Clashes between paramilitaries and the Sudanese army


Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo will attend the 2022 meeting in Khartoum, Sudan. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP/Getty Images)

The Rapid Support Force is the leading paramilitary group in Sudan, whose leader Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo has enjoyed a meteoric rise to power since the beginning of Sudan’s Darfur conflict in the early 2000s.

At the time, he was the leader of Sudan’s notorious Janjaweed forces, which were involved in human rights abuses and atrocities.

Despite international outcry over the Janjaweed’s actions in Darfur, then Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir turned the group into a paramilitary force known as the Border Intelligence Units. It was the beginning of an illustrious and deeply controversial military career.

In 2007, Khartoum appointed him a brigadier general and his troops were integrated into the country’s intelligence services. In 2013, Bashir formally established a paramilitary operational support force led by Dagalo and directly led by Bashir.

He was popularly known by his family nickname Hemedti. The former dictator publicly called him by the nickname Himaiti, which means “my protector”.

Growth of wealth and power: Dagalo’s consolidation of power was accompanied by a rapid accumulation of wealth. The leader of the military group captured the main gold mining sites in the Darfur region. In 2017, the country’s gold sales accounted for 40 percent of exports.

Dagalo also began to develop major foreign relations. In 2015, Dagalo sent RSF units to Yemen when Sudan joined the Saudi-led coalition to fight Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. Among other missions, the troops were tasked with a key security portfolio – guarding Saudi Arabia’s border with the war-torn country.

Dagalo’s force quickly grew to tens of thousands of men, including thousands of armed vans, which regularly patrolled the streets of the capital, Khartoum.

Dagalo betrayed Bashir and helped overthrow him. Sources told CNN that when Bashir was ousted, he personally told Bashir it was “time to step down.” By this time he was one of the most powerful and wealthy people in Sudan.

After Bashir left power: In June 2019, Dagalo forces opened fire on an anti-Bashir and pro-democracy rally in Khartoum, killing at least 118 people. They allegedly set fire to protesters’ tents, killed sit-in participants and, according to several reports, raped female protesters.

Later that summer, he was appointed deputy to the Transitional Sovereignty Council to govern Sudan in partnership with civilian leaders.

He also inherited a key relationship backed by Bashir — a working relationship with the Russian paramilitary group Wagner, which a CNN investigation found helped prevent a democratic transition and use Sudan’s gold wealth to help finance and lift Western sanctions against Russia. Invasion of Moscow. From Ukraine.

Relations with the military leader: Sudanese military leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Dagalo were – before Saturday’s clashes – in bed. The 2021 coup and Bashir’s earlier ouster were linked to them.

Sudanese civil movement and Sudanese military sources told CNN that the main points of contention were the timing of the consolidation of forces, the status of RSF officers in the future hierarchy and whether RSF forces should exist. under the command of the army chief. – Not the Commander-in-Chief of Sudan – Al-Burhan at the moment.

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