According to the Darfur Bar Association (DBA), the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are reinforcing their combat capabilities in Sudan’s already war-torn western region. The lawyers warn of more tribal violence in the region. The United Arab Emirates allegedly continues to send arms to the militia. People in North Darfur fear clashes between the RSF and the Darfur Joint Protection Force.
The Darfur lawyers said in a press statement yesterday that its members received multiple testimonies about the visit of RSF Deputy Commander Abdelrahim Dagalo to Nyala, capital of South Darfur, this week.
Dagalo, a brother of RSF Commander Mohamed ‘Hemedti’, “was in Nyala for the past two days,” the DBA stated. “The RSF troops in and around the city received more war equipment”.
The lawyers noted “a trend to settle combat operations in South Darfur, with the city of Nyala as its centre” and warned that this may lead to more tribal disputes and clashes in the region.
“For instance, Kubum is now witnessing fierce fighting between militants of the Salamat and Beni Halba tribes,” the statement reads.
The DBA called on the RSF “to spare the city of Nyala more causes of destruction and societal divisions”.
Military support by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the RSF has been the subject of several reports since war broke out between the Sudanese army and the former ‘state militia’ on April 15.
The independent Arab channel Almayadeen reported on August 10 that early in June, a cargo plane landed in Entebbe, Uganda’s main airport, with flight records indicating it was sent by the UAE and was carrying aid for Sudanese refugees.
Ugandan authorities said they discovered dozens of crates in the plane’s cargo hold stocked with ammunition, assault weapons, and other small weaponry, instead of the food and medical supplies indicated on the aircraft’s manifest.
Almayadeen cited African and Middle Eastern sources, who claimed that the weapons found at Entebbe airport on June 2 were part of a UAE plot to back the RSF.
“The Emirati airliner was reportedly given permission to continue its journey to Amdjarass International Airport in eastern Chad, according to Ugandan officials who discovered the weapons and ammunition on the flight on June 2. These officials said that later, their superiors gave them orders to stop checking flights coming in from the UAE. There have been many more flights in recent weeks.”
The UAE denied the report, arguing it “does not take sides” in the conflict.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter) yesterday, Jalel Harchaoui, associate fellow of the London-based Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), reposted the report of an aircraft tracker and image analyst known on X as @Gerjon on monthly cargo flights from the UAE to N’jamena, capital of Chad this year. “The total amount is >59 flights in 2023 of which 32 in September alone,” Gerjon stated.
“The UAE doesn’t like to give money to folks,” Harchaoui commented. “But when it gives in kind, it has compelling effects on the recipient. In this case, the recipient is [Chadian President] Mahamat “Kaka” Déby.
“Earlier this year, Cairo and Riyadh kinda wanted Déby to intervene militarily against Hemedti in Sudan’s Darfur province. But the UAE wants Déby to just relax & let the RSF proceed w/ its violent campaign in Darfur. Abu Dhabi is prevailing.”
Gerjon said that “Beyond the many Il-76 flights from Abu Dhabi to Chad via Entebbe, there are also some direct flights to N’Djamena”.
In the North Darfur capital El Fasher, rumours circulated yesterday about an imminent RSF attack on a convoy of lorries carrying humanitarian aid and allegedly also weapons to the city.
The convoy is protected by members of the Darfur Joint Protection Force, formed by Darfur Region Governor Minni Minawi to protect civilians after war between the RSF and the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) erupted in mid-April. The force is made up of combatants of rebel movements that signed the Juba Peace Agreement with the Sudanese government of PM Abdallah Hamdok in October 2020.
A unit of the joint force was dispatched from El Fasher to Nyala on August 27, to “provide security and protect the property and lives of the residents” after fierce fighting between the SAF and RSF caused thousands to flee.
A source in El Fasher told Radio Dabanga that he saw groups of RSF paramilitaries moving towards the entrance of the city. “Many say that the convoy, coming from Port Sudan, carries not only humanitarian aid and merchandise weapons, but also military equipment for the Sixth Infantry Division in El Fasher.”
He described the situation as tense. “We fear that the RSF will attack the convoy and clash with the joint force”.