In April, a war broke out in Sudan between the National Army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia. The impact has been devastating; thousands killed and millions displaced, in addition to the massive destruction of buildings and infrastructure.
While many countries remain neutral or are pushing both sides to the current peace talks, others, pursuing their narrowed interests, have decided to fuel the conflict by backing the militia and supplying it with arms.
This move has resulted in sustaining the Sudanese suffering, risking sending the whole country into the abuse of civil war, and destabilizing the region by strengthening the coalition between the militia and notorious groups such as Wagner.
The RSF was created primarily to restructure the notorious Janjaweed militia in 2013. The government aimed to support the counterinsurgency operations in Darfur and South Kordofan. In 2017, the Sudanese parliament passed a law that organized and legitimized the militia’s activities.
The Army’s chief recently issued a decree to dissolve the militia. Now headed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the RSF has committed countless crimes and atrocities, including destroying villages, killing peaceful protestors, sexual violations and rape, mass killings, and unlawful detention of citizens, in addition to targeting hospitals and churches and killing based on ethnicity during the ongoing war.
Despite the renewal of the UN arms embargo that was imposed on Darfur last March, several countries keep violating this decision and still supply and facilitate the transportation of weapons and arms to the RSF militia.
For years, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been the main backer for the RSF militia with arms and logistics. For instance, in April 2020, an investigative report exposed that Abu Dhabi had supplied the militia with 1,000 four-wheel drive vehicles. Arms experts showed that the drones run by the militia originated in the UAE were used during the ongoing battles. Under the disguise of humanitarian aid, the UAE built an airport in Amdjarass at the eastern border of Chad. It started to funnel military support to the RSF militia in Darfur. The UAE preceded this step by exchanging agreements and memoranda of understanding with Chad.
With the outbreak of the war, General Khalifa Haftar, who controls eastern Libya, began sending military support to the militia. In April 2023, a CNN report backed by satellite images revealed that the militia received military aid from an airbase in eastern Libya. Haftar also reportedly supplied the militia with gasoline and weapons from the Kufra region in Libya. However, International monitoring led Haftar to change his military supply routes.
Disturbingly, the militia also received heavy military types of equipment from the notorious Russian Wagner group, which included weapons and anti-craft missiles. The RSF militia leaders also met with the former Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin and agreed to obtain military support in exchange for smuggling Sudanese gold.
Thus far, there have been several voices condemning the military support to the militia; for instance, Refugees International issued a statement calling for an investigation of the arms shipment to Darfur, admitting it posed a threat. The CIA has closely followed the growing ties between the militia and Wagner in Chad and Central Africa.
Risks of continuing to supply arms to the militia
Any continuation of sanctioning the provision of military support to the militia directly means accelerating the rise of Russia's trusted ally in Africa who has once openly defended the invasion of Ukraine. This grim scenario, which is now becoming more realistic than ever before, will result in the export of more gold to Russia to bypass Western sanctions, alternative routes to send arms to the Ukrainian front, the establishment of a Russian naval base on the Red Sea, and putting Europe under the militia’s threat to influx it with immigrants.
Most recently, the militia committed several crimes in Darfur against non-Arabic tribes such as the Masslait. This military support was the lifeline to the militia to commit its subsequent genocide and strengthen a war militia whose leader threatened to send the whole country to the unknown in case the Sudanese requested to integrate his troops into the national army and build a unified army in a democratic country.
This military support must be stopped through different approaches. The West, which was hitherto reluctant to take sides and realize the threat this militia poses to its interests in the long run, should exert intense diplomatic pressure on countries that back the militia with arms.
Moreover, Ukraine, in particular, which already reportedly intervened by attacking the Wagner group through drone and ground operations, should move further and seriously take a clear decision to cut these military support lines. While taking place far from it, such a preemptive military step is vital to protect its national security.
The views expressed are the author’s and not necessarily of Kyiv Post.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter