The Dirty Hand of Qatar in Sudan`s Conflicts
by Anne Bartlett
June 21, 2013
Sudan`s Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM) leader Eltigani Seisi (R) speaks during a news conference at the end of the International Donor Conference for Reconstruction and Development in Darfur, in Doha April 8, 2013. Donor countries committed $3.6 billion to Sudan`s Darfur region to be paid over six years during a donor conference on Monday hosted in Qatar aimed at helping it cope with an armed conflict that has killed thousands. At left is Qatar`s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad bin Abdullah al-Mahmoud. REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous
Jun 21, 2013 (Sudan Tribune/All Africa Global Media) -- There is a certain intractability to Sudan`s conflicts these days, which defies logic or, it seems, any moral responsibility. The inability to move the international community off its course of pandering to Khartoum`s interests seems both irrational and unreasonable, given the significant upsurge in violence in Darfur and the critical situation now facing the population in Blue Nile and South Kordofan.
Consider what would happen if any government elsewhere (let`s say North Korea, for example), had the temerity to actually cross borders, drop bombs on innocent people, blatantly shut off oil supplies and sponsor militias to purposefully create instability in a neighboring country. In such a case, the whole world would be up in arms, diplomatic secure phones would be buzzing with telephone traffic and condemnation would be both swift and decisive.
Yet, when it comes to South Sudan and the rights of marginalized people inside Sudan, anything goes. The Sudanese government can cause havoc, force people to work like slaves in gold mines in Darfur, starve local communities who are now corralled in camps, oversee non-existent health provision leading to the worst global outbreak of yellow fever in decades and terrorize people in the Jebel Marra to within an inch of their lives.
A wanted war criminal, Ali Kushayb, can drive around as Commander of the Central Reserve Forces (known as Abu Tira) in South Darfur with no sanction at all. In South Kordofan and Blue Nile, the government can block humanitarian access, shell local populations and purposely locate itself close to civilian populations in towns like Kadugli so as to create maximum civilian casualties. Being even handed in its dispersal of war criminals, it can install Ahmed Haroun as the Governor of South Kordofan who is currently busy hosting football championships, while also overseeing the murder of innocent people.
The big question is why the silence? Why is the international community so compliant with the Sudanese government while all this unspeakable horror is going on? Why are they so full of what needs to happen elsewhere in the world, while apparently so blind to the rights of the people of Sudan? Why can Obama stand in Berlin talking about freedom and the horrors of the Stasi, while being unconcerned about the horrors of the NISS and indicted war criminals? Why are certain dictators worthy of US attention, while others aren`t?
The answer of course lies in the dirty hand of Qatar in world geopolitics. Across the world today Qatar is so busy in trading its cash for influence in world affairs, that it has been able to compromise the diplomatic credibility of the USA, UK, much of Europe and North Africa. It has been doing this quietly by using its relationships with the likes of Yusuf al-Qaradawi, to shine its credentials of having some control over the Muslim Brotherhood and the ikhwan influence that is fast spreading across the Sahel. It has been doing so at the expense of its neighbors in the Gulf, notably the UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and also at the expense of people suffering inside Sudan, who, it appears, have no rights at all.
UNAMID Joint Special Representation (JSR) and Joint Chief Mediator a.i Ibrahim Gambari (L) and Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs of the State of Qatar, Ahmed Bin Abdulla Al Mahmoud talk during the second meeting of the Implementation Follow-up Commission (IFC), established by the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), chaired by the Government of Qatar at the UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher January 16, 2012. The commission discussed progress in the peace process and the way forward to achieving a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement of the conflict. REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
Buying its way into the hearts of governments across the world, Qatar has set its sights high. In the United Kingdom, it has agreed to invest more than GBP10 billion in infrastructure projects that include energy plants, road and rail projects and even the new `super-sewer` project under the capital, London. Elsewhere in London, Qatar has recently invested in Harrods, the Shard skyscraper and Heathrow Airport. Outside the capital, discussions are also underway to fund a new GBP14 billion nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset, planned and operated by EDF, the French energy giant.
Not wishing to lose out on Qatar`s largesse, France has also agreed to allow the Emirate to invest millions in its depressed `banlieues` - the rings of poor suburbs with high immigrant populations that surround Paris. What was originally slated to be an exclusively Qatari project was however not taken up by Sarkozy due to the pressure of impending elections.
It was however later adapted by Francois Hollande to include a joint plan between the French government, French private sector and the Qatari government, after accusations that the plan could amount to an `Islamic Trojan Horse` being allowed deep into the heart of depressed Muslim areas. Undeterred the Qataris have continued to work on the issue, promoting a sixty five million dollar fund for young entrepreneurs from these areas. They have also bought football clubs, hotels, office buildings and public companies.
This pattern of influence trading and soft power usage spans much of Europe, including bailouts to the Greek government, interest in privatizing the defense giant Hellenic Defense Systems and buying six of its islands. In Germany the `Aamal Company, one of the Gulf region`s fastest growing diversified conglomerates, has signed an agreement with Vivantes International Medicine, the biggest hospital group in Germany, to create a joint venture (JV) outpatient medical centre in Doha`. In a spirit of reciprocity, Qatar is also investing in property and the leisure industry in Berlin.
In the USA, the Emir has developed strong relationships on account of the Defense Cooperation Agreement, which moved the U.S. Combat Air Operations Center for the Middle East from Prince Sultan Airbase in Saudi Arabia to Qatar`s Al Udeid airbase south of Doha, the Qatari capital. Udeid and other facilities in Qatar now serve as logistics, command, and basing hubs for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of operations, including Iraq and Afghanistan`.
Education city, Doha, now hosts six top US universities: Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Cornell, Texas A&M and Virginia Commonwealth. US think tanks such as the Brookings Institution also call Doha home. Working closely with Qatar on the current crisis in Syria, the US is also developing strong diplomatic relationships with the Emirate as it moves forward.
Qatar`s spiderlike web of influence is growing at a rapid pace and spreading across the globe. The fact that Qatar has the ear, and has cultivated relations of dependence with many western governments, means that it has a lot of leverage in the case of Darfur, not only to keep pushing the Doha Peace Process as the only game in town, but also to ensure continued support for the Sudanese government and its operations. Elsewhere it can keep the pressure on the government of South Sudan and on the so called `rebel` movements like the SRF operating on the border, while turning attention away from Sudan`s own sponsorship of militias inside South Sudan.
The question is how ill-informed and self-interested the world community can get. Are they so entranced by Qatar`s message that they have failed to notice the fact that the Emirate is speaking out of both sides of its mouth? Do they really think that once they`ve bought into Qatar`s influence over the Muslim Brotherhood, that it will end there?
Are they too lazy to look a little further down the road to see what might be heading in their direction? Yes, it is easy to hit the soft targets like South Sudan and the already pulverized people of Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile. Yes, it is easy to sell innocent people out in exchange for economic benefit and fat cat deals. However, getting too involved with such a government, as they will soon find out, can be rather unpredictable. As with so many situations where people get into bed with the devil, the international community had better pay attention to who they will wake up with in the morning.
Dr. Anne Bartlett is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Graduate Program in International Studies at the University of San Francisco. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
© 2013 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved
Sudan Groups Protest Qatar`s Hosting of Darfur Donors Conference
March 22, 2013
(L-R) President of the Darfur Regional Authority (TRA) Tigani el-Sissi, UNAMID Joint Special Representation (JSR) and Joint Chief Mediator a.i Ibrahim Gambari, Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs of the State of Qatar, Ahmed Bin Abdulla Al Mahmoud and Sudan Head of Office of Peace process in Darfur Amin Hassan Omer attend the second meeting of the Implementation Follow-up Commission (IFC), established by the Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD), chaired by the Government of Qatar at the UNAMID headquarters in El Fasher January 16, 2012. The commission discussed progress in the peace process and the way forward to achieving a comprehensive and inclusive political settlement of the conflict. REUTERS/ Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
Washington, Mar 22, 2013 (Sudan Tribune/All Africa Global Media) -- A number of Sudan advocacy groups sent two separate letters of protest to the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and the head of the African Development Bank (ADB) Donald Kaberuka over their sponsorship of a Darfur donors conference scheduled for next month in Doha.
The Sudanese government has dispatched delegations over the last few months around the world aimed at securing wide participation in the conference which is expected to also bring western donor nations.
But more than 50 Sudan groups and advocates around the world said in the letters that “efforts to promote investments in Sudan are premature and put the international community at risk of funding a government that continues to perpetrate massive human rights violations against its own people”.
“Such investments should not occur prior to a cessation of attacks on civilians, the granting of unhindered humanitarian access across Sudan, and a clear demonstration of progress on all remaining issues, including an inclusive constitutional review process followed by free and fair elections” said the letters seen by Sudan Tribune.
The groups said that “previous Darfur donors` conferences collected billions of dollars, but there are no signs on the ground today of how those billions of dollars were spent”.
“Instead, the money, after falling in the hands of the central government, is used against the people of Darfur to fund aerial bombardments and militia attacks,”.
The groups also expressed concern that any money pledged at the conference would be at risk of “serving as an elaborate scheme to divert money to fund the ongoing wars in Darfur, Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile”.
They called on Qatar to use its influence reach out to Darfuris in the Diaspora, the main rebel factions, and the Internally Displaced Persons inside Darfur and refugees in Chad “to reach a consensus of how to meet the demands of Darfuri people in providing security, protection, accountability, and a just and lasting peace”.
The head of Darfur Regional Authority (DRA) Tijani Al-Sissi said last month that an international mechanism that incorporates the Sudanese government and the DRA will be formed to supervise the spending of the money donors allocate to Darfur projects.
Darfur will not get “a single penny” unless donor trust that their money will be spent in development and reconstruction projects, he said.
Al-Sissi anticipated that contributions of donors will be deposited at the World Bank and the United Nations.
Some international donors including the U.S. and other Western countries have expressed concern about how they can give money to a country under economic sanctions, and how to ensure that their money will be not be used for another purpose by a country experiencing a severe economic crisis.
© 2013 AllAfrica, All Rights Reserved
Somali President Reportedly Signs Secret Memo For Talks With Islamist Rebels
Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online
Saturday, August 07, 2010
Report by Khalid Mahmud in Cairo: “Secret Memo Signed By The Somali President Warns Against Negotiations With The Ahl al-Sunnah Group; Says Alliance With Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, And Sudan Natural”
A secret memorandum signed by Somali President Shaykh Sharif Ahmad proposes continued attempts--without the knowledge of the Western countries--to negotiate with the Islamist rebels who seek to overthrow the federal transitional government. The memorandum, entitled “A Strategic Political Memorandum,” which was written by a number of Somali religious scholars at the request of President Shaykh Sharif, says that relations with the Western countries have both good and bad effects. It says that although the Western countries offer material aid and moral support to Somalia, their involvement in Somali affairs makes the process of bringing views closer with the opposition more difficult.
The two-page memorandum, a copy of which was obtained by Al-Sharq al-Awsat, was first written in English and then translated into Arabic. It says that “most opposition forces do not trust the Western nations, and this is why they do not want to stop fighting the transitional government or joining it. The memorandum considers that bringing the views with the opposition closer is more important than the support given by the Western countries, which display a judgment that lacks (understanding) of key politics in the country.
The memorandum proposes that the Somali government should continue negotiations with the Islamic rebels without the knowledge of the Western nations, and that the government should contend itself with consulting with these nations as well as with the Islamic countries it trusts before making any attempt at bringing the views closer with the opposition.
Regarding the foreign policy of the transitional government, led by Shaykh Sharif, the memorandum says that alliance with the Arab League and the Islamic states, notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Sudan, is the normal approach to follow. It stresses the need to consult with these fraternal states and receive their advice and support before taking any new political initiative. The memorandum notices that since it assumed power, the Somali government has found itself forced to resist the political situation instead of articulating a clear political strategy to address the local and international (African) forces, government institutions, and security.
Concerning regional administrations and the stand of the central government in Mogadishu on the Puntland region, which has enjoyed self-rule in northeast Somalia since 1998, and on the separatist Somaliland government, the memorandum says these self-rule regions are one of the factors that hamper national unity because they are not loyal to the central federal government and act independently. It adds: “The policy that these self-rule regions pursue sometimes contradicts with the policy of the central government. Therefore, the central government should adopt a strong stand against these authorities and refuse to establish diplomatic relations with any of the countries that have political and security relations with these regional authorities.” It says: “In addition, members of the Council of Ministers and of the parliament should be given the freedom of either to quit the government or be powerful members, because, henceforth, double standards will not be allowed.”
As for the Somali people`s unity, the memorandum underlines the need to foster the Somali people`s patriotic sentiments, noting that the Somali people will not be united unless they have a national vision and patriotic sentiments. In his respect the memorandum proposes reviving the idea of Greater Somalia, which the late Somali President Siad Barre tried to do before his regime collapsed and the civil war broke out in 1991. It envisions implementing the Islamic shari`ah in the country to besmirch the religious reputation of the rebels, and ensuring a fair distribution of resources.
Ibrahim Muhammad Husayn, head of the United Front for the Liberation of Western Somalia (UFLWS), yesterday announced that an agreement was signed with Ethiopia after talks that lasted approximately 6 months. He said that under the agreement, the Somali people in Western Somalia will be given basic liberties and the right to self-determination in addition to the freedom of faith and education, rehabilitation, and facilities to help those displaced Somalis return to the country. The UFLWS is one of the major fronts that fought the Ethiopian forces for 20 years in their quest for the independence of the Ogaden region. Under the agreement, fighting will cease and prisoners will be released. Approximately 4.5 million Muslims of Somali origin live in Ogaden, which has been a source of tension between Somalia and Ethiopia for more than 30 years.
Regarding the relationship with the Ahl al-Sunnah Wa al-Jama`ah, the memorandum, which was signed by Somali President Shaykh Sharif and carries the official emblem of his office, says the Somali government should avoid total rejection of this organization or establish peaceful relations with it. Explaining this ambiguous stand, the memorandum notes that this organization opposes in principle the Federal Somali government as well as the various opposition groups with which the government seeks to negotiate.
The memorandum approves the viewpoint that totally differs with all of the Somali government`s declared efforts to assimilate the Ahl al-Sunnah Wa al-Jama`ah organization. It says that this organization will not accept less than full control of Somalia as it feels that the majority of the Somali people support it. It acknowledges the difficulty of negotiating with this organization over a joint political program. It proposes that the government should continue to pursue its current policy in dealing with those groups in the Ahl al-Sunnah who respect the desire of other parties.
(Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat Online in Arabic -- Website of influential London-based pan-Arab Saudi daily; editorial line reflects Saudi official stance. URL: http://www.asharqalawsat.com/)
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Ethiopia comments on Sheikh Sharif`s “Secret Memo”
A Week in the Horn
Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Ethiopia
August 20, 2010
The international London based, Alsharq Al Awsat newspaper, released a report (1.8.2010 edition) on an alleged `Secret memo` which it claimed had been signed by President Sheikh Sharif of the TFG in Cairo.
The memo was supposed to have been written by a group of Somali religious scholars at the request of the TFG, and suggested that the TFG should negotiate with Al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups without informing any western countries.
The alleged memo claimed that although the western countries offer material aid and moral support to Somalia, their involvement in Somalia affairs made the process of reconciliation with the opposition more difficult.
The memo claimed that “most opposition forces do not trust” western nations and this is why they were not prepared to stop fighting the TFG or prepared to join it. It suggests that bringing the opposition closer is more important than the support given by the western countries. The memo therefore suggests the TFG should ally with the Arab League and with Islamic States notably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Sudan, and consult with them before taking any new political initiative.
It goes on to raise issues related to Somaliland and Puntland and the question of unity of Somalia, and calls on the TFG to refrain from diplomatic relations with countries that have any security and political relations with those two administrations. It also calls for the revival of the concept of “Greater Somalia”, and in reference to the agreement between Ahlu Suna wal Jama`a and the TFG, it even alleges that Ahlu Suna opposes efforts of the TFG to negotiate with any other opposition groups.
Not surprisingly, the TFG has quickly identified this piece of cheap propaganda as a fictitious document. Indeed, this bogus “Strategy Memo” is similar to other forged documents issued in the past. It is not even worth comment except to underline that it is an entirely fabricated document; and as a statement from the TFG underlined, neither the TFG nor the Somali President had anything to do with it at all.
The fabrication of such a document, of course, raises a question as to why it has been drawn up and released at this time. One reason, presumably, is that it was intended to create a rift within the TFG leadership established after the agreement between Ahlu Suna wal Jama`a and the TFG on 15th March. Another has been to try to create suspicion between the TFG and its partners on the ground fighting against the scourge of terrorism. Thirdly, it appears intended to create misunderstandings between the region and those in the Gulf countries who have been trying to assist the TFG and the people of Somalia to make progress against terrorism.
It`s clear from the outset that these aims will not succeed. Such cheap propaganda isn`t going to deter IGAD, the AU or the international community from doing whatever is necessary to ensure success in Somalia. This has been underlined in the last few days indeed as the TFG and Ahlu Suna wal Jama`a have been involved in a round of discussions in Addis Ababa, following an earlier meeting in Mogadishu in April. The meeting was to evaluate the progress made in implementation of their historic agreement on 15th March. The discussions, 13th -18th August, agreed on the consolidation of administrative units in areas controlled by them, and on further efforts to defeat Al-Shabaab on the ground, including the mobilization of their human and material resources for joint operations in various parts of the country. The meeting was also attended by the new UN SRSG, Ambassador Mahiga, the IGAD Facilitator for Somalia Peace and Reconciliation and representatives from the AU Commission. The TFG delegation, composed of seven ministers was led by Defense Minister, Dr. Abubakr Osman, while Ahlu Suna`s nine-member delegation was led by Sheikh Mohamed Hefow, Chairperson of Ahlu Suna`s Executive Committee.