Nimeiri Takes Two Controversial Decisions

Washington- Intelligence analysts considered that the personal and political motives of former Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeiri led him to take controversial decisions, unaware of their possible consequences. They also doubted his ability to maintain his presidential position if he decided to continue on the same path.

Two decisions bought him down: applying the sharia and dividing the south of Sudan, according to the CIA.

On November 1983, CIA analysts joined efforts to evaluate the situation in Sudan after Nimeiri issuing a number of controversial decisions, which were viewed by the CIA as a dangerous indicator to his imminent end. Two years after issuing the report, this actually happened through a national revolution against him.

On March 1985, Sudanese people were urged by syndicates, federations and parties to express their anger against the regime in the streets. So Nimeiri decided to return to Khartoum to foil the revolution but he changed his destination to Cairo due to the military forces bias to the people and remained there until his death in 2000.

The CIA, also monitored movements that aim at shaking the stability of the government and their sources were: Libya and Egypt. The report mentioned that these two countries are encouraging dissent to increase attacks against the south of Sudan.

Nimeiri’s controversial procedures increased rage among the armed forces, especially with the deterioration of economic conditions and the presence of outdated arms, as revealed by the report that seemed suspicious over the Sudanese armed forces fidelity to Nimeiri.

Major Challenges Facing Nimeiri

Nimeiri issued a number of controversial decisions including announcing the implementation of sharia and putting an end to the south of Sudan’s situation by considering it an independent region. Other challenges are the failed attempts to transfer military forces from the south to the north, but these steps were rejected by many Sudanese people.

Economic Condition

The economic crises increased political and security problems in Sudan. The government failed to provide essential needs and services and GDP dropped 2% in the fiscal year 1983. Also, Sudan foreign debts reached USD9 billion.

Importance of Sudan and Nimeiri’s Regime to U.S.

1- Sudan is the biggest African country by area and has a strategic position. It has played a major role in supporting U.S. efforts to prevent the Libyan and Soviet expansion in the region.
2- On March 1981, the Sudanese government allowed the U.S. to use the Sudanese military bases. This permission became official this year.
3- Nimeiri backed the U.S. policy objectives in the region including Camp David.

White House: Obama to Visit Saudi Arabia in April to Participate in GCC Summit

Obama to Visit Saudi Arabia
Obama to Visit Saudi Arabia

Washington-US President Barack Obama will travel to Saudi Arabia and Britain ahead of his previously scheduled trip to Germany next month.

The White House says Obama will head to Saudi Arabia on April 21 for a summit of the Gulf Cooperation Council, which will be hosted by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Efforts against ISIS militant group and other Middle East security issues are expected to be discussed during the talks.

The White House said the summit in Saudi Arabia “will be an opportunity for leaders to review progress in strengthening US-GCC security cooperation” in the year since the gathering at Camp David in May 2015.

“It will also provide an opportunity for leaders to discuss additional steps to intensify pressure on ISIS, address regional conflicts, and de-escalate regional and sectarian tensions,” the statement said.

Obama’s visits come at a time when controversies raged among several countries, including UK and Gulf states, following his comments, which were published last week in The Atlantic magazine. In his statements, Obama provoked a backlash in Saudi Arabia and described Gulf countries and other allies as “free riders” because of their overreliance on US military action, prompting criticism from the Saudi royal family and others.

The Director of the Middle East Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies, Jon B. Alterman, refused to describe Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia as an apology. He stated: “I do not think that President Obama believes that he should provide an apology, yet he just wants to clarify his statements.”

He added: “In my opinion, Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia and his participation at the GCC summit aim at proceeding discussions held at Camp David with Gulf leaders last May.”

In Britain, Obama will have a private dinner with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle and will hold a joint press conference with Prime Minister David Cameron.

A spokesman said: “The visit will allow the president to offer his gratitude to the British government and people for their stalwart partnership with his administration and the American people throughout his presidency period.”

Obama will conclude his visits’ schedule in Germany, and he will attend the Hannover Messe, the world’s largest trade show for industrial technology and meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

It will be Obama’s fifth visit to Germany. “It underscores the enduring political and economic ties between Americans and Germans and highlights the U.S. commitment to trade and investment as drivers of job creation and economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic,” the statement said.

Opinion: Khalid Al-Fawwaz and the Problem of Terrorism

On Friday the New York Federal Court sentenced Khalid Al-Fawwaz, a suspect in the deadly 1998 bombings of the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, to life in prison.

It took 16 years after the crime was committed to issue the sentence against Fawwaz, who for a while was the subject of a legal and political debate between Britain, where he lived, and the US, which insisted that he be extradited to Washington in order to be sentenced. Eventually, Fawwaz was sent to the US, and now he has been duly sentenced.

Prior to his involvement in the bombings of the US embassies, Fawwaz was Osama Bin Laden’s spokesman in London. At the time, Bin Laden presented himself as a pro-reform political activist through his London-based Advice and Reform Committee, a mere façade for his terrorist activities, exploiting the then-fashionable buzzwords, “opposition” and “political reform.” Later, the reality of the committee became apparent to British authorities, including the House of Lords, Britain’s highest judicial body.

The sentencing of Fawwaz serves as a fresh reminder that religiously inspired terrorism has been a chronic problem for a long time, even before all the recent events that have taken place in our region—from the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, to the Muslim Brotherhood-led Arab Spring of 2011, down to Operation Decisive Storm launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015 against the Houthis in Yemen.

It is a problem that relates first and foremost to culture before the political and economic situation. Two reasons are responsible for the exacerbation of this phenomenon, whose most prominent manifestation came with the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS): First, the imbalance of power in the Arab world caused by the Western-backed wave of turmoil, dubbed the Arab Spring. Second, the ease of communication and interaction through social media.

However, this should not divert our attention from the root of the problem, namely the flawed condition of the prevailing thought and the lack of critical engagement with the main concepts that dominate and form the extremist ideology, which serves as the foundation on which terrorists base their actions. Such concepts include Al-Hakimiyyah (divine rule), Al-Jahiliyya (ignorance of divine guidance), the velayat-e faqih (the guardianship of the jurists), Islamic government, Kufr (disbelief), apostasy, and the caliphate.

All minor and major events related to the phenomenon of religiously inspired terror—from the collapse of nation states to the drawing of cartoons derisive of Islam—are mere windows for the emergence of extremism but not of course the authors of such acts.

The two versions of terrorism committed in the name of Islam—that is, the Shi’ite and Sunni varieties—feed into each other. Confronting them, in equal measures, represents a major task facing Arab politicians and an end indispensable to their work in general. This is why the Gulf States sought to emphasize this approach at the recent Camp David summit with Barack Obama.

In a recent interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir said the Obama administration and the representatives of the Gulf states had discussed three main points of action at Camp David: “First, consolidating military cooperation; second, countering terrorism; and third, dealing with the challenges, foremost among them Iran’s interference in the region’s affairs.”

This is the right approach. In order to remove ISIS’s raison d’être, Iran’s Khomeinist regime should be eliminated. On the other hand, in order for Khomeneist propaganda to be broken, ISIS must be destroyed. This is a purely practical need before being a moral obligation.

What remains after these obstacles are removed is the ideology of terror itself; in essence it concerns one’s reasoning, upbringing, and culture. The rest is just details.

US, Gulf states head towards key talks at Camp David

President Barack Obama (L) greets Saudi Arabia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif (C), and Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (R), as they arrive at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
President Barack Obama (L) greets Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif (C), and Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (R), as they arrive at the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, on May 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—The ongoing Yemen crisis and the Iran nuclear deal will top the agenda at the US–Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit being held at Camp David on Thursday, with President Barack Obama seeking to convince Gulf allies of Washington’s commitment to Middle East security.

Obama is set to meet with representatives from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE, and Oman to discuss US–GCC security cooperation, part of a wider US strategy to reassure GCC states regarding perceived rapprochement between Tehran and Washington.

Iran’s backing of Shi’ite Houthi rebels in Yemen has raised the state of alert across the region, while the US bid for a nuclear deal with Tehran has also raised concerns that Obama will seek to alleviate at Camp David.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat on Wednesday, President Obama acknowledged that GCC states are “right to be deeply concerned about Iran’s activities, especially its support for violent proxies inside the borders of other nations.”

However, Obama stressed that preventing Tehran from obtaining nuclear arms remains the main priority during the negotiations with Tehran, describing a nuclear-armed Iran as “one of the greatest threats to regional security.”

“It’s important to remember that Iran already engages in these activities without a nuclear arsenal. We can only imagine how Iran might become even more provocative if it were armed with a nuclear weapon. Moreover, it would become even harder for the international community to counter and deter Iran’s destabilizing behavior. That’s one of the reasons why the comprehensive deal we’re pursuing with Iran is so important,” Obama told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The US–GCC summit is being attended by senior officials and heads of state from the Gulf. The Saudi delegation is being led by Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, after King Salman Bin Abdulaziz pulled out of the visit to concentrate on efforts to provide humanitarian support for the Yemeni people.

US President Obama praised the “extraordinary friendship” between Washington and Riyadh on Wednesday while meeting Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Deputy Crown Prince at the White House.

“The United States and Saudi Arabia have an extraordinary friendship and relationship that dates back to President Franklin Roosevelt,” Obama said at the start of the meeting.

“We are continuing to build that relationship during a very challenging time,” he said.

The US president confirmed that the US–GCC talks would discuss building on the ceasefire in Yemen and working to establish “an inclusive, legitimate government” in Sana’a.

Opinion: Actions Speak Louder than Words, Mr. President

The upcoming summit at Camp David may be the most significant US–Gulf meeting in the last 50 years. This is not because it would be the first time a US president has met with Gulf leaders. But rather because Washington—and this is no secret—is aware of the strain and the confidence crisis the US–Gulf alliance is now suffering. Who knows, the summit may represent an opportunity to bring this historic alliance back on track after its derailment over the past few years. It is an opportunity for the US administration to transform words into actions and dispel doubts about its regional credibility, which has suffered thanks to its handling of the Syrian crisis, its shaky stances on Bahrain, Egypt and Iraq, and the clandestine and ambiguous deal it is expected to sign with Iran.

The US is a state of institutions, where decision-making is not dominated by the White House. In addition to the president, there is the Pentagon, the CIA—which must always be close to decision-making circles—and the Congress, the institution that is capable of vetoing presidential decisions in a constitutional manner. No doubt all these institutions are aware of the negative impact which a break in the alliance with the Gulf may have on US interests. Certainly, the policies of both sides do not have to be identical. However, it would be illogical for the US to adopt policies that run against Gulf interests. Otherwise, Washington would end up damaging its own interests in the region.

The Gulf States should be commended for curbing their anger regarding the Iran deal, for guarding against any fiery response which could threaten their strategic interests with the US. Despite their anger at the US’s surprising regional stances, the Gulf States, led by Saudi Arabia, have maintained a minimal degree of relations with Washington, even with its officials constantly contradicting themselves, saying one thing in the morning and doing the opposite at night. An example here was Barack Obama’s now-infamous statement that any use of chemical weapons by Bashar Al-Assad’s regime would cross a “red-line.” Never have the Gulf States dealt with such contradictory US policies. Nevertheless, the Gulf States opted not to escalate tensions with Uncle Sam. Nor did they ever make the threat, whether publicly or secretly, that there are other superpowers out there, all of whom would be eager to gain even just a portion of the advantages which the US enjoys in the region.

Let’s assume that President Obama is not meeting the Gulf leaders in order to just verbally reassure them about the nuclear deal with Iran, since he has already done that on several previous occasions. President Obama must surely have a clear project in mind that would translate his administration’s words into actions. A US official told Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday that “unprecedented” levels of military cooperation with the Gulf states are expected to be unveiled at the Camp David summit. If this indeed pans out, the US should also provide written guarantees to this effect, as Abu Dhabi’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef Al-Otaiba, has demanded. The Gulf–Iran gap is too wide to bridge due to Tehran’s interference in the Gulf’s internal affairs, the sectarian poison it tries to inject into the region, and the various cells it continues to plant inside Gulf and surrounding countries. All of this indicates it is highly unlikely that Iran would seek peace and stability, claims promoted by Washington. Without written guarantees, it would be easy for the US to contradict what it has agreed to only verbally. Only through such steps will the US restore warmth to its ties with the Gulf once again and prove that the nuclear deal, a final version of which is expected to be signed soon, is not open to any vague or ambiguous interpretations.

The US wants to have its cake and eat it. It seeks to have distinguished relations with the Gulf and Iran at the same time. This equation is impossible to achieve, not because the Gulf harbors any feelings of hatred towards Tehran, but rather because the Iranian regime is founded on hostility towards its Arabian Peninsula neighbors and the bulk of its policies are aimed at interfering in their internal affairs. So, this is the whole story, Mr. President.

Opinion: Is the Camp David summit a marketing tool for the Iran deal?

US President Barack Obama is known for his persuasive talents. Indeed, the upcoming Camp David summit may not only ease the minds of the invited Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) leaders and calm the anger aroused by the impending Iranian nuclear agreement; it may also help turn a new page in the history of the region. Still, we in the Gulf are skeptical, because the task seems too difficult and complex to achieve.

Obama’s initiative counts as a positive step following the series of negative measures the Gulf countries believe the US has taken against them during the negotiations with Iran—measures they feel have failed to take into account the enormous risks to other countries in the region. One writer, defending Obama, argues that the president’s open policy of seeking to resolve old tensions is not limited to Iran; after all, he reinstated ties with Cuba after 50 years, without imposing any conditions on Havana.

However, it is wrong to compare Iran to Cuba. Iran is a malignant force, while Cuba is benign and no longer represents a threat to anyone. Tehran’s religious ideology is based on revolution and domination; it took part in the violence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Gaza, Yemen, Sudan and the Central African Republic—and even further afield: Iran has been active in South-East Asia, and involved in bomb attacks in Argentina. Cuba’s hostile military and political activities, on the other hand, ended at the beginning of the millennium, a decade and a half ago.

Both the matters to be discussed, and the intentions of the participants at the Camp David summit, will make negotiations tricky. The Gulf states fear that the imminent nuclear agreement will focus solely on Iran’s nuclear program, thus opening the floodgates for Iran to threaten the Gulf’s very existence.

If the architect of the US agreement wants to reassure everyone around the table at Camp David, he will hear a long list of issues linked to Iran. Many conflicts between Iran and the Gulf countries may arise on land and at sea as a result of the potential vacuum left after the signing of any nuclear agreement—if the United States reduces its military presence or decides to remain neutral. As such, the deal between Iran and the US poses a major threat to the countries of the Gulf region—and is therefore not a source of security and stability, as the White House claims.

What can be seen as positive is that Obama has decided to address these concerns and objections at Camp David before any deal is signed with Iran, in order for Arab Gulf leaders to pose questions about the nature of the mysterious agreement and its potential repercussions on their nations. There is also a perception among them that the Camp David summit is just a marketing tool, which Obama wants to use to promote the deal without making any real commitments or giving any clear answers.

What commitments could the US government and other Western countries provide to ensure the security and stability of the Gulf? Arms sales and missile shields will not be enough. The most important thing is to get an explicit commitment that sets the boundaries for any attack from Iran or its allies against the Gulf countries. Such a commitment has succeeded in maintaining the stability of the Gulf region over the past five decades, with the exception of the war waged by Saddam Hussein on Kuwait. Due to this commitment and the American presence, Iran never dared cross the waters of the Gulf.

Moreover, such a commitment would not only help in maintaining the stability of the Gulf and guaranteeing the supply of oil to world markets, it would also be important to an Iran divided by internal conflict between its institutions and leaders. There are two main groups in Iran’s political elite: the first includes extremists who believe in expansion and domination; the second wants to focus on internal reforms and end all foreign exploits. A strong American stance, guarding against Iran’s exploitation of any nuclear agreement and pledging to maintain the security of the Gulf region, would strengthen the position of the second group, pushing Iran towards seeking genuine reconciliation and regional stability.

To be continued . . .