This interview was conducted 3/19/07 in Khartoum, Sudan.
((Note: President Bashir spoke in Arabic unless otherwise noted))
Omar al-Bashir, president of Sudan: Actually we are welcoming you, and welcoming NBC in Sudan, Khartoum, and in my own house. Sudan is a million square miles. It has many natural resources and human resources: fertile land, and fertile water, different climates, different people, different cultures and traditions, the government t of the south and coalition of government in the north. We welcome you and we are welcoming on behalf of all Sudanese people.
Ann Curry, NBC News: To this great nation, with all the great things that are happening here, you know international pressure is growing on your government to stop the tragedy in Darfur, there is the threat of more economic sanctions, the threat of the enforcement of a no fly zone over Sudan, the threat of prosecution for war crimes by the international criminal court. How will you, Mr. President, respond to international pressure to stop the tragedy in Darfur?
Al-Bashir: Actually, yes we are facing problems. These problems facing Sudan are due to pressure from some rebel and anti-Sudan groups. Yes, we are a third world country; and we have a lot of problems. Most of these problems are inherent, for example: the war in southern Sudan
Curry: You were telling me that the people who are rebels against your government, you called them something, and you said that they are that they are- I believe you used the word terrorists? Please tell me your, tell me your.
Al-Bashir: (ENGLISH): I said the main problem in Darfur starts with the rebels in Darfur who took arms against the government, against the people of Darfur. So the government was taken its national job to restore peace in that area so the government is forced to fight against the rebels who started the war in Darfur. My question is that maybe I didn’t—we don’t just…[?]
Al-Bashir: (ENGLISH) Alone the word. Any people who are getting arms against the government was being defined as terrorists—and this in the case of Sudan. Anyone who takes arms against the government, he will find the political support, the financial support, the military support, and even so many organizations-regional and international organizations-some countries are hurrying to support them against the government and to start accusing the government and pressuring the government to enable them, or for them to give them a of something that we are going to pressure the government to enable them all for them to give them a signal, a wrong signal.
Al-Bashir: That ah we are going to pressure the government- ah that you have to go for your clams beyond the needs ah actual needs, they can make high their claims, also they continue fighting the government- causing the government to be forced to obey what they are- what they want.
Curry: You call this tragedy in Darfur a problem of terrorism?
Al-Bashir: (ENGLISH) yes the main problem is there is a rebellion in Darfur. And in our city it has happened because they come out of actual problem, which is the rebellion in Darfur. Because we cannot…
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Al-Bashir: (ARABIC) The main problem, there is the rebellion in the south and any problem is due to this rebellion. The geographic displacement of people that took place in Darfur is due to the fight in Darfur. The citizen has to move out of the fighting areas to a place of security, seeking peace and security. And citizens of Sudan are seeking the security from the government side. That’s why the drift was toward the places where the government, military forces, and police exist. If we look for the majority of camps, in Darfur we’re going to find that these are the sites controlled by the government. The result of these conflicts is that people are being killed and this is expected. War in any place, Iraq, Afghanistan, will leave dead behind. So the main problem of the rebellion in Darfur causes displacement and mass migrations to camps, and other humanitarian issues.
Curry: But, Mr. President, the international community believes that your government is complicit in the killing of civilians, specifically targeting civilians in Dafrur. Let me read to you a just-released-report, commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council. “Attacks sometimes in consent with government, land, and air forces have been and continue to be primarily directed against the civilian population of Darfur. Women, children, men, had been killed indiscriminately. Villages have been raised, livestock stolen, crops destroyed, in particular, rape and sexual assault have been widespread and systematic.” Has your government engaged in attacks directed indiscriminately on the civilians of Darfur?
Al-Bashir: This report is a fabricated report because some sides tried to condemn Sudan in the National Security Council and they failed to condemn Sudan or prove Sudan guilty. And they called for forming a delegation, and we accepted this delegation to come to Darfur to investigate. Unfortunately some of the delegated formed anti-Sudan prejudices. Therefore, we refused giving these people visa to enter Sudan. And they went to Chad and met with the opponents of the Sudanese government, those who are armed [as if they’re antagonizing Sudan militarily, and they heard their side which is entirely untrue. It is not based on facts. The entire report is fabricated completely.
Curry: So your answer is no?
Al-Bashir: As a matter of fact, the government would never target its own citizens and as I’ve told you before, people have fled from the conflict areas and sought refuge in a government-controlled area. So, if the government is hurting its citizens, then why are people taking refuge in places controlled by the government? The military and the police forces are components of Sudan and a part of Sudan is Darfur. It is obvious that different tribes and among them, tribes from Darfur are elements of the military force, especially the tribes that we accused of bombing and striking their villages. I will give you an example, before the foreign minister of UK issued a statement condemning the Sudanese government because it struck some villages in Darfur and he named these particular villages and stated that 106 people were killed. The news agencies aired this statement. It was the main issue discussed at the African summit meeting in Abuja. Only after sending the delegation to investigate was it declared that the government did not strike any of these villages and no one was killed in these areas. We have confronted the foreign minister of UK with this information and we requested that he issue a public apology and he issued a statement apologizing for his previous statement.
Curry: Just so I’m clear, you’re saying, today, that your government has never, never specifically targeted civilians [overtalk] in this war.
Al-Bashir: I would confirm that we have never targeted civilian citizens and we can never target citizens. We have targeted rebels.
Curry: You did not stage air strikes to soften targets on villages in Darfur?
Al-Bashir: We do not strike villages of citizens. We strike, yes. There is a war, yes. It is against the rebellion but we are striking rebels. We do not strike villages, or our civilians.
Curry: Where did you target, what were you targeting? If you’re targeting rebels, you’re saying you did not bomb villages, who did you did not target civilians, then how did you attack the rebels?
Al-Bashir: There are rebel camps, which we know where they are, after surveillance, sometimes convoys and cars---
Curry: [overtalk] So you’re saying that you only targeted convoys and rebel camps? Al-Bashir: (ENGLISH) Rebel camps only, I’m quite sure of this
Curry: The international criminal court is moving, as you know, to summon one of your top ministers in your government, for crimes against humanity, in Darfur, in 2003 and in 2004. Ahmad Mohammad Harun [sp?], he is your former foreign minister? Interior minister... he’s your former interior minister? Yes.
Al-Bashir: Of course, the first thing we have courts and the investigation inspector has shown that we have judicial system in Sudan. And it is a strong one. Anyone who committed a war crime, anti-human crime, or any other crime in Darfur will be locked up and an investigation will be initiated, he will then be prosecuted and sent for a trial. Many people who have exceeded their limits have faced trials Ahmed Harun, his name was mentioned and there was only one witness and he was referred to the general investigation [department of justice]. After the investigation they confirmed that they did not find anything to prosecute him. Second thing, Sudan is not a member of the international criminal court. This court will not deal with anyone except for its members and countries, which ask for their intervention. This is a political trial and the prosecutor, himself, mentioned that he was facing some pressures. He came and saw the justice system in Sudan and he reported that the justice system in Sudan is present and capable. He has seen some of the sentences [that have been imposed]. We have a fair trial for anyone who exceeds his limits crossed the line or did something wrong.
Curry: You know him. He worked for you. He worked for you and your government. Do you believe that he is guilty of crimes against humanity?
Al-Bashir: No not at all, I’m sure that he has done his tasks as expected and did not cross any red line and did not participate in any unlawful processes or war crimes.
Curry: Then why do you think that he is now being named, why do you think he is being summoned?
Al-Bashir: As I’ve told you in the beginning of my interview, this is something normal and there are anti Sudan groups that pay billions and millions of dollars to advertise to make Sudan look bad and to provoke the world at many levels both locally and internationally against the Sudanese government. These different groups are the ones who applied the pressure but the real problem as I mentioned before are the rebels.
Curry: For what purpose? Why would they want to do this?
Al-Bashir: There is huge force that was created over the past few years, which are anti Sudan for many reasons. We have been targeted and started to be classified as a terrorist country, sanctions started after 1983; when the former president Mr. el-Nemiry adopted the Islamic Sharia [Islamic sense]. Many powers including the Christian powers intervened in the Sudanese tradition throughout history and this is nothing new. Groups promoted the rebellion in Southern Sudan, which began in 1955. British rule was present in Khartoum then the rebellion began in Southern Sudan. This rebellion came about in Southern Sudan because the government in Northern Sudan blamed the citizens in Southern Sudan for its problems. Northern Sudan currently controls the government in Sudan. During the war, many groups were formed to promote the war and the rebellion in Southern Sudan. These groups publicized the war and sought attention to its rebellion. These groups want the war to continue. They want the rebellion to extend to the capital, Khartoum just like the rebellions in other African countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Congo. All these rebel groups attained power except here in Sudan.
Curry: you just made a connection between Iraq and Sudan, what is this connection?
Curry: you said that the same forces you make a comparison, I asked you, why would anyone want to lie. Why would they want to lie. And you said that-there-that the same forces, you asked me, why did we go to Iraq. And you know they said this-and so I want to understand- 20 56 what is the connection? You have a strong statement you want to make. What is it?
Al-Bashir: (ENGLISH) It’s the main… I am to ask- why your government attack Iraq? Because they say that Saddam has ah mass destructive arms and ah Saddam has connections with Al-Qaeda and after the invasion of Iraq and destroying of Iraq, and all this tragedy-tragedy ah going on now in Iraq.
Al-Bashir: (ENGLISH) Your government confess that they didn’t find any arms, they are not quite sure, there is no any connection between Saddam and Al-Qaeda.
Al-Bashir: (ENGLISH) I say the same forces open all these information and built the case against Iraq. Which- ah… take the government of United States and Britain to mobilize the forces and attack and destroy Iraq. These as the same forces now making the case against Sudan.
Al-Bashir:the same group of powers that stated the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, they pushed the United States to gather its military forces and England, to go to Iraq, destroy Iraq, kill in Iraq, converting Iraq into what we can call a “creative chaos”. Chaos is about killing, destroying, and exiling. And they all confess now that all the information is wrong. No relation. Who is responsible for this destruction, killing and chaos that took place in Iraq. American citizens should ask its government, why are they stealing their children to battle in Iraq. Currently thousands of American soldiers are being killed because of one piece of wrong information. The same people who gave the wrong information about Iraq, they’re giving information about Darfur: ethnic cleansing, mass genocide, and mass rape, and this is the worst human crisis. The real human crisis is in Iraq where hundreds are being killed every day. Hundreds of dead bodies are thrown in the streets. Hundreds. Saddam faced trial and was executed because it was said he killed 148 in Dujail. Today there are tens of Dujail mass killing incidents in Iraq. hundreds are being killed in Iraq. The same people who are behind the destruction in Iraq are the same people who are pushing the United States to do such a thing in Sudan, they want to convert Sudan into another Iraq. This is our problem with the international community.
Curry: who do you accuse of this misinformation? Who do you accuse?
Al-Bashir: .The American administration because they have the resources and access.
Curry: you’re saying the American administration, you’re the bush administration (overtalk) is lying about what is happening in Darfur?
Al-Bashir: Yes. Yes. All of it is a lie. The same thing said about Darfur is the same thing as Iraq. Yes there is a problem in Darfur, there is a rebellion in Darfur, there is a war in Darfur, and it’s not the same as they describe it. There is no ethnic cleansing and anyone who has visited Darfur has confirmed that there is no ethnic cleansing nor mass genocide because military personnel, police department, rulers of Darfur who are responsible for Darfur security, most of them are from the tribes that we are accused of ethnically cleansing. Is it logical? If you go to Darfur you’ll find rulers from these tribes, you’ll find ministers from these tribes, parliament representatives mostly from these tribes, heads of military forces from the same tribes. Is it logical that these forces will commit ethnic cleansing?
Curry: Mr. President, I have this map that shows from the US dept of state that shows more than a thousand villages in the Darfur region, more than a thousand burned. 25 34 and the question is how can this just be done by Arab militias, w/o the support of the Sudanese govt. this is shocking.
Al-Bashir: what do you think about the picture that Colin Powell presented before the national security council to confirm and illustrate the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, what do you think about it?
Curry: You’re saying, this is not true?
Al-Bashir: The same as the picture that Colin Powell presented, the foreign minister of America at that time, and he was minister of defense before that. He presented before the national security council, the highest international organization. Presented by the United States government, represented in its foreign minister, who is the highest official. He presented pictures, illustrating weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and these pictures came to be lies, this picture is the same fabrication and the same picture as the ones Colin Powell presented about Iraq.
Curry: I myself have spoken to people in Darfur. I have heard, myself, from people who have been shot and burned and from women who say they were raped. They have told me their stories. And one after another, after another, separately, independently, tell me that they are attacked by Arab-militias they call Janjaweed, that they are called Abid, they are called “Zurga” [Bashir laughs] and then they’re shot. And they’re raped and they’re killed. This is why, primarily, the testimony of individuals, one after another after another, this is why people are calling this ethnic cleansing. So- if one…
Al-Bashir: I want to respond to you. The first thing is, when the killings/fight erupted in Darfur, and the displacement started, and the military forces contained the rebels militarily on a large scale, a large number of them fell. Not all of them, most of them [rebels], they left their weapons and went into refugee camps and they became the powerful ones inside these camps, and they are telling the people what should be said to those who visit these camps. Yes, there are villages, which were burnt, but not as much [not at that volume - that Ann showed him in the map] yes, people were killed but not as much [as you say]- it’s a war! There is a tribal conflict inside that war. Villages were burned, and people were killed, but it is not in the Sudanese culture or people of Darfur to rape. It doesn’t exist. We don’t have it. These co-existing tribes sometimes conflict. Yet, there are traditions and protocols in Darfur that deal with and resolve these issues. These are known traditions and protocols and they are even being taught in Harvard itself, in America, the tradition and the protocols of Darfur to resolve confrontation.
Curry: Is it possible that by green-lighting the Arab militias to join you in your fight against the rebels, you have released a monster on the tribes, the african tribes [overtalk] of Darfur?
Al-Bashir: We have some of our military forces, one known as People Defense Force. They are not an uniform group, they are called for operations to work with the military forces, and they share the same role with the military forces, and comply with the regulations. Anyone who breaks the rules will face punishment. The inspector of the international court of justice has seen the military and identified the regulations of the army, and he has confirmed that it is very well regulated. This system cannot allow any break to the regulation sometimes tribal confrontation can take place. And it is not only between Arab and Zurga. For example in the past few days, 2 tribes had a fight, some were killed, and both the 2 tribes were arab. Because it is a fight over the resources in Darfur, What are the resources in Darfur? Water, grazing fields, natural resources. There is a lack of economic development projects. All this creates conflict.
Curry: Is it possible that by green-lighting the Arab militias to join you in your fight against the rebels, you have unleashed a monster on the tribes, the African tribes of Darfur?
Al-Bashir: We have both what we call popular defense forces. They are not official—forces. They are asked to join in. And they work with the armed troops, and they follow the laws within the laws of the armed troops. And any individual who breaches any of these laws is held accountable and the prosecutor of the ICC has met the armed troops. And he—he—he found out the—the—the regulations of the laws that bound the work of the armed forces. And he—he—he emphasized that this is a very organized law system and that this system does not allow an individual to breach it and if they do breach it, they will be tried. Sometimes tribal clashes take place. And this is not just between the zurga and the Arab as people say. A few days ago there is a tribe—there has been a—a—a battle between two tribes. And the people have been killed and the two tribes are Arab tribes - The conflict between them because what’s basically happening in Darfur is that there are meager resources and the tribes are fighting over them, the waters, they—they’re fighting over water, over the grazing areas, the absence of developmental schemes and plans despite the huge raw materials in Darfur. This is what leads to friction between the citizens in the grazing areas.
Curry: But to put down a rebellion, you did enlist the Arab militias, to put down the rebellion. True or false?
Al-Bashir: The—the popular—the popular defenses is not composed of one tribe. And all the different tribes make up the popular defense forces. But we do not provoke one tribe to fight against the other. Because we are a government any tribe which violates anything, we hold it accountable.
The armed troops intervened to fight against the violators. And I told you, in this last clash that we had between those two tribes the armed forces intervened in order to—control it.
Curry: But you have said you were incorporated the Janjaweed (PH) and the militias into your forces. I’m quoting you. “Some will be absorbed into the armed forces, some into the police force.” This is you speaking. To guarantee they don’t return to carrying weapons against civilians. You were talking about the Janjaweed and the militias in 2004--
Curry: --when you said that.
Al-Bashir: Oh, it’s not the Janjaweed. We’re talking yes, they-there are militias yes, they’re carrying arms yes. Within the framework of the resolution for Darfur, one of the resolutions is to contain those arms and to—remove their weapons. But in order to remove the weapons from any individual, you have to find a-a measure and a resolution. The solution must be for both sides. And—and—and according to the agreement, we’re going to force out the rebels. And the armed forces, and in the police. So to insure that the other militias are not going to come and hold arms against the government, we include some of them in the armed forces, in the police but we have to find a measure, a resolution, a way which to address—those people. We take away their arms, we try to find a job for them. So this is just a way to get rid of all the weapons in Darfur.
Curry: Given the history of animosity between—the long history of animosity between the Arab tribes, the Arab—Arabs and the black Africans, was it a mistake—did you not realize that atrocities might occur?
Al-Bashir: Firstly—it’s not as its being portrayed. It’s not a question of Arab tribes against the other (black) tribes. The fighting is limited to certain areas in Darfur not all of Darfur. And we affirm that 80 percent of Darfur was not—has not been affected by the—by the—the conflicts. Eighty percent of Darfur not affected. The areas have African and Arab tribes. But any talk about this being a confrontation between Arab and non-Arab tribes is not true. And if you go today to any area, so for instance in areas which are considered Arab go to Inn; I suggest you go to their Inn. Inn is one of the capitals where the majority of its inhabitants are Arab tribes. You will find all the other tribes the so-called zurga; you find they’re there and they’re protected. And they’re living their life naturally. They’re living natural lives. And—so it’s not like all the Zurga against all Arabs. It’s a very limited conflict that could have been either between Arab tribe and Arab tribe or between the Zurga and Zurga. It happens in certain areas. So for instance it was between the musalid and the zuhara. In south Darfur it was between-it was between two houses, two types actually of zuhara’s that weren’t tribes but two factions, two houses with them. And now they are reconciling so the projection of this conflict as Arab against African is not true and it’s not true. It’s not—precise.
Curry: The women and the children who told me these stories told me these stories with truth in their eyes. Three girls, orphaned, told me—sisters—told me they heard their parents called these racial names before they watched their parents shot in front of them. I don’t believe these children were lying to me.
Al-Bashir: Crimes can take place. Crime—a crime can take place anywhere. Criminal—attacking a house and killing—kill someone can happen in Darfur, it happens.
Curry: Then you admit then that there is a degree of racism that is involved in this war?
Al-Bashir: I say it does not exist. I say it does not exist. These are tribes-pure tribal conflict that are not related to a specific race. As I said, we have tribes right now you can ask-write those names between the two tribes. The terjem and the reizegat. Those two tribes write the names. There is—there—there is conflict between them. And as I told you, they have been con—conflict between the mezeliet and the zuharan and they are both African, they’re both Zuga. And muhjerdia and Sharia. I even told you there are problems between tribes between two factions so any projection or portrayal of this conflict as—as racial or ethnic, it—it is a—a—a wrong—present—portrayal.
Curry: Nevertheless, you have a huge problem on your hands with this war.
Al-Bashir: (ENGLISH) Yes.
Curry: In 2004 you told CNN that you would not accept American, British, or any outside troops to stop the violence in Darfur. You said, quote, we are truthfully capable of providing security for the Sudani citizen. We will not accept foreign forces. Have you been capable of protecting the Sudani citizens?
Al-Bashir: Yes. Because—a while ago, some time ago, and after the signing of that Abuja agreement, there were some—parties that refused to sign that Abuja agreement. And they started to get together and unite and make—widespread-activities and these activities caused further displacement. Half a million—half a million citizens—could not be reached by the UN to offer them humanitarian relief, but the armed forces took care of it. And it did an excellent job. It contained a—a rebellion. And the reports submitted by the UN in December of last year said that the number of those people who—who could not be reached, they went down from 500,000 to 50,000. And this was a result of what it has been done by the armed forces. We are convinced that our armed forces and our government are capable of restoring and imposing peace in Darfur. But we are—we have—we are bound by-cease fire agreements
Curry: Some would say it was a mistake that you did not accept foreign forces early on because so many people have died since you made that statement. There has been tremendous suffering for your people, your people. There has been people killed, burned, who suffered greatly.
Al-Bashir: So who says that the international forces, if they come, can prevent those incidents taking place in Darfur? Is there a guarantee that if we have international troops, the Americans or the British troops coming to Darfur, will they stop the problems of the killings and the burning in Darfur? So who says that the international forces, if they come, can prevent those incidents taking place in Darfur? Is there a guarantee that if we have international troops, the Americans or the British troops coming to Darfur, will they stop the problems of the killings and the burning in Darfur? What—what’s the num—how—how much—how—what’s the number of the American and British troops in Iraq? 180,000. 180,000 British and Americans are now in Iraq. The size of Darfur is about the size of France. Is there a guarantee that with 20,000 or 22,000 international troops, will they provide security? Why couldn’t they do it in Iraq? 180,000 failed to provide it in Iraq. Darfur can be secured by the presence of national armed forces and police and by using this—the traditional means of resolution conflict in Darfur, not by the international troops or by the ICC decisions.
Curry: With all due respect, if the lives of my people were at stake and the choice was between small number, 7,000 for the size of France, African Union troops and a bigger force, even slightly bigger to help save my people, I would take it. Why don’t you? Why won’t you allow—foreign troops to augment to save your people from this suffering.
Al-Bashir: I am convinced that these troops will not be able to do anything. They will not be able to do anything. Because they do not know Darfur. They don’t know the tribes of Darfur. They don’t know the nature—the traditions of Darfur. So they will not succeed. These troops are coming with the understanding that they want to protect the civilians from the government, which is a faulty understanding. That—they are here to protect the rebellion—rebels against the government. This is why we rejected them. They’re here to—to—to stop the fighting and the problem in Darfur is perpetrated. They have other goals. If you look at Resolution 1736 and demand it for this—those troops, these are the—the mandate of Bremer in Iraq. What did Bremer do in Iraq? These are the mandates of American—and British troops in Iraq what did the American and British forces do in Iraq so that we should accept them to do the—to do the same—to go through the same experience with which—which we have seen and we are watching. It’s a failure, it’s a destructive experience and it’s a crime that is being committed against Iraq.
Curry: What do you believe the goal is? If the goal is not to save your people, what do you believe the true your goal is?
Al-Bashir: The goal is put Darfur under custody, set—separating the region of Darfur from Sudan. Darfur is a rich—region. It has petrol, it has oil, it has gas, it has uranium, it has iron, it has aluminum. It has huge animal resources. It’ has excellent resources. It needs development. It doesn’t—it needs development. It doesn’t need international troops. They would serve as development projects—service programs, to offer jobs for those who carry arms and for the veterans so they can settle down and change their livelihood then there wouldn’t be a problem. Darfur does not need billions to be spent on troops. It needs billions to be spent on developmental projects.
Curry: You’re accusing the United States and the United Nations of trying to seize Darfur for its resources, for its gas, for its oil.
Al-Bashir: The US—who is the UN? I’m not talking about the UN as a body. I’m talking about the influential powers inside the UN. These are the ones behind that behind those kinds of goals. The target is the resources and not Darfur’s human beings. Let them show—let them show us—practically how they can protect the civilians in Iraq, how they’re restoring security for the Iraqis so that we can really believe that they want to do the same in Darfur.
Curry: I’m not sure that the people in the West believe that there is oil in Darfur. This is the first I’ve heard of it. I’ve never heard before that there was oil in Darfur.
Al-Bashir: The decision makers in the US know very well. This is not secret information. It’s not secret information that oil is expected to come from Darfur. We actually got this information from America from the American satellites-from the American companies that used to work here.
Curry: You believe the United States is trying to do something about Darfur, is pressuring you to do something about Darfur because it wants to seize oil in Darfur?
Al-Bashir: Yes. I’m sure of this.
Curry: What makes you think that?
Al-Bashir: Because—because the—there is no other reason to bring Americans to Darfur. The Americans used to have the licenses to explore oil in Sudan, or most of Sudan. And they started working excavations. And they—they—they found wells, wells. They have drilled more than a hundred productive wells. Those American companies left with the intent of coming back when they want. When they left the country, we were able to bring in Chinese companies, Malaysian companies and Indian companies in order to help us get the oil. We heard this directly from some of the directors of the company who visited us in Sudan when we started—exporting our oil. We heard one of the Americans say, “this is our oil. We will not leave it for the Chinese and the Malaysians.”
* END OF TAPE 1 *
Curry: You recently—you recently wrote a letter to the President of the United States, to George Bush. What did you tell him in that letter?
Al-Bashir: We have—what we can call—it’s a—a positive collaboration between us and the US—concerning the issue of the south. The US had a role and a positive role to play until we reached the—the agreement. And Senator Danforth played a very important role for peace in the south. At the same time, he played a role in drawing up the agreement, and it was a positive role. So, moving from there we wanted to expand this, so that the U.S. can continue in that positive, in those positive roles. So that we can continue the—the Abuja agreement to—to restore peace.
Curry: For the south? Or were you—did you write about the—about the—
Al-Bashir: For Darfur.
Al-Bashir: Because we have an agreement, which is fine. It has been signed by Zolik (PH), and the US, and Henry Ben from Britain. And a number of leaders from the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, and a number of-African countries, Nigeria, Congo, so all these signatories. And we are implementing this agreement now. And this—the Darfur peace agreement is the solution for the Darfur crisis. By—by pressuring others who have not signed, to sign,-- so that we can achieve peace.
Curry: And what was the president’s response to you?
Al-Bashir: We—usually the president—in general, the president—responds positively and welcomes collaboration. But then decisions come out of the American administration which—make all these efforts lost. So now they’re talking about imposing additional sanctions on Sudan. The so-called --- and this would mean that all—all these efforts could—which could be-implemented will be lost.
Curry: Are you concerned about sanctions? Are you afraid of sanctions from the United States?
Al-Bashir: We’re not afraid of sanctions. As I told you, even with these sanctions, we have been able to expand our growth-rate from minus one to an average of eight percent.
Curry: Growth for this country.
Al-Bashir: Yes. So the real loser actually from any Sudan sanctions is the USA. It’s the American companies who have lost the oil of Sudan, which they had the all licenses to. And we—and we emphasize that Sudan we’re—are going to be-the ones who have one of the largest reserves of oil, Sudan was going to have them. This was all-given to - license to the Americans—companies and because of the strategic mistake of the American administration, they had to leave.
Curry: Why do you disbelieve that the United States government and its people are concerned about this humanitarian tragedy that you have in your nation?
Al-Bashir: I think yes, that they are—that they are—they may be—they—they are—it’s because of this propaganda - propaganda - that has created a certain public opinion, internal public opinion. And the constituents of this—media campaign in the US is people responded to this media campaign.
But what we said to the American administration, directly and face to face, and we talked to some of the leaders there, they emphasized that they are under internal public opinion pressure which has been created by—by bodies which just produces advertisements who are spending millions to—for this propaganda, advertisements against the Sudan government. In a—in Britain now a case has been raised against—global-this global company that is producing propaganda against Sudan. And they have been stopped, and we have won this case and they have been stopped because it was irrelevant.
Curry: Describe the relationship, intelligence cooperation relationship that Sudan has with the United States. Is there a continuing relationship in cooperating sharing intelligence?
Al-Bashir: Yes. There is cooperation with those bodies the institutions, within the framework of fighting terrorism from our perspective. With our understanding, we, too, are against terrorism but, of course, from our interpretation, not from the American or Western interpretation in general. We say that this collaboration is—emphasizes now for the-official bodies—the—the US that Sudan does not harbor or support terrorism. And if we supported or harbored terrorism or we’re a terrorist state, it—we would have been struck-after September 11th.
Curry: How do you help the United States in its need to gain intelligence in the war on terror?
Al-Bashir: We collaborate—from our perspective that we are against terrorism, our understanding of terrorism, is it is—that it’s killing of people—it—our religion prevents us from killing people. We are committed. We’re committed to a Sharia here. We’re governed by our religion. And our own religion—prevents us completely from assault, from violating properties even general, public properties, or even affecting the environment like the cutting of a tree or—or polluting water or all these things are—are—are prevented in our religion.
Curry: Are you—because of the United States, are you looking for al-Qaeda? Are you preventing al-Qaeda from coming into Sudan? Are there specific things that your security service is doing to help the United States fight al-Qaeda?
Al-Bashir: We of course don’t have al-Qaeda in Sudan.
Curry: You used to.
Al-Bashir: It wasn’t called al-Qaeda.
Curry: It was Osama bin Laden.
Al-Bashir: Osama bin Laden…. who created Osama bin Laden?
Curry: You tell me. Who created Osama bin Laden?
Al-Bashir: Yes, it was the American administration.
Curry: The American administration created Osama bin Laden?
Al-Bashir: Yes, yes, the CIA did.
Curry: Okay. How so?
Al-Bashir: During the war in Afghanistan. The Arab mujahadeen who left from our country to go to fight in Afghanistan, to fight against the Russians, the—the ex—the Soviet Union, this was financed and promoted and supported by the USA until the Soviet Union—collapsed and left—Pakistan. Then we heard that these people, who have been created are no longer wanted. But the war in Afghanistan, which has been supported—was supported and financed is the US, it’s the CIA—all—in all the Arab countries, we in Sudan, and Saudi, the countries they are now calling conservative countries were all supporting the mujahadeen. And after the war was over, we suddenly heard that these people have now been called terrorists. And then the al-Qaeda—got formed. Al-Qaeda got—established after the war against the Russians was over. Osama bin Laden, when he came to Sudan, he came as an investor. As an investor because his—he—he has one—one of the biggest companies in Saudi Arabia. It’s called—the Bin Laden Company.
And it’s a family business. It’s—and Osama is one of—a member of this family. He came as a-an investor. When he started-his hostile acts, he left Sudan.
Curry: Well, how did he leave Sudan? Do—do you—the United States government—you told—did you tell the United States government Osama bin Laden was in Sudan? It wasn’t a secret operation that was—the fact that Osama was in Sudan. He was there, he was an investor, he had his companies. He had his business dealings, he had projects he was undertaking in Sudan.
Curry: Was the US concerned about Osama bin Laden?
Al-Bashir: No, at that—at that time the US had no problem with him. He had no problem with America or no problem with Saudi Arabia or anyone. Because one of the projects he was supervising was the port Sudan airport, the port Sudan airport is being financed from the Saudi Arabian government.
Curry: So clarify for us, if he’s in Sudan (UNINTEL) mid-‘90s, clar—explain to me how this happened. Osama bin Laden was in Sudan. He was an investor. Was there discussion between the Sudanese government and the Clinton administration about Osama bin Laden and where he should go and what should be done?
Al-Bashir: As I said, Osama was in Sudan, and then he started a political operation, against the kindom of Saudi Arabia, headed by King Fahd (PH), at the time. He had certain opinions—about the administration of King Fahd, about—and the way he governed the country. The Saudi Arabian government contacted us and asked us to stop this—these activities of his. And we told him, we informed them that we did not accept that he undertakes any hostile activity against any country while he’s inside Sudan. He agreed. He agreed that he can go back to the kingdom Saudi Arabia and live as a citizen. At the—at the time we contacted Saudi Arabia and we found that they—refused—they rejected—having him. WE contacted the American administration to help us. We told them that Osama bin Laden wants to go back to Saudi Arabia to live as a citizen. The—the Americans did not encourage this—this—this trip. And in the end, we had to ask Osama bin Laden to—to leave Sudan.
Curry: Why did you have to ask Osama bin Laden to leave?
Al-Bashir: Because his presence—was being exploited, against the government of Sudan.
Curry: Did—did any other government ask you to—
Al-Bashir: Despite the fact that we were sure that when he left Sudan he was not really engaged in any activity against any particular country, because even when he was doing it against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, he was issuing statements. He was issuing things that he was just issuing through fax, through certain, those responsible, in Saudi Arabia. This is all he did. And despite that, despite all this, this was not acceptable to us, even this limited activities. We even asked him to stop it, and he did stop it. So when Osama left Sudan, did not, was—was not engaged or involved in any activity—political or military against any body. But his name was used to—to fight Sudan, just like the campaign that’s going on now.
Curry: Did the US—did the US have anything to do with Osama bin Laden being sent out of Sudan?
Al-Bashir: They—we asked them to talk to the Saudi Arabians. We were—we told them we were sure he has no—activities and he wanted to get back to Saudi Arabia to look—to work as citizen—to live as citizen and the Americans refused his proposition.
Curry: Refused what proposition? Refused what?
Al-Bashir: They refused to help us convince the kingdom of Saudi Arabia to have him back—they refused to in principal. They refused the principal of it. They—they probably wanted him to stay in Sudan in order to remain as one of the-elements that can be used to—to attack us. Sudan found that in the end, he can be adversely affecting the country. We asked him to leave and he agreed and he left for Afghanistan. After he left Sudan, we are not responsible for any action that—Osama undertakes. He is not a Sudanese citizen. He is not the responsibility of the Sudanese government. He’s receiving no support from the Sudanese government. He has no relation with Sudan.
Curry: Here’s what I am trying to understand. I’m trying to understand if the United States had a chance to prevent Sudan—or prevent Osama bin Laden from becoming who he became, became—I’m trying to understand if the United States had a chance to prevent Osama bin Laden from becoming the threat that he became.
Al-Bashir: What I’m saying to you is the US is the reason that Osama bin Laden was created—she rendered Osama bin Laden as a threat to America. ‘Cause Osama bin Laden wanted to go back to his be a citizen in his kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and he was denied that right. He was—he was forced to go and—and live in the mountains of Afghanistan. So after that, the fact that he can be angry against the United States or any other body then, we are saying the American administration, through its act—through its refusal to have Bin Laden go back and live as an ordinary citizen in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the reason for the creation of Osama Bin Laden. And this is the reason why Osama built his al-Qaeda. So all the blame, all the responsibility, I put it on the—on—on the American administration.
Curry: You’re saying that Osama bin Laden was so angry at the United States that this fueled his—his attack on the United States and 9/11?
Al-Bashir: There could be other—I think—other—other factors compiled. This is one of them. He wanted to live as an investor, as a citizen in Sudan. We were pressured—we were pressured no to let him do that. He wanted to go back to live in his country as citizen. This was refused he was annoyed that—I’m saying this is, these are some of the dynamics. But then of course there is the issue, of course, is the Palestinian cause, which is actually the core of all the Islamic anger against the US, what’s happening in Palestine now. And the unlimited American support to all that Israel does against the Palestinians is the core problem of it.
Curry: Back to the—question about the continuing cooperation that Sudan gives to the United States in sharing intelligence, which you just confirmed—do you believe that this cooperation that you’re giving the United States should make the United States stop pressuring you about Darfur?
Al-Bashir: One of the problems we have is that the US through its—the collaboration of their intelligence with ours, has certain information about Sudan. But it’s acting with us now through the pressure groups and the media, the media, which creates this public opinion in the US, which pressure the American government and—and it affects the—the—the electorate. So Darfur—Dar—Darfur is not becoming an internal effect, because it’s affect the elections even in the US.
Curry: What is this—do you—do you want this fighting to end in Darfur?
Al-Bashir: The day before tomorrow.
Curry: What must be done to make this happen?
Al-Bashir: Firstly, we have—agreed on a peace agreement in Abuja (PH) through various support from Zulick. We want this agreement to be the basis for the resolution of the Darfur crisis. Secondly, we want there to be continued pressure on those who have refused to sign. And this was the—a promise from Zelick personally that anyone who will not sign will be punished. The non-signatories will be punished. The non-signatories will be pressured. The pressure will be exerted on the countries which support and all the bodies, the parties, that are supporting the rebels through arms, providing arms, to stop doing that. To—to support the African Union forces to continue their—activities up to the Abuja, these troops were doing an excellent job up to the time when we signed the Abuja agreement they were doing an excellent job. But, when people started thinking about—international troops, in order to achieve those goals that I—told you about, our goals like helping Darfur—custody and giving Darfur the right—then to start talking about reverting the AU to internal troops. Right now we’re not refusing peacekeeping forces in—in Darfur. But we want them to be African because we think Africans are closer to the Darfur citizens. They are the ones who will know the culture and—of the Darfur. And it will be easier for them to communicate with the Darfurian people. We need—the African Union troops, they need hundreds of millions. But when we talk about international troops, it needs billions. Why are they talking about international troops which need billions—to support them while and refuse supporting the AU, with hundreds of millions when they can do the same job? African, all the African countries now willing to—they—they can send their troops to Darfur if finance is provided. And the finance required is that much less than that required for sending in international troops.
So why can’t people spend hundreds of millions to support the AU troops, and they wanna spend billions on—on international troops and the same mission? If the AU troops has no, is incapable, so why are they talking about sending African union troops to go to Somalia if—if it has failed in Darfur. Why do they want to repeat that same failure in Somalia? Because now there is a decision, they are talking about sending troops to Somalia. And the war—and the situation in Somalia is even more complex and worse than the situation in Darfur. Darfur as I told you, only 20 percent of Darfur—only 20 percent of Darfur is being affected by all this war. Not the whole of darfur, so we are—we are able, if we can—collaborate with the international community and the AU, we can solve the problem of Darfur but if they have other agenda and other goals, we do not accept that.
Curry: How many AU troops will you allow?
Al-Bashir: Any of them. Any number.
Curry: How many UN forces to augment, support AU will you allow?
Al-Bashir: The UN support with—for our understanding it has to be technical—supervision of technical—expertise—as consultants. It—the people in lead—in leadership—leadership positions, this is a kind of support we will accept from the UN technical consultancy. And we’ve accepted the first support package, but when we came to the second support package, we think that it’s just trying to go around application and implementation of 1706 resolution 1706.
Curry: So you’re saying that you want a political solution and you also need a military solution that—no, not a military solution, a—a—a AU peacekeeping solution. So there’s—those are two parts of the solution.
Al-Bashir: I want to say that—that agreement is the Abuja agreement itself, it gave the implement-the role of implementation, of the—of the security issue to the African Union and the agreement, as I said, we are going to include 4,000 troops from the—from the rebels into the—Sudanese Armed Forces. And we’re going to include one thousand of them into the police. These are going to be integrated with the Sudanese Armed Forces to create integrated forces. The goal of these integrated forces is to restore the confidence of this place. Sitting in the camps, you will find that in these integrated units some of them have held the arms—hostage. This unit will be responsible for protecting the citizens in the camps. They will be the ones protecting the citizens in their villages, homelands. When they return, that means we don’t need troops to protect the civilians. We’re talking about keep—keeping—peacekeeping troops. We’re not talking about peace-creating. The peace is already created through the agreement. It can be enhanced by-getting those who have not signed to join in. So any military activities will be taken against those, who have refused to put down their arms. But right now we haven’t the size of Darfur, right now, which is half of Darfur. And it’s-people are 60 percent more, in the whole of Darfur. Most of Darfur now is now completely safe and secure including west Darfur.
Curry: West Darfur is now completely safe and secure.
Al-Bashir: Yes. Except for some, some—some—elements—but there’s no fighting with the government. There are no militia. There—there are some outlaws. Except for some outlaws. And outlaws are present anywhere, even in Baghdad—are there—are there not—are there. Yes, he’s asking you. But there are outlaws. And they’re just exploiting the cease-fire that’s going on now. And—and they do, they go they do, they go some, looting of convoys, they attack villages. I’m not telling you crime has stopped. Crime is everywhere, even in Washington. Even in Washington there are criminals. Yes or no?
* * END OF TAPE 2 * *
Curry: You were saying that in Western Darfur, it is—mostly safe.
Curry: Here is something I think everyone would agree with. There are parts of Darfur, where you have—you have a real humanitarian crisis on your hands. The UN, the US and humanitarian organizations say that your bureaucracy is paralyzing their efforts to feed your people, because of all the permits you require, all the travel and visas and the red tape. Why not get rid of the red tape? Why not do this to save lives? You could save lives if you did this, Mister President.
Al-Bashir: First of all, any talk about—the people dying—the famine in Darfur, now is lie. There is no record of any famine in Darfur, not since the beginning of the problem up to this moment.
Curry: Not since the beginning of this—of the problem until this moment? People have not been hungry—they have not had a famine?
Al-Bashir: No famine. There is—there is- a lack of—of food. There has never been a famine in Darfur since the beginning of the crisis, up to now. There is no famine that’s what I’m saying. Secondly, since the problem, up to now, there has not been an outbreak of epidemic. From the beginning of the crisis until now—according to UNICEF, the—mortality of children is—is of the same rate as is present in any other crisis place. This is according to UNICEF and WFP
Curry: Are you saying we don’t have a humanitarian crisis in Darfur?
Al-Bashir: We have a problem—like, IDPs the problem is in IDPs and there’s—some people who, people we can not get the-humanitarian relief for them, because of the rebels. And this is the northern part of Darfur, but there were no famines or epidemics that occurred in Darfur. you can get all the reports—the official reports, with the WFP or UNICEF.
Curry: Mister President, with all due respect, the reports are an estimated 2.5 million people have been displaced. You cannot have large numbers of people displaced and now have a humanitarian crisis. A lack of food, a lack of shelter, a lack of water—lack of medical supplies.
Al-Bashir: Let me tell you, the IDP is not-- 2.5 million, it’s 600,000, you only have 600,000 IDPs. Yes there are—Yes, it’s a lot of people-if that number is correct, that’s a lot of people but, everything is provided for those 600,000 because we have 200 organizations working now, in Darfur. They have 15,000 workers in those organizations, even when there was a shortage—in—in—in wheat-in Durham, 25 they said they were short 20 thousand tons we provided 20,000 tons-for the welfare program. There are camps. What are the procedures—what are the procedures—the—there are people there, but there is no famine, that’s what—the—the—famine is when people can’t find their meals. The people in the camps now—they have the food that they’re getting—it is better than—than the citizens living inside the city of Fashir. The clean water that—that’s provided to those in the camps is better than that—the—the citizens of the city. But we have something called a “fast track”—a fast track for all sort of humanitarian relief. Be that food, materials or people faster. If any problem—if—if any individual faced the, if one person makes a mistake, then it’s said that the whole government is responsible we have this fast track agreement and we have renewed this agreement in January, and there are suddenly here, organization talking about-but go and read the reports of the world food program about the development, the positive development in the health, in the food. These reports are there and they demonstrate—the number of people—they can get the humanitarian relief. Go back to those reports and you find that the situation is improving. Through access to humanitarian people child mortality, malnutrition, you find the same percentages that you find in Darfur, they are the same percentages you find in the rest of Sudan. It is even better than some of the cities.
Curry: Mr. President I have spoken to these humanitarian organizations. And, every one of them has said that their work is limited by your bureaucracy. They can not get their—enough people in. They can not get enough food in. They cannot get enough help that your people require. They’re saying your stopping them from doing the job that’s needed to help your people.
Al-Bashir: This is what’s being said by such organizations. These organizations have hostile attitudes but I’m talking about the UN institutions. We have an agreement with those institutions and what they said to us is that they’re satisfied. If they have any problem or complaints, they shouldn’t talk to you, they should come to us, we will solve it. We have an agreement with them to facilitate things for them. And we did the facilitation and their reports, as I told you the numbers. And the reports confirm that things are going-numbers are the best—strongest evidence, concrete evidence. We all know the numbers of those who are inaccessible to relief, 50,000. We know why relief does not reach this group of people; it is because of rebel groups. But these are the areas where the rebels control and they confirmed this. So if they have 15,000 workers on humanitarian relief now, is this a—a—a small number? More—or them—what more-- 1,000 of them are foreigners. Is this a small number? Anything you say we want—anything—what—what you want is that they get the UNICEF REPORTS, the WFP-we want formal numbers. Without our country, we are not America, we are a third world country, so these numbers that they have are the same as—the numbers of countries all over—in-places all over Sudan.
Curry: The US says your restrictions are contributing to a massive loss of life.
Al-Bashir: That’s not true. There aren’t any restrictions, no massive loss of life. You—we—I told you—let’s get the number of the deaths. Lets get the statistics on malnutrition or the statistics of the UNICEF, and we’ll use this for an argument, for your own information go and look at those statistics they are available. About the percentage of—of the—mother’s deaths or—or children’s death, or malnutrition or the acute malnutrition and compare this to all these numbers in the rest of the country, and I challenge anybody who will say that the government procedures has caused people to die because, the food didn’t reach them. The only places where people could not get access to the food is—
Curry: Are you saying that the situation in Darfur, for your people is acceptable, sir?
Al-Bashir: The food and health situation in Darfur is acceptable for me, because it is comparable to situation in the rest of the country.
Curry: Except Khartoum.
Al-Bashir: Khartoum is the capital. But if you go to, like the outskirts of Khartoum; you will find same thing. You find people who are poor, who have problems with water—there is poverty in Khartoum- sure - just like there are houses and villas and rich, there are poor people. I’ve seen in New York, people sleeping at night in the streets. (LAUGHTER)
Curry: You are not—
Al-Bashir: New York—next to the UN building. We were going out that night, from the UN, there was a demonstration that closed off the street, about 50 people, so they took us to a different street, and we found people—sleeping in the street. The weather was cold.
Curry: It’s true.
Al-Bashir: So, it’s the same thing in Sudan.
Curry: But you have, in Darfur, thousands sleeping in the cold, for now, four years, who have been driven, they say from their homes. Who, don’t have a roof over their heads for four years, who don’t feel safe, who are insecure that they’re going to be caught in a cross-fire—this war. How can you say this is acceptable, sir?
Al-Bashir: I’m not saying that-the situation if the IDP is acceptable, I just talked to you about the food situation and the health situation. But the fact that there are IDPs of course, we agree, there are IDPS there is a war in Darfur. But we should look who is fueling that war? Who is getting the arms for the—the-rebels in Darfur, it’s not the government to blame—to blame—for the war in Darfur, because there is a rebellion. We should not just talk about the consequences of the war, don’t forget, the root of the problem—there is—well, of course, as a consequence there are IDPs there are IDPs in Iraq, in Afghanistan, wherever there is a war there are IDPs because of those displaced by war but the—the—the-the - what we should do is stop the killing, is the rebellion stops in Darfur
Curry: Who do you believe is giving the rebels—the weapons?
Al-Bashir: It’s known—it’s Chad. All this is coming through Chad.
Curry: All of it?
Al-Bashir: All of it comes through Chad, it comes through—
Curry: Where does it comes from, sir? Where do you believe these arms come from?
Al-Bashir: I know and the American administration knows and—probably everybody knows. But there’s no—there’s no need. But arms have reached Darfur.
Curry: No—who—who do you believe? Who do you believe—is arming the rebels?
Al-Bashir: The US knows. The US knows. And we—we do not encourage it.
Curry: Countries outside of Chad and Sudan? Another country in Africa?
Al-Bashir: There is.
Curry: Libya? Libya?
Al-Bashir: We—we did—we talk with—with this other—people in our own way. We have neutralized some of those people who have been providing the arms, and we’re on—on the way to neutralizing others. But I’m saying the US, through some of its bodies—it’s actually encouraging this—the provision of arms to the rebels in Darfur.
Curry: You’re afraid—it’s helping arms—the rebels?Al-Bashir: Some of the bodies of the US supports them. USAID
Curry: Some of the bodies? US A-I-D that’s part of the US government—you’re saying is helping arm the rebels in Darfur.
Al-Bashir: They encourage—they are encouraging the rebels, and they’re supporting of the rebels.
Curry: And what is your evidence for this?
Al-Bashir: I have my intelligence bodies, agencies. I have names. And if they want to investigate, they can come here we’ll give it to them.
Curry: So, you’re saying, essentially, that you are fighting a rebellion against a group of people who are being armed—with the encouragement of the United States? Do you believe Myanmar Qaddafi (PH) is arming the rebels, as well?
Al-Bashir: I said other groups were supporting—I will—I’m going—we talk—we do our talks with them directly, and—in our own way. In other words, he doesn’t want to tell you.
Curry: Uh-huh (AFFIRM). So, it’s not just the US. So, in other words, if you’re saying the US in encouraging, the question is, where—the question is still, where are the arms coming from? And you believe you know where those arms are coming from?
Al-Bashir: Yes, we know, we’re sure, sure.
Curry: And what are you doing to stop the arms?
Al-Bashir: We are working; we’re contacting these different parties—we’re talking to them, telling them to stop. Some of them used to support—they use to train, they use to arm, also through Chad, and they stopped. Like our brothers in Eritrea, our relationship with them has improved greatly because they completely stopped giving any support to the rebels.
Curry: Why would anyone want to arm the rebels against you?
Al-Bashir: Before-the national security counsel advisor—his name was—is trying to remember his name. He came to Ethiopia and said we’re going to fight Sudan—the national security adviser—he’s trying to remember his name.
Curry: Oh, it’s okay. I—
Al-Bashir: Antony Lec came to Addis Ababa and declared that we’re going to fight Sudan through its neighboring countries. The—they worked with Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, they came—they didn’t only just support the rebels, they came in with their own Armies, and this is declared. This is not—this is not secret. Antony Lec
Curry: Are you arming the militias?
Al-Bashir: I told you before. I tried to explain. We have something called a “popular defense.” A number of countries use those troops—which are semi military, sometimes, when they need to—additional troops and these are called enforce when there are certain operations. They take the weapons from them during operations.
Curry: How is arming the militias, who are causing—being blamed for so much (UNINTEL)?
Al-Bashir: In reality there are a lot of arms in Darfur, in general.
Curry: How are they getting there?
Al-Bashir: The arms have come as a result, because of the—one of the problems which was in Chad. There were conflicts within Chad between different Chad provinces and groups (lists names of people from Chad). So, a lot of the arms-infiltrated through the hands of the individuals in Darfur, and also, during the war in the south—Sudan, a lot of arms-infiltrated from the south to-to Darfur and even the militia what they have is regular guns They don’t have real arms. But—but the rebel—the rebels have—the rebels have heavy artillery—and this, of course, they cannot just infiltrate it through the—through borders.
Curry: I guess—the question is—
Al-Bashir: They have missiles.
Curry: Who has missiles?
Al-Bashir: The rebels currently.
Curry: Oh, the rebels. Okay. So—so—they’re getting the missiles from somewhere Okay.
Al-Bashir: And anti—anti-airplane and aircraft—
Curry: What would prevent you from unilaterally ordering your air force to cease air operations in Darfur?
Al-Bashir: Why—doesn’t the US stop air bombing in Iraq, Fallujah, and Ramadi?
Curry: It would begin the opportunity for peace in Darfur.
Al-Bashir: In the safe areas, now in Darfur, there are no air bombings and there are no operations. The armed forces, now, is not doing any—things—in south Darfur or-- (rest of Darfur or even the southern most part of Darfur, because—these are either troops that we have signed an agreement with, or even if they’re—one—some troops—parties that we have not signed with but they are want a cease fire. When we strike we strike against rebels who are armed and who are involved in fighting or killings. Why should the armed forces be prevented from fighting the rebels who are fighting a war-attacking its convoys—its—its locations. Why? Because really—the ultimate goal is to empower those rebels—to become a force within Darfur, because if they can get a hold of—Darfur, control Darfur this would be excellent. And even better, if they can move ahead and come and get over—and—and—and control Khartoum—it is all part of the—just like they have the supported the rebels in Darfur, they are trying-to disempower the armed forces. But I assure you once again, we do not bombing civilians at all. We bomb rebels. We never targeted civilians. So, if they want to support the rebels and disempower the armed forces, this is what they are doing. they’re doing both. They—they are supporting the rebels and disempowering and weakening the armed forces.
Curry: You know, I—I—I talked to—I asked you a few moments ago about arms, and about the difficulties for the people in Darfur. I met some children, I met some Darfurian children, and one of them, actually, they all drew the same picture. This boy drew a picture of those people who attacked his village. And you can see, they’re heavily armed. And they’re—they’re—planes and that kind of—it was a child’s drawing, I understand. It’s his memory of the day that ruined his life. For—I’m sorry, forgive me for showing you this picture. Forgive me—I’m asking you—
Al-Bashir: I know what’s happening in Darfur, in all its details, better than you. And I’m sorry for the-I am in pain and feel for these children of Darfur much more than you, because it’s my responsibility—as a leader, not just in front of the people, and the electorate, like in your country, but it’s my responsibility before God. I would be held accountable for every citizen before God for every citizen in Sudan who was exposed to anything. But when the issue is out of your hands, and when the main reason is the rebellion, if it was not for the rebels, there wouldn’t have been a war in the first place; if it wasn’t for the rebels, there would be no bombing. Maybe the area was closed.. area, of where there was bombing, or maybe his own country-village—well, maybe it was—by those outlaws—I do not deny that there are certain groups—which are outlaws and they’re not related—affiliated to any tribe. They are made up of all the ethnic tribes of Darfur-those of arab origin, or African origins, all of them, they—they are there. It’s outlaws and armed robberies and looting has—have always been there, before the war. So, he could’ve been-attacked in that way. People do not flee for no reason, they flew because there are killings in their area.
Curry: To these children, and to these people who blame the government. They believe, it’s not just the media in the West and the Western world and the UN and US, but your own people in Darfur blamed your government for their suffering. Women we spoke to, who have been raped, some of them marked—some of them marked, so that they would not be—marriage—they were marked. They said—they said, listen—they said, they were singing a song, that named you—they named Omar al-Bashir (PH) they named you as a cause of their suffering. What do you say to your people who believe you are the reason they are suffering this tragedy?
Al-Bashir: As I told you—civilians inside the IDP’s are subjected to the existence of-of those who used to be rebels and who carry arms, and who have entered those IDP’s. And after they attacked the military they took their arms and entered many of these camps. They currently control these camps. Yes, anything that happens to any citizen anywhere, I am responsible; but just like the US is responsible for the security of any citizen within the U.S.A with all—it’s resources. Can the US provide security for every citizen in its own home, or for its citizens—in the US, which get killed, which get, what? Is this because the government did it? There are always criminals. I’m saying they are rebels, when the war is an area, it means that—this is a loss for—any citizen, every citizen. It’s a loss—the war in Darfur is not against the government.
Curry: But these children were not rebels—
Al-Bashir: --it was not started by the government.
Curry: These women are not rebels.
Al-Bashir: They are victims of the war—they are victims of the war. The government did not target children—not target civilians—not target the secure people, the peaceful people. 1946 the beginning was-forced—was a rebellion against the state the state had to bring it’s army to fight the rebels. Why are the US forces not fighting against the resistance in Iraq? Doesn’t it attack houses? Children, women—things—kills—they would destroy a whole city looking for arms, people and then they tell—they say the arms—the—the—the armed troops have—have left.
We are fighting rebels, who are carrying arms. Yes, of course, there will be victims man, women, children—all—most of the people inside those IDP camps are victims of that war, but that war has been started by the rebels. If there were no rebels-there would be no war. It’s the-and I agree it’s the government’s responsibility. It is the government’s responsibility, but we have been—fighting has been forced on us. When someone rebels against you and carries on against the government, give me one country in the world. One country in the world, where people—carry—carry arms, has been attacked. And we told them, “You have the right to do that.” Go on—go on with what you’re doing. give me one—one example in the world—when people have carried arms against the country—and the—and the-states and give me one example of country where war took place, these peaceful, secure areas, where—where there are civilians. Give me one country where civilians were not affected by that war. America has—high—the most—high-tech military equipment in the world. Could it distinguish between who’s carrying arms inside a house and the woman and the child lying there? Could it know? With all its huge and satellites and intelligence, weapon intelligence—weapons, so called. It’s a war and war is suffering. The worst thing a human being can do on earth is to wage war. And—and-our war? Behind the war of others-ours is your country.
Curry: It is true that, in any war, there is suffering. It is true, that in any war, civilians die. But it is not true in any war that villages, that people’s homes would be targeted and burned. In this war, the evidence I have seen, and I have seen, I have been to burned villages. It is clear that not just the rebels have been attacked, but civilians, old people, women, children.
Al-Bashir: Who attacked them? How are you so sure that it was the government-that burned those villages?
Curry: They claim—the Arab militias. They claim the Janja weed (PH). And they say those militia are linked to your government.
Al-Bashir: This is just campaign, this is propaganda - these people who have carried arms and they would say anything against the government and they would say anything against the government, they mobilize people, but—of course, their villages have been - how many houses were—destroyed in Iraq? How many cities and villages were destroyed in Iraq? Why are you destroying the cities on top of the heads of the people in Iraq? Give me one reason. You’re coming across the seas, over the seas. Did they revolt against America?
Curry: I’m not really here to talk about Iraq, I’m here to talk about Sudan
Al-Bashir: Did the Iraqi people rebel against the United States, I am directing this to the public opinion in America. The public opinion was pushing its government to make mistakes in Darfur—in Darfur, and to repeat it’s mistake in Iraq, in Sudan. War is war. Why was it, when the war was in Sudan, then no civilians should be killed, no child should be killed, but when it happens to—in Iraq, when—armies come in with their advanced weapons and their intelligence weapons and people get killed, up to now killing in Iraq—it’s—it’s almost a million. Since the entrance of the allied forces, a million citizens—Iraqi citizens were killed for no reason in Iraq. - is due to one false information-the existence of weapons of mass destruction. A million—Iraqi people are now a displaced people—leaving their houses. And for one house—if one house—because it’s made of hay is burned in Elfashir then you—you’re destroying a—a concrete house built from bricks in Iraq, but who started the war. The question’s who started the war. This is war. Those who started the war are criminals. Those who started the war in Iraq are criminals—
* * END OF TAPE 3 * *
Curry: A few more questions—thank you for—a little more time. As you know, a U.S. federal judge has ruled that Sudan should be held responsible for the al-Qaeda attack on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors. Your response?
Al-Bashir: We have no relationship with al-Qaeda. This is confirmed. And you can go to the—the intelli—the American intelligence agency to confirm this. The incident took place not in Sudanese regional waters, but in the waters of Aden. What-what is the relationship of Sudan to this? We have nothing to do with a Cole (PH).
Curry: The judge is ruling that there is information to indicate that you provided training and also logistical support for the attack.
Al-Bashir: It’s all fabricated allegations. He built his ruling on fabricated information targeting Sudan.
Curry: To the people who lost their sailors, do you have anything to say, to the people who lost their loved ones?
Al-Bashir: I said and I say again, we are, again, against any action that targets civilians or kills civilians or destroys—establishments, it is part of our creed, so for us-such an act is rejected. All we can do is to—extend our condolences to the families of those who’ve lost loved ones. But we can only say that American people should know that its government and its administration is making mistakes that bring out the hostility in others, that causes hostility towards it.
Curry: Switching gears, I want to ask you about something you’re very happy to talk about, I’m certain, which is the economic boom in Khartoum. How much oil money is coming into your country?
Al-Bashir: The economic boom came as a result of economic policy. Our economic growth took place prior to the role of oil as a player in the Sudanese economy. Improvement started much earlier—by the end of ‘90s before-oil---inflation dropped. The currency rate was—the national currency was stable. The economic growth now has been going on for the past 17 years, which means before oil, definitely that the coming of oil has positive outcomes not just in the amount of cash. The amount is limited, the oil, which—the amount is less than 500,000 barrels and a lot of it goes to the—to the companies in the area of (Tar) of course for costs and for shares. But a percentage is shared with the government. But oil created a—a positive environment. We inside the country through investments alone generate double what oil does for us. Investments in 2006 were almost five billion dollars, this was the result of direct foreign investment. So, we think it’s foreign direct investment that plays a major role in the economic growth of Sudan—OVERTALK
Curry: Chinese oil investors are increasingly worried because of the instability in Darfur. Are you concerned about this?
Al-Bashir: Any instability in any region—of course has its consequences. But now, their concern of course—their concern that was happening in Darfur could spread to other places. Because—and this other—some of the targets of the rebels and the targets of those supporting the rebels their goal is that they want expand the rebellion to—to spread in Darfur, to control Darfur, to move to other-extend to other places. And-it would be great for them if it could actually get to Khartoum. But some of their goals could be also—is to stop the investments, Sudanese oil. Because it’s a war. It’s a war, different levels: economic, diplomatic, media, etc.
Curry: American investors are asking themselves—are just beginning to ask themselves—put it this way. There’s a movement in the United States to discourage U.S. investment in companies in Sudan, because of the situation in Darfur, discourage investment companies that do business with Sudan such as the one that is linked to Petro China. Your response to this movement that is growing? How much could this hurt you?
Al-Bashir: As I said, this oil—the license—was given to American companies and they came to the country. And—and they have drilled—wells—and they have built establishments in the country. And we—we’re—just came to the stage where production—they stop because—
**(BREAK IN TAPE)**
Al-Bashir: And they were sure that the—oil would wait until they decide when to come back to Sudan. So, say—I think they are the ones—no doubt, they are the ones—the—they are the saddest for the loss of the Sudanese oil. So, any effort—
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Al-Bashir: I think-I believe it will not stop. They will continue fighting until they try to—to regain the oil, because they believe this oil is theirs, and so they will regain their—for our experience with the economic sanctions, the U.S.—sanction. And I told you we took over when we had the growth rate of minus one. And the economic sanctions are still imposed on us, and things are going on—thank God.
Curry: One more question that’s not related to that. Is it true that you were allowing the United States to build a CIA center in Sudan?
Al-Bashir: They did not ask us for a CIA center we’re talking about the emba—a building of an embassy for the U.S. There were some problems but we said they should solve it so that they can continue this—
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Curry: Including spy equipment and that sort of thing?
Al-Bashir: I have no details on this matter. I’m talking about an embassy. Or what I was told, that they want to build an embassy. They want an embassy
Curry: Including the CIA?
Al-Bashir: No, Just an American embassy.
Curry: So, you don’t know anything about a CIA—
Al-Bashir: No. No.
Curry: --element in the embassy?
Al-Bashir: ‘Course—and the embassy has be—
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Al-Bashir: --like any other—like any other embassy has intelligence and the CIA and secur—there is security elements. This is what we can call a legal spy
Curry: What does Sudan get for all of this intelligence sharing
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Curry: What are you getting in this cooperation?
Al-Bashir: We’re not expecting any benefit as a return.We’re doing all this just to stop the harm, to stop the harm that can come to us from the U.S.
Curry: Let me put it this way. What do you want from the United States? I—I speak to millions of Americans.
Al-Bashir: Truthfully, We want a fruitful and positive collaboration with the US.—so you still have collaboration with us, they collaborated with us in solving the war in the south and in the Abuja agreement. And if they continued to collaborate with us it would benefit both of us. And politically, they could have exploited the success that they contributed to solving the longest war in Africa, that they have contributed in the conclusion of the agreement in Darfur. If they, if we could focus on the positive aspects, first of all we would’ve had peace in Darfur, and all of Sudan. It—in fact, we want to collaborate and work with America. We did not lose anything. What did we lose? We lost the railway in Sudan and all of its materials was American. America has great potential and resources, and companies with huge capital. We were looking for foreign investment. We want American companies to come, to work with us for their benefit and for our benefit. We want positive communication, not negative not—not creating problems, not creating sanctions. But we think this is non-fruitful collaboration. We want a fruitful collaboration, which would—whose benefit would be felt by Sudanese citizens. Because Darfur’s problem at its heart, is a problem of—a lack of development. Darfur needs development and investment. And this—this is a solution, but if we bring the armies of the world as was the case in Iraq, it would not solve the problem. The solution from our perspective is to put forward developments, which are in Darfur that would convince Darfurians of what is happening that there is development that the individual is benefiting, that there is improvement in his life. That there’s hope that can make him feel that there is change and potential in Darfur. This—this is the role that we want the United States to play
Curry: So, you—so, I understand the part about the investment very well that you want, and—but—but—but in terms of the peace agreement, a—a ceasefire, an actual agreement, what can the United States do that it’s not already doing, to try to encourage a ceasefire and a peace agreement in Darfur?
Al-Bashir: We have an agreement. He said we—the support and implementation of that agreement. The agreement has funds for rehabilitation, reconstruction. There are elements of real compensation for all people, especially those in the camps so that they can go back and build their houses and build their farms, and to get back their annual resources. We want pressure on those who are bearing arms. That is the major problem facing. If any citizen now—with really human re—is not getting the humanitarian relief in the areas where the rebels are then we want pressure on the rebels, pressure on the-party supporting the rebels to get peace, peace to come and be achieved only through pressure on the rebels and support of the—significant support to the African union so that it can achieve its goals. So, supporting the Abuja agreement starting the reconstruction, rehabilitation and development of Darfur, this is root and fastest solution to the problem in Darfur.
**END OF INTERVIEW**
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