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News > Sudan

Sudan in the Clutches of Army and Militias

  • Sudanese military and civilians, April, 2023.

    Sudanese military and civilians, April, 2023. | Photo: Twitter/ @agenzia_nova

Published 21 April 2023

The ruling of the country by Omar Al-Bashir for 3 decades can be described as the main factor for everything that is happening in Sudan now.

After decades of friendship, the political and military alliance between the Sudanese army, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Muhammad Dagalo (Hemedti), Sudan is living in the worst situation these days, due to the violent military conflict between these two military forces.


Sudan's Paramilitary Declares 72-Hour Truce

This situation has put the country in a state of insecurity, and uncertainty, and the plans for a transition to a civilian-led democracy are now in shambles.

In addition to the fears of a civil war and the severe struggles of the two generals to control the country, the number of civilian deaths is rising and the concern, that the conflict may escalate, is growing, which resulted so far in the death of over 600 people (although it is difficult to get to know the real statistics), a large numbers of wounded people and the massive movement of Sudanese from the capital, Khartoum, to other states.

The two appointed warlords, Al Burhan and Himedti, were faithful to the past military dictatorial government of Omar Hassan Al Bashir in different circumstances and moments. The first, served as high rank military during both South Sudan and Darfur war. The second, head of the militias, Janjaweed, fought in Darfur regime against non-arab groups and its main goal was to protect Al Bashir, even from his own army.

As a result of this abhorrent war, dozens of hospitals in Khartoum, and in the adjacent states to the areas of clashes, went out of service, as a result of their exposure to bombing, forced eviction, poor medicine supplies, water cutting and food shortage and a scarcity of medical personnel.

Sudan, which until 2010 was the largest country of Africa, witnessed a revolution in December 2018, in which the corrupt regime of Omar al-Bashir, who ruled the country for 30 years, was toppled. The ruling of the country by the corrupted government of Al Bashir for 3 decades can be described as the main factor for everything that is happening in Sudan now.

The military regime, allied with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, waged war with the south region of the country, before its independence and it was known as the longest war in history, resulting in the killing of nearly 2 million people from the south, beside carrying out genocide in Darfur.

For this reasons Omar Al Bashir has been wanted by the International Crime Court for crime against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur since 2009. He is the first sitting head-of-state to be issued with an ICC arrest warrant.

The Sudanese revolution was peaceful, rejecting all means of violence and expressed a great popular yearning for freedom, democracy and social justice, after thirty years of horrible military dictatorship.

The support and main engine of the revolution was a wide range of political parties, trade union and civil forces, including liberal, reformist and leftist forces under the name of the "Declaration of Freedom and Change".

On the first day of 2019, Freedom and Change announced a text that included several issues, on top of which was the demand for “the immediate resignation of Al-Bashir and his regime from ruling the country” and “the formation of a national transitional government of national competencies in agreement with all spectrums of the Sudanese people.”

After the fall of al-Bashir, the head of the military council, Ibn Auf, who quickly resigned from power and appointed Abdel Fattah Burhan, announced “the formation of a transitional military council to administer the country’s rule for a transitional period of two years.”

One of the biggest mistakes of Freedom and Change, is that it left the door open to an agreement with the military establishment, as it spoke of a “totalitarian regime” in order to avoid talking about “military rule.”

It also did not disclose an explicit commitment to waging the battle with the military until the establishment of civilian rule. It rather used words that opened the way for the military to participate in the desired government.

One of the most important repercussions of the April 11 coup was that it blocked the way for the revolution, pretending that it supported it. The Rapid Support Forces led by Hemedti participated in the coup.

Its aim was to protect the class interests of parasitic military and civil capitalism, the army, the security force, the police and rapid support companies, and obstruct the return of looted people’s money and impede accountability for the perpetrators of crimes against humanity.

And when the armed forces removed Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, in an attempt to save the military regime, they collided with popular rejection of the continuation of this regime, and insistence on replacing it with civilian rule.

The revolutionaries, where female participation was remarkable, have shown unparalleled valor in rejecting the coup and military rule on a continuous basis. They organized marches in a programmed manner, in which they expressed their categorical rejection of this, and their desire not to submit to the dictatorship of military rule: the army and the RSF.

Facing the revolutionary momentum, the military was forced to respond to the demands of the street to form a Sovereign Council, composed of civilians and military personnel and to conform a new government headed by the well-known economist Abdallah Hamdok.

The military then started thwarting it and provoking divisions between political currents, in a way that aborts the civil democratic experiment and gives the generals the opportunity to monopolize power again without a partner or competitor.

The plan succeeded indeed, the street was divided, and there was huge division and polemic among groups and formations, all affiliated under the civil banner. In that atmosphere, perfectly prepared to pounce on the revolution, Al-Burhan carried out his military coup on October 25, 2021, officially overthrowing civil rule.

Since the success of the Sudanese revolution in overthrowing Omar al-Bashir, the military component appeared to control the course of the transitional period.

It did so through the manipulation of the transitional government establishment, passing through the negotiations of the constitutional document, and the formation of the transitional government, plus the presidency of the Sovereign Council.

Finally, it carried out the coup against the civilian partner in October, 2021, which devoted power entirely in the hands of this military component. Throughout this period, the military component continued to play the main role controlling the political situation in Sudan.

We must also pay attention to an important fact, which is that despite the greatness and peaceful nature of the Sudanese revolution, the reins of affairs were still in the hands of the followers of the Omar al-Bashir.

In the beginning, in the face of the thundering revolutionary waves, many symbols of his regime among the elite leaders in various sectors were kicked out, and the ruling Congress Party was removed from the scene.

Since Al Burhan and Himedti took real power of the country, everything changed then. The power was in the hand of the armed forces in the beginning, passing it then to the rest of the sectors. We should consider that the elements and cadres of this regime are the ones who manage the scene in various fields throughout the three decades.

On the external arena, several countries an organizations at that time, including the United States and the European Union, called on the military council to involve civilians in the transitional process, bearing in mind that Sudan has a geostrategic position that puts it at the sight of the outside world and makes it vulnerable to these goals.

Regarding this point, Dr. Aisha Al-Basri, expert in Sudanese affairs, stated that “the hands of the members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) are stained with the blood of the Sudanese” and that “the Big Five, who have a permanent seat and have the right to veto, share the responsibility for what is happening today in Sudan, consisting in the brutal fighting between Al-Bashir army and his militias, where civilians will pay the price.”

On several occasions, the UNSC held the Janjaweed responsible for the crimes committed in Sudan, but Al Bashir regime did not care about that and continued to commit them against non-Arab tribes.

Having said that, we can assume that one of the biggest mistakes of the Freedom and Change group is sitting and negotiating with the Rapid Support Command, and giving it constitutional character, knowing that it is linked with the Islamists to war crimes and genocide in Darfur, and the brutal suppression of the revolutionaries as in the September 2013 massacre.

The RSF also has external support. That is how it became so powerful financially and militarily, and their sources of income were from the European Union, in order to help stop immigration. It also controlled the export of mercenaries for the Yemen war, where Hamidati organized that with Al-Burhan by order of the defeated Al-Bashir regime.

He is also involved in the looting of gold, land, and other resources. He benefitted from the state budget by order of the ousted President Al-Bashir personally to protect him, which was not subject to review. All the previous, made Hemedti greedy for monopolizing power, especially after the fall of Bashir himself.

Now the Islamists formed Janjaweed militias to practice genocide in Darfur and being the ones who created the devil who terrorized them, so the goal of their coup now is to get rid of him after he became a competitor to them, and a threat to their class interests.

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