Dr. Walid Phares
Hezbollah & Sudan's Salafi Regime Converge
September 16, 2008
The convergence between Jihadi Khomeinists and
Jihadi Salafists seems to be developing as
strategists and terrorism analysts are debating the
near future of the global jihadi movement.
Moving fast to reach out to the Islamist regime in Khartoum, the
Iranian-backed Hezbollah organization openly declared its backing of
Omar Bashir's government as the latter in turn solidified its
alliance with Hezbollah. This development, which surfaced as of the end
of July, comes in parallel of an attempt by the Khomeinist-inspired
organization to sign a collaboration agreement with Salafist factions in
Beirut a few weeks ago. But the Hezbollah-Sudan exchange of declarations
of support is by far the most significant convergence of Jihadi forces
from the two branches of Islamism since Iran began funding Hamas and
Islamic Jihad more than a decade ago.
On July 31, Lebanon Now reported that as he was welcoming the Sudanese
presidential envoy Qutub al-Mahdi, Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah's
secretary general, called the International Criminal Court (ICC)
indictment of President Bashir for genocide as "part of the
international conspiracy to strike elements of force in the Arab and
Islamic nations, and to destabilize internal stability."
It is worth noting that the ICC had issued a warrant for the arrest of
the head of the Sudanese regime for his responsibilities in the mass
murder of Black African tribes in Darfur. As I wrote in an op-ed titled
"Brotherhood against Democracy" last July, a surge in the region
bringing together authoritarian forces and regimes, all of them opposed
to international efforts, U.S.-led or not, to back democracy in the
region. Within this expanding jihadi-authoritarian axis, Lebanon-based
Khomeinists have been playing a significant role in the rapprochement
with Salafist movements and regimes.
As reported in the independent Beirut daily an-Nahar on Aug. 1,
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said "international meddling in
Sudan's affairs has reached dangerous levels."
According to an-Nahar, Nasrallah declared he is backing the Sudanese
regime and Bashir "in this fateful confrontation."
The pro-Syrian daily al-Akhbar (Aug. 1) quoted Nasrallah as saying the
"conspiracy (against Bashir) aims at striking the elements of strengths
in the Arab and Islamic Umma."
The leader of Hezbollah committed to fight back against "what is called
international community with determination," asserting that this
conspiracy targets the Arab and Muslim states one after the other,
especially those whom he called the "obstructionist forces" (al-qiwa al-mumania).
The pro-government daily al-Mustaqbal quoted Nasrallah accusing the
United States and some groupings in America with links to Zionism of
"working on dividing Africa and spread chaos on the continent."
Responding to Hezbollah declarations of collaboration, Sudan's regime
declared its solidarity with the Iranian-funded militia, which is listed
as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and a number of Western
countries. According to the Chinese News Service Xinhuanet (Aug. 12)
Bashir expressed his "admiration for Lebanese (based) Hezbollah and for
its secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah."
His statement came during a visit by a Hezbollah delegation, led by
Lebanese MP Hassan Hajj Hassan to Khartoum to express solidarity. Hassan
said that his organization repudiate the demands of the prosecutor
general of the ICC and "as a resistance in Lebanon we will be together
with the Sudanese to confront the conspiracy of the 'arrogant American'
against the interest of our Umma in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and Sudan."
The ties between Hezbollah -- and regionally the Iranian regime -- and
the Islamist establishment in Sudan are neither new nor a surprise. For
observers have long noted the back and forth movement between the Tehran
Khomeinist networks and Khartoum's Salafi Islamists. Already, in the
early 1990s a delegation from the Pasdaran attended the all out Jihadi
Conference in Sudan organized by Dr.
Hassan Turabi, one of the main Islamist ideologues of the
late 20th century. But in the past few years, especially as the Darfur
crisis emerged in international relations, reports asserted that
"Hezbollah has sent military trainers to Sudan to train elements of the
militia movement there that Sudanese President Bashir has recently
established to deal with the 'American campaign' against his regime,"
according to Stratfor an intelligence newsletter (Aug. 28).
But reality may be even more critical. Sources in the region believe
Hezbollah has already established permanent basis in Sudan around
Khartoum, in the Darfur areas controlled by the Janjaweed militia and
close to the southern Sudan districts managed by the SPLA. The Iranian
regime has dispatched the Arabic speaking Hezbollah trainers to Bashir a
while ago, in the framework of collaboration against the U.S., Europe
and the Arab moderates. The direct mission of the Hezbollah
"expeditionary corps" is more strategic than Western analysis has
already absorbed. First, the "advisors" will be training Sudanese regime
militias to strike at the forthcoming "international force" to be
deployed in Darfur. Second, they will coach the Khartoum Islamist forces
in a potential return of hostilities with the southerners. Hezbollah
will practically help Bashir's Jihadists to crush any move towards self
determination in the south. Last but not least, a Hezbollah base in
Sudan, will offer Tehran an ideal launching pad for potential terrorist
operations against U.S. targets in the entire region including the Red
Sea, the African Horn and provide a sea shore for Iranian activities
south of the Suez Canal.
This tremendous geopolitical opportunity was not even considered by many
experts and analysts advising Washington and Brussels as they refused
even to consider the mere possibility of cooperation between Sunni
Salafism and Shia Khomeinism. This is another troubling example of how
academic apology can lead to future strategic catastrophe in the real