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Analysis By Caleb Onyeabor/Staff Writer
Sudan is the latest center of the exchange of fire in the world. For a country which has spent most of its post independent years in and out of conflict, what is going on in Sudan did not come as a surprise as it has a reputation of being one of the most unstable countries in this world. In a world that has become inextricably globalized, a conflict in Sudan 30 years ago is different from a conflict in Sudan today.
This time around, we do not have a Sudan problem. What is going on in Sudan is an African problem and to a large extent, a global problem.
At the heart of the recent war is in Sudan is the power struggle between two generals: Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, the head of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Surprisingly the two worked together, and carried out a coup together – now their battle for supremacy is tearing Sudan apart – and depending on the outcome, this battle has the potentials to tear Africa apart and even extend to other part of the world.
The war is fought between two forces – The Sudan’s Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces. Let’s talk about the RSF.
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is a paramilitary force in Sudan that was established in 2013. The force was formed as a branch of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) to counter insurgency groups in the Darfur region of Sudan.
The RSF was initially made up of members of the Janjaweed, a militia group that had been accused of carrying out atrocities against civilians in Darfur. The RSF was trained and equipped by the SAF and played a key role in the Sudanese government’s campaign against the Darfur rebels.
In 2014, the RSF was deployed to the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states to fight against the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), a rebel group that had been active in the region since 2011. The RSF was also involved in the government’s campaign against rebel groups in the Nuba Mountains and Eastern Sudan.
Despite its role in fighting rebel groups, the RSF has been accused of numerous human rights violations. The force has been accused of using child soldiers, carrying out extrajudicial killings, and committing sexual violence against women. The RSF has also been accused of attacking civilians and being involved in the trafficking of migrants.
In recent years, the RSF has become more involved in Sudanese politics. In 2019, the RSF was involved in the violent crackdown on protesters who were calling for the ouster of former President Omar al-Bashir. After al-Bashir was overthrown, the RSF played a key role in the transitional government that was established to lead Sudan to democratic elections.
The RSF has been criticized by human rights organizations for its role in the violent suppression of political opposition in Sudan. The force has been accused of using violence to intimidate and silence opposition figures and of being involved in the forcible dispersal of protest movements. Despite these criticisms, the RSF remains a powerful force in Sudanese politics and security.
This makes them a dangerous and equal evil to the anti-democratic Sudan Armed Forces.
To understand the strength of the RSF, we need to follow the money.
One source of funding for the RSF is the Sudanese government. The establishment of the militia by Omar Bashir and the role it played in the military coup that ousted Bashir as well as its closeness to the military leaders of Sudan’s Armed Forces shows that it feeds fat from the nation’s purse. The government provides the force with weapons, vehicles, and other equipment, and pays the salaries of its members. In addition, the government may allocate funds to the RSF from its general budget.
The RSF goes beyond state funding. It engages in resource extraction industries such as gold mining, oil drilling, and other forms of natural resource extraction. The RSF has been accused of controlling several gold mines in Darfur, which generate significant revenue for the force.
There have also been allegations that the RSF receives funding from foreign governments and non-state actors. For example, there have been reports that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has provided financial support to the RSF. The UAE has reportedly provided the force with weapons, training, and other forms of assistance.
Saudi Arabia has worked with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition’s military intervention in the Yemeni civil war. The RSF has been involved in combat operations alongside Saudi and Emirati forces against the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The RSF’s involvement in Yemen has been controversial due to its history of human rights abuses in Sudan. There have been reports of RSF troops committing human rights violations in Yemen, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and arbitrary detention of civilians. In addition, there have been concerns that the RSF’s involvement in Yemen may exacerbate the conflict and contribute to the humanitarian crisis in the country.
One can rightly infer that working with the Saudis means “oil money”.
The implications of this is that the RSF are not a rag tag group. They are a well funded militia with stable source of finance, weapon stockpiles and a network of international allies.
This rings a bell, a 12 year old bell, a bell that speaks of the fighters in Libya who confronted the Gaddafi regime.
Now the Sudan Armed Forces need no introduction. They are as well funded, with weapon stockpiles and a range of alliances expected of a state’s army. The only slight edge they have over the RSF is that their members seems to more trained.
Both the RSF and the Sudan’s Armed Forces are guilty of heinous war crimes, civilian repression and crimes against humanity. They both share anti-democratic tendencies. Neither of the two parties are nice guys.
In a war between the devil and Satan, the outcome is undesirable. The consequences are likely to be similar to the consequences that befell Africa when Gaddafi fell.
In this Sudan’s war, a victory for the Sudan Armed Forces could mean the RSF fighters can go rogue and spread across the continent. The flood gates of its armory will be forced open and the small and light arms in its possession will be proliferated across the continent. Much of Its fighters- the janjaweed militias – will become available labor forces for the terrorist markets and can easily be recruited into terrorists’ cells across the continents. This is Libya all over again.
The triumph of the RSF over the Sudan’s Armed Forces also portends similar consequences as we saw with Gaddafi’s army. The left over weapons of the armed Forces if defeated are most likely to be proliferated over Africa leading to a worsening of the already fragile security situation in the continent.
This is why African leaders and the African Union must take Sudan seriously and avoid making the same mistake they made in Libya over 10 years ago. Most importantly, it is the responsibility of African leaders to work towards ensuring that Sudan does not become the next testing ground for the Russia and USA new proxy wars. Africa cannot contain the aftermath of that madness.
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