In another leak from the expected UN report into violations of the Security Council arms embargo on Libya, new information comes to light regarding Sudan's role. International attention has been focused primarily so far on Turkey who supports the GNA, and the UAE, Egypt and Jordan who support the Haftar's LNA. More recently, and as discussed at length here on our site, international attention was called to Russia's role as it operates mercenaries on behalf of Haftar's LNA forces.
The Al-Jazeera report leaks that the report presented to the security council notes that Sudanese general Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is also known as Hemeti, had sent 1,000 Sudanese Rapid Support Forces, to back Haftar's LNA forces in July. They are reportedly based near al-Jufra in the central Libya, the strategic LNA base.
What are Sudanese troops doing in Libya anyway?
According to the UN report, the Sudanese militias were deployed after Dagalo met in May with two Canadian lobbyists with reported links to Haftar. The Canadians are being investigated for their involvement. According to the report, Haftar would pay the Sudani general USD 6 million to his council in exchange for assistance for the LNA efforts. Dagalo is deputy chair of Sudan's Sovereignty Council.
The Sudani's contribution was the transfer of around 1,000 men from the Rapid Support Forces – RSF – in July. These were to be the first of a larger instalment of 4000 fighters, according to Sudanese media. They were, according to the agreement, intended to take over security duties at energy installations in LNA territory, to free up more LNA troops for front-line action. However, there are some reports that the Sudanese fighters are not just guarding rear installations but fighting on the front lines themselves.
Who is the RSF?
Sudan's new Rapid Support Forces is actually the same Janjaweed militia that had been doing much of the fighting and committing human rights atrocities in Sudan's civil war in Darfur. Just this June, they were accused of killing 100 peaceful protesters in Khartum.
As the Darfur fighting wound down, hiring out the newly remodelled Janjaweed fighters, who gained significant combat experience, seems to be a good profit-earning model for the Sudani government.
According to numerous reports, as many as 30,000 RSF fighters are on the front lines in Yemen's civil war, fighting on behalf of the Saudi-led alliance. According to sources in Yemen, the Sudanis are considerably better trained and more experienced than the Yemeni fighters in that conflict. Some reports claim as many as 4,000 Sudanese have died in Yemen since 2015.
Why is the Sudanese government helping the LNA?
It seems there are two primary reasons that Sudan is backing Haftar's LNA forces. The first, is that Sudan has turned its newly freed up fighters into a source of revenue, first in Yemen and now in neighbouring Libya.
Secondly, the two countries share a short stretch of border, and have interest in maintaining close relations. As the LNA controls that section of Libya, and most of the country, it seems only natural the sides would seek cooperation. The two countries have previously cooperated on limiting the flow of Salafists in the border area between Libya, Sudan and Chad. The third country to share the border area is also said to have supplied militia forces for Haftar's efforts.
Limiting International Involvement
Despite the international embargo on assisting either side in the Libyan conflict, both sides continue to rely heavily on outside help, and not making special efforts to disguise it. Haftar's force itself is believed to be comprised in large part of militias, including foreign mercenaries. Many estimate that without this assistance, the fighting would have died out months ago.
The international community must focus on limiting the foreign involvement as much as possible. Perhaps the new UN report can shift the necessary focus to pressure the UAE, Turkey, Egypt, Qatar, Russia and now Sudan to end their involvement and bring an end to this ongoing conflict.