The Role of External Players in Sudan’s War


The potential for a prolonged conflict in Sudan is causing concern among experts and observers. The fighting between forces loyal to two generals, army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, has been ongoing for weeks. Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, is the commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary.

The situation is further complicated by outside forces, as both sides are receiving support from regional and global powers. This has led to fears that the conflict could escalate into a wider conflict with serious consequences for Sudan and the wider region.

To discuss the implications of this conflict, Folly Bah Thibault hosted a panel of experts on her show. Mat Nashed, a journalist and analyst covering the Middle East and North Africa region, Kholood Khair, founding director at Confluence Advisory, a Sudan-based think tank, and Khalid Medani, associate professor and chair of African Studies Program at McGill University, all offered their insights.

Nashed noted that the conflict between al-Burhan and Dagalo is not new, but rather the latest episode in a long-standing power struggle between the two men. He explained that al-Burhan represents the military establishment in Sudan, while Dagalo represents the paramilitary forces that emerged from the Janjaweed militias that were responsible for atrocities in Darfur.

According to Nashed, the RSF has become increasingly powerful in recent years, and Dagalo has ambitions to become the de facto ruler of Sudan. This has put him at odds with al-Burhan, who is seen as more aligned with civilian politicians.

Khair echoed Nashed’s analysis, noting that the conflict is not just about personalities but also about competing visions for Sudan’s future. She explained that al-Burhan and his allies want to maintain the status quo, while Dagalo and his supporters want to transform Sudan into a more authoritarian state.

Medani added that the conflict is also about control of resources, particularly gold and other minerals that are abundant in Sudan. He noted that the RSF has been accused of profiting from the exploitation of these resources, which has fueled corruption and contributed to the economic crisis in Sudan.

All three experts agreed that the conflict has the potential to escalate into a wider conflict with serious consequences for Sudan and the wider region. Nashed noted that outside powers, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, are supporting al-Burhan, while Qatar and Turkey are supporting Dagalo.

Khair added that the involvement of outside powers is exacerbating the conflict and making it harder to resolve. She noted that the international community needs to take a more active role in mediating the conflict and preventing it from spiraling out of control.

Medani agreed, noting that the African Union and other regional organizations need to step up their efforts to resolve the conflict. He also called for greater engagement from the United States and other global powers, noting that their support could be critical in preventing a wider conflict.

Overall, the panelists agreed that the conflict in Sudan is a complex and multi-faceted issue that requires a comprehensive solution. They emphasized the need for dialogue and mediation, as well as greater transparency and accountability in Sudan’s political and economic systems. Only by addressing these underlying issues can Sudan hope to avoid a prolonged conflict and achieve a more stable and prosperous future.