Recently, war-torn Sudan has resurged and ushered in a new round of civil war.
On April 15, intense gunfire and explosions broke the tranquility of the capital Khartoum. Subsequently, most parts of the country, including Gadarif and Kassala in the east of Sudan, and Darfur in the west, fell into the flames of war one after another.
According to Sudanese media reports, as of April 29, the conflict has caused at least 528 deaths and 4,599 injuries. At an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on April 25, Joyce Msuya, Deputy UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, stated that the current humanitarian needs in Sudan have hit a record high: 15.8 million people depend on some form of humanitarian assistance; 3.7 million people have been internally displaced.
The conflict took place between Sudanese government forces and the country’s paramilitary “Rapid Support Forces” (Rapid Support Forces, RSF). One mountain cannot accommodate two tigers. In order to compete for the control of the country, the two sides have long had grievances.
Recently, the military advocated disbanding the RSF, trying to bring it under its command, directly pushing the two sides into the abyss of war. What is embarrassing is that before this military encounter, the two sides had been allies for many years, but the evaluation of them by the outside world was very poor-they were in collusion and congenial.
“The Devil on Horseback”
There are no permanent enemies, only permanent interests. The honeymoon period between the Sudanese government forces and the RSF can be traced back to the “Darfur War” in 2003.
In this war, which was evaluated by the West as “genocide”, in order to preserve its strength, Sudan’s then President Bashir vigorously supported the local militia organization “Janjaweed” to act as government army thugs to suppress the rebels.
In 2013, in order to better control the Janjaweed, Bashir formed the RSF on its basis and placed it under the joint management of the National Intelligence Service and the Security Service. party control.
Backed by the military, the Janjaweed not only targeted the rebels in Darfur, but also the local civilians. In 2007, according to the estimates of the US government, in the past three years, about 200,000 to 400,000 civilians became victims of the Janjaweed.
In July 2008, ICC prosecutors accused al-Bashir of using the Janjaweed to carry out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against non-Arabs in Darfur. The UN Security Council has therefore called on the Sudanese government to disband the Janjaweed.
In English, Janjaweed means “the devil on horseback”. According to the definition of the United Nations, the Janjaweed is mainly composed of black Muslims mainly composed of camel herders “Abala” and cattle herders “Bagara” in Darfur. Farming groups often break out violent conflicts due to competition for resources.
Under the birth of these contradictions, civilian armed forces such as the “Janjaweed”, “Sudan Liberation Movement/Army”, and “Justice and Equality Movement” have sprung up, and since 2003, they have become the main participants in the Darfur War .
In this ethnic game, in order to maximize its own interests, the Sudanese military has made every effort to support the Janjaweed in combating hostile armed forces such as the “Sudan Liberation Movement/Army” and the “Justice and Equality Movement”.
With the support of Sudanese military weapons and communication equipment, the highly mobile Janjaweed reversed the previous unfavorable situation on the battlefield. In order to eradicate the vital forces of hostile forces such as the “Justice and Equality Movement”, the Sudanese military and the Janjaweed have not spared even unarmed civilians: for many villages and communities of farming groups, the Sudanese military fighter jets bombarded them indiscriminately. After a blast, the Janjaweed rushed into the area, killed adult men, raped women and children, burned houses and fields, and poisoned wells.
Although the atrocities of the Janjaweed triggered international condemnation of the Sudanese government, the Sudanese government still “turned a blind eye” to this. Until 2008, when the number of UN peacekeeping troops in the area increased to 20,000, the Sudanese government Gaweed’s atrocities were restrained.
In view of the Sudanese government’s connivance with the Janjaweed atrocities, Bashir was twice arrested by the International Criminal Court in 2009 and 2010. In this regard, Bashir strenuously denied his relationship with the Janjaweed.
Sudan Sovereignty Council Chairman Burhan (left) and RSF Commander Dagalo
From disobedience to wolf ambition
Under Bashir’s support, RSF has grown rapidly. This is a new force that combines various paramilitary militia groups, mainly composed of Janjaweed. According to statistics from relevant agencies, the force had only 5,000 to 6,000 people in 2014, but now it has grown to 100,000. In addition, as an independent security force, it was officially recognized by Sudanese national law in 2017.
Some media report the current civil war in Sudan as a war between two men, Burhan and Dagalo.
”The bloody conflict in my country of birth (Sudan) stems from the power struggle that started with the conflict in Darfur 20 years ago.”
Sudanese greet government soldiers in Port Sudan, April 16, 2023
With the growth of its strength, the fledgling RSF is not reconciled to its influence being limited to Darfur and the border areas, and even moved towards backlash. In 2019, it became the main “gravedigger” of the Bashir regime. Bashir, who has been in charge of Sudan for 30 years, should never have imagined that the army he raised with his own hands would defect and end his political life.
After this incident, the RSF became an independent force second only to the government army in Sudan. Only two years later, the RSF, unwilling to let go of power, teamed up with the government forces to launch a coup in October 2021 to oust the civilian government and interrupt the country’s transition to an elected government.
The coup triggered a wave of mass protests across Sudan. However, when facing the protesters, RSF showed no mercy—on June 3, 2019, it carried out the so-called “Khartoum killing” against the people participating in the rally.
Since the coup in 2021, RSF commander Dagalo has become the deputy of Burhan, chairman of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, who is the head of the Sudanese military and the actual ruler of Sudan. For this reason, some media reports the current civil war in Sudan as a war between two men, Burhan and Dagalo.
Dagalo has been accumulating funds for his RSF in order to rival Burhan. In 2017, Dagalo used the force to take over gold mines in Darfur, becoming one of the richest people in Sudan; in December 2019, according to a survey by the international non-political organization “Global Witness”, Dagalo The RSF and his company al-Junaid control a large number of gold mines in Sudan.
In addition to gold mines, al-Junaid’s business also involves car rental, steel, transportation, investment and many other fields. In July 2019, Dagalo was named the most powerful figure in Sudan by The Economist.
Regarding today’s chaos, the columnist Neslin Malik of the British “Guardian” wrote: “The bloody conflict in my country of birth (Sudan) originated from the power struggle that began in the Darfur conflict 20 years ago.”
MADRID, SPAIN, APRIL 24, 2023 People of different nationalities are evacuated from Sudan on a Spanish Air Force plane
Sudanese refugees who entered Chad gather next to a makeshift shelter at the Sudan-Chad border on May 1, 2023
The suffering of the war may last for many years
RSF now has the strength to compete with the Sudanese military. In addition to the long-term connivance of the military, the support of foreign forces is also indispensable.
According to public information, RSF has received the support of the Russian mercenary “Wagner Group” in military training and weaponry, including the supply of armed helicopters and armored vehicles.
In terms of funding sources, RSF has received the full support of the two major local tycoons in the Gulf region, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. It is said that most of the gold mined by the RSF in Sudan was shipped to the UAE, and most of the funds Dagalo used to maintain his troops were also stored in the UAE.
In order to reciprocate, after the Yemeni civil war broke out in 2015, RSF sent more than 40,000 members to join the multinational coalition forces led by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to intervene in the Yemeni civil war. Due to the involvement of the RSF and multinational forces, the situation in Yemen has further deteriorated. Tens of thousands of people have died in the war, and millions of people are facing the threat of famine. Even Human Rights Watch suspects that RSF has committed war crimes in Yemen such as killing civilians and destroying infrastructure.
In addition to the Yemeni civil war, the RSF also participated in the “Second Libyan Civil War” with the UAE, and both sides unanimously supported Haftar’s “Libyan National Army” against the “Libyan National Unity Government” recognized by the United Nations.
In 2019, relevant United Nations reports revealed that Dagalo had sent more than 1,000 RSF members into Libya to assist Haftar in combat. At the same time, Dagalo and Haftar have close financial ties: the two have cooperated in a series of lucrative cross-border smuggling operations, including human trafficking, drugs and even arms.
Perhaps Dagalo’s “righteousness” has been rewarded. Recently, Libyan officials told the British “Observer” that in recent months, Haftar has been helping RSF improve the technology it needs in “urban warfare” and tactics. The “Observer” also quoted insiders as saying that shortly before the outbreak of the civil war, Dagalo received a warning from Haftar that Burhan would attack the Rapid Support Forces.
Since the RSF involves complicated international interests, and the Sudanese military is not a “fuel-efficient lamp”, the international community is very worried about this war. The International Crisis Group said recently that the battle could quickly slide into an ongoing war with the potential to spill over to neighboring countries.
”The hostilities have pushed the country into the kind of all-out civil war that Sudanese have feared for years,” the International Crisis Group said. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the ongoing power struggle among Sudan’s top generals is not only putting the country’s future at risk but risks “exploding across borders”, exacerbating widespread suffering that could last for years.