Jibril Ibrahim: Ready for Battle, Negotiations Unlikely
By: Jaafar al-Sirr
Published Tuesday, January 10, 2012
The assassination of Sudanese Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) leader Khalil Ibrahim nearly two weeks ago in Darfur has led to speculation regarding the fate of the movement and its partners in the anti-regime Kauda alliance.
In this interview with Al-Akhbar, Khalil Ibrahim’s eldest brother and secretary of foreign and political relations for the movement, Jibril Ibrahim, speaks out on a range of issues, including the role of the regime in his brother’s assassination and the future of the Sudanese Revolutionary Front.
He does not refer to the regime in Khartoum as a government, but rather as a “racist gang” that “does not want peace,” and with whom negotiation is futile. He indicates that recent developments will not weaken the JEM, and his brother Khalil’s sacrifice will only serve to embolden the movement and its fighters.
Jaafar al-Sirr: There are conflicting reports regarding the details of Khalil Ibrahim’s death. How was he killed?
Jibril Ibrahim: He was in a vehicle near the front of a convoy, and when night fell they stopped. He was killed is his sleep by a direct and precise airstrike at 3am on Friday (25 December 2011). He was assassinated while among his men and not in a battle as the regime claims.
JS: Some say that the movement was infiltrated or that Khalil may have been betrayed by some of his men. Is there any truth to that?
JI: What is certain is that the operation was carried out by someone receiving support from outside of Sudan who bombed him with a plane well-equipped for that purpose. As to whether there was cooperation with the killers from someone on the ground, we leave this to the investigation that is currently under way. There are facts confirming that foreign hands were involved in this assassination, such as the precise nighttime strike and the close tracking of the target, which require very modern technologies not available to the Sudanese air force.
JS: But don’t you think that talking about the precision of the operation alone is insufficient evidence to point the finger at foreign involvement?
JI: The experts that we consulted were absolutely sure that the Sudanese air force is incapable of carrying out the mission in the way it did, and our information confirms the involvement of other parties, so this accusation is not coming out of nowhere.
JS: The movement announced that it will avenge its leader’s death and that those who killed Khalil Ibrahim will pay dearly. How serious is the movement about this threat?
JI: [Following] all of our previous threats to retaliate should the regime decide to carry out a certain action, the regime has backed down, and so the seriousness of our threats has not been demonstrated. This time, the regime has crossed the line by [taking part in a] political assassination, and we will see if the movement will keep its promise to avenge its commander.
JS: The movement lost its most prominent commanders in the battle of Omdurman, and now it has lost its leader and commander without anything to show for it. Are you still counting on the military option to achieve your objectives?
JI: The movement has never counted on the military option, and we have never resorted to [violence] except when faced by a regime that will only listen to or negotiate with those who take up arms. This military option will remain in effect so long as the regime of the racist gang in Khartoum uses only security and military solutions to address the country’s issues.
JS: Many say that Khalil’s assassination will mean the end for the JEM. How do you respond?
JI: If the JEM were only one man whose death would mean the end of the movement, then it would not deserve to go on. However, all evidence says that the JEM is a longstanding revolutionary institution full of creative leaders. It is distinguished by its great abilities in battle and political maneuvering and is capable of overcoming the adversity of its leader’s martyrdom with minimal losses…The racist gang thought that they could kill the revolution by assassinating its leader, and they will be disappointed.
JS: Some within the government think that Khalil’s assassination will force the JEM to negotiate. What is the likelihood of that happening?
JI: The assassination of the movement’s president has confirmed one basic reality: the ruling regime does not want peace and sees no solution for the country’s issues except military and security measures. Therefore, we are farther from the negotiating table than ever before.
It is not possible to create peace without a serious and willing partner. One hand [alone cannot be used to] clap. Those who assassinate leaders are not looking for peace. Rather, they are declaring war. Thus, there will be no talk of peace unless there is a real partner for peace, and I do not see murderers as partners for peace.
JS: The JEM has stated that it will adhere to the agreement of the Kauda Alliance that seeks to topple the regime. Don’t you think that Khalil’s assassination will affect the power of the alliance, especially since military operations are one of its tools?
JI: The JEM’s army has never been better in terms of men, equipment, gear, and training. The sudden death of its commander has given it additional motivation to fight. The Sudanese Revolutionary Front will not be weakened militarily; rather, it will show even more determination in its efforts to eliminate the governing racist gang.
JS: Khalil was the strongest candidate to lead the alliance. Do you think his absence will lead to a battle for leadership within the alliance?
JI: No one in the Sudanese Revolutionary Front has engaged [with one another] yet [concerning] the matter of leadership, so it is too early for this discussion. I am confident that the wisdom of the leaders of the Front is too great to allow them to get caught up in unjustified competition over who will lead.
JS: The movement is in a rather unenviable position following the death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi as well as the agreement between Khartoum and N’Djamena. Where will the movement look for support?
JI: The JEM relies on no one but God and its people who have sacrificed so much for the cause. Gaddafi was never a supporter of the movement. In fact, he was one of the principal supporters of the [regime], and he gave it more financial and political support than it received from anyone else.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.