Militias Locked in a Dangerous Stand-off in Region Awash in Weapons, the Result of Sudan Government’s Policy of Arming Rival Local Groups
Darfur faces a dangerous military standoff, with a disarmament campaign by Sudan’s government increasing the risk of armed conflict and mass violence, according to a report published today by the Enough Project.
The report, “Ominous Threats Descending on Darfur,” authored by Dr. Suliman Baldo, argues that a disarmament campaign, launched in August 2017, only prioritizes Sudanese regime’s narrow security and political survival considerations. The report analyzes tensions and dynamics surrounding the mandatory weapons collection campaign currently underway in the five Darfur and three Kordofan federal states in Sudan, and details how that campaign has exacerbated a rift between two notorious paramilitary groups active in the region, the Rapid Support Forces and the Border Guard Forces, both under the command chain of Sudan’s Armed Forces.
Dr. Suliman Baldo, report author and Senior Policy Advisor at the Enough Project, said: “Sudan desperately needs a large-scale disarmament campaign given the widespread proliferation of arms as a result of its government’s ill-advised strategy of arming tribes against each other. However, the Sudanese government’s ongoing mandatory weapons collection campaign in Darfur and Kordofan, has only worsened existing tensions and security threats rather than alleviated them.”
Omer Ismail, Senior Policy Advisor at the Enough Project, said: “The weapons campaign comes on the heels of the Sudanese regime’s recent diplomatic successes, including the lifting of the U.S. trade and financial sanctions. The campaign appears to be meant to present President Omar al-Bashir’s regime to the international community as a guarantor of domestic and regional stability. However, the campaign only served as a reminder of the government’s role as the leading agent of the proliferation of weapons in the country and the region. It would be premature to welcome this campaign because of the selective and heavy-handed approach by the regime.”
The report highlights that successive governments in Sudan have armed civilians and militias recruited on an ethnic basis to wage war against armed insurgencies, but President Omar al-Bashir’s regime carried the practice to unprecedented levels. As a result, entire areas in Sudan are awash with firearms, with communities in the potential crossfire of an array of government-sponsored militias and paramilitaries known for ethnic cleansing and mass atrocities, as well as members and former fighters of armed insurgent groups.
Dr. Baldo added: “A successful disarmament and weapons collection campaign would require the Sudanese regime to abandon such destructive policies as the arming of certain loyal tribes against others collectively labeled as regime opponents. It would also require the Sudanese government to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of a conflict that also pushed the citizenry to arm themselves in order to protect their families and communities.”
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ABOUT THE ENOUGH PROJECT – an anti-atrocity policy group
The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.