Sudan: January 4, 2001

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: This report falls in the "very circumspect, but enlightening" category. Former Sudanese prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi (now head of the opposition Umma Party, an Islamist party) claimed the US intends to transport 6000 Sudanese rebels (SPLA rebels) from the south to northern Sudan. Al-Mahdi claimed Washington is pressuring Eritrea and Ethiopia to help with supply and logistical support for the operation. AFP ran an extended quote from al-Mahdi, one that gives some useful insight into Khartoum government thinking but also correctly recognizes some US policy goals. Here's part of that quote: "The Clinton administration's strategy toward Sudan is based on three aims: separation of religion from politics in the state, (seizing back control of) the oil fields in Sudan from the Asian countries who are investing in oil production in Sudan and distancing Sudan from the Arab world and north Africa." The US would face many problems in moving such a sizeable guerrilla force into northern Sudan. Guerrilla forces are most potent on their home turf. As it is, there are plenty of anti-Khartoum government groups already in the area. There's a potential propaganda angle for Al-Mahdi, ie, blame it on the Christians. Some of these disaffected northern groups are Muslim. The SPLA draws from largely Christian and animist tribes.


 

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