The clashes that broke out on 15 April, 2023 between the Sudanese National Army and the Rapid Support Forces has had a devastating impact. thousands are left dead and displaced in addition to massive destruction in buildings and infrastructure. The conflict soon devolved into a full-scale civil war.
Seven months into this war, it’s now more evident that the militia has no political goals other than seizing power, regardless of the violence it may cause and the humanitarian cost the Sudanese people will pay. The U.S. should stay true to its earlier pledge to disband the militia; such a step is obviously in the interest of both the U.S. and the Sudanese people in the long run.
The Rapid Support Forces was officially created in 2013 primarily to restructure the notorious Janjaweed militia. The aim was to back up the counterinsurgency operations in Darfur and South Kordofan. Later, in 2017, the Sudanese parliament passed a law that organized and legitimized the militia’s activities. Many independent reports exposed that the militia has committed countless crimes and atrocities, including destroying villages, killing protestors,sexual violations and rape, mass killings, and unlawful detention, in addition to targeting hospitals and churches during the ongoing war.
The U.S. foreign policy toward the Sudanese war currently abstains from taking the firm side. Its effort has been focusing on evacuating its citizens, monitoring violations, and providing humanitarian aid, in addition to mediating the peace talks and leveraging the diplomatic connection. Most recently, in early September sanctions were placed on the deputy head of RSF by the U.S. based upon on human rights violations and abuses. However, considering the severe threat that the militia poses to the U.S. and the Sudanese people’s interests, the U.S. effort should address the crisis at its root and focus on pushing to dismantle the militia. There are practical and moral reasons that would persuade U.S. policymakers to adopt this strategy.
The militia developed strong ties with the Russian Wagner group. For instance, during the ongoing war, it was exposed Wagner supplied the militia with missiles and aid from Libya in addition to backing the militia by sending light weapons and anti-aircraft guns from the Central African Republic In exchange for receiving Sudan’s smuggled gold in visiting Russia and defending its invasion to Ukraine and refusing the U.S. warning of hiring Wagner in Sudan war, the militia leader has proved several times to be future’s man in the African continent.
The recent scale of violations committed by the Rapid Support Forces members exposes that the militia leader has no complete control over it and foretells Sudan will fall into a fragile state if the group emerges victorious. Such senario will not only prove disastrous for Sudan and its people, but also have widespread influence on the global supply chains and production companies. For instance, the Gum Arabic, which Sudan produces more than 70% of the world supply and represents the main ingredient in soft drink such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi and cosmetic products, could be heavily impacted.
Last June, the Rapid Support Forces and its allied Arabic militias, committed large-scale massacres and ethnic cleansing in Darfur against the African tribes. Thousands were killed and raped and forced to displace out of their homes. Still, given the motivations and goals of these forces and militias to change the region’s demographics, we will most likely witness several crimes shortly. The U.S. has a moral ground to prevent the subsequent genocide in Darfur.
It’s time for the U.S. to reconsider its policy towards Sudan, which UAE primarily shapes. The RSF militia leading supporter, will work against its interests in the long term. Moreover, it will sustain, even indirectly, as a group of war militia whose leader previously threatened to send the whole country into the unknown if ever requested to integrate his troops into a unified national army. The U.S. must push to disband them, but this goal will only be practically achieved by placing more sanctions and pressure on countries such as Chad and UAE to stop backing these groups with military lifeline support.
Mohamed Suliman is a Sudanese writer based in Boston. USA, his most recent articles focus on the RSF militia and its violations.