How the Gulf states, gold mines and mercenaries play a role in the Sudanese conflict 20:39 in Abroad There are calls from many sides for a ceasefire, but those calls have not yet had any effect.

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Smoke over capital Khartoum.
NOS NewsAmended
  • Ellen van Gelder

    correspondent Africa

For the third day in a row, Sudan has been the scene of bombs and explosions. According to the UN, the death toll is more than 180. Citizens watch helplessly as two generals fight for power with brute force.

Both men do not have broad support from the population. But internationally, the warring parties can count on various allies, such as the Gulf states. They unanimously call for an end to the violence, so far without effect.

Since Saturday, general of the paramilitary group RSF, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (better known as Hemedti) and general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan of the government army have been facing each other.

Eyewitnesses tell NOS by telephone that they have the feeling that there are more and more soldiers in the capital Khartoum, and that gunfire and explosions are increasing. They say they do not support any of the fighting parties.

Citizens feel betrayed

In the capital, a citizens’ movement has been demonstrating for years for a transition to democracy. These citizens feel betrayed time and time again by the military leaders.

Both Hemedti and al-Burhan are responsible for human rights violations and the killing of civilians, now and in the past.

In the streets of the capital Khartoum, battles are fought with tanks and machine guns mounted on jeeps. Fighter jets carry out bombing missions:

Khartoum awakens to gunfire and black clouds of smoke: fighting in Sudan continues

Meanwhile, many sides are urging the fighting to cease. The United States, the UN, the European Union and the African Union all made themselves heard. The Arab League also urged a truce after urgent consultations.

The Islamic Gulf states have long-standing relations with the military rulers in Sudan, which is also Muslim. For example, under Hemedti’s leadership, the RSF was also deployed abroad. Members of the RSF fought on the side of Saudi Arabia in the war in Yemen. They were also hired by the United Arab Emirates to fight in Libya. In return, Hemedti received financial support from both countries and money flowed towards building the RSF in their own country.

It is unclear how many RSF troops are still in Yemen. According to a local journalist in Sudan, who prefers not to be named, there is a chance that the RSF will bring back troops from Yemen to use in the power struggle in their own country. Saudi Arabia wants to prevent that and that could be one reason why the country is pushing for an end to fighting in Sudan.

Egyptian soldiers also in Sudan

On the other hand, al-Burhan, the leader of the regular army, has good relations with Egypt. Egyptian soldiers were detained this weekend in Sudan by the RSF at an air base in Meroë north of Khartoum. The battle group states that the soldiers have surrendered.

According to Egypt, the soldiers in Sudan were on exercise, but there are also reports that they wanted to assist the regular army by carrying out air strikes. The RSF says it is willing to hand over the soldiers. It is not clear whether that will happen.

Battle for the gold

The current power struggle cannot be viewed separately from the battle for gold in Sudan. RSF General Hemedti controls gold mines in the southern Darfur region. For years, much of that gold has gone to the Gulf States. The income is used to buy new weapons.

Hemedti also has good ties with Russian President Putin. The notorious Russian mercenary army, the Wagner Group, also has a gold mine in Sudan and works closely with the RSF.

It has long been feared that the gold from Sudan will be used to finance the war against Ukraine. The Wagner group would support the RSF with weapons in return. Hemedti also visited Putin. They discussed the possibilities for Russia to open a naval base on Sudan’s east coast.

For example, it is a conflict with many interests and powerful players that extends far beyond the borders of Sudan.

Meanwhile, the presidents of Kenya, South Sudan and Djibouti have said they want to travel to Khartoum. How they want to do that is unclear, because the bombed-out airport of the capital is now one of the most dangerous places in Sudan. It is therefore unclear when the presidents will be able to come up with a peace proposal and whether the generals will listen to their worried neighbors at all.

In the Netherlands, Sudanese watch what is happening in their country. Abdulaal also receives many intense images:

Abdulaal tries to keep in touch with family and friends in Sudan: ‘Get many intense images forwarded’
  • What you need to know about the outbreak of violence in Sudan
  • Fight continues in Sudan, general wants international intervention
  • Continued fighting in Sudan, UN suspends emergency aid
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    Struggle in Sudan

  • Abroad

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