Rebel leader calls on Washington to side with the Sudanese, not the govt.
Abdelwahid El Nur, the leader of the mainstream Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM-AW) says his movement is “heartened” by a recent US statement calling for the cessation of hostilities in Darfur’s Jebel Marra. He called on Washington “to side with the national opposition and not an illegitimate dictatorship”.
In a statement on Friday, the US Department of State expressed serious concerns about the recent fighting in Jebel Marra.
The statement pointed to the targeting of villages during clashes between Sudanese government forces and combatants of the SLM-AW, “resulting in thousands of newly displaced civilians”, and called for “immediate and unhindered access by [..] Unamid, UN Country Team elements, and national and international humanitarian agencies to the areas where violence is taking place, as well as to displaced populations.”
In a reaction addressed to Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, on Sunday, El Nur says his movement is grateful that “the USA under the current Trump administration is expressing a greater, active interest and concern for the well being of the people of Darfur, in sharp contrast to the previous Obama White House”.
However, he opposes any comparison between “the aggression by the Sudanese Armed Forces, paramilitaries and worst of all, the former Janjaweed militias, now rechristened the Rapid Support Forces [who are] waging war on their own people with a bestial ferocity [..] and those whom are duty bound to resist them by force of arms, to spare a defenceless civilian population from extermination [..].
“Attacker and defender are not interchangeable,” he emphasises.
El Nur criticises the UN-AU Mission in Darfur (Unamid) for standing idly “as civilians were slaughtered and villages razed to the ground.
“Unamid is always on the scene when the bodies are being counted but seldom takes a proactive role,” he states. “We recognise that Unamid is a poorly resourced force [..] and still burdened with a weak mandate, rather than the more appropriate peace enforcement warrant, we have consistently called for, yet to no avail.”
“Attacker and defender are not interchangeable” – Abdelwahid El Nur
He wonders why the UN has decided to downscale the peacekeeping mission. “We also are left bewildered, in light of the recent offensive, that the UN Secretariat has cited an improved security climate as cause to further reduce [the number of] Unamid boots on the ground by forty percent [..]”.
El Nur as well denounces the rapprochement between Khartoum and the international community in the past couple of years.
“We know all too well, the bulk of the international community cares little for the fate of Darfur, or South Kordofan, or Blue Nile State, or eastern Sudan, all enduring relentless assaults by the military and hard-line Islamist dictatorship led by Omar Al Bashir, the only sitting president on earth indicted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide,” the statement reads.
Al Bashir is “now enjoying increased albeit tempered rehabilitation by both the United States and the European Union, where Saudi Arabia, a key US ally, together with the Gulf Cooperation Council, Qatar in particular, is the prime sponsor and enabler of the Khartoum regime, which also benefits from strong backing by Russia and the People’s Republic of China”.
Pointing to the fight against Salafi extremism and terrorism, the rebel leader says that the international community and the Sudanese armed movements are “natural allies – though you do not yet acknowledge us as such [..]. We fight the same enemy.”
The SLM leader points to the reason why he refuses to join peace negotiations: “We cannot participate in a non-existent and purely illusory ‘peace process’ punctuated by artillery and air bombardments, the use of chemical weapons, an unceasing scorched earth policy that sees our people slaughtered and dots our landscape with burning villages [..]”.
According to El Nur, the Sudanese “are victims of state terror perpetrated against us by a fundamentalist Islamist and militarist dictatorship, that despite its pledges to cease harbouring, enabling, cooperating with and promoting Salafi terror groups, has in the shadows continued its partnership with the worst possible nihilist elements of Wahhabi extremism to wreak havoc across Africa and the Middle East.
“Khartoum has neither severed ties with elements of either Al Qaida nor Daesh [Islamic State], though it says otherwise,” El Nur states.
He urges Washington to “expand its view on Sudan” and focus more on the ailing Sudanese regime, doomed to collapse – which “means regime change is inevitable.
“The USA “now has an opportunity to side with the national opposition and not an illegitimate dictatorship.”
“Khartoum has neither severed ties with elements of either Al Qaida nor Daesh [Islamic State], though it says otherwise” – El Nur
‘Weak and poor’
He states in his letter to the US official that “Thus, in addressing the most powerful diplomat of the most powerful nation on earth and leader of the Free World, Mr. Secretary, we hope you will forgive us for expressing ourselves without any artifice.
“We are weak and poor as you are mighty and strong and our only weapon to prevent our extinction is our will to resist our annihilation alongside with our unyielding determination to forge a pluralist, free, secular, democratic Sudan [..].”
Pointing to the continuing suffering of the people, the “empty stomachs” in a country “where every Sudanese that has buried a loved one murdered by the regime”, El Nur urges the US secretary of state “to choose what path you will walk upon”.
He concludes his letter by saying that “we are open to direct dialogue”.
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