In recent days, yet another war has officially broken out in Sudan. The country holds the dismal African record of nine coups since 1960, once again plunging the country into chaos.
So let us see in detail what is happening in Sudan and why, but also what Vladimir Putin’s Russia has been and continues to be playing in all of this.
Sudan, what is happening in the country and why war has broken out
To better understand what is going on in Sudan today, and which two factions are fighting, it is necessary to rewind the tape a few years. To be precise to the time when the two protagonists of this feud, Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (also known as Hemeti) met.
Al-Burhan was one of the commanders of the bloody Darfur War (which began in 2003 over rivalry between two ethnic groups), while Dagalo was one of the Janjaweed, a pro-government militia group.
At the time, power was in the hands of Omar al Bashir, who held it until 2019. The dictator, condemned by Western political forces, was in fact dismissed by al-Burhan and Dagalo, who shared power from that point on, having accumulated fortunes and influence during the al Bashir years.
At this point, international agreements stipulated that, after a transitional phase entrusted to a military body (the Military Transition Council, chaired by al-Burhan), Sudan would move toward democratic elections.
As the deadline approached, however, al-Burhan staged a coup to retain power, in which he received support from Dagalo himself. The latter, meanwhile, had in fact climbed the ranks of the RSF, “Raid support forces,” the institutionalized version of the janjaweed. Thus becoming its leader.
This paramilitary body was supposed to be absorbed by the army as part of the democratic transition. But Dagalo, deputy chairman of the council after the coup, opposed this. Thus proposing that the process be extended by a decade or so.
At the moment, Dagalo and al-Burhan accuse each other of starting the conflict. It should also be mentioned how Sudan is among the top 20 countries in the world for corruption.
What is Russia’s role in all this?
Although it cannot be said that the coup was piloted by Wagner’s Russian mercenaries, it is true that there are several Russian interests in Sudan. And that Putin’s role in Sudanese political life in recent years has been particularly active.
Indeed, Sudan is the third largest producer of gold in all of Africa. As well as enjoying a large outlet on the Red Sea, just across from the Arabian Peninsula.
Since the war in Darfur, Russia has been the only country to violate the international embargo to supply Sudan with weapons against the rebels. And over the years it has supported the Sudanese government in multiple ways.
In return, Sudan has recognized Crimea as Russian territory since 2014. And in 2017 an agreement was signed to build a Russian military base in Port-Sudan, the country’s second largest city. A strong symbol for Russia, which after the fall of the USSR could no longer count on bases in Afrin.
Again in 2017, an agreement regarding gold mines had been signed precisely with Oligarch Evgenji Prigojine. He is one of the heads of Wagner, the mercenary company that supports Putin. In 2020, the United States accused Prigojine of exploiting Sudanese resources for his own personal enrichment through this very company.
Again, Dagalo had traveled to Russia on precisely Feb. 23, 2022, just before the start of the invasion of Ukraine, to get guarantees of arms and grain.
According to geopolitical experts, Russia would support Dagalo precisely at the moment. Partly because a democratic development in Sudan could jeopardize Russian projects in the region.