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Faith Nyasuguta

Sudan’s army, silent for months on alleged Emirati interference in the civil war has erupted in anger, leading to harsh exchanges between Khartoum and Abu Dhabi even after General Yasser al-Atta denouncing the UAE in November.

Accusing Abu Dhabi of supporting the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and its leader Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, Al-Atta claimed weapons were funneled through Chad, Uganda, and the Central African Republic with the help of the Wagner Group. 

Despite experts warning of a supply line, the army had not made public accusations until November, expelling 15 UAE diplomats and making its grievances known.

The conflict, which began in mid-April between the army and RSF, has claimed over 12,000 lives and displaced millions. Previously cautious in its approach, the army’s public accusations against key players like Abu Dhabi mark a shift in strategy, prompting questions about the timing and motivations behind such a bold move.

The Wall Street Journal had earlier reported aid shipments meant for Sudanese refugees in Chad contained weapons for the RSF, with the UAE denying involvement, emphasizing its impartial stance. 

/Foreign policy/

However, experts like Alex de Waal highlighted the close relationship between UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed and RSF Chief Daglo, formed during their collaboration in the Yemen civil war intervention. Daglo, who controls Sudan’s gold mining sector, also engages in profitable gold trading with the UAE.

Andreas Krieg, a security studies professor, described the UAE’s approach in Sudan as using networks curated by Abu Dhabi to achieve strategic objectives discreetly. The clandestine nature of these networks provides plausible deniability, making it challenging to unequivocally condemn Emirati interference.

Rumors had circulated for months, culminating in November when pro-army demonstrators in Port Sudan demanded the expulsion of the Emirati ambassador. Subsequently, Sudan’s acting Foreign Minister revealed that the UAE had expelled Sudanese diplomats, leading to Sudan’s reciprocal expulsion of 15 UAE diplomats.

Despite the UAE’s denial of involvement, Sudan’s move to expel diplomats is seen by analysts like Jalel Harchaoui as “an act of desperation” reflecting a force with diminishing options. 

The conflict has yet to see a decisive military advantage, but the RSF’s control over Khartoum and other regions is growing. Harchaoui suggests that the army’s bold stand may be an attempt to draw more attention and condemnation towards UAE’s alleged support of Daglo.

In essence, Sudan’s army, after months of restraint, has unleashed its grievances against alleged Emirati interference, reshaping the dynamics of the conflict and drawing attention to the complex web of alliances and accusations surrounding the civil war.


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Faith Nyasuguta

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