammed told me that the armed movements do not trust Mbeke on one side and that, Malik [Agar] and Yasir [Arman] complained against him to the Ethiopian Prime Minister and the American envoy," Lt. General Salah Al-Tayib, DDR Commissioner (page 6).

"I [1st Lt. General Abdal-Rahim Mohammed Hisen [Hussein], Minister [of] Defense] told him [Thabo] Mbeki, [chair of the African Union High-level Implementation Panel] that we trust [Mohamed] Bin [C]hambas [who recently resigned as head of UNAMID amid a growing scandal over the performance of the peacekeeping force in Darfur—ER], who will bring to you all the Darfur movements in Addis Ababa and the aim of the Addis meeting with them is for consultation only and not for negotiation."

"In case one of them is interested in negotiation let him go to Doha [now regarded by all international actors of consequences as a "diplomatic dead letter—ER]. He is going to bring all of them to Addis and seek their opinion on the proposal; if [they] reject the [national] dialogue, then the position of Sudan will be correct, and we will be able to defend it in front of the international community. In that case Sudan would be seen to have done its best by the international community. Mbeke will participate in the dialogue from within as an observer. Also I met Ali Al-Zaatari (UN) and he is pro us. And met Salah Halima (Arab League) and he is also supporting us, and Hailey Menkariuos and he is also pro us. We did a big job for Mohammed Bin [C]hambas." [This would seem a very considerable understatement, but it does much to explain the following—ER]:

"When I met him [bin Chambas], he said the UN is going to investigate into the reports of the UNAMID Mission and [bin Chambas] advised me to correct things on the ground to conform to their reports about our performance. He told me that Darfur has no case or problem and their remaining movements should join Doha agreement, and if they want to join the internal national initiative it is up to them and let them come," 1st Lt. General Abdal-Rahim Mohammed Hisen [Hussein], Minister [of] Defense (page 21).

[The attraction of Mbeki as a biased negotiator is unmistakable—ER]: "[The rebels'] plan is to see that the elections do not take place. Accordingly, we must support all the efforts carried by Mbeke," Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, Political Secretary of the NCP" (page 3).

[The final word, in all matters of consequence, clearly rests with the military leaders in the regime—ER]:

"SAF [the Sudan Armed Forces] is against any dialogue that is supervised by foreigners, because it will end up dismantling SAF. We support separate forums for negotiation with the rebels, no unification of forums or negotiation with them as a group… [Today the rebels say that the] SAF is not a national force, or SAF is using foreign militias and mounted their campaign against SAF. Permit SAF and the RSF [Rapid Support Forces—the reconfigured Janjaweed militias—ER] plus the sons of those areas to attack and clean these areas from the rebellion. We are ready for military operations," 1st Lt. General Hashim Abdalla Mohammed, Chief of Joint General Staff (page 15)

§§§     Cynical view of the much-touted "national dialogue":

"The only option in front of us now is the [national] dialogue that is leading to the holding of elections on time. No postponement of the elections, whatsoever the case. I met with the EU ambassadors and all of the are supporting the dialogue initiative that [they believe] can lead to political reforms…." Lt. General Salah Al-Tayab, DDR Commissioner (page 5).

"Let us go and prepare a force to protect the elections. Secondly, if the peace talks are necessary let them take place after the elections, and the internal national dialogue can continue after we hold the elections. We will continue recruiting and splitting the field commanders, and win them to our side since we have all the information about the rebels. We have to sign more agreements and never sit with the rebels as a group or collectively," 1st Lt. Gen. Hashim Osman Al-Hisen, Director General of Police (page 15).

§§§     Sophistication of surveillance and intercept capabilities; the security services provide massive amounts of detailed intelligence on political enemies or potential enemies:

"We intercepted all the telephone calls coming from Saudi, Emirates and Egyptian intelligence, and some people from the political parties of the Sudan [in September 2013]. They were instructing people to go for demonstrations. They brought experts to administer the demonstrations. Since we were following the telephones we managed to arrest the real players and they confessed and disclosed all the details about the conspiracy and the name of officers assigned to supervise the demonstrations and the leadership in each country was receiving daily reports. That is why the Egyptians, Saudis and Emirates will fear when they discovered that, all the elements they sent were arrested by the security. On our side we did not disclose anything up to now, instead we want to use this file to blackmail them," 1st Lt. General Mohammed Atta Al-Mowlem, Director General N.I.S.S. (page 17).

"All the Embassies and Chanceries in Khartoum are infiltrated and our elements report to us who visited the Embassy and who went out from the Embassy staff and to where," Lt. General Al-Rashiid Fagiri, Director of Popular Security (page 8).

"Regarding the rebels, I, can say that we have managed to infiltrate their rank and file. We are following all their movements, chats, private affairs with women, the type of alcohol preferred or taken by each one, the imaginary talks when they get drank. We have ladies who are always in contact with them. The ladies managed to send to us their e-mails, telephone numbers, skypes, "whats-up's" and all their means of communications. By that, we are now able to infiltrate them electronically. We are following all their activities and contacts with people inside the country," Lt. General Al-Rashiid Fagiri, Director of Popular Security (page 8).

§§§     The skill of which they boast in their "divide and conquer" tactics of the past 25 years:

"We are working to cause differences and divisions within the SRF [Sudan Revolutionary Front—ER] to weaken and destroy it. The same policy of divide and weaken will be applied to all the political forces in the north, like DUP [Democratic Unionist Party], Eastern Sudan, Umma party after we see Sadik [el-Mahdi] comes back. We bring him back using his own sons Abdal-Rahman and Bushra to convince him. We collected all the information about the SPLM-N cadres and working now to launch a psychological warfare campaign on them to see that they got divided like the SPLM in the South," Lt. General Al-Rashiid Fagiri, Director of Popular Security (page 7).

§§§     Racist attitudes towards the West, Western humanitarian efforts, and democratic ideals:

Mustapha Osman Ismail speaks of the uprising of all 2013 as "a political crisis created by the racist and tribal project of the New Sudan" (page 3).

"Let [the rebel forces] come to the battlefield. They are dreaming to rule Sudan. It is just a fuss that will fade away. The White People will never give you enough support or fight along with them. The greatest liars are White People; they are concerned about their own interest only," 1st Lt. General Abdal-Rahim Mohammed Hisen [Hussein], Minister [of] Defense (page 22).

[This is a conspicuous echo of a comment by President Omar al-Bashir made a year ago—ER]:

“If a white man brings you relief, don’t take it and whip him on his back." (Sudan Tribune, October 25, 2013).

§§§     And perhaps most tellingly, the failure to understand the economic disaster that these policies have created (see my recent analysis at the Enough Forum |

"We are currently facing an acute economic crisis that need to be addressed in order to alleviate the suffering of our people, and look for alternatives that can enable us to control the market forces," Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail, Political Secretary of the NCP (page 3).

While acknowledging the extent of the economic crisis, "Dr. Smile" hardly understands the difficulty of controlling market forces in a highly inflationary economy with no significant foreign exchange reserves (and thus very limited ability to import foods and other commodities), growing debt—already a staggering US$47 billion in external debt—and a rapidly depreciating currency. Even less comprehending, however, is the brutal and intellectually limited First Lt. General and Defense Minister Abdel Rahim Mohamed Hussein—ER]:

"The economic situation can be addressed and will improve due to the fact that our country have all the requirements needed for industrialization, Agriculture, basic infrastructure, oil and there is no hungry person. This is temporary; just days and they will pass. The military industries will cover all our needs in the armed forces." (page 23)

[Fantastically, Hussein claims there is not a single hungry person in Sudan despite reports from various UN and nongovernmental humanitarian organizations that Global Acute Malnutrition rates and Chronic Malnutrition rates are, especially for children under five, at crisis levels—ER]

One of the most remarkable features of the document is that these powerful men nowhere discuss in any detail the economic crisis that has already taken a terrible toll on Sudan's people, and certainly make no proposals to deal with the inevitable consequences of ongoing crisis. Instead, there is a constant discussion of who has been paid off, which of the many small parties have received enough money to ensure their support in the elections, money for bribes, money for infiltrators, money for recruits into the armed forces—a constant patter of references to significant expenditures that are at once the political mainstay of the NCP/NIF regime, but also an enormous drain on national resources and one reason the fiscal budget gap cannot be closed. For of course none of these expenditures appear in the data the regime reports to the IMF—and the IMF asks no questions.

Looking forward

In-depth analyses of these various topics will for forthcoming, seriatim. The document is thirty pages and all the issues they raise deserve careful, detailed, analytic attention.

Below I have included the first two pages of the translation (one text is in exactly the format received, with no modification of any kind; the second has been slightly reformatted for clarity). I have also included .JPG files showing these first two pages of the Arabic original since they were photographed for purposes of confirmation (see below and All documents, in all formats, will be published in the coming days and weeks.


[Original formatting of translation:

In the name of God most gracious and most merciful

Restricted and Confidential

Date: 01/09/2014                                                                  Republic of Sudan

National Intelligence & Security Service

Central Security Corporation

Management of Military Activities

To: Lt. Gen. Osman Tajasir

The Managing Director of Central Security Corporation

Peace be on you,

Find enclosed:

1/ Joint Military and Security Committee Meeting held in National Defense College on 31/08/2014.

2/ Support Hamas Meeting held in Sudan Scientific Corporation Premises on 31/08/2014.

Maj. Gen. (Security): Abdal-Wahab Al-Rashiid



In the name of God most gracious and most merciful

Minutes of the Military and Security Committee Meeting held in the National Defense College

Sunday 31/08/ 2014

# 1st. Lt. Gen. Bakri Hasan Salih welcomed the attendance.

# Reading and analysis of the SRF. Statement 20 - 25/08/2014.

# Study of Paris Declaration signed by the SRF and Sadik Al-Mahdi on 18/08/2014.

# Activities report covering Sadik Al-Mahdi visits and meetings in Cairo, Arab Emirates and Addis-Ababa.

# Reports on Rebel Leaders activities, contacts and meetings.

The Agenda of the meeting:

1- Paris Declaration and SRF statement impact.

2- Radical and moderate trends in regards to Shite Belief activities in Sudan.

3- President Mbeke role and Sudanese issues.

4- Elections, National Dialogue and Peace Negotiations- The Priority.

5- New Sudan Project and its impact on the national security and economic activity.


1-  1st. Lt. Gen. Bakri Hasan Salih – 1st. Vice President of the Republic of Sudan

2-  1st. Lt. Gen. Abdal-Rahim Mohammed Hisen- Minister of Defence.

3-    ,,   ,,     ,,   . Mohammed Atta- Al- Mowla – Director General N.I.S.S.

4-    ,,   ,,   ,,     . Hashim Osman Al-Hisen- Director General of Police.

5-    ,, ,,   ,,     . Hashim Abdalla Mohammed- Chief of Joint General Staff.

6-    Lt. Gen.     . Imadadiin Adawi                   - Chief of Joint Operations.

7-    Professor. Ibrahim Ghandur                   - D/ Chairman of the N.C.P.

8-    Lt. Gen.     . Yahya Mohammed Kher       - State Minister of Defense.

9-    ,,     ,,         . Siddiig Aamir                         - Director General of M.I. and Security.

10- ,,     ,,         . Al-Rashiid Fagiri                     - Director of Popular Security.

11- ,,     ,,         . Abdalla Al-Jaili                       - PDF. General Co-ordinator.

12- ,,     ,,         . Abdal-Gadir Mohammed Zeen- National Service Co-ordinator.

13- ,,     ,,         . Salah Al- Tayib                       - DDR. Commissioner.

14-  Dr.             . Mustafa Osman Ismail         - Political Secretary- NCP.


[Text reformatted for clarity:

In the name of God most gracious and most merciful

Restricted and Confidential

Date: 01/09/2014

Republic of Sudan

National Intelligence & Security Service

Central Security Corporation

Management of Military Activities

To: Lt. Gen. Osman Tajasir, Managing Director of Central Security Corporation

Peace be on you,

Find enclosed:

[1] Joint Military and Security Committee Meeting held in National Defense College on 31/08/2014.

[2] Support Hamas Meeting held in Sudan Scientific Corporation Premises on 31/08/2014 (This document did not accompany the first—ER]

Signed, Maj. Gen. (Security): Abdal-Wahab Al-Rashiid


In the name of God most gracious and most merciful

Minutes of the Military and Security Committee Meeting held in the National Defense College

Sunday 31/08/ 2014

• 1st Lt. Gen. Bakri Hasan Salih welcomed the attendance.

• Reading and analysis of the SRF Statement 20 – 25/08/2014 .

• Study of Paris Declaration signed by the SRF and Sadik Al-Mahdi on 18/08/2014.

• Activities report covering Sadik Al-Mahdi visits and meetings in Cairo, Arab Emirates and


• Reports on Rebel Leaders activities, contacts and meetings.

The Agenda of the meeting:

[1] Paris Declaration and SRF statement impact.

[2] Radical and moderate trends in regards to Shite Belief activities in Sudan.

[3] President Mbeke role and Sudanese issues.

[4] Elections, National Dialogue and Peace Negotiations- The Priority.

[5] New Sudan Project and its impact on the national security and economic activity.


[1] 1st Lt. Gen. Bakri Hasan Salih –                                   1st Vice President of the Republic of Sudan

[2] 1st Lt. Gen. Abdal-Rahim Mohammed Hisen –        Minister of Defence.

[3] 1st Lt. Gen. Mohammed Atta Al-Mowla –                 Director General N.I.S.S.

[4] 1st Lt. Gen. Hashim Osman Al-Hisen –                     Director General of Police.

[5] 1st Lt. Gen. Hashim Abdalla Mohammed –              Chief of Joint General Staff.

[6] Lt. Gen. Imadadiin Adaw   –                                        Chief of Joint Operations.

[7] Professor Ibrahim Ghandur –                                      D/ Chairman of the N.C.P.

[8] Lt. Gen.Yahya Mohammed Kher –                             State Minister of Defense.

[9] Lt. Gen. Siddiig Aamir –                                                Director General of M.I. and Security.

[10] Lt. Gen. Al-Rashiid Fagiri –                                        Director of Popular Security.

[11] Lt. Gen. Abdalla Al-Jaili   –                                         PDF General Co-ordinator.

[12] Lt. Gen. Abdal-Gadir Mohammed Zeen –                National Service Co-ordinator.

[13] Lt. Gen. Salah Al- Tayib   –                                          DDR Commissioner.

[14] Dr. Mustafa Osman Ismail –                                     Political Secretary-NCP.

Eric Reeves' book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012;; review commentary at:

Exploring every avenue for urgent peace in South Sudan

By Jacob K. Lupai

September 22, 2014 (SSNA) -- Right now South Sudan is going through a situation of uncertainty that many must be wondering what may become of it in the next coming years. Depending on the level of pessimism others may conclude that South Sudan is already a failed state and on its way to the dustbin of history. However, it should be understood that the people of South Sudan are resilient and optimistic, and their optimism had sustained their protracted liberation struggle for fifty years (1955 – 2005) for freedom and independence. There is therefore no room for despair but to explore consistently every avenue in search of a lasting peace in South Sudan.

Without peace there is no way to create cohesion for sustainable national unity. South Sudan may ultimately disintegrate in the absence of an urgent peace. However, this will be unfortunate for the people of South Sudan who had struggled and suffered so much for their call for equality, justice and prosperity in what was then known as Old Sudan.

Basics of liberation struggle

A liberation struggle is not waged for fun simply to lose dear lives and property for nothing. It should instead be waged for a basic and fundamental call for equality, justice and prosperity. A clear example of this was when South Sudan called for equality with North Sudan in the Old Sudan in the arrangement for independence from British colonial rule. As a blatant oppression of South Sudan, North Sudan made it a point to have all the senior positions in the South to be occupied by northerners. When the southern demand for a federal system was rejected by the North there was a bitter disappointment and widespread discontent in the South. This was the genesis of a protracted liberation struggle against inequality and injustice perpetuated by the North. It was obvious for the people of South Sudan that they would have to make expensive sacrifices for ultimate independence.

As people of one destiny South Sudanese fought and died together in trenches for freedom as comrades and people of one diversified and colorful family, South Sudan. This spirit clearly made people of South Sudan what they are today, people of an independent country of their own. Prior to independence this spirit of togetherness was manifested when Dr Lam Akol and Dr Riek Machar rejoined Dr John Garang for that great and historic achievement of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) of 2005 that restored relative peace to South Sudan and made the Old Sudan never to be the same again. It was not clear whether without the unity among Dr Lam Akol, Dr Riek Machar and Dr John Garang there would have been any CPA that would have brought independence to South Sudan.

Era of relative peace

In the beginning of the CPA the people of South Sudan became euphoric. The CPA was seen as bringing conditions of paradise on earth in South Sudan. The rampant insecurity experienced during the northern colonial rule was to become a thing of the past. Indeed the beginning of the CPA showed signs of relative peace. This, however, was short-lived as conditions began to deteriorate as though the post CPA government was not prepared for governance. Poor governance characterized this era. However, President Salva Kiir Mayardit asserted in no uncertain terms that unity was not made attractive and threatened that crossing the referendum date was a redline. This is a shining legacy of Salva Kiir Mayardit which he should not squander for unwarranted petty leadership quarrels that have unfortunately turned violent.

The sheer determination for independence made people to deliberately turn a blind eye to many shortcomings of the post CPA government. Given the history of long wars of liberation, poor infrastructure, limited capacity for governance and weak state institutions, peace could have been short-lived. Nevertheless, the CPA era was considered as a preparation for independence. Rocking the boat was not an option in the face of mounting insecurity, corruption, nepotism, land grabbing and arrogance.

Also, it was not uncommon to hear some simple-minded claiming they were the only instrumental in liberating the people of South Sudan from the yolk of the North. The so-called loud mouth liberators must have actually liberated themselves from poverty because theft seems to be their trademark. Land grabbing as part of theft was on the rise with the government absolutely doing nothing, a sure license for rampant land grabbing.

Land grabbers who were identified as soldiers used guns to impose their criminal act of land grabbing with the government turning a blind eye, contrary to the government’s claim that no one was above the law. It was very difficult to understand why was there such an outrageous indiscipline among soldiers who illegally occupied people’s plots of land when there was commander-in-chief, minister of defense and general chief-of-staff who were all supposed to be in full control of their soldiers in the effort to promote army-civilian cordial relations for national unity. It should be clear to those concerned that land grabbing won’t sustain national unity.

Independence of South Sudan

If anyone in the world doubts the unity of the people of South Sudan as people of one destiny they should think again and better look at the results of the referendum for independence. The results were 98.43 per cent Yes for independence and 1.57 per cent No for Unity of Old Sudan. This also confirmed that there were no people as instrumental liberators for the 98.43 per cent of people who voted in the referendum liberated the South.

Arguably the people of South Sudan did not vote overwhelmingly for independence as one people but as people of one destiny. Those who think and talk of the people of South Sudan as one people are grossly misleading others. The people of South Sudan fought for freedom as people of one destiny against oppression because this was the common denominator. After the CPA and independence there was little cohesion among the people as cracks began to appear.

The euphoria after the referendum and independence gave way to bitter disappointment as the people wanted their government to deliver security and basic services as the anticipated peace dividends. Despite the initial euphoria claims of corruption, nepotism, exclusion, and domination of government and business by some ethnic groups seemed to have eroded people’s enthusiasm in the government. Above all the security of individual and property was and is of major concern. This has been the most important expected peace dividend. People have been disappointed with poor delivery of security. The government therefore has a lot to improve security.

Incident of 15 December 2013

The incident of 15 December 2013 should not have taken place if people had strictly adhered to the vision and mission of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).

According to the SPLM Manifesto 2012, Comrade Salva Kiir Mayardit, the Chairman of SPLM, in his letter addressed to citizens of South Sudan said in part that, “Although South Sudan became a sovereign state on 9 July 2011, we still have much work to do to liberate our citizens from the ravages of poverty, lack of basic services like health care, education systems, and infrastructure and food security. A new nation comes with new challenges. We must face those challenges with innovative solutions and a bold approach. We have no interest in repeating the mistakes of the rest of the world – indeed, we will learn from them”.

The above is an indication of no to war. For the vision of the SPLM it is to build an inclusive secular democratic developmental state, to spearhead rapid human and sustainable economic development and environmental green economy.

The mission of the SPLM is to construct a knowledge economy in South Sudan and to build a nation and a society inspired by peace, freedom, justice, unity, prosperity and progress.

With the vision and mission of the SPLM as shown above, how on earth couldn’t have the incident of 15 December 2013 been avoided. One thing might be certain. It was uncontrolled greed for leadership, power and hegemony, something contrary to the vision and mission of the SPLM. The incident of 15 December 2013 risks tearing up the country with Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal poles apart, and Equatoria concentrating on peace and development as part of its well known characteristics.

Search for peace in South Sudan

There is no military solution in sight in response to the ongoing senseless war of destruction. People must be wasting their valuable time if they think a military solution is imminent. It is only unfortunate that events have turned ethnic as the vicious struggle for power between the Jieng and the Naagat ethnic groups seems to suggest, with tribal militias being employed with devastating effect. The vision and mission of the SPLM seem to have been thrown out contemptuously through the window.

The search for peace in South Sudan should be a national agenda but not restricted to those in government and opposition or to the Jieng and the Naagat as the only dominant participants. There are people who do not subscribe to such a senseless war of annihilation and destruction simply to maintain the status quo of either the Jieng or the Naagat domination.

Part of the mission of the SPLM says, “The SPLM will ensure democracy under the rule of law and good governance, to safeguard fundamental human, economic, social, cultural and religious rights and freedoms”. The question is how does this senseless war in conformity with this part of the mission of the SPLM?

It is clear that people may need to rise above personal interest for the overall prosperity and unity of the country.


It is not yet too late that South Sudan has reached a point of no return but only to disintegrate into three independent states of Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria as in the former Soviet Union or in the Balkans. As the people of South Sudan had endured decades of destruction, the 9-month senseless war is nothing but a warning for the people to double their efforts in search of an urgent and lasting peace to save the country from utter destruction. It is possible that the country, led by an Equatorian may save the situation.

President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Dr Riek Machar have a legacy of being freedom fighters for the dignity of the people of South Sudan. Both had put their lives online to bring us to where we are today. It is therefore important that the two should think carefully.

In conclusion, to simply throw away the shining legacy of a freedom fighter that restored the dignity of the marginalized and oppressed poor of South Sudan is something that somebody should really think seriously about it. People are looking at the two leaders for their humanity, irrespective of their individual ambitions, to save the country from complete destruction.

Jacob K. Lupai is the author of a new book, South Sudan, Issues in Perspective, which will shortly be launched in Juba, South Sudan.

Watching the Bubble Burst: Political Implications of Sudan's Economic Implosion

By Eric Reeves

Executive Summary

September 17, 2014 (SSNA) -- Despite very considerable evidence that the economy of Sudan is collapsing under the weight of numerous unsustainable pressures, there is no full extant account of these pressures at this critical moment in the political history of Sudan.  Understanding the human and political consequences of economic collapse in Sudan is also critical in making sense of the future of now independent South Sudan. Nominally tasked with monitoring the Sudanese economy, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and to a lesser degree the World Bank, have failed to present a full or accurate picture—too often dancing around difficult issues and simply accepting at face value figures provided by the Government of Sudan. Every one of the eight key charts in the IMF'sJuly 2014 reportindicates as its source of data: "Sudanese authorities and staff estimates and projections."

Most conspicuously, the two organizations have failed to provide anything approaching realistic figures concerning military and security expenditures.  There is in the July 2014 IMF report not a single line item—not one—reflecting or indicating the scale of military and security expenditures.  We may learn about "Regulatory capital to risk-weighted assets"; but we will learn nothing about investments in weapons acquisitions from abroad or the growing domestic armaments production.  We learn nothing of salaries and logistical expenditures for the Sudan Armed Forces or the militias the government supports.  Since the Government of Sudan—essentially the National Congress Party (formerly the National Islamic Front)—is deeply threatened by a fuller understanding of the dire straits in which the economy currently lies, it has an obvious interest in doing what it can to minimize popular understanding of growing economic threats, and in particular the excessive budgetary commitments to the Sudan Armed Forces, various security forces, and militias.

Certainly there is no dearth of studies, statistics, or analyses of the economy (see Bibliography).  But none does enough to assess the impact of Sudan's growing economic distress on various crises within Sudan itself and the region as a whole, most particularly in South Sudan.  Continued serious fighting in Darfur, the Nuba Mountains of South Kordofan, and Blue Nile mean that the Government of Sudan is obliged to spend inordinate amounts of annual revenues on armaments, soldiers' salaries, logistics, and the security services that are an integral part of the military power wielded by the government.

Estimates vary widely, but the consensus is that significantly more than fifty percent of budgetary expenditures are directed to the military and security services.  Moreover, the oil revenues that fueled the decade of economic growth following the first oil exports (August 1999) are now only a fraction of what they have been.  This augurs extreme difficulties in negotiating with South Sudan over final boundaries, since many of the contested areas—including Abyei—have significant oil reserves.

In all the regions where fighting is occurring, agricultural production has declined precipitously, creating extraordinary ongoing humanitarian needs.  The government has made provision of relief assistance impossible in the most affected areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and for more than a decade has harassed, impeded, expelled, and threatened humanitarian organizations operating in Darfur, where security has become so bad that further withdrawals by organizations are inevitable.

It is in the domestic political arena, however, that the economy is most worrisome for the NCP government.  Inflation remains extremely high—and likely a good deal higher than suggested by the figures coming from the Central Bank of Sudan—and the Sudanese Pound continues a rapid decline in value against the dollar.  There is exceedingly little foreign exchange currency (Forex), which has led to acute difficulties in financing imports of all kinds, even food and refined fuel for cooking (Sudan's refining capacity is not sufficient to meet very large demand).  Bread shortages earlier in 2013 and 2014 were a direct result of a lack of Forex for purchases of wheat abroad, exacerbated by the increased cost to bakeries of cooking fuel.  Looming over the entire economy is the massive external debt, which in August stood at US46.9 billion according to the IMF; the government can neither repay nor service this debt without reforms—economic and political—it has shown itself unwilling to make.

Last September and October, there was a serious, sustained, and occasionally violent public uprising to protest the price increases resulting from the government's lifting of subsidies for fuel (including cooking fuel).  The government response was swift and brutal, with "shoot to kill" orders in place from the beginning of the uprising according to Amnesty International.  More than 200 demonstrators were shot to death, and many more wounded; some 800 people were arrested.  The figures are likely much higher.  Despite the normalcy of IMF accounts of Sudan's economy, there can be little doubt that it has reached the breaking point; and continued inflation, which may reach to hyperinflation, will—as it has before in Sudanese political history—be the economic force that brings down the government.

The emergence of the National Consensus Forces as a coalition of smaller northern political parties committed to "regime change" is but one sign of growing determination to end the 25-year rule of the NIF/NCP.  The "Paris Declaration" between the National Umma Party (NUP) and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) is another such sign.  The NUP, led by Sadiq al-Mahdi, is one of the two traditional sectarian parties that have long had significant political support.  The SRF is a coalition of armed rebel groups from Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile that is also committed to regime change, by force if necessary.

The current Government of Sudan has no way to respond to both increasing political pressures and the consequences of a rapidly deteriorating economy.  As a result, it will almost certainly resist change, with violent repression, for as long as possible; for many of its leaders have been or will be the subject of arrest warrants for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court, and will have no recourse or avenue of escape once the government falls.  They are as a consequence especially dangerous, and the fall of the regime may well be very bloody.  The international community should plan now how to assist in the creation of a democratic, inclusive, and secular Government of Sudan, and should be prepared to address some of the most immediate problems, including widespread food insecurity.

Full text, including text, charts, graphs, and bibliography |

Eric Reeves' book-length study of greater Sudan (Compromising With Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 - 2012;; review commentary at:

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