Bashir Affirms Commitment to Fighting Terrorism, Human Trafficking

Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir speaks during a press conference after the oath of the prime minister and first vice president Bakri Hassan Saleh at the palace in Khartoum, Sudan March 2, 2017.

Khartoum- Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir stressed on Monday his country’s commitment to fighting terrorism, money-laundering, human trafficking, adopting sustainable development goals, enhancing the state’s performance, executing the recommendations of the national dialogue committees, and enhancing economic conditions.

In his speech in front of the Sudanese parliament, he said that “Sudan is fully committed to the international partnership to consolidate regional and international peace and security and the serious cooperation to combat terrorism, money-laundering and human trafficking crimes”.

His speech comes two days after the US administration added Sudan to the list of states uncooperative in the field of fighting human trafficking despite Khartoum affirmations that it is playing a vital role in combating this phenomenon on the local and regional levels and that it is exerting relentless efforts to fight it and limit its effects.

Bashir also renewed commitment to Sudan initiative to achieve the Arab and African food security and to be open to the world’s nations. “We will cooperate with neighboring countries, reinforce cooperation with brother states through various mutual mechanisms so that Sudan can become an active state in its international and regional neighborhood,” he said.

Sudan awaits the decision of US President Donald Trump on Oct. 12 to lift the current economic and commercial sanctions imposed on Sudan since 1997. Sudan asserted that it has implemented the five-track plan imposed by the US administration which includes ending the war in South Sudan, facilitating access of humanitarian aid to conflict zones and preventing support to Lord’s Resistance Army.

Sudanese Airplane Hits Huge Bird before Landing

Airplane

Khartoum – A Sudanese airline has called on authorities at the Khartoum International Airport to address the “bird phenomenon” and its threats against aviation, people, and properties.

This call came after one of the company’s airplanes survived a disaster after it hit a huge seasonal bird, following its take-off from Ad Damazeen Airport.

The jet safely landed at Khartoum airport, but the crash caused serious damage to the aircraft’s nose, just metres from the pilot’s cockpit.

In a press release, the Badr Airlines, owner of the damaged jet, said the J4-314 flight took off on schedule from Damazeen Airport heading to Khartoum, but, “it crashed into a huge seasonal bird after about 45 minutes in the air, which caused serious damages in the jet’s nose.”

The pilot was able to land normally at Khartoum Airport, thanks to the instructions mentioned in the jet’s operating guide.

All passengers were safe and were not affected by the accident. Media sources reported that the bird that caused the incident is one of the giant eagles that migrate to the country in the fall, and is locally known as the «bald hawk».

Badr Airlines said the incident is not “normal”. But, the company dealt with the situation properly, which led to a safe and normal landing, without affecting the passengers.

Badr called the authorities of Khartoum Airport to put an end to the “bird phenomenon” threatening lives and properties.

This accident is not the first of its kind. In September 2016, about 108 passengers and a six-member crew survived a disastrous crash in a Boeing 737, heading from El Fasher west of the country to Khartoum.

The later hit an eagle in the air, and the collision caused a large hole in its outer structure, which obliged it to return, and to land safely at El Fasher airport.

Sudanese FM Kicks Off US Tour ahead of UN General Assembly

Ghandour

Khartoum – Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour is expected to arrive to the United States on Wednesday, heading his country’s delegation to the meetings of the 72nd UN General Assembly.

Prior to his departure on Tuesday, Ghandour briefed Prime Minister Bakri Hassan Saleh on the arrangements made for Sudan’s participation in the General Assembly’s annual meeting, which will be held on September 18 in New York, as well as the meetings he is expected to hold with some US officials and which will tackle bilateral relations between Khartoum and Washington.

In remarks to the media, the Sudanese foreign ministry’s spokesperson, Al-Qariballah al-Khodr, said that Ghandour would deliver Sudan’s speech before the UN General Assembly on September 23, and will meet with a number of regional and foreign counterparts, as well as with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The Sudanese foreign minister will also participate in high-level meetings on southern Sudan and Central Africa and peacekeeping operations, which will be held on the sidelines of the UN meetings.

On a different note, ten African countries, representing the East African Emergency Forces known as ISAF, are preparing to conduct the “multi-polar peacekeeping” exercise in Khartoum next November.

Several countries are expected to participate in the exercise, including Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, Comoros and Djibouti.

The deputy Chief of Staff of the Sudanese Army Yehya Mohammed Khair conducted a visit to the Red Sea governorate on Monday to oversee the preparations for hosting armies participating in the exercises.

ISAF, which includes 10 east African nations, was established by the African Union in 2004, and it consists of military, police and civilian components. The force is part of Africa’s standby forces.

Shoukry to Visit Khartoum Wednesday to Diffuse Tensions with Cairo

Egypt's

Khartoum– The Sudanese Foreign Ministry said that Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry would arrive to Khartoum on Wednesday to head a high-level delegation to the joint political consultation committee between Sudan and Egypt.

“Sudan’s Foreign Ministry will host at its premises on Wednesday, August 2, 2017, the meetings of the Sudanese-Egyptian political consultation committee, where Sudan’s Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour will chair Sudan’s side to the meetings and the Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry his country’s side,” a statement by the ministry said.

The foreign ministry’s spokesperson said the meeting would discuss the implementation of the recommendations of the joint presidential cooperation committee, which convened in Cairo last June.

Officials will also tackle the strategic cooperation document, the consulate cooperation, border crossing committee, coordination at regional and international forums as well as development of situations in the region, according to the statement.

Relations between Khartoum and Cairo have been strained and tension reached its peak when Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accused Egypt of supporting Sudanese rebels and supplying them with Egyptian armored vehicles.

As a result, both countries declared “reciprocity” in consular affairs, whereby the Egyptian authorities prevented Sudanese citizens from entering Egypt, while the Sudanese army complained of what it described as “provocations and harassment” by Egyptian soldiers in the disputed Halayeb triangle.

The dispute over the Halayeb triangle, controlled by Egypt since 1995, is one of the main reasons for tensions in the relations between the two countries.

While Khartoum calls for immediate recourse to arbitration and resolution of the crisis in accordance with international law and the Charter of the United Nations, Cairo refuses to resort to international arbitration, and claims sovereignty over the region.

Al-Bashir Suspends Talks with US after Delay in Lifting Sanctions Against Sudan

Khartoum – Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has suspended for a period of three months negotiations with the United States over economic sanctions.

A statement published by Sudan’s state news agency on Wednesday said that Al-Bashir has issued a republican decree “freezing the work of the negotiation committee with the United States of America until Oct. 12, 2017.”

The announcement came a day after US President Donald Trump decided to delay a decision to lift sanctions that have been imposed on Khartoum since 1997.

In a statement, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Sudan has made progress in improving humanitarian access, cooperating with the US on counter-terrorism and preserving a cease-fire in conflict areas. However, she added the administration needed more time to review the situation and determine whether it was appropriate to lift the sanctions.

“We regret the issuing of this decision, which came after a long period of dialogue and interaction with the US,” Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said in a statement.

“European countries, regional and international institutions and some American institutions have recognized that Sudan has fulfilled the five-track plan in whole and this has been confirmed in technical meetings with the American side,” he added, referring to the list of US demands.

Just before leaving office in January, former President Barack Obama issued an executive order lifting sanctions against Sudan on a probationary basis. While temporary sanctions relief took effect immediately, and was to become permanent on Wednesday, Trump, in a new executive order issued later Tuesday, delayed the deadline by three months.

In order to permanently lift the sanctions, the US has required Sudan to comply with five demands, which include resolving internal military conflicts in areas such as war-torn Darfur, cooperating on counter-terrorism and improving access to humanitarian aid.

AU Concludes its 29th Summit by Focusing on Ending Wars

AU

Khartoum- The African Union concluded its 29th ordinary session on Tuesday, in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, during which African leaders have discussed the reform of the Union’s institutions, youth issues, and the need to end conflict and wars in the continent.

While the summit has seen heavy presence by African leaders and heads of states, it was marked by the absence of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi.

The abstention of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who used to attend African summits, has also raised major questions.

The summit has been conducted under the theme, “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the Youth”, and reviewed reports on AU reforms, current peace and security in the continent, implementation of Agenda 2063 and the 2018 commission’s budget, among others.

In a news conference, AU Commission Head Moussa Faki Mahamat said the summit has focused on three main issues, including: reforming of the Union’s institutions, promoting the role of the youth and ending wars in the continent.

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda submitted a report before the heads of states and governments about reform proposals, urging African countries to unify efforts to speed up the implementation of necessary improvements in the pan-African body.

The head of the AU commission said in his speech that Africa would deploy all its efforts to make 2020 the year of “silencing the sounds of guns”, by adopting unified stances that promote peace in the continent.

He also stressed the importance for African leaders to prevent the emergence of conflicts and wars, by maintaining close cooperation with the concerned bodies within the AU.

Mahamat also called for promoting partnerships between the AU and the United Nations, in particular in peace and security.

On Eritrea-Djibouti recent developments, he noted that a fact-finding mission sent to Djibouti has concluded its mission and was heading to Eritrea to execute a similar mission, after which it will present its reports to AU assembly.

Saudi, UAE, Egypt Diplomats Discuss Qatar Crisis with Sudanese FM

Ghandour

Khartoum – Diplomats from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt held a series of discussions with Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour over the Gulf region and crisis with Qatar.

Prior to the meeting, it was said that the diplomats wanted to meet with the Sudanese official to inquire about his government’s stance on the crisis.

Secrecy prevailed over the outcomes of the talks and very little information was released about it even though it was held on Friday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman al-Qariballah al-Khodr said in a statement on Saturday that Ghandour met at his Khartoum office with the ambassadors of the UAE and Egypt and acting ambassador of Saudi Arabia.

Khodr said that the three officials expressed their appreciation of Sudan’s position and his role in bolstering and protecting national Arab security.

The statement added that the gatherers addressed the Gulf crisis, with Ghandour saying that Sudan’s stance stems from its keenness on reconciling Arab brothers through supporting the initiative of the Emir of Kuwait.

No further details were disclosed.

Sudan looks at the Gulf Cooperation Council as an “example of Arab solidarity and unity,” said Ghandour.

President Omar al-Bashir has faith in the “wisdom and ability of the Gulf to overcome the crisis” in a manner that would ensure its interests and unity, he added.

Sudan: Ambiguity Surrounds Fate of Presidential Offices’ Director

Khartoum – As the reasons behind the sacking of Sudanese state presidential minister and director of the president’s offices Taha Osman al-Hussein were still unknown, Hatim Hassan Bakhit was sworn in as Hussein’s successor during a ceremony on Thursday in the presence of President Omar al-Bashir.

On Wednesday, the Sudanese president relieved Hussein from his post, amid conflicting reports on the reasons behind the move.

A tweet by one of Bashir’s relatives on Saturday sparked confusion amid the Sudanese people.

“Stormy and dramatic events” will be witnessed in the country in the few coming days, the president’s relative said on his Twitter account.

On Wednesday, Bashir issued a presidential decree appointing Bakhit as state presidential minister and director of the president’s offices. However, the decree didn’t mention whether or not Hussein would retain his ministerial position.

In this regard, a political analyst, who was speaking on condition of anonymity, told Asharq Al-Awsat that all theories on Hussein’s sacking were “mere speculations” that are not based on verified information.

He added that the president and his close aides did not disclose any information regarding the matter, which makes current analyses only assumptions.

The political analyst noted the presence of an organized campaign that “aims to assassinate the official on the political level”.

On the other hand, a source close to the Sudanese presidency said that Hussein has committed a major mistake that led the president to remove him from his post.

Hussein, who is a security general, had been appointed in June 2015 as state presidential minister and director of the president’s offices at the presidential palace and the council of ministers.

Reliable sources said that the Sudanese official, who gained a reputation as being the most influential person within the president’s inner circle, was informed of his removal verbally before he was allowed to leave for Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.

During the last couple of years, al-Hussein played a pivotal role within the presidency and appeared to be the person behind important decisions especially after the president named him as personal envoy to a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Hussein’s last assignment was his participation in the Arab-Islamic-US Summit in Riyadh last May where he represented Bashir, whose participation was vetoed by Washington.

Sudan’s Bashir Relieves Presidential Minister and Director of President’s Offices

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir

Khartoum- Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir relieved on Wednesday the state presidential minister and director of the president’s offices Taha Osman al-Hussein amid conflicting reports on the reasons behind the move.

Hussein, who is a security general, had been appointed in June 2015 as state presidential minister and director of the president’s offices at the presidential palace and the council of ministers.

On Wednesday evening, al-Bashir issued a presidential decree appointing Hatim Hassan Bakhit as state presidential minister and director of the president’s offices. However, the decree didn’t mention whether or not Hussein would retain his ministerial position.

Reliable sources said that al-Hussein, who gained a reputation as being the most influential person within the president’s inner circle, was informed of his removal verbally before he was allowed to leave for Saudi Arabia to perform Umrah.

The reason behind the sacking of Hussein is not yet known. Also, unconfirmed reports say he was arrested on Tuesday evening after he sought to travel to Saudi Arabia.

During the last couple of years, al-Hussein played a pivotal role within the presidency and appeared to be the person behind important decisions especially after Bashir named him as personal envoy to a number of countries including Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Hussein’s last assignment was his participation in the Arab-US Islamic Summit in Riyadh last May where he represented Bashir, whose participation was vetoed by Washington.

His powers have significantly infringed on the role of the foreign ministry on several occasions.

In 2016 he conveyed Bashir’s decision to cut ties with Iran to the deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman without the knowledge of the foreign ministry officials who read the news on media.

Also, following an unannounced visit to Washington last December in which he met with a number of congressmen and former President Jimmy Carter, he claimed he was the person behind the US decision to ease the 19-year sanctions on Sudan.

Sudanese President Orders RSF to Handle Mercenaries, Insurgents

Sudan's Rapid Support Forces (RSF) march during the inauguration in Khartoum, Sudan, May 13, 2017

Khartoum- Speaking at a Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF) graduation ceremony in Khartoum, Sudan, President Omar Al Bashir on Saturday directed RSF troops to confront tribal conflicts in Darfur region and resolve them peacefully or militarily.

The RSF was given a presidential order on immediately intervening to curb what Al Bashir labeled a security risk and intertribal conflict. Later on, protesting to national peace, mercenaries and grouped militias vowed not to be defeated.

The RSF is a Sudanese paramilitary force operated by the Sudanese Government. For technical and administrative purposes the RSF is administered by the National Intelligence and Security Service, although during military operations it is commanded by the Sudanese Armed Forces(SAF).

Al Bashir attended what was virtually the initiation of the largest batch of RSF forces, amounting to 11,428. Al Bashir said the graduation of this batch is a show of force to frighten enemies. He described the RSF as the ’strong muscle’ of national armed forces.

In his speech, al Bashir voiced appreciation towards efforts spent by the RSF on realizing peace and stability in the country, and eliminating insurgency in south Kordofan, citing as example the battles of Funga and Goz Dango in Darfur.

Al Bashir hailed the role played by the RSF in securing borders and fighting human trafficking, drugs and smuggling of arms, affirming the taskforce preparedness to decisively deal with all those conspiring against Sudan.

Noting that Sudan is a country for all, Al Bashir said that Sudan has exerted great efforts for realizing peace, adding that agreements were signed, national dialogue conducted, and societal dialogue between the sons of Sudan and the National Accord Government was formed, ushering a new era welcoming all those who desire peace.

Al Bashir warned all those who reject peace that the SAF along with the RSF are ready to deliver Sudanese people a Sudan free from insurgency and mercenaries.