On the battlefield in Sudan, the two warring generals are not satisfied with their respective forces, but are surrounded by mercenaries, private guards, tribal fighters or foreign trainers who are attracted by the big profit and gold.
For decades, the use of militias in Sudan has been a lucrative business. Khartoum has resorted to them before, either to entrust them with the suppression of ethnic minorities and armed rebellion movements, or to send them to participate in wars abroad.
These militias fought before in Yemen, and also participated in the fighting in Libya for different camps and fought in the coast.
Now that the war is on its land, the Rapid Support Forces, led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as “Hemedti”, publish on social networks videos of fighters in Chad or Niger announcing their support for them.
The army commander, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the archenemy of Dagalo, said that “mercenaries came from Chad, the Central African Republic and Niger” fighting with the Rapid Support Forces, and the army finally confirmed that it had killed a “foreign sniper”.
The same was reported by the United Nations envoy to Sudan, Volker Perthes, who stated that “the number of mercenaries who came from Mali, Chad and Niger, with the support of the Rapid Support Forces, is significant.”
Witnesses in Khartoum confirmed that they heard fighters from the Rapid Support Forces speaking French, a language not spoken by the Sudanese, indicating that they may be Chadians.
The Daglo family runs a large part of the gold mines in Sudan, the third largest producer of the yellow metal in Africa, and therefore Daglo “can pay salaries that many in sub-Saharan Africa cannot match with,” Andrea Craig of Kings College told AFP. London.
He added that “Chadians have already joined the Rapid Support Forces in recent years for the sake of salaries.”
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Chad, a country bordering the Darfur region in western Sudan, is a natural extension for Dagalo, who belongs to the Zureigat tribe in Darfur, where many pastoralists and farmers threatened by drought do not care about the official borders.
Most of the leaders of the armed groups, including Dagolo, have Chadian roots. Throughout the generations, they recruited men, then their sons, and gave them all “Sudanese passports and lands abandoned by their owners from non-Arab tribes who were forced to flee” because of the war in the region, according to what the “Small Arms Survey” research center confirmed since 2017.
Other mercenaries support the Rapid Support Forces, fighters of the “Wagner” group.
Since Central Africa turned to these Russian fighters in 2018 to quell a rebellion, Western diplomats say they have been seeing convoys of Russian mercenaries at Khartoum airport and in hotels in the Sudanese capital.
Sudan constitutes a rear base, but also a source of funding for Wagner, as the gold mines belonging to the Daglo family have signed contracts with companies working as fronts for Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin, according to the US Treasury Department.
“The Wagner Group is not fighting today in Sudan, but it has technical advisors,” the American expert, Cameron Hudson, told AFP.
The Dagalo rear base is actually located in Libya.
Craig asserts that the areas under the control of Major General Khalifa Haftar, the strongman in eastern Libya, constitute “a forum for the delivery of weapons to the Rapid Support Forces.”
Other foreigners came to Sudan amid the chaos caused by the departure of diplomats, UN staff and other foreigners.
Hudson confirms that “several small private companies, including mainly retired British Special Forces, have evacuated people from Sudan for what sometimes ranges between 20,000 and 50,000 dollars.”
“Money and fighting are interchangeable in the Sudanese political market,” said Alex Duvall, an expert on Sudanese affairs. And he adds in the “London Review of Books” publication, “Hemedti trades in both.”
He considers that “the Rapid Support Forces have now become a private company of cross-border mercenaries.” And a “company for the extraction and sale of gold” and “the armed arm of Hemedti’s commercial empire.”
If Dagalo wins the war, “the Sudanese state will become a branch of this transnational company.”