51 Directors General of Foreign Intelligence and Security Agencies of African countries participated in the 14th Summit of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services (CISSA) of Africa of the African Union which was held from September 27 until 30 in Sudan. A high-ranking Delegation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Director General of the General Intelligence Presidency (GIP) of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were invited to the session as guests.
The appearance of the CIA at a Security Agencies conference in Khartoum is interpreted by observers in the intelligence community as a sign of a possible normalization of Sudanese-American diplomatic relations. Recently, US President Donald Trump removed Sudan from his travel ban list and earlier this year, the United States lifted several economic and trade sanctions on Sudan due to cooperation with the Sudanese government in fighting terrorism, reducing conflict, and denying safe haven to South Sudanese rebels and improving humanitarian access to people in need.
US sanctions are however still in place. Sudan’s President Umar Al-Bashir said in his keynote address at the CISSA Summit: „The US trade embargo on Sudan is unjust and US sanctions have weakened my country and caused immense hardship for its people. Despite the sanctions concentrated efforts are being taken for achieving national security and stability and for countering extremism.”“ The Sudanese President’s speech in the presence of the CIA Delegation in Khartoum happened only two weeks before Trump will decide whether the USA will permanently lift its embargo on Sudan imposed more than 20 years ago based on the allegation of „supporting terrorism“.
Sudan has always denied these allegations. Al Bashir said at the conference under the theme of a comprehensive strategic partnership towards combating terrorism and realizing political stability in Africa: „It’s our conviction that our national security will not be complete unless we have security and stability in all our neighbor countries, especially South Sudan and we are hopeful that will get calm, stability and peace in a very short time.“
Terrorists recognize no boundaries. For example, the Daesh terrorist group had used established routes to bring foreign fighters into Libya from neighbouring countries including Sudan, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. These transnational threats are main challenges for the security of Africa and not limited to National states. „The largest number of fighters had been brought in from Sudan and transited through the Libyan city of Ajdabiya, about 350 km (218 miles) east of Sirte“, Sadiq Al-Sour, head of investigations for Libya’s Attorney General’s office, said at a news conference in Tripoli on September 28th, according to a REUTERS report. A Senior Sudani intelligence officers declined to comment at the venue of the CISSA summit in Khartoum.
Sani Ibrahim Abani, the Acting Secretary General of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) who is also based in Tripoli emphasized at the 14th CISSA Summit in Khartoum that countering terrorist groups need joint task forces, cross-boarder actions and transnational collaborations. „This comprehensive strategic approach is necessary to establish region-wide security on the African continent in order to pave the way on the ground for political stability and economic development.“
Brigade General Joseph Nzabamwita, the Secretary General of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of the Republic of Rwanda handed-over the CISSA-Chairmanship to Mohammad Atta Al Mula Abbas, the Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) of the Republic of Sudan. The hand-over ceremony took place during the closed session of the 14th CISSA summit.