Natsios on Sudan, and Egypt

Andrew Natsios, a Bush administration Darfur envoy, gave a talk at Georgetown recently in which he approaches the referendum and its ramifications from a series of different angles, from Sudan's regionalism, to the factionalism in its security and military forces, and the possible collapse of the North if/when the South secede (or even worse, the return of Hassan al-Turabi). Among the many side claims he makes was picked up by this site:

Andrew Natsios, former US envoy to Sudan, disclosed that Egyptians pilots took part in attacks in Darfur during the war there. He made this remark at a symposium organized by Georgetown University in Washington, DC on Tuesday. Natsios was referring to the Sudanese government’s problems in getting some of its own forces to fight in the war that began in 2003.

Natsios said: “Four Darfuri officers would not man their planes during the bombing attacks. You know most of the bombing was not done by the Sudanese air force, by Sudanese officers -- did you know that in Darfur?  They were Egyptian officers and officers who were mercenaries from other Arab countries, they hired to bring them in.  Because the Sudanese officers, many of them were from Darfur who were aircraft pilots. And they wouldn’t fight. They would not man the planes.”

Before I started asking who trains Egyptian air force officers again, I thought it best to confirm the ambiguity in the statement: is it Egyptian nationals acting privately or actual Air Force pilots who took part in the bombing? I contacted Natsios and he assured me that mercenaries were involved, not the Egyptian government. And most of the pilots used in the 2003 operation that caused mass death and displacement of Darfuris were in fact Russian mercenaries.

Here is the bit of his lecture where Natsios talks about this, as an aside to the fragmentation inside the Sudanese military:

Natsios quote

At another point he also mentions a South African security firm was hired to devise security plans for Khartoum, including a network of tunnels and underground arms depot in case the SPLA tries to take the city, which he thinks is plausible because of low morale among the Sudanese army.

The whole thing is well worth listening to.