Imperialists bloody their hands in Sudan

The civil war in Sudan between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the two rival factions within the military coup government, marks its first anniversary on 15 April. The war has returned to the capital, Khartoum, with the RSF having taken almost the entire city. SAF general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, de facto ruler of Sudan since he assumed power in a coup in October 2021, has moved his government to Port Sudan, 670 kilometres away. 25 million Sudanese people, over half of the population, are reportedly in need of urgent aid with the UN’s aid chief Martin Griffiths referring to Sudan as ‘the place of the greatest suffering in the world’. With the media focus on the Israeli genocide in Gaza, and the war in Ukraine, the Sudanese civil war has become known as ‘the hidden war’.

On 16 March, the newly appointed US Special Envoy for Sudan Tom Perriello claimed that there was ‘political will’ to end the Sudan war, and that the United States is ‘raising the heat’ on all powers supporting sides in the civil war. This comes after widely publicised news of the foreign support that the civil war has invited, with the United Arab Emirates and Russia backing the RSF, while Ukrainian special forces have been fighting alongside the SAF. Russian support has mostly taken the form of Wagner Group mercenaries fighting alongside the RSF, while Ukraine has alleged its only reason for being involved is to combat the Wagner Group, with President Zelensky having met the SAF’s al-Burhan to discuss their ‘common security challenges, namely the activities of illegal armed groups financed by Russia.’

The war is being financed by the key imperialist players, including Britain, Russia and the US. The UAE has invested heavily in Sudanese goldmines going back to before the civil war, and both the RSF and SAF have sent soldiers to fight against Ansar Allah, commonly known as the Houthis, in the joint Saudi-Emirati invasion of Yemen from 2015 onward. The UAE is one of the main oil exporters in the world, with much of its wealth coming from the key imperialist powers, including Britain. Similarly, US and British imperialist interests in combating Russia are being once again channelled through Ukraine, while Russia is operating indirectly through the Wagner private military company. The RSF is depicted in the media as a group directly acting on behalf of Russian interests. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemedti), leader of the RSF, visited Rwanda in January 2024 to meet directly with President Paul Kagame, who is accused of financing a genocide in the Democratic Republic of Congo in order to export rare minerals to imperialist countries. At the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) conference, Hemedti represented Sudan while al-Burhan officially boycotted the conference, claiming that African countries were complicit in their support for the RSF. This broader support for the RSF amongst African countries follows the Russia-Africa Summit in 2023, which saw a broad coalition in Africa for reorienting themselves towards the Russian state.

Sudan has a long history of oppression by imperialism, having once been a colony jointly occupied by Britain and its vassal state, the Kingdom of Egypt. The British faced many challenges in governing the area, with ‘Mahdist’ Islamist rebels occupying most of the country at one time, before being crushed by Lord Kitchener leading a joint British-Egyptian army. Even following the withdrawal of British troops from Egypt, they continued to garrison Sudan until the Egyptian revolution in 1952, in which Gamal Abdel Nasser’s nationalist government relinquished its sovereignty over Sudan and forced the British out of Egypt.

Following a series of coups and military governments, Colonel Omar al-Bashir led the country through both a military government and then a one-party state in alliance with Islamist political factions, particularly Hassan al-Turabi. The influence of these groups led to Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda establishing a presence in Sudan, which gave the United States an excuse to bomb a Sudanese pharmaceutical factory which they accused of manufacturing chemical weapons for the terrorist group. The US led a push to internationally isolate Sudan, with US sanctions crippling the country. These sanctions didn’t end until 2017.

The war has drawn popular opposition to both the RSF and the SAF both in Sudan and worldwide. A vibrant civilian protest movement, supported by the Sudanese Communist Party, has taken root in most major cities protesting against both major factions and the imperialist involvement in the war. Militant groups who fought against the Sudanese army in Darfur such as the Sudanese Liberation Movement and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army have continued their campaign against the Sudanese government and the RSF. In Britain, protests have taken place against the RSF and SAF, as well as against UAE involvement.Sections of the British working class are making the link between Palestine, Sudan and the genocide in the Congo, with the group London For Sudan organising regular protests against imperialist involvement in all these wars.

Imperialists out of Sudan!

Jacob O’Neill