Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Sudan - Khartoum strictly neutral in Qatar dispute

(Africa Intelligence) - The Arab crisis shuffles the cards just as Al Bashir is taking his distance from Islamic militants in his government.

 On his return from Riyadh on the night of June 13-14, Taha Osman Ahmed al Hussein, minister of state and chief of staff to president Omar Al Bashir, was fired by his boss. The former strongman in the presidential residence, who announced a break in diplomatic relations with Iran in January, 2016 and represented his leader at the Riyadh summit meeting on May 21, is now considered a "traitor who sold his country out to the CIA" . After returning briefly to his home he tried to fly back to the Saudi capital, only to be arrested and jailed on al Bashir's orders. He had to urgently telephone his friend and director of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), general Mohamed Atta al Moula Abbas. The latter released him and accompanied him to the airport where he boarded a Gulf Air flight to Manama in Bahrain. He then made it back to Riyadh where he hopes king Salman bin Abdelaziz will intervene with Bashir in his favor.

Al Hussein fell victim to the crisis between Doha on one side and Riyadh and Abu Dhabi on the other. The president's former chief of staff had been in favor of cutting ties with Qatar while Bashir seems intent on maneuvering between the two sides . With the double aim of cracking down on internal dissension and working for American sanctions to be lifted, Bashir has begun culling Islamic figures in his government and curbing the influence of the Moslem Brotherhood. But Al Hussein's dismissal could prove to be a setback for reformists in Khartoum.