Source: Indian Ocean Newsletter
Building on the meeting organised on 17 May by the US assistant secretary of state for African affairs Tibor Nagy, on 21 June Berlin will host diplomats from the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the United States, France, the United Kingdom and Norway in an attempt to ease tensions between the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the forces of the Declaration of Freedom and Change (DFC) and reach agreement on the formation of a government of transition ( ION 1498). But unlike at the 17 May gathering, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be invited too in acknowledgement of their active role, which since the almost complete sidelining of Doha and Ankara is turning into a virtual hegemony in post-Bashir Sudan ( ION 1497)…
Saudis back Hemeti
Confident of the backing of Riyadh, secured on 23 May when he met the crown prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) in Jeddah, on 3 June the vice president of the TMC and head of the Rapid Support Forces, Mohamed Hamdan Dalgo aka Hemeti, ordered his ex-Janjaweed militia to open fire on demonstrators to disperse them, leaving some hundred people dead. Hemeti, who was accompanied to Saudi Arabia by the TMC’s spokesman General Shams Eddine Kbachi, was assured by MBS that he would encourage Saudi investment in Sudan and would also lobby for Khartoum to be removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. Hemeti assured his host in return of his support in the face of Iranian and Houthi aggression and of his efforts to purge the Sudanese army of the Muslim Brotherhood. To achieve this, he is enlisting new recruits from clans over which he has control thanks to Saudi money and the gold extracted from the deposits that he controls in the Jebel Amir hills in the Darfur region.
Al-Burhan wins over Cairo and Abu Dhabi
Hot on the heels of his number 2, the head of the TMC, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, travelled to Egypt and then to Saudi Arabia on 25 and 26 May. On his first stopover he met with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to discuss military cooperation, the fight against terrorism, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the peace process in South Sudan. The Egyptian leader demanded Khartoum’s backing in its dispute with the Ethiopians over the dam ( ION 1497), though Riyadh and Abu Dhabi are for their part defending the GERD. In Sisi’s view, the military should aim to remain in power for as long as possible by making some concessions to Declaration of Freedom and Change coalition but restricting it to managing day-to-day business. At the Arab League Summit followed by the Islamic Summit in Mecca on 30 and 31 May, Sisi reiterated his desire to act as a mediator between the Sudanese army and civil society.
A more radical view was conveyed to al-Burhan on 26 May in Abu Dhabi. It seems Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MBZ), fearful of a Muslim Brotherhood resurgence, urged a firm handling of the transition and the strengthening of the RSF at the expense of an army riddled with Omar al-Bashir allies. To this end, MBZ is advocating the reintegration of officers excluded by Bashir from the army because they were not members of the National Congress Party, which was ousted from power on 11 April. In his view, such an approach would give the RSF the upper hand over the regular army, which would find itself ostracised in the same way as the regular Iranian army has been marginalised by the Revolutionary Guards, the spearhead created by Ayatollah Khomeiny.