A clash between the army and the Rapid Support Forces is imminent, especially after Hemedti and his brother Abdel Rahim made moves to strengthen the Rapid Support Militia and turn it into a separate state within the state, amid fears from army leaders who demand an end to these moves.
At a time when the Vice-President of the illegitimate, putschist Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti”, was waving his hand goodbye from the plane that was taking him to the Russian capital, Moscow, the head of the coup d’état, army commander Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan was inspecting the armored vehicles at Al-Shajarah south of Khartoum.
Al-Burhan’s inspection and Hemedti’s departure were described by some as a natural product of the rift between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, despite the two denying the existence of this dispute.
Sources have told AlTagheer that there was indeed a dispute between the leaderships of the army, led by al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Hemedti, especially after the latter’s expansion, which made it a force parallel to the army, and against the backdrop of successive foreign visits by Hemedti to South Sudan, the UAE, and Ethiopia.
The sources said that the intermediate ranks in the army informed Commander-in-Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan of the necessity of puttng an end to the Rapid Support Commander’s ambitions –by force– in the event that he does not integrate his forces into the Sudanese Armed Forces, and the formation of a single national army as stipulated in the Juba Peace Agreement signed between the government and the Revolutionary Front on October 3rd 2020.
The sources believe that the conflict between the army and the rapid support is imminent after Hemedti’s foreign moves.
Writer and political analyst, Hajj Warraq, had warned in a political symposium at the Republican Party House before the October 25 coup that any military coup led by Hemedti and Al-Burhan would end in conflict between the two because the nature of the coup dictates a single ruler; one head in power, not two.
What favors this hypothesis is the division in the regional axis supporting military rule in Sudan (Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt) on the basis of each country’s individual interest.
Egypt wants military rule with absolute control of the army led by Al-Burhan, while the Emirates is closely with Hemedti.
Despite that, the UAE and Saudi Arabia did not financially support the October 25th coup due to US-European pressure.
This pressure resulted in the signing of a four-way statement on December 2021 that included America, Britain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which stated: “We affirm our collective and individual support for the people of Sudan, and their aspirations for a stable and peaceful democratic nation, as the protests have shown. The continued commitment of the Sudanese people to the democratic transition deepens, and protecting them from violence must remain a priority.”
Against the background of this statement, which cut off the economic lifeline of the coup, and with the escalation of popular resistance and the restlessness of the Sudanese army, in which the Islamists still have the greatest influence, Hemedti sensed potential danger.
He sensed an Islamist coup, one that would topple al-Burhan and completely remove the Rapid Support Forces from the scene, either by integrating it into the army and completely excluding Hemedti from the scene or engaging with him militarily if he provides any resistance.
Observers, in their attempts to explain Hemedti’s movements, particularly to the Emirates and Ethiopia, sending his envoys to Israel, and finally his visit to Moscow, see these moves as groundwork for the search for regional and international networks in favor of his own ambitions of monopolizing power through an electoral campaign that he began to prepare for internally.
On the other hand, sources cited in the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed website, stated that al-Burhan informed a high-ranking Egyptian official, via the Egyptian embassy in Khartoum, about his concerns regarding “incomprehensible movements” made by Dagalo.
The sources indicated that al-Burhan had shown fears of an arranged coup, led by Hemeti, with internal and external parties, the outcome of which will be his replacement by another figure from within the military establishment.
Two weeks ago, Hemedti left Khartoum for Moscow on an official visit at the invitation of the Russian government.
Al-Sharq channel and Bloomberg, quoted sources saying that Hemedti was going to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.
Integrating Rapid Support into the Army
Sources revealed to AlTaghyeer that there was an “oral” agreement between al-Burhan and Hemedti to integrate the Rapid Support Forces into the army, and said that the agreement came against the backdrop of Hemedti’s announcement of his intention to run in the upcoming elections.
The military component had tied its approval of his candidacy with him integrating his forces into the army.
Meanwhile, al-Burhan categorically refused to run, and the blessing was granted to Hemedti’s candidacy for the 2023 elections, after the integration of his forces into the army.
The credibility of these leaks was reinforced by the statement of Jumaa Dagalo, Hemedti’s uncle, to Al-Saiha newspaper.
He revealed the Native Administrations’ intention to present his nephew as a candidate in the presidential elections, and an account was created on “Facebook” under the name “Together to nominate Hemedti in the 2023 elections for the presidency of Sudan.”
Rapid Support Law
On January 17, 2017, the parliament of the regime of ousted President Omar al-Bashir passed the Rapid Support Forces law, which made the militia officially affiliated with the Presidency of the Republic.
The law gave the President of the Republic the right to merge the Rapid Support Forces with the Armed Forces at any time in accordance with the constitution and the law, and gave the President the authority to appoint a Rapid Support Commander.
In the last days of al-Bashir’s era, the leader of the Rapid Support Militia was appointed within the Supreme Security Committee, which itself played a part in the toppling of al-Bashir after the intensification of public pressure demanding he steps down.
The constitutional document that was signed between the military component and the forces of Freedom and Change, before al-Burhan’s coup last year, considered the Rapid Support Militia as part of the regular forces.
However, the Rapid Support Militia operates independent of the army, despite its members being subject to the army’s law.
In recent years, the militia had built a huge military and financial empire.
It owns mines, gold companies, and real estate in capitals in various countries, and independent international relations, with countries such as Russia, the United Arab Emirates, Ethiopia, and Chad.
Its leaders dominate civil administrations, especially in the Darfur region, and spend billions of Sudanese pounds on repairing its unsavory reputation and buying loyalists.
Al-Burhan and Hemedti have strong and fateful relations because of their work together in Darfur during the Darfur wars, and that they both face a similar fate, especially after the October 25th coup.
The Rift between Al-Burhan and Hemedti
There is a refusal and mistrust among Sudanese army officers rearding Hemedti and his brother Abdel Rahim’s attempts to strengthen the Rapid Support Militia and turn it into forces similar to Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
It is not unlikely that Russia will support the militia with advanced weapons, following Hemedti’s visit to Moscow.
According to Lieutenant Colonel Omar Arbab, there is “a strong conflict between Al-Burhan and Hemedti, and the next stage cannot bear the two men together.”
Arbab told AlTaghyeer that the Al-Burhan’s time at helm is running out due to a number of factors, the most important of which is that the military institution is governed by hierarchical controls, therefore al-Burhan seeks to appoint an ally for him to guarantee his safe exit; a process that would requires a large sacrifice, one the size of Hemedti, to help appease the fuming Sudanese street.
Omar explained that Hemedti “still believes that he can continue forward, as the man does not spend all this money and does all these actions for the purpose of escaping only. It seems that his ambitions are greater than his capabilities and his realistic situation, and this explains the man’s movements internally through forming alliances with the civil administration and the implementation of youth projects and others….”
“… as well as externally, through visits, through which he wants to say that it is the best and strongest option, especially since these movements are with countries that have an impact on the scene and their internal influence,” he continued.
“The rapid support has doubled its military power and expanded in other economic and social areas, even externally, and it has become a state within a state, and this is a worrying matter.”
On the possibility of a collision between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, Arbab says that “there is no doubt that the movements and expansion of the rapid support have been denounced within the army, and many believe that al-Burhan’s weakness was the reason for this expansion. It is a correct belief in my estimation. The two men, despite their conflicts and disagreements, share a common history and a common destiny. This complicates the nature of their alliance.”
He added: “The possibility of confrontations between the army and the rapid support, I do not think that they will occur due to the balance of power between the two parties, and if they happen, God forbid, it means the end of a thing called Sudan.”
On the possibility of a collision between the army and the rapid support, Arbab says: “There is no doubt that the movements and expansion of the rapid support have been denounced within the army, and many believe that the weakness of the proof is the reason for this expansion.. It is a correct belief in my estimation. The two men, despite their conflicts and disagreements, share a common history and a common destiny. This complicates the nature of the two men’s alliances.”
He added: “The possibility of confrontations between the army and the rapid support, I do not think that they will occur due to the balance of power between the two parties, and if they happen, God forbid, it means the end of a state whose name was Sudan” – as he put it.
The Alliance’s Support for al-Burhan
The leader of the coup, al-Burhan, had the support of the “Saudi-Emirati” coalition when he was supervising the dispatch of Sudanese forces to support the “Coalition to Support Legitimacy in Yemen.”
Al-Burhan, despite the great pressure he faced from the civilian government and the demand for the withdrawal of Sudanese forces from Yemen, was steadfast in sending Sudanese troops over to Yemen.
Reports indicated that Sudanese forces were also present in Libya to support Khalifa Haftar’s army, which is largely backed by the UAE and Egypt, in the face of the authorities from the Libyan West.
The coup leaders in Sudan face a major obstacle towards them fully seizing power, especially with Washington, Berlin, and other capitals suspending aid intended to support the democratic transition in the country, forcing the coup government to appoint a former member of Congress with a history of opposing the ousted President Omar al-Bashir, to help repair relations with Washington and help re-secure US aid that was suspended after the coup of October 25, 2021; all in exchange for “30,000” dollars per month on a one-year contract for the former US Congressman.
Revitalization of Relations with Russia
Ambassador Khaled Farah said that the visit of the Vice-President of the Sovereignty Council, Lieutenant-General Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, to the State of Russia came at the invitation of the Russian government, explaining it was an old invitation that had nothing to do with the current developments in Russia, who is currently launching a full-fledged invasion into its neighbor, the state of Ukraine.
Farah explained to AlTagyheer that the aim of the visit was to revitalize cooperation with Moscow in political, economic, commercial, cultural and scientific fields.
“Sudan views Russia as a superpower with permanent membership in the Security Council,” Farah said, and indicated Khartoum’s keenness to develop these relations with the aim of advancing development.
On concerns regarding the impact of relations with Russia on Khartoum’s relationship with Washington or Western capitals, Ambassador Farah affirmed that there is nothing to fear in managing balanced bilateral relations with the international community and all countries active in it.
He stressed that Sudan has limited influence in the current Russian-American conflict, “a conflict that Khartoum has no dog in.”
“Most of the artillery and machines the Sudanese armed forces use are of Russian origin,” this was confirmed by the military expert Major General Ezz el-Din Othman to AlTaghyeer, commenting on the close interests between Khartoum and Moscow when it comes to military armament.
Othman agreed with Ambassador Farah that Moscow demanded that Hemedti visit in his capacity as deputy head of the Sovereignty Council, and not as the leader of the Rapid Support Forces.
The military expert described the link with Russia as “purely military.”
He told AlTaghyeer that relations with Russia are old and cannot be replaced in favor of another country.
“We cannot start from scratch or head for another direction.”
Observers expected Hemedti to have discussed the issue of reviving the Sudanese offer for the Russian corps to establish a naval base on the Red Sea coast.
The overthrown civilian government froze a unilateral decision by the military council to grant Russia a base near the port of Port Sudan to host nuclear ships.
Russia hopes to get the base to establish a foothold in the strategic region, strengthening its presence in Syria.
Regarding the presence of Russian companies working in gold in Sudan, Major General Othman confirmed that they are companies that have interests and businesses, denying their presence as a representative of the State of Russia.
He described relations with Russia as necessary, and pointed out that international relations are governed by economic, political, and military interests.
Military sources confirmed that Russia has interests in a number of African countries from which it takes diamonds and gold, such as Central Africa and Chad, and relies on the Rapid Support Forces to help it penetrate those countries in light of the heated Russian, American, French and Chinese competition within the African continent.
Cold War Conflict
Political analyst Dr. Osman Bersi is of a different opinion, as he believes that Moscow is fanning the flames of the Cold War all over again.
Bersi told AlTaghyeer that there was an international political reality that shows that Moscow had begun reigniting the flames of the Cold War a decade ago, as Russian influence began to appear in Syria and Libya.
“The conditions of the international economy represented in gold, oil, and gas, in addition to the ruling geopolitical advantages that will determine the shape of the international system, which had begun to take shape during the end of the nineties, where now we find that the international system is placed within the concepts of liquidity systems that have not yet been frozen, and this always follows well established international systems.”
“Also, the rise in food prices, especially wheat. These are all issues that had required Hemedti’s visit to Russia,” Bersi added.
“We do not forget that in the context of the geopolitical conflict, Russia had expected an agreement to establish a military base at the same time a visit by the US Navy was made to the Red Sea. Moscow enjoys an important economic and political position in Sudan, helps it enhance its military capabilities, especially as it represents the largest arms dealer for the Sudanese army.”
He explained that the Russian approach to Sudan was met with a violent American reaction as it does not only deal with Sudan, but with a geopolitical unit that includes the entire Horn of Africa.
“The American media empire, Fox News, revealed that the American strategy puts interests in mind, not democratic values or who rules Sudan,” Bersi continued.
“Therefore, America seeks to counter the Russian strategy throughout the region and in Sudan in particular.”
He pointed out that the Sudanese military component directs its foreign policies to deal with Russia more than it does the USA, and will not forget its support for it during the Security Council sessions, “where it considered the October 25th coup a correction of the course in Sudan.”
He stressed that the military structure in Sudan, after the revolution, has not been affected by any change; as a security system, it heads towards Russia for armament and training, and “all threats of sanctions against are considered to have no impact and are useless.”
He said that rapid support was established by a ruling from the military institute itself, within the framework of the military institutions that it manufactures, and that this is known in all global armies, especially the USA.
“Any attempt to separate the Rapid Support Forces from the rest of the military and security units will end in pure regret, and what supports this is the European Union’s assistance to the Rapid Support Forces in combating illegal immigration, where budgets in the millions of dollars have been provided for these operations.”