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Why Is Political Islam in Sudan supported by Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia?

by Lieutenant General Abakar M. Abdallah

Sheikh Moza of Qatar with President Bashir of Sudan 3-12-17_jpg SMALL

Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser of Qatar with Sudan President Omar Bashir Khartoum, March 12, 2017.

The Political Islam system in the Sudan spearheaded by the National Congress Party regime is supported by the State of Qatar. The relationship is contributing to growing Islamic extremist groups and international terrorism in the world. Some Salafi movement leaders in Khartoum openly support ISIS; some Sudanese college students are already fighting for Jihad in Libya and Syria. Sudan’s geographical location and the ruling elite’s historical ties with Middle East nations have been the main reasons allowing  the Khartoum regime to support global extremism in both ideology and fighting for Jihad without been stopped.

Those countries fighting in the global war against terrorism failed to understand how Sudan’s Muslim Brotherhood/National Congress Party (NCP) regime functions. The regime is telling the international community one thing and doing something else. For instance, the four Sudanese who killed John Granville, the American who was working in the USAID in Khartoum and his Sudanese driver Abdelrhaman Abass in 2008 were convicted to life sentences. However, the Sudan regime declared that they escaped from prison. These men were convicted to deceive the American government that the Sudan regime was not behind the assassination.  The regime convicted the men to mislead both the US government authorities and the victims’ families that justice had been done. In reality, the Sudan regime released the prisoners under the pretext that they escaped from prison and sent them to fight as part of al Qaeda in Somalia and later to join the Islamic State and fight for ISIS in Libya.

The rise of the Islamic movements in Sudan started in early 1930s. The Sudanese society is characterized by a geographic diversity reflected in its multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious populations. However, the Islamic movements ignored these facts and formed a government based its ideology on sectarian parties, tribalism, and religious extremism that excluded the majority of the Sudan’s population from their basic rights of citizenship. This exclusion has caused Sudan’s perpetual crisis that resulted in an endless civil war that subjugated the population of the country.

Throughout the history of Sudan, the successive regimes have been using the same vicious slogans: “Sudan is an Arab land, Defending Islam, Spreading Islam in Africa, Defending the Palestine Cause, and Defending Arabism.” Using these themes, successive regimes that ruled Sudan able to convince and at times mislead the Middle East nations to secure political, moral, material, and financial support.

It is in the context of this strategy that the NCP regime in Khartoum obtained financial support from Gulf States, because they ignored the majority non-Arab Sudanese people seeing the Sudan as an Arab country; constructing an Islamic Arab state and defending the Arab cause against Africanism, imperialism (America), and Zionism (State of Israel). Such belief is an important part of their political, religious, and social cohesion that generates funding to finance all forms of terrorism not only in the Sudan but also in the African Sahel region and the world. Those countries combating the global war on terrorism should understand these facts.  They should deal with Bashir’s regime committing genocidal war crimes and crimes against humanity against the people of Darfur, Blue Nile and Kordofan.

The NCP regime’s ultimate goal is not to bring peace, stability, justice and the rule of law. Rather it is to spread radical Islamic ideology eventually establishing a Caliphate in the Sudan at the expense of destroying the entire people in the country’s conflict regions through the use of violence to intimidate its opponents. This regime has the habit of forming false alliances to resolve most crises. It also uses racial, ethnic, and tribalism to divide the people and deal with each group separately. The NCP government also uses religion as the word of God to frighten and control people. It uses deception, fomenting and financing of tribal conflicts, use of propaganda through its controlled media, forming alliances with under privileged groups. It uses state funds to bribe opponents to obtain their support consequently weakening them prior to their destruction.  The NCP has not limited itself to the use of these tactics. It has also created Islamic institutions that functions within and outside its government to advance its Islamic extremist ideological vision in the world. These organizations include but not limited to:

  • Leadership Bureau of the National Congress Party. This is where all the powers of the NCP reside. All higher decisions emanate from this office. For example, appointment of executive positions such as ministers, ambassadors, governors, senior military commanders.
  • Islamic Movement (IM). The IM was created to serve as a political base for the NCP. IM unites domestic and international radical Islamist groups under its umbrella. It provides them with ideological guidance seeking to apply Islamic Sharia law to the entire world.
  • Islamic Da’wa organization (IDO). The IDO is a Sudanese Islamic NGO founded in 1992 and designated to work in Africa. The organization is supported and funded by Saudi Arabia and other Arab Gulf States. IDO is a member of the International Islamic Council for Da’wa and Relief (IICDR).  The IICDR is an umbrella of over 100 Islamic organizations most of them associated with Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, and Hamas. These organizations provide political guidance, ideology, recruitment, and funding for all Islamic Salafi movements in the world. IDO is headed by retired Field Marshal and former President of the Sudan Abderhaman Siwar al Dhahab. He is also the current Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Union of Good (UOG) member organization. The UOG is designated by the US Department of the Treasury as a terrorist organization providing financial assistance to Hamas.
  • IAU logo khartoum(1)

    International University of Africa logo.

    International University of Africa (IUA). The IUA is a public university located in Khartoum and like any other educational institution, has many faculties. However, it concentrates on two subjects: (1) Islamic Shariah and (2) Islamic studies. This institution is designed to train preachers and educate young African Muslims indoctrinating them with the Salafist view of Islam. The IUA University becomes an important Islamic center for Sub-Sahara Africa educating people in Islamic extremist ideology.

Through these organizations the Sudan government and Gulf States are engaged in spreading extremist Islamic ideology contributing to global extremism. If we look a few years back, we see al Qaeda was present only in small areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today we see Jihads all over the world and they are developing rapidly. We are regularly receiving information that Sudan and Qatar are providing financial and military assistance to Islamic militants in Libya, Mali, and possibly to Boko Harm in Nigeria.

Despite US Government placing financial restrictions to Sudan, Saudi Arabian government regularly donates money to the Sudan regime. Saudi Arabia gave Sudan $1billion in July and August 2015. These funds were given in the form of loans or investments. Recently, the Sudanese authorities mentioned that they expect to receive $4 billion following Khartoum’s decision to join the Saudi-led military coalition against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The flow of money from Saudi Arabia to the Muslim Brotherhood regime in the Sudan contributes to financing Global Jihad.

The IM, IDO, IICDR, and UOG organizations collect funds not only from the oil rich Gulf States but from companies, businessmen, Princes, Sheiks, traders, and ordinary people. These people give donations not for the purpose of supporting terrorism but for the goal of either advancing Pan-Arabism or supporting Islam. Most of these people do not care about what the result of their donation bring; they just give for the purpose of advancing Islam or Arabism.

Sudan President Omar Bashir’s trip to South Africa in violation of the outstanding International Criminal Court warrant for his arrest was settled by the Emir of Dubai. He paid one hundred million dollars to the South African government within the week following the incident. The Emir travelled to South Africa and settled the deal. Why did the Emir pay this money? The Emir paid the money simply because he has business interest in Sudan and was defending Pan Arabism.

Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser, royal consort of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, visited Sudan on March 12, 2017. She was welcomed by the first lady of Sudan Widad Babiker. She met with President Bashir and discussed development projects for Sudan. The Sheikha also visited North Kordofan State to meet with the notorious Janjaweed leader Ahmed Harun who has been indicted by the International Criminal Court but is still at large. In order to draw away the international community attention Sheikha Mozah visited pyramids in Merowe, Sudan’s historic City in which Qatar and Sudan have joint Archeological projects.

The Sudan government obtains from the Arab League and the oil rich Gulf States through official and nonofficial channels. In 2007 and 2008, the Arab League gave the Sudan government over $500 million in the name of development in Darfur. Sheik Moza who visited Khartoum on March 12, 2017 donated $200 million dollars to Bashir to recruit and train more Janjaweed militias. These funds will be used to finance terrorists and recruit Janjaweed to kill the indigenous people of Darfur, Blue Nile and Kordofan. Even though the money comes in the name of development, they used to recruit, train, and arm Janjaweed militias to kill the people of Darfur. The wealthy oil rich Gulf Emirates, especially Qatar, provide Sudan funding in the name of development projects while secretly working to establish an all Arab Caliphate in Darfur and African Sahel region.

Following the visit of the Qatari State Minister in Darfur, he promised to fund 17 development projects in Darfur.  Since the signing of the Darfur Doha agreement both Qatar and Sudan spoke of developments in Darfur.  Last July Chairman Tijani Sisi of the Darfur Regional Authority mentioned that his organization realized 1800 projects in Darfur. It’s easy to say in words but the fact is that over 3 million people of Darfur are living in internally displaced persons and refugee’s camps. Where are the 1800 projects that Chairman Sisi is talking of that he and his group realized? Where is this large number of projects that could not be seen in Darfur? The truth is that there are no projects in Darfur other than recruiting and training of Janjaweed and terrorists to kill innocent people.

Sheikh Moza with Nkirth Kordofan Children 3-13-17(1)

Sheikha Mozah with innocent school children of North Kordofan, March 13, 2017.

The fact is that the Sudan government recruited and trained 34,000 Arab Janjaweed militias funded by State of Qatar. These Arab tribal militias are currently prepared to secure new settlement projects (construction of villages and digging of water pumps for new Arab settlers) in North Darfur. As I am writing this report, they deployed over 100 armed Toyota Pickup trucks of Rapid Support Forces to provide security protection to dig these water pumps at Wadi Azerk in Wadi Hawar, North Darfur. Their plan is to create 1,200 new Janjaweed villages in the area north of Kutum adjacent to the borders of Libya. Villagers in Disah, North Darfur were told to abandon their villages and move to the IDP camps or to the cities because next year they will not be allowed to cultivate their land. They said that area north of Kutum to the border of Libya is designated for Arab Janjaweed animal husbandry.

Conclusions

The Sudan government is contributing to the growing global Islamic extremist ideology and Jihadism. Eliminating this regime is a necessary requirement for peace. Its removal from Khartoum would greatly reduce the phenomenon of Islamic terrorism in the world. This would eliminate the system of sectarian parties, tribalism, and religious discrimination that successive regimes use to divide and rule Sudanese society. Regime change in Khartoum would call for creation of a secular and Sudanese identity transcending tribal and religious boundaries emphasizing equality and justice for its entire people.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Qatar Ambassador to U.S.: “We Don’t Support Hamas”

Qatar’s Ambassador to Washington  H.E. Mohammed Jaham Al-Kuwari is a veteran diplomat with 32 years of service to the small gas rich wealthy Arab state on a peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf off Saudi Arabia.  American educated at the University of Portland, Oregon with graduate work at the University of Madrid in Spain, he speaks several languages including Farsi used during a diplomatic post in Tehran.  He has held a number of diplomatic posts, Foreign Ministry and Cabinet positions. As Qatar’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, he presented his credentials to President Obama in the Oval Office in March 2014. Ambassador Al-Kuwari spoke Friday, December 5th at the monthly meeting of the Tiger Bay Club in Pensacola, Florida.

Qatar with its capital of Doha has fewer subjects than the metropolitan Pensacola area, approximately 300,000. There are also upwards of 1.7 million foreign workers residing in Qatar with some evidence of human rights violations. Human Rights Watch in its 2014 World Report noted:

Migrants continue to experience serious rights violations, including forced labor and arbitrary restrictions on the right to leave Qatar, which expose them to exploitation and abuse by employers.

The soft spoken Qatari diplomatic representative flew in from “wintry DC” the prior evening to be greeted by Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, Escambia County Commissioner Michael Underwood and the board of the Tiger Bay Club.  He presented a check for $10,000 to Mayor Hayward and proceeded to unroll a charm campaign on this Gulf Coast community in North West Florida with a heavy military presence.  Located in Northwest Florida are the famed Pensacola Naval Air Station, Navy Training and Information Dominance Commands, the Naval Flight Training Center at Whiting Field, the USAF Air Force Special Operation Command Headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Eglin and Tyndall Air bases.  It is not uncommon to see personnel from the six Arab States, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, undergoing training at these facilities.  One of the Tiger Bay board members who attended the private dinner Thursday evening opined the Ambassador gave a “smooth performance.”

The Qatar Charm Campaign

Tiny Qatar across from Shiite Iran is endeavoring to explain the presence of the leaders from terror groups Hamas and Taliban ensconced in luxury in Doha.   There are also allegations by the US Treasury that some Qatar individuals and charities may have funded these groups, as well as, the self declared Islamic State, formerly ISIS. A bit ironic, as Ambassador Al-Kuwari said ISIS is a threat to them that needs to be addressed through immediate military action.

On the diplomatic side, Qatar is one of two Gulf Arab States, the other being Oman, that have diplomatic relationships with America’s ally in the Middle East, Israel.  He stressed their recognition of the State of Israel which has offices in Doha.  He spoke about the role of Qatar trying to bring about peace between the Jewish State and the Palestinians, what he repeatedly deemed as the principal  root cause of unrest and violence in the region. He spoke about the criticism from fellow Arab League members questioning why Qatar tolerates Israeli presence and Jewish visitors.

Ambassador Al Kuwari propounded the view that the Al Jazeera satellite TV network was founded as the “voice of the Arab Spring”, promoting democratic aspirations.  He pointed out Qatar’s own aspirations to build democratic institutions noting a possible future elected parliament, given the two century rule by the Al-Thani family.

“Qatar doesn’t support Hamas”

He astounded some in the audience when he claimed that Qatar does not support Hamas.  This despite the $1 billion pledge by Qatar made at a Cairo conference to underwrite one quarter of the $4 billion cost to rebuild Gaza after the third Hamas perpetrated war with Israel since 2008. In his Tiger Bay talk he referenced the 2,200 Gazans killed in IDF Operation Protective Edge, not mentioning that the majority were Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihad operatives who had used civilians as human shields. Nor did he mention that the $400 millions pledged after the 2012 Gaza war may have been used to build the terror tunnels that enabled cross border attacks inside Israel during the recent summer war.   As he put it, “better to have Khaled Meshaal, the leader in Qatar than across the Gulf in Iran”.

As to questions concerning permitting a Taliban office in Qatar, the Ambassador said that was to facilitate discussions with the Afghan government leading to an inclusive democratic government.  He recommended the terror group relinquish its threats of violence and denial of empowerment of women through education.  He noted the role played by Qatar in release of several Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo in exchange for release of captive US Army Sergeant Bergdahl.  However he did not respond to questions as to whether any of the released Taliban commanders in Qatar were rumored to have subsequently joined ISIS.

When asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, he suggested that there could be democratically elected Islamist governments, decrying the imprisonment by Egyptian President el-Sisi of Brothers, liberals and human rights advocates by the newly elected government.  The Ambassador suggested that the Muslim Brotherhood may not have resorted to terrorism, which appears contradicted by Egyptian, Saudi and UAE designations.   He was, however, silent about the long term presence in Qatar of exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood preacher, Yusuf al-Qaradawi founder of the Union of Good, a US Treasury Global Designated Terror Group supplying Hamas.

As Ambassador Al-Kuwari was finishing his presentation The Investigative Project was reporting:

 Interpol issued a bulletin Friday seeking the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most influential cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The bulletin was sparse on details but said that Egypt wanted the 88-year-old Qaradawi “to serve a sentence” for crimes including “incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder.” …  According to the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, Interpol issued a “red notice” which is both its highest level alert, and a move subject to later review by the international police agency.

The Egyptian El-Sisi government had requested extradition by Qatar of al-Qaradawi to stand trial.

Ambassador Al-Kuwari painted a glowing picture of Qatar as the Switzerland of the Middle East with billions of dollars holding hundreds of international academic, business and interfaith conferences akin to Davos. He touted American universities like Cornell, Northwestern, Texas, and Virginia Commonwealth that set up programs in Doha. He said that Qatar wanted to invest in economic enterprises in the region to create jobs for the large number of unemployed university graduates.  In the US Qatar is spending $5 million funding university courses to teach Arabic.

 He emphasized the humanitarian contributions of Qatar reflected in the $100 million given for the rebuilding of New Orleans following hurricane Katrina, the $850 million to rebuild Haiti after the 2012 Earthquake in cooperation with the Clinton Foundation and a major push against Polio in the less developed world in conjunction with the Gates Foundation.  But there were also investments in the US, like the $1.5 billion City Center complex developed with the Hines group in Texas revitalizing a derelict section of Washington, DC.

When asked about the depiction of Islam as being prone to violence reflected in the barbarism of ISIS, he deplored that.  He contended that ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates were a distinct minority that had infiltrated the demonstrated record of tolerance of Islam. His message was that Qatar was following the example of the 800 year Muslim reign in Al Andaluz, southern Spain, where allegedly Jews, Christian and Muslims lived in tolerance. This is not demonstrated by the history of intolerance and barbarism akin to that perpetrated by contemporary ISIS and the Taliban during the successive waves of invasion by extremist Berber-Muslims from North Africa.  He noted Qatar’s approval for building a new Catholic church.

Is Qatar a Frenemy?

Seasoned observers of the Middle East Region say that Qatar under the two century rule by the Al-Thani family “has been punching internationally above its weight class” to use the boxing analogy. Yet Qatar has often been referred to as a Frenemy.  Not exactly a friend, not exactly an enemy.

On the friend side Qatar has assisted in building several major bases including the forward command center at al-Udeid air base for the US Central Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Base just outside Tampa, Florida. Qatar has supplied air contingents in the US-led coalition of 60 countries seeking to “degrade and destroy” Sunni extremist group, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS. The capital, Doha has been turned into an international education hub for the Middle East with the aid of US academic institutions and think tanks like the Doha Center of the Washington, DC –based Brookings Institution.  Qatar has created jobs here in the US by purchasing $19 billion  of 50 Boeing 777s  for expansion of its Qatar Airways in major hubs  Dallas, Miami , Philadelphia to bolster existing facilities in Houston, Washington, DC, New York and Chicago .  Further, Qatar has signed agreements with the Pentagon to purchase more than $11 billion in Patriot Missiles, Apache helicopters and Javelin anti-tank missiles. Moreover, it acquired the Current TV channel, now Al Jazeera America, from former Vice President Al Gore and investors.

On the other hand, there is a troubling story.  Qatar in a New York Times op-ed by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor called Qatar a “Club Med for Terrorists”. He was referring to providing sanctuary for Khaled Meshaal, the billionaire leader of Hamas.  Dr. Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies in testimony before the Joint Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs on September 9, 2014 said “that Qatar is currently Hamas’ ATM”:

“If you add up the annual $400 million that we believe has been pledged by the Qataris and perhaps the rumored $300 million provided by the Turks, then you’re looking at $700 million out of a roughly $1 billion budget,” Schanzer told members of Congress. “I’m no math major, but that would be 70 percent.

Earlier this year three Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, briefly withdrew their Ambassadors from Qatar.  They were, among other reasons, objecting to the Qatar funded Al Jazeera satellite TV network broadcasting across the region in Arabic the extremist inflammatory statements of exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood preacher, Yusuf al Qaradawi.  In November 2014, the UAE joined Saudi Arabia placing the Muslim Brotherhood on its list of world terrorist organizations, including Hamas and, here in the US, Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, the Council of American Islamic Relations and Muslim American Society.

There are questions about what Qatar is doing concerning wealthy Qataris who have funded Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusrah and the Sunni fundamentalist Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.

There have been  accusations that some of the $220  billion funds for the infrastructure  in preparation for 2022 FIFA World Cup competition may have involved bribes to FIFA officials and  possible  diversion of contractor payments  to fund the Jihad of the Islamic State.

Some Members of Congress have called for black listing both Qatar and Turkey because of these individuals’ contributions to ISIS, even suggesting that the U.S. move CENTCOMM bases in Qatar elsewhere in the region. Those accusations led the US State Department while calling the current relationship with Qatar “productive”, to also state that “disruption of terrorist financing by Qatari individuals and charitable associations remains inconsistent”.

Conclusion

Qatari Ambassador Al-Kuwari’s Pensacola presentation will doubtless be repeated frequently during his Washington, DC posting. After all the campaign is laced with prospects of American communities and businesses receiving billions in economic rewards.  If Qatar is to succeed it might wisely follow the path of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Kuwait and rein in terrorist financiers in the tiny state. Qatar might start by honoring the Interpol Red Tag warrant for the arrest and extradition of Muslim Brotherhood preacher Al Qaradawi.  As to fostering peace between Israel and the Palestinians, if Qatar’s track record negotiating cease fire proposals with Turkey on behalf of Hamas in the recent summer Gaza war is any indication, that is an unlikely prospect.

Listen to the Qatar Ambassador’s Pensacola Tiger Bay Club presentation.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.