African Passion


ТАСС, Mohammed Abu Obaid, EPA

War in Sudan as a continuation of Western and U.S. policy to oust Russia from the position of a leading geopolitical player on the world stage.

While the attention of the world is riveted on the special military operation in Ukraine, reports have come in about the military conflict in Sudan, a country, until recently one of the largest in Africa with the richest gold and oil reserves. A real civil war has broken out there with the use of aircraft, artillery and tanks, with military and civilian casualties.

And it seems far away from us, but in fact we propose to consider these events as one of the links in the chain of serious international events. To begin with, let us try to figure out the intricacies of politics in this African country.

For 30 years Sudan was ruled by President Omar al-Bashir, under whom a civil war broke out in a part of the country populated predominantly by black people, while the majority of the population is Arab. This war resulted in the creation of a separate state, South Sudan, which broke away from the main Sudan. But political life in the country did not stabilize there. In 2018, protests began against the government of Omar al-Bashir, and the army overthrew him, declaring a state of emergency and promising that power would pass to elected representatives of the people after the armed forces had taken the country out of crisis.

But history knows very few examples, especially in Africa, of the military voluntarily handing over power to civilians. As they say, we didn't shed blood for that... And in the end two generals seized power: Abdel-Fatah-al Burhan, who was said to have Sufi roots and to have led the regular army, and General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a camel dealer before serving in the army and now leader of the Janjaweed militia (a name like in the 1001 Night tales, "Men on horseback"), also known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Some analysts consider it a special forces unit, others are inclined to believe that it is a militia unit. Incidentally, Dagalo was a deputy of al-Burhan, the head of Sudan's Transitional Council.

The emergence of the RSF itself is interesting. During the war in Darfur, a region of Sudan rich in minerals, the black tribes living there rebelled, believing that the Arabs were oppressing them by monopolizing resources. That's when the authorities formed units from the Arab population to fight the black inhabitants. Over time they strengthened, it is written that their numbers reached as many as 100,000. And in 2013, President Al-Bashir reorganized the Janjaweed into the RSF (Rapid Support Forces), something similar to Iran's IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps). In other words, two parallel armies appeared in the country, two forces that were to enter into an armed conflict sooner or later.

They are led by two generals who were not at all eager to hand over power, but rather were looking for an excuse to become the sole ruler of the country.

What triggered the armed clash between them? Al Burhan decided to subordinate the RSF to the army, and the RSF responded by redeploying to Khartoum and other cities. The army perceived this as an attempt to attack its positions. General Al Burhan demanded a dissolution of the RSF. And full-scale combat operations began, using sophisticated weapons. The army's attempt to "wrest" from the RSF the airfield, through which it was selling gold to supplement its budget, also played an important role.

As a result, the army began to use artillery, tanks and aircraft against the RSF, which the latter did not have. So the first thing they did was to seize the largest airfield in Khartoum and burn all the planes standing there, regardless of whether they were military or civilian.

The situation is aggravated by the fact that behind each of the generals there are foreign political forces. The Emirates and Saudi Arabia support General Dagalo, while Egypt sides with Al Burhan, who sees Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi as a role model and has even concluded a treaty with Cairo to establish an air force base on Sudanese territory.

In addition, China has tightly entered Sudan, attracted by its oil and gold, and is actively building its infrastructure on its territory.

And what is Russia's position in this country, which is called the "Gateway to Africa"? Admittedly, in recent years Russia has developed a very successful and thoughtful policy towards Africa, which clearly strains the U.S. and the European Union. France is especially enraged, which is being driven out of the places of its traditional influence in Africa by the local governments, giving more and more preference to Russia. And the fact that Russia has no colonial history in the Black Continent is important.

We must admit that Russia is successfully beginning to integrate with Africa. Russia has normal political relations with both generals. One of them was on a visit to Moscow, the other - Dagalo - made a statement in support of Russia and its participation in the special military operation.

Having no colonial past that Africans cannot forget, Russia is successfully establishing trade and economic relations with Sudan. Russia is actively involved in gold mining in this country; gold mining companies Siberian for Mining and Rosgeologiya are actively developing deposits.

Russia is also ready to help in the development of oil fields; major projects in aviation, telecommunications, agriculture and other sectors are planned.

One of the most important issues of Russian-Sudanese relations is the construction of a Russian base - a logistics point on the Red Sea. Back in 2020, an agreement was signed, which should have been ratified after the transfer of power to the civilian government. But it seems that, in line with recent events, this will not happen soon. According to the agreement, the sea base will be valid for 25 years, then an extension for another 10 years is possible, if neither party is opposed. Up to 4 ships and 300 servicemen may be deployed at a time. In exchange, Russia pledged to supply arms and military equipment.

On February 8, 2023, during the visit of Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to Khartoum, negotiations were held again, and Sudan reaffirmed its interest in establishing a base in the Port of Sudan, which caused fierce displeasure of the United States and the European Union. Is this not the reason for the conflict that has erupted in Sudan?

How might the confrontation between the two generals end, and how might this affect the continuation of negotiations about the Russian base and its investments? I am sure that neither of the generals will be able to win a convincing victory, and after a while they will be forced to sit down at the negotiating table. With each other. It is possible that for each of Sudan's military leaders the issue of the Russian sea base is just a bargaining chip in the game with the West and the United States. African politics is a complex and peculiar thing.