Sudanese FM Ibrahim Ghandour: "Khalifa Haftar Should Stop Arming Darfur Rebels"

date 2017/05/13 views 3014 comments 0
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icon-writer Abdessalam Sakia/English version: Dalila Henache

Sudanese Foreign Minister mentioned the extent of the threat that is posed by the Libyan crisis to his country, and explicitly mentions in this dialogue with Echorouk, on the sidelines of his participation in the 11th meeting of Libya's neighboring countries in Algeria, that Major General Khalifa Haftar is implicated in arming the rebel movements in Darfur for his interests, adding that Sudan has no personal conflict with the Marshal except this file.

Shift in the relations with Iran, he said, "It is because of Iran's policy to force Sunnis to become Shiites", and indicates that Khartoum's involvement in the Islamic international coalition to fight terrorism, that is led by Saudi Arabia, is the "natural location", denying the charge of terrorism for the Muslim Brotherhood, and speaks on the horizon of Cooperation with Algeria, especially the import of meat, which was interrupted more than once.

 

What is your diagnosis of the Libyan crisis during your participation in the 11th session of Libya neighboring countries? What efforts did Khartoum take to resolve this issue?

Algeria meeting was successful, and our participation comes from a deep interest in the Libyan problem, considering that Libya is a brother country that suffered for years from divisions and wars taking the lives of innocent people. Libya is a neighboring country that affects us and is affected by us. What is happening in Libya can be a cause of the spread of terrorism in our Arab region and African countries as well, and therefore all the neighboring countries of Libya have a very important rooting in the Libyan problem, for these reasons we decided to participate in Algiers meeting, especially since it is hold in our beloved country Algeria. Sudan stems from three bases, the first of which is the unity of Libya on everything, and second, only Libyans themselves can resolve the issue, and we are only assistants and facilitators, and third, we must do everything to help our brothers. Sudan does everything in its power, through coordinating with the legitimate government in Tripoli and supporting it, and taking care of our borders with Libya as Algeria does, and we support the Libyans in the health and humanitarian fields.

 

 

You talked during the meeting about the impact of the Libyan crisis inside Sudan, is it related to what is happening in Darfur?

Yes, and the issue is very serious. Chairman of the Libyan Presidential Council, Fayez El-Sarraj, and the Foreign Minister, referred to it in a number of international meetings from New York to Addis Ababa, and from Johannesburg to Jordan. The danger is that the rebel movements in Darfur after being defeated and expelled from Darfur, entered Libya with few arms, where they found who hired them and became a hired gun, and the person who gave them arms used them in his war against those with whom he disagree, this has made these movements grow, and sometimes Libyans complained because its elements have become bandits, and we are afraid of two things: These movements would be armed and return to Darfur to open injuries that we closed with peace and everyone noticed that. Second, These elements are dangerous on Libya,  because when peace will reign in Libya they will become a gun. They will have two options: either to try to return to Darfur and to affect Sudan, Libya and the neighboring countries like Chad and Niger in particular, or remain in Libya and become influential at home, and put the lives of the Libyans at risk, this is why we have pointed to the importance of withdrawing the arms of these movements and freeing them, as they are Sudanese citizens who can return to their country if they wanted to in accordance to the pardon that is granted by the President, or remain active citizens in the Libyan society.

 

Many of the charges affected the government of your country in the Libyan file, including that you stood next to a party at the expense of another, and you contributed in arming your ally who is the former head of Inkadh (rescue) government, Khalifa el Ghouil, at the expense of the government in the east of the country, What is your response?

You may refer to the incident in which some spoke and published pictures of a Sudanese plane that is carrying a weapon as they said. After investigation, this talk became false and just a rumor. Sudan was supporting the legitimate government that was in Tabruk, and the the Libyan Prime Minister, that was recognized in Sudan held talks with it. I met him when I was an assistant to the President of the Republic, Akila Saleh, Speaker of the House of Representatives, he visited Sudan and met with the President of the Republic, and the last meeting with a Sudanese official and Akila Saleh was with the Sudanese President of the Parliament of Sudan, and therefore we deal with all the Libyan parties, but we recognize the internationally recognized government, when the international community recognized him, after the Sekhirat agreement of the government in Tobruk to the government in Tripoli, which is the legitimate capital of Libya, we directly support the choice of the international community and before that the option of the Libyans. Sudan is based on the one premise which is the legitimacy of the one who runs the matter in Libya, which must stem from the Libyan people's choice and the one that is recognized by the society. This is our premise and we do not support a party at the expense of another, and we have no hostility with the House of Representatives, as it is elected and recognized and we confirm that it is the choice of the Libyan people, we hope that the will of the House of Representatives will meet with the will of the Presidential Council to agree on the future of the country, and our support for what was done in the meetings of Abou Dabi and Rome. We ave one issue with the Marshal Khalifa Haftar, which is arming Darfur movements and using them as leased guns against those with whom he disagree inside Libya.

 

In the press conference that followed the meeting Monday, Algeria and the Libyan Accord Government announced that the Marshal Haftar is the Libyan army commander, do you agree with this position?

 We recognize all what is recognized by the legitimate government in Tripoli, so we hope that the recognition of the House of Representatives will pass to Libyan recognition in general, then we will find that our hands are with those who lead the work and institutions, although Marshal Haftar, the issue is not a matter of individuals or names and we have no hostile history with the Marshal Haftar, because our case is to support legitimacy in Libya.

 

There is a lot of consensus in the political field between Sudan and Algeria, but this is not the case in the economic aspect, for example the Algerian investment in your country is modest despite the total facilities that you have developed, why?

I agree with you that the relationships on the political side are much bigger and more advanced than they are on the economic side. President al-Bashir's visit in October 2015 and his meeting with President Bouteflika focused on this issue. Now there are presidential directives to grant all facilities to Algerian investors. There have been agreements in the field of food, agriculture, gas, electricity and renewable energy. An Algerian company has acquired 150,000 feddans in Sudan, and we hope to see the start-up and the realization of projects on the ground.

 

What about the import of Sudanese meat in Algeria, was it delayed? Recently, Algeria said on the words of the Minister of Agriculture that it is related to the high prices that are provided by Sudan. What prevents Algeria to import Sudan meat?

I asked about the price of meat here in Algeria and compared it to the export prices in Sudan. I found that it is possible to reach a consensus that gives good prices, taking into account the quality of our meat and raising it in farms and natural grazing. I think that the start-up will be realized if the Algerians find out the difference between the prices of our meat and the prices of other countries. We are not in competition with others. I discussed with my brother Abdelkader Messahel about the matter, and we will work in this framework and I am sure that it is possible to enter the Algerian market and with satisfaction.

 

Air line between Algeria and Khartoum was not realized, why?

It was one of our discussions with Minister Meshael and we hope to see Air Algerie fluttering in Khartoum. I would point out that Tunis Air will soon arrive in Khartoum, and we hope that there will be tripartite coordination in this framework, which will be useful for the Algerians, Tunisians and Africans as well.

 

Public opinion is still wondering about the reasons for the lifting of US sanctions on your country, and a lot of readings are raised, What are the real reasons of this lifting?

Sudan was subject to unjustified sanctions, and I say that it was purely political. Although Washington has given many justifications such as human rights, democracy and internal conflicts, we all know that Sudan is one of the 28 countries that is witnessing internal conflicts, but it is the least country that has internal conflicts. Human rights are not the worst, neither in Africa nor elsewhere. There are other justifications that are not expressed by America, but they indicate that the reason is the threat to US national security. We started a long dialogue with the Americans according to specific axes until they were convinced with lifting the sanctions. There is no deal or price that Sudan paid, bit its only natural right.

 

Do you think that the American administration is a rogue state, that extorts the regimes by using the cards of democracy and human rights, condemning states and offering others a certificate of good conduct?

I should refer to Kissinger's saying, "American national security extends where America's interests exist." This is a clear description of how a nation views its interests as a national security perspective for them and their friends and therefore they behave. When the facts about Sudan were revealed, they retreated the lifting of some sanctions.

 

Sudanese regime is historically descended from the Islamic trend. There are those who see a shift in its political literature, by giving up some of the Brotherhood's thought. What is the truth about this description?

Islam in Sudan is generally moderate Sufi, and the Sudanese government was not part of an extremist or supportive of it. This was attributed to Sudan for various reasons. Unfortunately, some friends have created it. Sudan represents among all the Islamic countries, a true moderate Islam through the saturation of the mystical Islam which encourages Tolerance and Respect for the other, and perhaps religious tolerance in our country does not exist in other countries, and therefore the exposure of Sudan to the siege and attack from many parties reached a military strike, when El Chifaa plant was targeted in central Khartoum, which made the tone of Sudan a clear challenge, that was read by some people in an extreme language whatever its reference, but the tolerance of Sudan is not comparable in many countries of the world, our starting points have not changed, neither extremism nor the permissibility to others.

 

Some Arab regimes are hostile to the organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, do you see it as a terrorist group?

We believe that the issue of the Muslim Brotherhood is measured in each country separately. Muslim Brotherhood is a separate party. In Sudan there is a recognized party called the Muslim Brotherhood. We have not seen any extremism or movement against the state. Perhaps there are others who have extremism or movements against the state, so the standard must be the national standard without setting a general standard and dealing with it because this can cause a defect.

 

Strong ties that brought you together in Iran, but there has been a shift in the closure of Iranian cultural centers, and then your involvement in the Saudi-led Islamic alliance. What is the nature of this alignment?

I hope is that some people will not mix between swinging and changing our relationship with Iran and our involvement in the Saudi-led Islamic alliance. Our relationship with Iran was so strong that it began to interfere in our internal affairs. At the top of this was the attempt to spread Shiism among young people, Sudan is a Sunni state and such a step would provoke a wide stream of Sudanese and lead to sectarian confrontations. Sudan sent out clear messages, and when this did not stop, we had only to close the Iranian cultural centers, this was followed by what happened with Saudi Arabia after attacking its embassy. ​​Sudan supports the brothers in the Kingdom as it is the country of the Holy Sites, and this was our natural position of the Iranian government. Our engagement in the Islamic Alliance that is led by the Kingdom started by supporting legitimacy in Yemen. The legitimacy in Yemen is not far from the Iranian penetration in the Arab region. Therefore, the decision to engage in supporting the legitimacy started as a Saudi-Gulf decision in which the Sudan was involved. It became an Arab decision by the Arab League. Our alliance with Saudi Arabia is strategic and this is our natural position, which we must assume. We adopted it throughout history and sometimes it was disturbed for political reasons, but it has returned to normal.

 

Is Iran a threat to the Sunni component of our Arab world?

Iran constitutes a danger when it interferes in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. We always call for the principle of non-interference in countries internal affairs. Therefore, all the complaints of states in the meetings of the Arab League are the principle of interference. Therefore, if the principle of Iranian is the attempt to spread the Shiite doctrine in Sunni areas and countries, then there is no problem of co-existence. In the context of the Islamic religion, even if we disagree with some of the principles that are governing it.

 

But there is a Saudi-Iranian political conflict that has created a great alignment in the Arab world. How does Sudan react to this situation?

Here I refer to the decisions of the Arab League, all of which were unanimous, but the reservation of one state, even the Arab countries, which were associated with special relations with Iran did not stand in front of the resolutions calling for non-interference of Iran in the internal Arab affairs, so I tell you that there is a very strong Arab unity.

 

Away from the political sensitivities, there is a humanitarian crisis in the state of South Sudan, what do you offer to them?

They are our brothers today and tomorrow, Mr. President Omar al-Bashir has a moral responsibility towards our people in the south, because he is the president of all Sudanese, and although the borders are closed, because our brothers in the south did not implement the agreement which was signed between the two presidents on September 27, 2012, and the agreement on the border and the demilitarized zone, when the humanitarian crisis and the famine came, Sudan opened three outlets for the introduction of food, despite Sudan's circumstances, but it gave 20.000 tons of corn, and the only crossing is still open for the delivery of international support, the second issue of Sudan is that it received a million refugees, and Mr. President issued a decision to receive them as citizens and they enjoyed citizenship like the Sudanese citizens who enjoy freedom of movement, residence, work and ownership, and Sudan is considered the first direction of the Southern refugees.

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