Featured Image: Photo by Abdulaziz Mohammed on Unsplash.
On 15 April 2023, a long-brewing conflict between two generals who had seized power in a coup in 2021 broke into armed battles especially in Khartoum. Use of tanks, jets and artillery has been reported. The split between General Abdel Fattah al-Burham, chief of the army and General Mohamed Hamdam Daglo, better known by his battle name “Hemetti”, chief of the Rapid Support Forces is no great surprise as there is often place for only one person in a military junta.
In April 2018, civilian protests began, and in early 2019 they led to the end of nearly 30 years of the dictatorship of President Omar al-Bashir. Al-Bashir was himself a general, but he also controlled the security services and much of the administration. He had overseen economic contacts with foreign countries, especially China. He was given credit for the relative economic development and the creation of a middle class, especially in the cities. However, he was under indictment of the International Criminal Court on seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes in the province of Darfur in western Sudan. Thus, when Omar al-Bashir was forced out, there was a political gap that the civilian protesters were not able to fill.
Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan (2019). By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
The evildoers on horseback.
The Rapid Support Forces of Hemetti are an outgrowth of popular defense forces and tribal militias active in Darfur, originally structured as the Janjaweed (“the evildoers on horseback”). To the extent that the makeup of the Janjaweed is known, it was a collection of bandits, of Chadians who had used Darfur as a safe haven for the long-lasting insurgencies in Chad, remains of Libya’s Islamic Forces which had once been under the control of the Libyan government but left wandering when Libyan policy changed. Thus, the Rapid Support Forces, true to its origins, has been willing to fight elsewhere, especially in cooperation with the Russian Wagner Group in Yemen. It is estimated that there are some 80,000 men in the Rapid Support Forces and some 200,000 in the regular army. Hemetti is from Darfur and have profitted from the mineral wealth of the province.
Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (commonly known as Hemedti). He is in a conference room, behind a table and a flag of Russia in the foreground.(2022). By Government.ru, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
The authorities of the African Union have asked for calm and dialogue.
The army under al-Burham still has many higher officers from the al-Bashir period, and they wish to hold on to the power and funds they control. They have few contact and not much in common with the civilians who had protested against al-Bashir.
The violence in Sudan could spread. Thus the neighboring countries of Egypt and South Sudan have proposed good offices and a ceasefire. The authorities of the African Union have asked for calm and dialogue. The situation merits watching closely.
President of the Republic of Sudan Omar Bashir during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (2017). By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.