28 MAY Arabic News update
By Barry Webb
The vice president of the military junta now controlling Sudan, General Muhammad Hamdan was recently interviewed by a correspondent from Egypt’s al-ahram newspaper. During the interview General Hamdan thanked Egypt for its role in terms of siding with the “revolution.”
Based on this interview, and a host of other news items that have come in regarding the Sudan situation, the background to this is that the former dictator al-Basheer, in addition to being a clowning thug, was also pushing the Islamist/Muslim Brotherhood/Erdogan agenda in Sudan. There is no way that Egypt could sit by and watch Turkey gain an ever stronger foothold in its southern neighbor. So, I suspect that Egypt had a lot to do with stirring up, and supporting, the demonstrations that brought al-Basheer down.
Other news reports have shown that leading junta members have also indicated they want positive relations with Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E., key allies of Egypt and important sources of funds for reconstruction.
However, the Junta has also notified Turkey that they can keep its holdings on Sudan’s Suakin Island. The island once hosted an Ottoman naval base, and supporting entities. Erdogan considers these installations to be a “museum” of Ottoman history. An agreement was signed last December to allow Turkey to restore the naval base and pertinent buildings so as to make it a “tourist” destination. However, there are accounts that Turkey plans to dock naval ships there as well as civilian vessels. That could become an issue given the Sudanese Junta’s open attempts to forge ties with Egypt and its Gulf allies.
During his al-ahram interview, Gen. Hamdan noted that there are divisions within the “freedom and change” protest movement. In this regard he indicated that “foreign” elements are meddling with certain factions in the movement.
Other reporting out of Egypt points the finger at Turkey for smuggling weapons into Sudan to support its factions there, and at Qatar for providing “money laundering” services for the pro-Brotherhood/Erdogan factions.
Gen. Hamdan stated in his al-ahram interview that he is a “target” of the “deep state.” Yes, he actually used that uniquely Trumpian term, the Arabic of which is “ad-dawlah al-‘ameeqah.” He supported this contention by pointing out that since al-Basheer had ruled for thirty years, he had plenty of time to make sure his cronies were well entrenched in the military and all branches of the civilian government.
‘Abd al-Ghufar Shaker, also writing in al-ahram, claims that the “deep state” is also embeded in the 10-member ruling military council and that it is trying to so divisions within the protest movement to pave the way for bringing back the dictatorship to restore law and order. Mr. Shaker also noted additional challenges facing Sudan in the aftermath of al-Basheer’s removal, and foremost of these include the tribal nature of the country and its huge geographic size, being the largest single geographic entity on the African continent. He would not be surprised if some of the regions broke off like the primarily Christian Southern portion already has done.
He blamed the al-Basheer regime for having cultivated and promoted ethnic difference among the people, which has led to forms of discrimination.
The Saudi-owned al-arabiyya TV channel has reported that Turkey recently shipped 40 armored vehicles to the Islamist-supported Sirraaj government in Tripoli, for use against the Gen. Haftar forces. This Turkish shipment docked at the harbor in Masrattah, to the east of Tripoli. Militia from Marattah have also joined in the fight against the Haftar forces besieging Tripoli.
The Turkish arms shipments represent a flagrant violation of the UN “embargo” against any weapons shipments going to either side in this dispute. Unfortunately, no one in the international community seems to give a hoot what Turkey does.
Another report from al-ahram this week quotes a “Gallup” poll showing that people in the Middle East region believe that the ongoing civil war in Libya will spill over into the neighboring countries (which would include Tunisia, Algeria, Chad, Niger, Sudan, and Egypt, all of which share a border with Libya).
The pro-MB al-jazeera TV station is claiming that two Russian-built IL-76 transport aircraft registered to Khazakhistan, but owned by an Emirati company are making regular flights bouncing around between Egypt, Israel, and Jordon allegedly to deliver arms and/or troops to the Haftar forces besieging Libya. If true, this report would add Israel, Jordan, Khazakhistan, and possibly Russia to the ever growing list of countries getting involved in one way or another in the Libya quagmire.
Al-arabiyya TV has also reported that the oil rig Turkey has set up off the coast of Cyprus, in Cypriot-claimed waters has already begun drilling. This is another flagrant violation of international norms committed by Turkey, but ignored by the international community. Cyprus’s allies of Egypt and Israel are now too distracted with hot wars in their own backyards to want to take on Turkey, and Cyprus’s big brother Greece certainly can’t do it alone.
This is yet another example of NATO member Greece being left to cry in the wind alone when fellow NATO member Turkey tramples its rights.
After weeks of surprisingly well-disciplined, peaceful demonstrations against the “establishment” ruling regime–demonstrations that have continued long after the aging former President Boutiflika stepped down–al-Jazeera TV has reported that violence between the police and the demonstrators has broken out. The demonstrators are demanding that all vestiges of the “establishment” be ousted. Yet, they are also demanding that “democratic” elections be held immediately without offering any mechanism for those elections to be sponsored, conducted, and voted counted afterwards.
COMMENT: The Algerian situation is developing into a recipe for the “wrong” elements in the protest movement to take over (i.e. the pro-Turkey Islamist).
Sudan is looking more and more like a recipe for dismemberment with Turkey, Chad, Egypt and its allies each carving out their own niches based on tribal divisions.
The Libyan Civil war sees no quick ending, and will likely spill over into its neighboring countries as mentioned above.
The greater Middle East conflagration that everyone hopes won’t happen, may already be happening under our noses. Add to the Libyan situation the worsening developments in Algeria, Sudan, and the potential for spillover into Libya’s other neighbors, plus Egypt’s ongoing war against Islamist in the Sinai, the full scale war in Yemen which is now affecting Saudi and Emirati cities and installations, the on-going civil war in Syria, with the outside powers of Russia, Iran, and Turkey intervening with often opposing objectives, then throw in the resurgence of ISIS in Iraq, as well as Syria . . . stir, and then add Turkey’s infringement on Cypriot waters for oil production . . . looks like we’re already there. And, that’s even without talking about the Iran vs. U.S. scenario.
The Lyons, France bomber has been identified by French authorities as a computer student from Algeria. He had been in the country only a few months.
Barry Webb had a 25-year career as an Arabic translator for the NSA and is currently a senior fellow with Americans for Intelligence Reform at www.intelreform.org. He is also the author of Confessions of an (ex) NSA spy: Why America and its Allies are losing the War on Terror. His website is www.barrywebbauthor.com
28 MAY Arabic News update