By Ameena Al-Rashid
The conflict that began on April 8 this year between Sudan’s military and the country’s main paramilitary force is a proxy war against the Sudanese people, backed by regional and international powers, who have enabled the warring factions to acquire wealth and weapons.
It is a war between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (aka “Hemeti”) and the security committee of the National Islamic Front in the Sudanese military headed by Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan — both sides supported by their foreign allies.
In a speech to the Sudanese people, Hemeti bragged openly that he had the most sophisticated weapons — he was not buying cheap weapons, he was buying the best from the best. This is the same “Janjaweed” militia that was indicted in 2004 by UN security council resolution 1556 for committing genocide in Darfur.
It is the same militia that committed other atrocities at the sit-in at the military HQ in Khartoum on June 3 2019. The international community’s memory appears completely blank. The RSF got its first leg up from the EU, during the “Khartoum process,” officially known as the EU-Horn of Africa Migration Route Initiative.
Launched in late 2014 by European countries, African states and the African Union, this gave Hemeti military support, power and money to stop migrants from crossing from Libya to the Mediterranean and into Europe. The RSF used that money. It committed crimes and violations of rights that the whole international community has kept quiet about.
Hemeti’s more recent ally is Russia. He was invited to Moscow and met Vladimir Putin. He has had the Wagner Group, the Russian paramilitary organisation, supporting him and training his militia.
Omar al-Bashir, the former president who was deposed in 2019, sent the RSF to Yemen to support the Saudi war on the Yemeni people. They committed violations in Libya, and against refugees from Eritrea and Ethiopia. They have started looting and terrorising civilians now in Sudan. Sudan is under siege from this militia — it kills people everywhere.
For his part, Burhan, the head of the military junta, and head of the security committee of Muslim Brotherhood in the Sudanese Army, is a regular visitor to Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia. He’s been taking orders from them. We know that they are pilfering Sudanese resources: they loot and smuggle Sudanese gold and agricultural products.
In 2019, when the military junta led by Burhan took control of the country, he employed the RSF to violently crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, alongside his “shadow brigade,” the Islamist Armed Group.
In October 2021 all pretence at a “civilian transition” was abandoned. Burhan dissolved the transitional government, arrested civilian leaders and installed himself in power, with Hemeti his right-hand man. That was then — now they are at war.
If you are looking for catalysts for this war, it is worth noting that when the popular resistance committees in the north stopped the trade between Sudan and Egypt, it affected the Egyptians severely. It stopped the looting of lots of resources. This eventually harmed the alliance between the RSF, the military junta and their foreign allies.
This war is deeply affecting the Sudanese people, who are the victims of atrocities, brutality and torture at the hands of these two powers. It will change their lives forever. And there is a risk of a wider conflict. We have already even seen the conflict spill over into the internal affairs of neighbouring countries.
Hemeti is now standing by the Ethiopians on the disputed al-Fashaqa region that was “liberated” by his rival Burhan in November 2020.
The two warring military factions are competing over who will monopolise power in Sudan and who will seize control of the resources in the country; this all-out struggle is to protect their economic and financial power built up over 30 years by the regime of Omar al-Bashir. They still control big companies, banks and money looted from banks and institutions of Sudan.
The threat of a return to a civilian government that followed the revolution of December 2019 severely weakened the position of the military factions — they now try to derail the revolution by all means at their disposal and maintain control.
For Sudan is a big country. It has a strategic position. And it is richer than most people imagine. We have gold, minerals and massive agricultural potential. Sudan’s wealth could build the country and create prosperity and development for the Sudanese people. But this wealth is plundered. Our gold has been repeatedly smuggled out.
The Sudanese resistance committee has videos and documents that show the Wagner Group smuggling gold and Egyptian trucks smuggling gold too. The truces announced in recent days are just buying time for each one of the warring sides. Neither side is abiding by the ceasefires. The warring parties should abide by what they promised the international community.
But the RSF is not an organised army, despite being considered part of the Sudanese military. From day one, they started looting and attacking people in their own houses. Even if the ceasefire works in certain parts of the country, it will not be respected everywhere.
It is now reaching a point where they might not give in to each other at all until one of them takes over. The people are starting to suffer severely. Thousands of people are leaving their homes and trying to find a safe haven. This is the third or fourth genocide against them by an uncontrollable militia, and an army and military men from the Islamic Front, from the ousted regime.
We now see the repercussions of having military bases in the cities, in Khartoum, in Marawi, close to civilians. The military must be removed from the cities. The majority of Sudanese people are calling for an end to this war. This is not their war. This is a war for resources and power and vested interests.
The people are calling for the formation of an alliance against the war, and the restoration of civilian government, for the army to go to the barracks and for the militia to be dissolved. But that is just the start. The Sudanese revolution must continue. It is a very progressive revolution that calls for people’s control of their wealth.
We call for the path of economic development, building a public sector that is strong and that serves the people. You’ll find enemies everywhere when you do this — multinational companies and those that have interests in the corporate world and finance.
How can the “international community” help? The UN is playing a good role, but it is not effective. It has not been able to bring people together to have a comprehensive agreement that everybody can agree on.
The framework agreement brokered by the UN and signed in December 2022 between civilian political forces and the military served only the interests of Hemeti and the small “liberation” armies. It excluded many people and forces and did not include key demands of the revolution. This is why the military junta couldn’t establish any government.
The UN needs to get a grip on Sudan’s political map in order to include everybody; it must prioritise an agenda that the Sudanese people care about and build a comprehensive agreement among all the people who contributed to this revolution.
The Sudanese Communist Party must be part of it, including the other forces who support the party’s position and call for radical change. The revolution was built on solid slogans and demands that were developed by Sudanese activists, members of the Communist Party and other progressive groups.
Britain should immediately side with the Sudanese people’s demands: the demands of the revolution for freedom peace and justice, for an all-inclusive civilian rule that can preserve their rights and build a national army that protects the state and the citizens.
Britain should stop supporting the military, the army in the country, or any other militia forces. Just a few years before the collapse of Bashir’s military junta, Britain still trained his security forces.
This war will end eventually, and once it does, this must also be the end of these two military powers destroying Sudan. The Sudanese people will not settle for another dictator, and they have had enough of foreign alliances that distort the country to serve their interests and trample on the people’s rights.
I hope that the people of the world will support the Sudanese people on the path to civilian rule to stop this war, a proxy war by international and regional forces, and ensure they take their hands off Sudan and start listening to the people’s demands. (IPA Service)
Courtesy: Morning Star