Thanks to Scott Morgan (the President of Red Eagle Enterprises) we had access to the minutes of a Joint Military and Security Committee meeting that took place, last August, at the National Defence College, in Khartoum (Sudan). This document (whose authenticity has been confirmed here) help us to understand how the Sudanese leadership thinks and operates:
Darfur & South Sudan
Sudan insists on meddling in South Sudan, not only for economic reasons but also because it has the perception that President Salva Kiir seeks to change the Islamic rule in Khartoum (thus supporting the opposition parties). Furthermore, Sudan is suspicious of the American and Israeli presence in Juba, plus the Ugandan support to the South. If the government in Khartoum feels threatened by these relationships, then aggressive behaviour may be on the horizon in order to get territory back and, protect the Islamic rule “Now we have the necessary information which will enable us to take the right decision against the South and Uganda, and to deal with the movements that are collaborating with them."
"Therefore, we must support all the efforts done by Mbeki. But I am not optimistic that they will agree to the Mbeki option, because all of them have adopted the New Sudan Project…" - this statement suggests that the Sudanese government is willing to accept the recommendations made by Thabo Mbeki, the chief negotiator in the Darfur crisis; however, last week, the world was informed that Mr Mbeki has suspended the talks after President al-Bashir rejected a request to extend the government delegation’s mandate to negotiate on a number of vital rebel demands. If Sudan refuses to address the most immediate demands then we may expect tensions to escalate on another front.
Political Taqiyya towards the West
"We keep the opposition, the Consensus Forces (CF), to preserve our image in in the eyes of the international and regional public opinion.[sic]"
Political Taqiyya: since the West is obsessed with democracy and political plurality (and many African nations are swaying towards democracy [with western contours]), they allow the existence of opposition parties in order to obtain their grace and perhaps deflect attention from their activities. However, they must still protect themselves and to that effect the Sudanese government places its own agents to influence the behaviour of the opposition "Even the Umma (National) Party is infiltrated to the extent that we dominate the decision-making process within the party." - they go to great lengths to hamper the fall of the Islamic rule.
Political Taqiyya towards Friends
Sudan caters Iran (with whom it maintains a defence & security strategic relationship) and the Gulf Nations (from whom it seeks investment). From the minutes we understand that the Gulf Nations see Sudan's friendship with Iran a threat to Sunnism as Sudan permits Iran "to operate more than 200 cultural centers that are proselytizing Sh’ism" and to send weapons through Sudan “by way of the Red Sea to Abd al-Malik Al-Huthi’s Shiia group in Yemen"; therefore, the Sudanese solution is to “[mislead] the Gulf States by taking open, declared steps and procedures towards improving diplomatic relations with them." (i.e. after consulting with Iran, Sudan will close down many Shiite cultural centres to appease the Arab countries) so that Sunni funds keep flowing in.
Although Sudan sees itself forced to indulge the Gulf States (that fret about the Iranian influence and military presence in the country); it has decided that it will "work strategically with Iran, in total secrecy and on a limited scale, through the MI and security.” even more so because Iran is the only country that “has the courage to say no to the whole West." (that is, it has more manoeuvring space to act according to Sudanese interests, without having the West interfering).
A Threat to World Security
It's not a secret that Sudan is a safe haven for terrorists groups (AQ's Bin Laden lived there; Hamas elements spend time there; Muslim Brotherhood members live there etc) and it doesn't even try to hide it "(..) we have many Islamic Sunni Salafi organizations belonging to different radical groups from all over the world."
In line with the political Taqiyya, Sudan promised Egypt that it would keep the Muslim Brotherhood under control (if Cairo would, in turn, control the Sudanese opposition and militias activities in its territory), however the Sudanese leadership can't be trusted since it has admitted that it passes all intelligence on to Iran, who will use those Sunni groups to serve its purposes "We have relations with all the Islamic Movements World Wide and we represent a door for Iran to all these Islamic groups."
Khartoum also confesses to have infiltrated all embassies (these include the US, Canada, EU nations, Ethiopia, India, Brazil etc) "All the embassies and chanceries in Khartoum are infiltrated and our elements report to us who goes in or out." - a grave breach of security for these facilities when we think about the relationship between Sudan and Islamic Salafi organisations.
So what does Sudan want after all?
First, it seeks to develop itself (and to that end it's willing to engage in political duplicity); then it seeks to protect the Islamic rule at all costs (i.e. again through political duplicity: it shows the west it allows for political plurality while infiltrating the opposition parties to suppress unwanted outcomes); to serve as a transit point for weapons from Iran; and to interfere in South Sudan's internal affairs (either through direct assistance to rebels or through disinformation campaigns to generate instability), probably to preclude it from going ahead with the planned Uganda-Kenya-South Sudan oil pipeline – which would obliterate for good any prospects of South Sudan exporting oil via Sudan's pipelines.
Sudan is a danger to regional and international stability. If we think of it being an Iranian proxy (much like Syria and Lebanon under Hezbollah's influence); if we think of it passing Iranian weapons to Séléka in CAR, to the Zaidi in Yemen, to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and to all other anti-government entities in West Africa; and if we think of it interfering with Uganda and South Sudan (and who knows if not Kenya, a close western and Israeli friend), it's not difficult to understand why this country is a danger to the interests of the free world.
The question is: must we tackle Iran in order to see a stable African continent?
(I'd like to thank Scott Morgan for both the link to the minutes and the most helpful conversation we had about Sudan)