Sudan’s next stop: Regional proxy war?

The next stage of the battle for Khartoum will, it seems, be decided in Cairo, Ankara and Abu Dhabi.

The middle powers of the Middle East are talking peace even while they are arming their favored clients. The theory is that when one side gains a clear battlefield advantage, the other will sue for peace. It’s a high-risk approach.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and his Turkish counterpart Recip Tayyip Erdogan are lining up in support of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and its leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who is increasingly backed by the old-guard Islamists who held power under the long reign of President Omar al-Bashir. In doing so, they are setting aside longstanding differences over the Muslim Brothers — Turkey supports them, Egypt suppresses them. 

Mohamed bin Zayed al-Nayhan, president of the United Arab Emirates and the ruler of Abu Dhabi, has made the opposite bet. He has supported General Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, known as Hemedti, the leader of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and, according to some reports, is still supplying him with weapons. Hemedti impressed bin Zayed with his energetic leadership, especially of the paramilitaries he provided for the Saudi-Emirati ground war in Yemen, and his opposition to the Muslim Brothers — famously, the Emirati ruler’s bête noire. Hemedti also has a mutually profitable business trading gold to UAE. 


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