Khartoum, Asharq Al-Awsat – Ahmad Bin-Abdullah Al Mahmud, the Qatari minister of state for foreign affairs, has stated that the Arab-African initiative for solving the Darfur crisis complements the People of Sudan initiative and pointed out that the two initiatives aim for the same goal, the peace road, but denied that there exists any Arab or African sensitivity toward Qatar’s role in Sudan.
He said in exclusive statements to Asharq Al-Awsat: “We came to Sudan to listen and read what will come out of this initiative following the formulation of the viewpoints of all the Sudanese forces in the single People of Sudan initiative.”
He described his visit to Darfur as “good and we listened to the demands of all the official and popular forces and our assessment of these demands is that they are positive and lead to a solution of the crisis.”
The Qatari minister denied there is any Arab or African sensitivity toward the Qatari role in Sudan and said: “We are part of our Arab brothers and complement them. We benefit from the expertise of some of our brothers as they understand and know more than us. We cannot achieve anything on our own and we are working as one team. We will continue to contact everyone inside and outside [Sudan] so as to achieve accord, reconciliation, and agreement between the people of Sudan.” He added that his recent visits to Egypt, Libya, and Sudan were for that purpose.
Al Mahmud went on to underline the importance of Chad’s role in solving the crisis and said: “We know from the action plan for the initiative that we cannot solve the problem without dealing with its regional aspect. I believe Chad is an important country for Sudan’s security and Sudan is also important for Chad’s security. The relationship is intertwined and therefore the action plan includes dialogue with Chad, listening to what it has to say, and reaching reconciliation between Chad and Sudan and also the other neighboring countries.” He refused to reveal whether the Qatari prime minister would be visiting Chad soon.
On the efforts to persuade Abdul-Wahid Nur, one of the Darfur rebels’ leaders [to attend peace conference to be hosted by Qatar], the Qatari minister said “there are some contacts and there will be other direct and intensive contacts very soon. We have felt a positive response in this.”
However, informed Arab sources said the most important problem which emerged during the visit by the tripartite Arab committee tasked with solving the Darfur issue (which includes the Arab League [AL], the African Union [AU], and Qatar) to “Al-Junaynah” in the province where there are 100,000 Chadian refugees was that of the land, compensations, the need for more Arab humanitarian intervention, and the disarmament of the militias.
The sources told Asharq Al-Awsat: “The tripartite presidential committee monitored some progress in the stands of all parties but going to Doha still requires superhuman efforts until all of them reach the stage of having both sides sit at one table in Qatar.” They pointed out that naming who would participate in the Doha dialogue remains under discussion and added that “a meeting will be held in Qatar at the end of this month for the tripartite Arab committee at the level of AL Secretary General Amr Musa, the Qatari prime minister, and the AU representative – since the committee has become an Arab-African one – within the framework of what was agreed upon during the Arab-African meeting in New York that involved five African countries.”
Asharq Al-Awsat learned that there has been some progress in the issue of deploying the hybrid forces with 60 percent of these forces to be deployed by December and then to have 80 percent of them deployed by March next year. On the other hand, the Arab sources said the AL secretary-general’s meetings in Khartoum aimed to accelerate the steps of the solution in Sudan at all levels while giving priority to solving the Darfur issue and persuading the rebel movements to go to Qatar to start implementation of the Arab initiative or the People of Sudan one which has become complete and focuses on the non-governmental components for speeding up the solution. They added: “In other words, whoever misses the Khartoum conference can go to the Darfur meeting within the Darfuri-Darfuri dialogue framework.”