September 2014 - Posts
Jeddah, Sept. 30 (SUNA)- President of the Republic, Field Marshal Omer Al-Bashir, and the Saudi Crown Prince, Salman bin Abdul-Aziz, Tuesday evening held talks in Jeddah on progress of the bilateral relations and issues of mutual concern..
At the talks, President Al-Bashir has lauded the distinguished and continuous efforts being done by Saudi Arabia in serving the Muslim Hajs (pilgrims), expanding the Holy Shrines and easing the performance of Hajj (pilgrimage).
SUNA learned that the Sudanese side included the Minister at the Presidency, Salah Wansi, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. Obeidalla Mohamed Obeidalla, the Director of the Office of the President of the Republic, Gen. Taha Osman, and Sudan Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Hafiz Ibrahim.
The Saudi side at the talks included the Chairman of the Saudi Intelligence, Prince Bandar bin Khalid, the State Minister, member of the Council of Ministers and Chairman of the Crown Prince Chamber, Prince Mohamed bin Salman, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Nazar Medani, and the Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to Sudan, Faisal bin Ma'alla.
September 27, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese president Omer al-Bashir strongly attacked the leader of the opposition National Umma Party (NUP) for signing a political agreement with rebel groups and said that Sadiq al-Mahdi can return back to Sudan only if he cancels Paris Declaration.
Since the signing of Paris Declaration on 8 August with the rebel Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF), al-Mahdi is based in the Egyptian capital Cairo. His daughter and DUP deputy leader was jailed for a month before her release.
On 4 September, the Paris Declaration group signed an agreement on the national dialogue and constitutional process with the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP). Further, the African mediation called the warring parties in the Two Areas and Darfur to separately negotiate a cessation of hostilities respectively on 12 and 15 October.
In line with these developments, and after Khartoum commitment to create a conducive environment inside the country, it was expected that the Sudanese authorities would allow Mahdi’s return to the country. The release of his daughter Merriam and the leader of the opposition Congress Party were considered as positive steps.
However, in a speech at the convention of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Khartoum state on Saturday, Bashir surprised the public by announcing that Mahdi can only come back to Sudan after having renounced the Paris Declaration, emphasising that Paris Declartion makes him complicit in the rebel project to bring down the regime by the force of arms.
"Sadiq al-Mahdi is welcome at any time, but he should first disowns what he signed in Paris," Bashir said, adding that Mahdi agreed with SRF to change the regime while the programme of the rebels “is based on the armed action to overthrow the regime”.
The Paris declaration was welcomed inside the country and abroad as it provides that the “end of the war is the right approach to any credible national dialogue and serious constitutional” process and call to ensure freedoms in the country.
The African Union Peace and Security Council in a meeting held on 12 September tasked the AUHIP with cessation of hostilities talks between the warring parties, and exhorted Khartoum to implement the confidence-building measures agreed in the agreement of 4 September which is also signed by the national dialogue committee.
The regional body further urged the Sudanese stakeholders to “refrain from hate speech and from conducting negative media campaigns against each other”.
The Sudanese president went further to say that some want to use the national dialogue to dismantle the regime, adding that his government will not allow rebel groups to exercise any political action or to establish alliance with the opposition forces in Sudan.
He said the SRF rebels have to lay down their arms before to come to Khartoum and engage in political activities.
Bashir called on the rebel groups to participate in the national dialogue and renewed his government commitment of to provide the needed guarantees for the SRF delegates to participate freely in the national process after the end of talks on security arrangements in Addis Ababa.
But he clearly underscored that the separate talks with rebels will be based on the 2005 peace agreement (CPA) for the SPLM-N and the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD) for Darfur rebel groups.
The talks on the South Kordofan and Blue Nile “will only consider a single item which is the reintegration and demobilisation of the (rebel) combatants in the Two Areas, as the rest of issues are included in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement,” he said.
He also reiterated his refusal for the postponement of 2015 elections and expressed his readiness to undertake a Cabinet reshuffle in a way to represent all the political forces participating in the dialogue process.
NEW PURSUITS AGAINST MAHDI
Hours after Bashir’s statements against the return of Mahdi to Sudan before the cancellation of Paris Declaration, the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) announced its intention to sue the leader of the opposition NUP Sadiq al-Mahdi for his participation in “activities against the country”.
“Our decision to file a suit against al-Mahdi is taken after extensive legal assessment and based on information and documents relating to his activities since the signing of the Paris Declaration and what followed in encounters,” said the director of NISS information department is a statement released on Saturday evening.
The security official further described Mahdi’s activities as illegal actions publishable by law and confirmed that that the legal proceedings against him will begin in the coming days.
Since his arrival in Cairo last August, the DUP leader held a series of meetings with the Egyptian officials and foreign diplomats there to explain the Paris Declaration. He travelled to the United Arab Emirates and Addis Ababa where he met with the AUHIP chief.
Al-Mahdi, who was a fervent supporter of the national dialogue, had been arrested for one month from May to June for criticising atrocities and war crimes committed by the government militias in Darfur.
Following his release, he distanced himself from the internal process and called to include rebels in the national dialogue. He further demanded to issue a law protecting political freedoms before to launch the political operation.
September 26, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led by Mohamed Osman al-Mirghani announced its support for the agreement on the national dialogue and constitutional process and warned against the continuation of war and the current international isolation.
Paris Declaration forces including the rebel alliance of Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and opposition National Umma Party (NUP) from one side and the committee of national dialogue signed an agreement with African Union High-Level Implementation Panel (AUHIP) on 4 September.
The eight point-deal signed in Addis Ababa calls for a peaceful settlement to the armed conflicts and urge to implement confidence building measures before to hold an inclusive and comprehensive conference inside the country.
The agreement “is a step forward in the way of desired comprehensive national reconciliation in Sudan,” al-Mirghani said in a speech delivered through video conference from London where is residing since a year ago.
Al-Mirghani who was addressing his party members further called to strengthen the deal and to take further steps aiming to bridge the gaps and build confidence between the stakeholders.
The Sudanese parties have to make the necessary efforts in order to “achieve peace and establish a free, democratic and stable country," he said warning that the “current path followed by the country only leads to war and international isolation”.
The DUP and Khatmyyia sect on Thursday celebrated the 46th death anniversary of the sect leader and party founder Ali al-Mirghani in Khartoum North.
Since the bloody repression of anti austerity protests last year, al-Mirgani left Sudan and did not make political statements. However, since the signing of Paris Declaration on 8 August he received a delegation from the SRF rebels who briefed him on the political deal negotiated with the NUP leader Sadiq al-Mahdi.
The DUP chief reportedly is angered from president Omer al-Bashir because the latter did not implement a deal struck between the two men when he accepted to join the national government in December 2011following the cession of South Sudan. The leader of the historical party is calling to hold a “national consensus” conference.
Al-Mirgahni renewed his call to reach a national programme aiming to address the challenge threatening the country.
He further pointed out that the national consensus he is calling for is based on three pillars: “prioritising national issues over partisan interests, inclusivity of the national dialogue without excluding any party and the need to create a conducive environment by ensuring freedoms, release of political detainees and an amnesty for those who are politically prosecuted”.
Multiple sources within DUP said that Mirghani declined in the past period to meet officials from the National Congress Party (NCP) who sought to meet him in the British capital.
Observers say the DUP leader may withdraw his ministers from the NCD-led government, and rejoin the opposition camp if the government continues to refuse the postponement of the electoral process.
Two days ago, SRF secretary for external relations Yasir Arman told that during their meeting with him last August, the DUP leader pledged to boycott general elections in 2015 if the ruling party refuses to postpone it and forms a transitional national cabinet.
Sudanese parliament deputy speaker, Samia Ahmed Mohamed, accused Arman of seeking to hamper the ongoing efforts to hold the national dialogue, and added he is implementing “foreign agenda”.
The Sudanese government and the opposition forces agree on the need to hold a national dialogue to end war in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur region. Also they agree on need to reach a national agreement on constitutional reforms after the independence of South Sudan.
Nonetheless, the ruling party refuses the idea of a transitional period where a national unity cabinet will implement any national agreement and needed reforms. Government officials accuse the opposition of planning to use this process to dismantle the regime while the latter lays the blame on the NCP saying they want artificial reforms and their manoeuvre intends only to break international isolation and lift economic sanctions.
September 23, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese parliament has rejected Egypt’s decision to appoint a chairman for the local council in the disputed Halayeb area, saying Sudan’s sensible dealing with the issue does not mean it accepts the status quo.
The Halayeb triangle overlooks the Red Sea and has been a contentious issue between Egypt and Sudan since 1958, shortly after Sudan gained independence from British-Egyptian rule.
The area has been under Cairo’s full military control since the mid-1990’s following a Sudanese backed attempt on former Egyptian president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak’s life. Egypt brushed aside Sudan’s repeated calls for referring the dispute to international arbitration.
In February, the Egyptian government issued a decree turning Halayeb into a city that encompasses the villages of Abu-Ramad and Ras-Hedreba.
The Egyptian minister of local development, Adil Habeeb, on Friday appointed a chairman for the local council in Halayeb city.
The head of the parliamentary subcommittee on foreign affairs, security and defence, Malik Hussein, said the Egyptian escalation of the issue and its decision to appoint a chairman for the local council of the area is unacceptable, underscoring that Halayeb is part of the Sudanese territory.
He emphasized that the dispute will be resolved through international laws, saying his country is keen to maintain strong ties with Egypt.
“But that neither means abandoning Halayeb nor implies silence on the issue,” he added.
Hussein stressed that Sudanese executive organs will undertake the necessary measures to respond to the Egyptian move.
The MP noted that the Egyptian move was likely a response to the recent decision of the Sudanese National Elections Commission (NEC) to include Halayeb in the geographical constituencies for the 2015 elections.
He called for maintaining calm towards any provocations from the Egyptian side, saying Halayeb issue is a legal and logical not a public opinion one.
September 22, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s oil ministry signed oil exploration contracts with three companies on Sunday, including the State Oil Company Canada Ltd and Nigeria’s Express Petroleum & Gas Ltd, to work in Al-Rawat.
The big Blok 26 or Al-Rawat field is mainly located in White Nile state but other parties are in Sennar and North Kordofan states. The oilfield is located near the pipeline which links Adarail oilfield in South Sudan to Port Sudan.
The exploration activities in this block include oil and gas. It is part of government’s efforts to increase the country’s daily production to 200.000 barrels.
The signing ceremony of exploration and production sharing agreement which took place at the oil ministry, was attended by Sudanese vice president Hasabo Abdel Rahman and investment minister Mustafa Osman Ismail.
The oil minister Makkawi Mohamed Awad signed the agreement on behalf of the Sudanese government while the State and the Express were was represented by their directors according to a statement by the oil ministry release after the signing on Sunday.
The State which is owned by Lutfur Rahman Khan holds 50% of the shares while the Nigerian gas company has 20%, the remaining 30% of the consortium are held by the government owned Sudapet.
Khan was the chairman of Arakis Energy Corporation which was working in Heglig oil fields before to sell its shares in March 2003 to India’s National Oil Company under the pressure of the Canadian government which had been lobbied by rights groups.
Sudan lost 75% of its oil reserves after the southern part of the country became an independent nation in July 2011, denying the north billions of dollars in revenues. Oil revenue constituted more than half of the Sudan’s revenue and 90% of its exports.
The East African country currently produces 133,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). The country’s production is stationed mainly in the Heglig area and its surroundings, as well as western Kordofan.
Following South Sudan’s secession, several foreign companies started exploration in new oil fields.
A Saudi company is currently working in Block 12, located in Sudan’s north-western corner near the borders with Libya, while a Canadian company shares exploration with the Sudanese company Sudapet in Block 14.
Sudan Energia is working in Block 18 which is located to the west of the river Nile. Block 11 is located in Kordofan, while Block 9 is located in the Gezira, Khartoum, and River Nile states.
Blocks 13 and 14 are on the Red Sea coast, while Blocks 19, 22, 21 are inside the Red Sea. Block 10 is located between Kassala and Al-Gedaref states in eastern Sudan, and Block 8 is located in Sennar state.
September, 22, 2014 (JUBA) – Violent attacks by South Sudanese gangs on fellow youth in Egypt have resulted into 15 deaths and over 40 injury, a diplomat said in a report to lawmakers last week.
“We shall require millions to treat these people,” said Anthony Kon.
More than 70 criminal cases involving South Sudanese nationals have reportedly been filed at various police stations in Egypt.
Kon said the gangs mainly consisted of poor South Sudanese youth facing economic hardships after refusal to return to the country after its independence in 2011.
“These gangs are mainly uneducated and poor South Sudanese men between age 16 and 35; today their numbers range from 500 and above and they are based in Maadi, Ain Shams, Nasr City, Hai Alshara, Al Zeytoon and Abbaseya districts of Egypt,” he said.
Kon cited an incident in which five South Sudanese gangs attacked a Ugandan embassy official in Cairo. The case, he said, was filed at Maadi police station.
“There is a big number of South Sudanese criminals in the Egyptian prisons; they committed crimes such as raping, killing, looting, theft, drugs using all kinds of weapons like machetes, knives,” said the envoy.
“The gangs have since caused many churches that are accessed by South Sudanese to be shut down for fear of possible attacks and damage of church properties,” he added.
Meanwhile, South Sudanese lawmakers demanded that a high level delegation be sent on a fact finding mission to the Egyptian capital.
The MP, however, said it was Egypt’s responsibility to protect their embassy under the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.
September 20, 2014 (KHARTOUM) - The leader of the opposition radical-right party Just Peace Forum (JPF) has urged the Sudanese government to stop the ongoing preparations for 2015 elections saying it will hamper the national dialogue process.
Last August the NEC announced that the general elections will begin on 2 April 2015 and the counting operation will start on the same day.
Al-Tayeb Mustafa launched his call in an interview with Ashorooq TV on Friday, while the chairman of the National Election Commission (NEC), Mukhtar al-Asam reaffirmed that the postponement of the 2015 vote would create a “constitutional vacuum and political chaos” in the country.
Al-Asam said they are aware of the national dialogue process and they will take its outcome into account, adding “the president, the parliament and the local councils have no right to extend their mandate”.
However, the JPF leader urged the government to postpone the elections adding the spending of money for the next year vote is unjustified because “it does not represent a political priority currently” as all the Sudanese stakeholders agree on the need for a national dialogue.
"What’s the problem if the elections were postponed in response to the desire of political forces and the Sudanese people?," he wondered.
He stressed that insisting to hold the general elections would hamper the dialogue process, adding there is a significant inconsistency between the election and ongoing political developments in connection with the dialogue between the government, the political parties and rebel movements.
Musfata who is the uncle of president Bashir and leads and a splinter from the ruling party is a member of the national dialogue high committee (7+7).
The Popular Congress Party (PCP) which is also among the opposition parties participating in the electoral process has demanded to delay the electoral process and to create conducive environment in order to involve the other opposition and rebel groups.
In a rare speech since the participation of his party in the political process, the PCP leader Hassan al-Turabi, during a Eid al-Fitr sermon delivered in his native village on 28 July said he asked the government to delay the elections to allow political parties contact their bases.
Regarding the venue of the national dialogue and the government refusal to hold talks outside country, Mustafa said the government should not be intransigent on this matter.
"These are small things and we should not allow any problem hindering dialogue," said Mustafa who is known for his radical positions against rebel groups and the SPLM-N particularly.
He went further to reiterate his support for Paris Declaration between the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the National Umma Party (NUP) on 8 August.
“Paris Declaration is more comprehensive than Addis Ababa agreement signed between Paris groups, the national dialogue mechanism and the African Union mediation,” he said.
The JPF leader called on the government to take advantage of rebels’ approval of the national dialogue and the support of the regional and international community to meet certain requirements for the success of the dialogue, and prove they deserve economic support from the international community.
The African Union Peace and Security Council on 12 September called on the international financial institutions to provide economic support package to Sudan including debt relief and concessionary loans.
The African body further called on USA and EU to lift economic sanctions imposed on Sudan “in order to contribute positively towards the creation of enabling conditions for the success of the National Dialogue”.
September 15, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni reiterated accusations made previously by Tripoli against Qatar and Sudan of backing Islamist militias by sending arms shipments into the restive north African nation.
A statement by the Libyan government last Saturday claimed that a Sudanese military transport plane bound for Tripoli airport, that is currently under the control of an Islamist armed group known as Misrata, entered its airspace.
It noted that this action by Sudan violates Libya’s sovereignty and constitutes an interference in its affairs, adding that they formally informed the Sudanese military attaché that he is persona non grata.
Sudan’s foreign ministry however asserted that the plane mentioned in the media that landed at Kufra airport carried and unloaded supplies for use by the joint Sudanese-Libyan border control forces.
This week the Sudanese ambassador in Cairo and the permanent representative to the Arab League Abdel-Haleem Abdel-Mahmood revealed that Khartoum asked Libya to correct the statement it issued and apologize for accusations it leveled against Sudan.
But Libya’s premier repeated these accusations, saying Khartoum had tried sending a military plane loaded with ammunition to Mitiga. He added that Qatar nonetheless managed to get planes through to these forces.
"Unfortunately they [the planes] reached [Tripoli] Mitiga airport," Thinni told UAE-based Arab TV channel Sky News according to Reuters.
"We confirm that we have official reports that these war planes carried weapons and ammunition," he said. "What does Qatar want to give to the Libyan people ?"
He went on to say that "the Sudanese brothers are trying to interfere in Libya’s affairs”.
"We will consider ... breaking off relations if this interference into Libya’s internal affairs continued," Thinni added.
Qatar has not commented on the Libyan accusations.
Colonel Mohammed Hejazi, a spokesman for the Libyan National Army that is loyal to retired Libyan general Khalifa Heftar, said last week that investigations are underway on the landing of an aircraft loaded with weapons coming from Sudan at Mitiga airbase.
He added that intelligence bodies in states that are supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood were involved with funding arms shipments which coincided with news that Khartoum received Nouri Abusahmain, president of the previous session of the Libyan General National Congress (GNC) which was dominated by Islamists and is challenging the legitimacy of the elected parliament.
The London-based Al-Arab al-Youm newspaper quoted the commander of the air force in the pro-Heftar Libyan National Army, Brigadier Saqr Jeroshi as warning against a “hellish” scheme in which Sudan provides personnel and weapons, aimed at empowering the Muslim Brotherhood and its allied the Jihadist militias to control the eastern city of Benghazi.
"This scheme approached its final stages, where the Muslim Brotherhood has stepped up its actions in support of its militias that are armed with personnel and ammunitions from Sudan," benefiting from close ties with the Sudanese government, which he described as a Muslim Brotherhood one.
He added that the army confirmed information that a Muslim Brotherhood figure by the name Ahmed Al-Zuway, who has a tribal links in Sudan, is overseeing the process of bringing in arms and personnel from Sudan to Kufra in cars and trucks.
“The process of the transfer of arms and personnel from Sudan to Libya has taken in the last period a remarkable development, as planes were observed in the skies of the Sahara, coming from Sudan, in an effort to overthrow the city of Benghazi, to which hundreds of extremist groups from Misrata and Derna are flowing, in an effort to control it in favor of extremist groups."
The GNC refused to stand down at the end of its term earlier this year and extended it and extended its mandate another year which prompted General Heftar to call for its dissolution and forming an interim government to oversee new elections.
Last May, pro-Heftar forces launched a major offensive against Islamist militias dubbed as ‘Operation Dignity’.
Libya’s government and elected House of Representatives last month relocated to the remote eastern city of Tobruk after an armed group from the western city of Misrata seized the capital Tripoli and most government institutions.
Those now in control of Tripoli have set up a rival parliament and government that have not been recognized by the international community.
Libya has been plagued by political infighting, with government and parliament unable to control militias that have continued to defy state authority since ousting Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
September 13, 2014 (JUBA) – South Sudanese president Salva Kiir has written a letter to his Sudanese counterpart, Omer Hassan al-Bashir, requesting an official meeting to discuss bilateral and mutual matters, his office disclosed on Friday.
“President Salva Kiir has written a letter seeking a meeting with the Sudanese president on bilateral and mutual issues. It is now the government of Sudan to make the schedules and pick the date. The letter was delivered by our ministry of foreign through our embassy in Khartoum,”.
The letter, whose exact date and content remains unknown, reportedly reiterated Juba’s commitment to fully implement the terms of the 2012 cooperation agreement, pledging to strengthen bilateral and mutual matters with its northern neighbour.
The planned meeting, Ateny said, will not take place should the Sudanese government chose a period that coincides with president Kiir’s scheduled trip to attend the United Nations general assembly occasion happening within 10 days.
“If the government of Sudan responds to the letter within ten days, it will coincide with the planned visit of the president to the United States to participate at the general assembly of the United Nations,” presidential aide said.
“So I think the visit will take place after returning from the general assembly meeting,” he added.
If approved, it will be Kiir’s fourth official visit to Khartoum after his country seceded from the latter in July 2011. The visit, observers say, would likely review progress in the implementation of the joint agreements between the two countries.
“Kiir would be keen to ask Sudanese government to severe ties with the rebels allied to his former deputy, Riek Machar, and officially appeal Sudanese government support to pressure the latter to accept the intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) protocol of agreed principles as the basis of negotiation in the upcoming talks slated to resume next week in neighbouring Ethiopia,” an analyst observed.
Sudan, on the other hand, is expected to use the visit as an opportunity to press on the necessity for implementation of all the agreements, specifically the determination of the zero line at the border between the two countries. Khartoum could also use this meeting as an avenue to ask Juba to severe ties with Sudanese rebels and further explore the role and presence of the Ugandan army in the South Sudanese conflict.
South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July 2011 taking with it nearly 75% of the oil reserves two countries previously shared. A number of unresolved post-secession issues such as the north-south border demarcation, oil, Abyei have seen a rocky relation between Juba and Khartoum.
The stronger ties, which initially existed between the two countries, are growing weak and far below the level of current relations between Juba and Kampala, analysts say.
Military officers from the two neighbouring countries have often traded accusations over territorial disputes, sparking tensions along the undemarcated borders in recent weeks, with Juba accusing Khartoum of allegedly training and hosting within its territory rebel fighters loyal to former vice-president Riek Machar.
However, Sudanese government and military officials have dismissed Juba’s claims.
It is also noted that the government sponsored SMC website resumed publishing regular reports about Juba support to Sudanese rebel groups and statements from South Sudanese rebels hostile to Salva Kiir government.
September 7, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s National Elections Commission (NEC) announced on Sunday its intention to finalize the delineation of geographical constituencies for the 2015 elections by mid-September and revealed that the contested Abyei and Halayeb regions will be included.
Halayeb is a region that is also claimed by Egypt while South Sudan asserts sovereignty over Abyei.
Egypt has unilaterally assumed full control over Halayeb since the 90’s and routinely brushed aside repeated demands by Khartoum for international arbitration on its status. Cairo has included the region in all its elections held over the years.
Sudanese officials have generally avoided bringing up the dispute and instead keep reiterating that the two countries consider Halayeb an area of integration.
Abyei on the other hands is one of the thorny and contentious items in the negotiations between Khartoum and Juba despite the formation of a joint administration of the region until the case is resolved.
Abdullah Ahardlo, the NEC official in charge of geographical constituencies, told the Sudanese Media Center (SMC) website on Sunday that the commission will complete the demarcation of constituencies and then submit to the presidency and share it with political parties.
He added that appeals to challenge the demarcation will be allowed before it is finally adopted.
In a related issue, the interior minister Esmat Abdul Rahman said that police forces are ready to secure the upcoming elections as a constitutional requirement. He vowed to deter any attempt to distort or subvert the electoral process, accusing unspecified circles of seeking to induce sabotage in the community.
Sudan is preparing to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in April 2015, despite demands by major political forces that they be postponed to allow the ongoing national dialogue process to bear fruit. The government rejects this call saying it will lead to constitutional vacuum.
September 07, 2014 (KHARTOUM) (Reuters) – Libya has expelled Sudan’s military attaché on Saturday over Khartoum’s alleged support of “terrorist” groups in the country, a government statement said.
The statement also said that a Sudanese military transport plane bound for a Tripoli airport under control of a militant group had entered its airspace.
“This work from the Sudanese state violates [the sovereignty] of the state of Libya and interferes into its affairs,” Reuters quoted the statement as saying.
Libya said the Sudanese plane had been bound for Tripoli-Matiga airport and made a refuelling stop in the Libyan desert oasis Kufra near the border to Sudan. Ammunition had been found loaded on that plane during an inspection at Kufra airport, it added.
“We, the Libyan government, firmly denounce that a Sudanese military plane has penetrated the Libyan airspace without an official permit from the Libyan government. The plane was carrying ammunition which had not been officially approved by the Libyan government,” the statement said.
In an interview with Al Arabiya News Channel, Libya’s renegade General Khalifa Haftar who was heading “Operation Dignity” against Islamist rebels, described Sudan’s position as not “clear” regarding his country’s attempt to get rid of “terrorism.”
In a related story, heavy clashes erupted between Haftar’s forces and Islamist fighters in the eastern city of Benghazi on Saturday, Reuters reported military officials as saying, one of several conflicts raging in Libya in the worst violence since Muammar Qaddafi fell in 2011.
Armed Islamists are trying to prize Benghazi’s civilian and military airport from the control of government troops allied to Gaddafi-era general Khalifa Haftar.
In response, Haftar’s forces used helicopters to bomb camps of suspected Islamist militants, military sources said.
Haftar, who was once accused by the post-revolution government of trying to stage a coup against it, has declared war on several Islamist factions and teamed up with government forces in Benghazi.
Three people were killed and three others wounded in clashes between the two sides throughout most of the day in a suburb of the port city, hospital medical staff told Reuters.
Western powers and Libya’s neighbors fear the country will turn into a failed state. The weak government is unable to control former rebels who helped topple Gaddafi but are now fighting each other for power.
Libya’s government and elected House of Representatives last month relocated to the remote eastern city of Tobruk after an armed group from the western city of Misrata seized the capital Tripoli and most government institutions.
A spokesman for Haftar’s forces, Mohamed El Hejazi, said his forces were planning a military offensive in Tripoli soon. He did not elaborate.
Those now in control of Tripoli have set up a rival parliament and government that have not been recognized by the international community.
On Saturday, local TV channel al-Nabaa showed how Omar al-Hasi, the man nominated as prime minister by the newly established Tripoli parliament, and his new cabinet took the oath.
In response the government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, who was elected by the House of Representatives last week, said in a statement it sought to represent all Libyans.
September 3, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese foreign ministry has attributed the government’s decision to close Iranian cultural centres in the capital, Khartoum, and other states due to the threat they posed to intellectual and social security in the country.
The foreign ministry spokesperson, Youssef al-Kordofani, said in statements carried by state media on Tuesday that the government continued to monitor the centre’s activities and stressed that it had exceeded its mandate and posed a threat to the intellectual and social security in Sudan.
“It became necessary to take an official action against this centre, which has prompted the closure decision,” he said.
The Sudanese diplomat also confirmed that the Iranian charge d’affaires was summonsed on Monday and informed of the decision and their request that the Iranian cultural attaché and the staff at the centre leave the country within 72 hours.
It was notable that the statement did not attempt to affirm Sudanese-Iranian political ties which has irked Arab Gulf states in recent years.
Some Whatsapp groups however, quoted sources within the Iranian cultural chancellery as saying that its staff left for Tehran a month ago, adding that the centre did not receive a notice of closure and continues to carry out its activities as usual.
According to the same sources, the Iranian cultural chancellery does not have branches in Sudanese states other than Khartoum.
Some press reports have suggested that the Sudanese government’s decision was motivated by warnings made by religious circles, as well as the media about the spread of Shiite ideology among Sudanese youngsters, after the intensification of activities by the office of the Iranian cultural attaché in Khartoum.
Several religious forums had warned the Sudanese authorities against spread of the Shiite doctrine and considered it a serious threat that must be stopped.
A radical jihadist group under the name of “Hamza Group for Preaching and Jihad” issued a statement last month threatening the former managing director of Kenana Sugar Company Mohamed el-Mardi Tijani and religious cleric al-Nayel Abu-Guroon after accusing them of promoting the Shiite doctrine.
The Islamic Fiqh Council, which is part of the presidency, issued a statement carried by state media as well welcoming the decision.
The Islamic preacher, Isam Ahmed al-Bashir, who is a member of the council, posted in his Facebook page supporting the decision, saying the Iranian cultural centres continued to spread the Shiite doctrine by various means which poses a real danger to the intellectual and values security.
He called upon the government to make further actions to dry up sources of “this deviant ideology and promote the country’s Sunni doctrine and societal peace”.
The General Sufi Academy, for its part, described the decision as a step in the right direction to purify the religious arena from the deviant ideologies and remedy the unbalanced religious situation in Sudan.
The first Iranian cultural Centre in Sudan was inaugurated in 1988 during the era of the former prime minister, al-Sadiq al-Mahdi, but the Shiite tide has grown rapidly during the current rule of Omer Hassan al-Bashir particularly in light of its improved ties with Iran.
The deputy chairman of the General Sufi Academy, Abdel-Salam al-Kasanzani, underscored the need to take further actions to close all Shiite schools which spread “aberrance” in the society.
He pointed in statements on Tuesday that the closure decision is a culmination of the huge efforts made by the Sufi sect to curb the Shiite tide.
He was alluding to the confrontations led by the General Sufi Academy against activities of Sheikh al-Nayel Abu-Guroon to preach the Shiite faith in Sudan.
Abu-Guroon was recently prevented by the local authorities in the White Nile state from visiting the town of Shabasha for security reason following mass demonstrations which denounced the Shiite sect.
Al-Kasanzani said the government’s move deserves strong support despite its possible political implications.
He praised the authorities and demanded a similar action to curb the radical Wahabbi groups in order for the Sudan to maintain its position as a country of “Islamic moderation and tolerance”.
September 2, 2014 (Khartoum) - Sudan has ordered Iran to close its cultural centers and given their managers 72 hours to leave the country, an official said Tuesday, in a shock to generally close relations.
The government has not issued any official explanation for the abrupt move but the Foreign Ministry today summoned the Iranian charge d’affaires and informed him of the decision.
Some press reports have suggested that the Sudanese government’s decision was motivated by warnings made by religious circles as well as the media about the spread of Shiite ideology among Sudanese youngsters after the intensification of activities by the office of the Iranian cultural attaché in Khartoum.
A radical jihadist group under the name of “Hamza Group for Preaching and Jihad” issued a statement last month threatening the former managing director of Kenana Sugar Company Mohamed el-Mardi Tijani and religious cleric al-Nayel Abu-Guroon after accusing them of promoting the Shiite sect.
The Egyptian media figure Ahmad al-Maslamani stirred a controversy last month after talking on his show about the spread of Shiite ideology in Sudan through the Iranian Embassy in Khartoum, adding that the number of Shiite followers in the Sunni dominated country reached 12,000 people mostly from university students who attend weekly workshops held by the cultural attaché of Iran.
Al-Maslamani argued that Sudan is moving in the way of danger as a result, because the spread of Shiite ideology in Sudan creates an internal discord.
He played a YouTube video of a Kuwaiti Shiite cleric by the name of Yasser Al-Habib speaking about how Shiite in Sudan are persecuted and called for revolting against president Omer Hassan al-Bashir.
GESTURE TO ARAB GULF STATES?
The move contrasts sharply with warm political ties between Khartoum and Tehran which has angered Arab Gulf states particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and led to strained relations with them.
Over the past few years there have been mounting signs of deterioration in relations between Khartoum and Riyadh.
Last year, Saudi Arabia closed its airspace to the plane carrying the Sudanese president on his way to Tehran where he was scheduled to attend the inauguration ceremony of president-elect Hassan Rouhani, thus forcing him and his delegation to return home.
Observers speculated that Sudan’s growing ties with Iran could have irked the Saudis, prompting them to block Bashir’s flight.
Saudi authorities emphasized that Khartoum did not obtain prior clearance for the flight but Sudanese officials insist that they have followed all required procedures.
Sudan has regularly allowed Iranian warships to dock in Port Sudan across Saudi Arabia drawing concern by the United States and its allies in the Gulf.
The Saudi pro-government Al-Riyadh newspaper blasted Khartoum over the Iranian warships, questioning the logic behind the relationship between the two countries in a heavily critical editorial published last year titled “The fall of masks between Iran and Sudan”.
“Bashir’s government resorting to a state that is in political and security odds with most Arab countries has no logical justification,” the newspaper said.
The editorial accused the Sudanese government of “conducting naive policy”, saying it had turned the country, despite its enormous potential, into a marginalised nation that is unable to attract Arab or foreign investors.
Last May, the Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti reiterated that Sudan’s ties with Iran are normal and not special with public cooperation in known military aspects.
"This is not true, our relationship with Iran is very normal and below the level [you would expect] between two Muslim nations and particularly that Iran stood much with Sudan in all international forums and defended it a lot," he told London-based al-Hayat newspaper.
"But there is a minor need for Sudan in light of the security challenges facing the country , and we have said this over and over that Sudan benefits from its relationship with Iran in a limited way in the field of maintenance of some of the weapons produced by some Sudanese factories," Karti added.
He criticised local media and even the Sudanese army for overstating the issue of docking of Iranian warships in Port Sudan which appeared to concern these countries.