Why Russia and Ukraine Are Locking Horns in Sudanese Civil War?

Rebel fighters hold up their rifles as they walk, Upper Nile State, South Sudan. File. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic/File Photo

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At the heart of the Sudanese civil war was what we have come to be accustomed to and reckoned with as two warlords battling to control Sudan, but little did the international component of this conflict come to the fore. As widely expected, Africans have agreed by themselves to become pawns of geopolitical feuds fomenting and being settled in far-flung lands such as Ukraine!

This article chronicles the Sudanese civil war and its international ramifications and probes why the guns will not be silenced unless foreign powers that call shots in the civil war decide so! Africans cannot intervene in this conflict again until alien superior cultures unanimously press the brake pedals!

Sudan’s two warring factions remain locked in a deadly power struggle after months of fighting. The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people and displaced 5.6 million, 80 per cent of whom are internally displaced and hundreds of thousands of whom have fled to unstable areas in Chad, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.

The United Nations has pleaded for more support amid dire humanitarian conditions and a cholera outbreak. Meanwhile, many largely uncoordinated mediation efforts have failed to produce results, and other nations have picked sides in the war. The SPLM-N rebel group also joined the fighting, breaking a ceasefire in southwestern Sudan, and the conflict risks destabilizing the fragile peace in neighbouring states.

In April 2023, fighting between rival armed factions broke out in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum, raising fears of a return to full-scale civil war. The conflict is essentially a power struggle between the leaders of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and a powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The two groups, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, respectively, are battling to control the nation and its massive resources. As the conflict deepens, humanitarian conditions are declining, and the promise of a long-awaited democratic transition diminishes.

Read related: Russia-Ukraine Conflict: How Russia is Creating a Global Food Crisis.

Background Information

For the first half of the twentieth century, Sudan was a joint protectorate of Egypt and the United Kingdom. Known as the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, the arrangement granted the British primary political and military power. Egypt and the United Kingdom signed a treaty relinquishing sovereignty to the independent Republic of Sudan in 1956. The new republic immediately faced major challenges: it spanned nearly one million square miles and was directly between some of Africa’s most violent countries and regions.

Even more concerning was the stark internal divide between the country’s wealthier northern region, which was majority Arab and Muslim, and its less-prosperous southern region, where most people were Christian or animist. This racial, ethnic and faith-based divide was a cauldron of the two civil wars, the second of which would see the country split into two nations in 2011.

The second Sudanese civil war of 1983 to 2005 was brutal; famine and atrocity crimes were well-documented throughout the conflict, which ultimately killed an estimated two million people. In July 2011, Sudan’s southern territory seceded and formed a new independent nation: the Republic of South Sudan.

In addition to internal conflict, Sudan’s post-colonial period was tattooed by notable dictatorships, from Jaafar Nimeiry to Omar al-Bashir. Sudan has endured numerous military putsches that surprise nobody; instability has stalled her even today. Bashir seized power in a 1989 coup following his service in the Egyptian military during condominium rule and later served as an SAF officer.

As president, Bashir oversaw most of the civil war, the secession of South Sudan, and the conflict in Darfur. The Darfur war broke out in 2003 and would later be condemned as a genocide against non-Arab populations such as the Fur, Zaghawa, and Masalit peoples in western Sudan by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the U.S. State Department.

Bashir’s regime was utterly oppressive: he imposed a restrictive interpretation of sharia, employed private militias to fight his battles and morality police to enforce his decrees, and persecuted Christianity, Sunni apostasy, Shiism, and other minority religious faiths. The regime survived until 2019; Omar al-Bashir was president of Sudan for thirty years.

By the final decade of his presidency, Bashir was facing increasing popular protests calling for democracy, access to basic services, and a new system of governance. The revolution culminated in an April 2019 coup, carried out jointly by the SAF, under General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s leadership and the RSF, a militia led by Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo.

Also, read Will Military Coups Continue to Plague African Politics? We’re Far Away From the Real Democracy.

A civil war began during Ramadan on 15 April 2023 between two rival factions of the Sudanese military government: the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) under Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) under Hemedti. Fighting has been concentrated around the capital city of Khartoum and the Darfur region.

As of 21 January 2024, at least 13,000 –15,000 people had been killed, and 33,000 others were injured. As of 29 December 2023, over 5.8 million were internally displaced, and more than 1.5 million others had fled the country as refugees. Many civilians in Darfur have been reported dead as part of the 2023 Masalit massacres.

The RSF is the most powerful paramilitary group out of the Bashir era. The RSF was created from the Janjaweed militia, an Arab-majority armed group funded by Bashir to repress southern Sudanese rebels and, most notably, to fight in the Darfur War. The group carried out brutal attacks across the Darfur region and is responsible for mass displacement, sexual violence, kidnapping, and other crimes.

RSF leader Hemedti became one of Sudan’s wealthiest men by seizing control of gold mines, with the Bashir government’s blessing, during the RSF’s campaigns. Before 2019, Bashir hired the RSF to protect him from coups and attempts on his life. Despite this, the RSF ultimately participated in the 2019 coup to oust Bashir and worked alongside the SAF to establish a transitional government and a new constitution. Burhan led the Transitional Sovereignty Council with Hemedti as his deputy. The council also included other military leaders and several civilians.

Efforts to hand over power to a transitional civilian government with a military presence proved unsuccessful. Civilian politicians were later arrested and disengaged from running the government despite mass demonstrations of their overwhelming support.

Why Foreign Legions Are Interloped in the Sudanese Civil War?

Many foreign countries have been sucked into the Sudanese civil war because of vested self-interest. Countries in the Middle East, such as the UAE, are angling two Sudan ports for privatization and access to the Red Sea that would open agricultural, mineral and oil gateways to overseas markets. The UEA has also reported arming one side to achieve its goals. Countries such as Chad, Uganda and Kenya are also engendered in the conflict largely as opaque conduits of slush funds, manpower, weaponry and artillery.

The US is keen to fend off the ever-growing global influence of both Russia and China in Sudan and Africa in general. While the US in public is urging peace in private, it is furnishing Ukraine with lethal weapons to fight its dirty wars in Sudan.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Ukraine is facing off in Sudan with Russia’s military mercenaries called Wagner. Ukraine claims that Sudanese gold is being shipped to Russia and is providing Russia with the wherewithal it needs to wage a vicious war in her homeland.

Also, read As We Play Same Old Tune, M23 Has a Point But Who is Listening?

So the argument goes, Ukraine has dispatched 2,000 elite soldiers and military gear funded by the US to evict Wagner from Sudan and hopefully decapitate Russian capability of waging war in Ukraine! Ukraine is attempting to achieve what it has failed to achieve in her backyard in almost two years: defeating the mighty Russians to whom NATO raison d’ètré solely owes. But, what Ukraine is reticent about is who is oiling her proxy war with Russia in a foreign country called Sudan, somewhere in North Africa!

Part of American funds apportioned for Ukraine are intentionally diverted to Khartoum, using phoney companies to hide their true identities—like digital catfish! Ukrainian leadership is also baring some of that military cash for personal use due to Uncle Sam’s reluctance to conduct a forensic audit and trace where the money was going lest she erode the motive of Ukrainian leadership supporting her military global adventures.

It looks like a “win-win” for the Ukrainian – American elites. Regrettably, in the last two years alone, about one million Ukrainians have been killed or maimed in the Ukrainian conflict for the purposes and intents of ingratiating ever-expanding American geopolitical ambitions of subduing both Russia and China to her orbit of strategic influence. Henceforth, corrupting Ukrainian leadership is part and parcel of the perpetual tactic America is parlaying to coerce and entice the cooperation of the ever-venal Ukrainian leaders to wage her domestically unpopular global wars of total domination.

What the US wants is for Wagner to get out of Sudan and for American conglomerates to supplant her in the exploitation of Sudanese natural resources, backstopped by her puppet junta in Khartoum. Just like history says about us, foreign legions have always capitalized on African weaknesses to wedge them into huge fissures, turning rivals against one another as our resources are being exploited, looted and shipped overseas, condemning Africa into bloodshed, massive poverty and constant humiliation. Will Africa wake up and read the big picture? I seriously doubt it.

Tanzania’s Intervention as a Peacekeeper

As of April 18, 2023, Tanzania joined the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU) to condemn the ongoing armed confrontation in Sudan. The Government was ready to support efforts by the United Nations, African Union, IGAD, and the International Community to find a lasting peace in Sudan. The conflict is not over, and still more help is needed from Tanzania to support Sudan in peacekeeping, but where can we increase our efforts to solve this matter?

Diplomatic Mediation:

We can use diplomatic channels within the African Union (AU) and the East African Community (EAC) to mediate talks between the conflicting parties. As a respected member of these regional bodies, Tanzania can facilitate dialogue and negotiations to resolve the conflict peacefully.

Leveraging its diplomatic relations with key stakeholders involved in the conflict, Tanzania can engage in shuttle diplomacy, conducting high-level meetings and negotiations to bridge the gaps between the warring factions.

Peacekeeping Deployment:

Tanzania has a history of participating in international peacekeeping missions. It can contribute troops or peacekeeping forces to missions authorized by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to help stabilize Sudan and protect civilians.

By deploying peacekeepers to conflict-affected areas, Tanzania can help create a conducive environment for peace talks and humanitarian assistance, mitigating the impact of violence on vulnerable populations.

Humanitarian Assistance:

Providing humanitarian aid to Sudanese refugees who have fled to neighbouring countries such as Chad, Ethiopia, and South Sudan is significant. This assistance could include food, shelter, medical supplies, and psychosocial support to alleviate the suffering of displaced persons. Through collaboration with international humanitarian organizations and NGOs, Tanzania can ensure the effective delivery of aid to those in need and address the urgent humanitarian crisis resulting from the conflict.

Advocacy and Pressure:

Tanzania can use its diplomatic influence to advocate for the cessation of hostilities and the protection of civilians in Sudan. This may involve lobbying other countries in the conflict to halt their military support to warring parties and commit to peaceful solutions.

Through public diplomacy and engagement with civil society organizations, Tanzania can raise awareness about the humanitarian consequences of the conflict and garner support for peaceful initiatives both domestically and internationally.

Economic and Development Assistance:

Tanzania can support efforts to address the root causes of the conflict by promoting economic development and social cohesion in Sudan. This could involve investment in infrastructure, education, and healthcare to enhance stability and foster reconciliation.

By strengthening economic ties with Sudan and promoting regional integration, Tanzania can contribute to sustainable development and peacebuilding efforts in the wider East African region, addressing the underlying drivers of conflict.

The author is a Development Administration specialist in Tanzania with over 30 years of practical experience, and has been penning down a number of articles in local printing and digital newspapers for some time now.

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1 month ago

Same old story unfortunately when it comes to African conflicts. Great article though thanks

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