The conflict in Sudan, Africa’s third largest country, approaches its eleventh month. Over 15,000 have been killed and 10.7 million displaced from their homes, representing the world’s largest displacement crisis. 1.7 million seek refuge in neighbouring countries. Compounding matters, 25 million people in Sudan, almost equaling Australia’s population, need humanitarian assistance. However, with competing Palestine and Ukraine crises, Sudan’s catastrophe is not given due global attention and humanitarian support, while UN funds are running out.
We ask readers to ascertain the facts. Credible evidence indicates that the UAE seeks to destroy democratic movements in the MENA region seen as threats to their hereditary rule.
We could also ask: “Doesn’t your ally Israel also benefit from efforts creating instability in Muslim countries?”
In 2020, UAE normalized relations with Israel to the extent they share intelligence and conducted joint military exercises.
Sami Al-Arian, Director of the Istanbul-based Centre for Islam and Global Affairs, commented that since the 2011 Arab uprisings, UAE sought an ‘expansive’ role in the region and took Israel as an ally to ‘roll back’ democratization movements.
UAE succeeded devastatingly well in impeding democracies in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Sudan.
In 2019, with UAE and Saudi Arabia support and a popular uprising, Sudan’s military overthrew long-time autocrat President Omar al-Bashir.
General al-Burhan, head of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and General Mohamed Hamdan aka Hemedti, head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), jointly installed the Transitional Military Council (TMC) to rule the country. A Sovereignty Council was formed to negotiate a transition to democracy.
Emirates’ financial flows however, helped generals resist the popular democratic movement. Unsurprisingly then, the 2021 military coup in which al-Burhan took full power, dismantled power-sharing with Sudan’s civil society and facilitated covert UAE/Saudi/Egyptian control.
UAE’s influence bore fruit in Sudan’s 2020 normalization agreement with Israel.
The US government covertly supported military rule in Sudan. Edward Wong (NYT) wrote: ”the Biden administration, rather than empowering civilian leaders, prioritized working with the two rival generals, even after they’d seized power in that coup.”
The UAE strengthened military rule, especially promoting Hemedti’s leadership, whose rapid response forces (RSF) massacred 130 street protestors. The RSP militia grew out of Darfur’s genocidal Janjaweed militias.
General al-Burhan’s support, however, derives from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, now weakened since Saudi took a backseat, while Egypt has financial woes.
Hemedti, who a diplomat described as “the agent and the proxy of the Emirates,” consolidated his position as a central player thanks to his ability to buy off potential dissenters/competitors. (Gallopin)
Andrew Krieg states: “The network that feeds Sudan’s warlord Hemedti … is an intricate carousel of capital, arms, gold and mercenaries established by Abu Dhabi … UAE banks and front companies are front and center when it comes to underwriting RSF’s cash flow.
Anyone who wants to end the fighting in Sudan must dial 971, because any road to Hemedti leads inevitably through the Emirates.”
Sudan’s most important export is gold. Gold mining is largely owned by a Russian-Sudanese JV but hasn’t benefitted the Sudanese people.
Ricket believes 70% of the gold is smuggled out of the country, with Hemedti’s family benefitting from much of it. It allows the Wagner mercenary group to pay for its African operations.
Dubai, world-leading gold-trading hub, provides the necessary avenues to exchange this gold for cash. (Krieg)
Clearly, Hemedti, Wagner Group, and the UAE are locked in a symbiotic embrace of illicit wealth, that they would find difficult to end, even if this is necessary for Sudan’s future stability.
Now, Generals al-Burhan and Hemedti have been warring since April 2023, when RSF forces attacked SAF positions in Khartoum.
The war is destroying the state they seized in the 2021 coup, which prevented a democratic transition. Both generals are thereby responsible with blood on their hands for the catastrophe.
Weak international efforts to stop the bloodshed have failed. “The RSF, according to Emirati officials in private, its backers, see no point in a truce in a war it is winning.” (Economist)
The Economist (11/2023) highlights: “RSF’s [successes in fighting SAF] reflect uneven support outsiders give the two sides. The UAE reportedly provides the RSF with weapons, armoured vehicles and drones via Chad … By one count there were 168 airlifts from the UAE between May and September (2023).”
Anti-aircraft missiles supplied by the Wagner Group have helped the RSF erode SAF’s air power advantage.
Other evidence corroborates UAE’s provision of arms to the RSF, such as discovery of UAE-purchased thermobaric bombs in RSF’s hands. (Krieg)
The RSF however, is totally unqualified to run the country. They are militiamen with a history of genocide, without a governing strategy.
General al-Burhan highlighted: “the whole world witnesses the RSF committing war crimes and crimes against humanity in West Darfur and the rest of Sudan.”
UN sanction monitors wrote in their annual report to the UN Security Council: ‘Intense violence’ in El Geneina targeting the African Masalit tribe was “planned, coordinated and executed by RSF and their allied Arab militias.”
UNHR Commissioner, Volker Turk, cited widespread credible reports that the RSF committed ethnic civilian massacres. UN experts document brutal, widespread rape and sexual violence by the RSF.
The key stakeholders responsible for the catastrophic Sudan civil war, all Muslims – al-Burhan, Hemedti and UAE leaders – are bound by Allah Almighty’s Order: “The Believers are but a single brotherhood, so make peace and reconciliation between your two contending brothers; and fear Allah, so you receive Mercy.” (Quran 49:10)
Further, Islamic governance demands civilian rule so al-Burhan and Hemedti must transfer power to Sudanese civilian delegates.
And those who plot for material benefit against the maslahah (public good), and kill Muslims; Know that: “If one kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (forever); God’s anger and curse are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.” (Quran 4:93)
In concluding, the outcome from investigating the many paths towards Sudan’s destruction leads an impartial observer to the UAE Leadership. Evidence indicates the UAE was involved in al-Bashir’s overthrow; UAE ensured power did not pass to civilian rule, UAE became involved in the gold trade that propped up Hamedti, UAE chose to support the RSF militia and provided them with weapons; and so has become complicit in probable war crimes perpetrated by the RSF.
Surely, it is time for the UAE to turn over a new leaf and rectify its past actions.
I suggest a 3-point solution:
1) UAE stops support for the RSF and promotes reconciliation with the SAF towards RSF demobilization, and a military handover to civilian representatives.
2) Russia influences the Wagner Group to withdraw military support for RSF; gold mining should benefit the Sudanese as a whole.
3) All governments should seek the cessation of hostilities in Sudan, the return of displaced peoples, and when national security is achieved, free elections for a civilian government.