The President of Sudan has warned that the fight against jihadist extremism must engage militants on an ideological level, and not solely concentrate on military action against them.
Omar al-Bashir was speaking exclusively to euronews in the week that ISIL released a video purporting to show the execution of 21 Egyptian citizens – an act that spurred Egypt into launching airstrikes against ISIL targets in neighbouring Libya.
Who is Omar al-Bashir?
- Born in 1944 when Sudan was under Anglo-Egpytian control.
- Pursued a military career and served in the Egyptian army in the Arab-Israeli war in 1973. He was also involved in the fighting against armed groups from southern Sudan in the early days of the civil war.
- Took control of Sudan, then Africa’s largest country, in a military coup in 1989, later appointing himself president.
- Became the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of mass killing and rape in Darfur.
He warned that simply using violence against young radicals who fight with organisations like ISIL and al-Qaeda could lead to even more extremism.
“Our policy has been largely succesful, after we arrest these young people we bring a group of young scholars to engage in dialogue with them about their thoughts, and we succeed to bring a lot of them back from their radical ideas”.
Omar al-Bashir said that America’s CIA and Israel’s Mossad are behind group Boko Haram and ISIL.
“I said CIA and the Mossad stand behind these organisations. There is no Muslim who would carry out such acts.”
The full interview will be broadcast on The Global Conversation on euronews tomorrow, Wednesday (February 17).
REPUBLIC OF THE SUDAN
- Between 1899 and 1956, Sudan (incorporating modern-day South Sudan) was under joint British and Egyptian administration although in practice, as Egypt was a protectorate of Britain at the time, Britain maintained de facto control of Sudan.
- Egypt surrendered its theoretical sovereignty over Sudan following the 1952 Egyptian Revolution, a tactic designed by Egyptian nationalists to force Britain into relinquishing its control of Sudan. This succeeded and Sudan became an independent state – Africa’s largest until South Sudan’s independence – on January 1, 1956.
- Darfur – When Britain and Egypt took sovereignty over Sudan in 1899 they allowed the region of Darfur to run itself as an independent sultanate. However in 1916 Britain incorporated Darfur into Sudan to prevent it falling into the hands of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.
- South Sudan gained independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, six months after a referendum in which 98.83% of the electorate in southern Sudan voted in favour of secession.
- Size: 1.86 million km2
- Population: 37.29 million (July 2014 estimate)
- GDP per capita: $1,793
- Median age: 19.1 years
- Literacy rate: 71.9%
- Religions: Sunni Muslim, small Christian minority
- Official languages: Arabic and English
(Sources: CIA factbook, Republic of Sudan Bureau of Statistics, IMF)