Sudan: Washington and London Trigger Deadly Coup


01-05-2023: Sudanese paramilitary group the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) agreed to a partial ceasefire on April 21, after six days of attacks on the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), following an appeal to both sides from the United Nations (UN) Secretary General Antonio Guterres. The casualties known so far are at least 330 dead and 3300 wounded since hostilities began.[1] As the shaky truce took effect, the SAF accused the RSF of attacks in Omdurman, a twin city of the capital Khartoum, and releasing a large number of inmates from prison – which the RSF denies.[2] Some of the most intense fighting has taken place in Khartoum around the compound housing the army headquarters and the residence of SAF chief and head of the Republic of Sudan Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.[3] Some civilians have begun to flee the capital Khartoum, and some witnesses report that RSF soldiers are patrolling the city in pick-up trucks while fighter jets loyal to the SAF target RSF positions.[4]

West feigns concern

The Western corporate media report on the conflict as if their governments are innocent bystanders, who are simply making moves to evacuate their citizens. In fact, the governments of the United States of America (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) have in practice lit the fuse of the current conflict, perhaps hoping no one notices. The British Council has already evacuated its staff from Sudan, while US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin stated that the US had deployed military forces “in theatre”. The UK has moved troops to an undisclosed base close to Sudan, while the US has sent a large number of troops to its base in neighbouring Djibouti.[5] An observer may well note that actions such as these indicate moves which may well have been prepared in advance by the US and the UK, with some foreknowledge. Such an observation would not be far from reality.

The RSF is headed by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, a.k.a “Hemedti”, who also holds the position of the deputy head of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council. Analysts estimate that the RSF numbers about 100 000, which has their own bases across the country.[6] Some reports say that the RSF has recruited thousands of fighters seeking an escape from poverty from neighbouring countries such as Chad, the Central African Republic, Libya and South Sudan with or without the knowledge of Khartoum.[7] The RSF was originally created by former long term President Omar Al-Bashir in 2013, and includes the feared Janjaweed militia which fought on the government’s side against “rebels” in the Darfur region in the early 2000s. General Dagalo claimed that the SAF is a historic institution which “will not be captured by any party”[8] as he seemingly seeks to integrate the RSF into the SAF – despite the current pitch battles. Dagalo appears to be setting himself for a tilt to replace General Al-Burhan.

Yet General Dagalo is hardly acting on his own initiative. Just 48 hours before he launched the coup as the head of the RSF, Dagalo met with high-level representatives of the governments of the United States of America (US), the United Kingdom (UK) and Norway.[9] He held a joint meeting by phone with the US Envoy for East Africa, Sudan and South Sudan, Peter Lord; the UK Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Robert Fairweather; and the Norwegian Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, John Anton.[10] There may well be a power struggle between the RSF and the SAF, and between General Dagalo and General Al-Burhan. Yet the notion that this stand off is taking place on its own, without the direct interference of Anglo/US imperialism, is a long way from reality. General Dagalo’s statement that the October 25, 2021 restoration of military led government was a “mistake”, and that he and the RSF are on the side of the people against Sudan’s elites[11], is little more than sand thrown in the eyes of the credulous within Sudan and internationally.

Sudan and Russia and China

The real reason for both the current deadly coup, and the utterly contrived “uprising” against the military restoration in 2021 is not difficult to uncover. In November 2017, when former long term ruler Omar Al-Bashir was still in office, Sudan and the Russian Federation signed co-operation agreements on military training and the entry of warships into the ports of the two countries.[12] The driving factor behind this original agreement was the need to counter US led destabilisation attempts. Despite the fall of Al-Bashir in 2019, in November 2020, Sudan and the Russian Federation signed a 25-year agreement for the operation of a logistics facility for the Russian Navy on the Red Sea. It would house a maximum of 300 troops, and a maximum of four ships at any one time – some of which would be nuclear powered. Under the agreement, Russia would be able to use the air space of Sudan, while Sudan would be responsible for the protection of the base on its side. Russia, in turn, would be responsible for its protection from the sea and air.[13]

So despite the fall of Al-Bashir, the transition to a civilian-military government, and then the restoration of a military lead government, the Russian Federation has, with some degree of diplomatic skill, maintained the original agreement signed in 2017. This is what has caused apoplexy amongst the high levels of the US state, and what has led to the current fighting on the streets of Khartoum. In September only last year, the US Ambassador to Sudan, John Godfrey, warned of “consequences” if Sudan decided to allow the construction of a Russian military facility on the Red Sea. He complained that Russia was attempting to implement the agreement (!) it signed with Sudan in 2017.[14]

Once again we see the US state attempting to block economic, trade, infrastructure and military agreements between African states and Russia, and, it must be added, the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Sudan was one of the first countries to sign up to the PRC’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and China has been the largest trading partner for Sudan for many years consecutively.[15] The economic and developmental opportunities the PRC can offer African countries far surpasses anything from US and European countries. The PRC’s predominantly state-owned socialistic economy drives tremendous growth in infrastructure, technology and other sectors critical for development. While it is true that PRC firms themselves benefit from infrastructure and resource agreements in Africa, the African states will never come across the chance to develop without being plundered wholesale if they do not deal with the PRC today. While this remains a thorn in the side of the West, the military co-operation with Russia by African states is a more immediate concern. If the African states can deter US and European interference with Russian assistance, imperialism suffers yet another blow.

2021 colour revolution

Arguably, Washington and London have today opted to trigger a military coup and stoke a fratricidal war due to their failed colour revolution attempt in 2021. In December 2020, the US government removed Sudan from their “state sponsors of terrorism” list[16] more or less as a quid pro quo for the military removing Al-Bashir from office in 2019. However, in October 2021, the SAF seized power and dissolved the joint military-civilian Sovereign Council.[17] Regardless of one’s opinion of the SAF, this move effectively restored sovereignty to Sudan. The Washington security state was thrown into a tailspin and reacted immediately. All of a sudden, the US foreign policy machine was for “democracy” in Sudan. While it activated its NGOs (“Non” Governmental Organisations) and CSOs (Civil Society Organisations) on the ground in East Africa, little more than two months later the US Congress passed the “Sudan Democracy Act”, which was supposedly “to support a civilian-led democratic transition, peace and stability in Sudan”.[18] The cover for geo-political manouevring is unmistakable.

While liberals in the West swung behind “pro-democratic” and “civil society groups” in Sudan,[19] the US government suspended $700 million in aid, and, according to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), “expanded activities that support the Sudanese people in their democratic aspirations”.[20] The notorious National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the “public relations” arm of the CIA, admits to funding dozens of organisations in Sudan, with hundreds of thousands of dollars during 2021. This included $200 000 for a “Democratic Thought Project”![21] Where the US state department operates, inveterate anti-socialist billionaire regime change specialist George Soros and his “Open Society Foundation” inevitably follow. Soros’ Open Society Initiative for Eastern Africa (OSIEA) offers supposedly harmless grants to “pro-democracy” organisations in the region.[22]

In the months prior to the October 2021 overturn, the US government had donated 600 000 Johnson & Johnson potentially deadly Covid vaccines ostensibly to “combat” the fraudulent pandemic, to a generally skeptical African continent.[23] Not coincidentally, a swathe of Covid left parties internationally fell for the three-card trick and threw their support behind the US state backed regime change operation. Fooled by contrived front organisations of imperialist subterfuge, such as the “Forces for Freedom and Change” (!) and the Sudan Professionals Association, they ranted for so-called democracy against military rule.[24] What they were doing in practice, as usual, was giving a “left” cover to yet another regime change operation, which could only benefit imperialism at the expense of Sudan and all of Africa. The US and the UK ruling classes are determined to block African states’ economic co-operation with the PRC, and military co-operation with the Russian Federation by any means necessary. This could mean a colour revolution, as in 2021 (which did not succeed), or it could mean fomenting a deadly coup and proxy civil war – as is occurring today. It is in the vital interests of working people in Africa and internationally to put an end to the relentless regime change operations, coups, colour revolutions and proxy wars the West ignites against Moscow and Beijing.

The colonial West no longer welcome

In an open case of projection, some Western media reports farcically claimed that Russia is behind the current violence in Sudan, as the Wagner private military organisation has allegedly been supplying the RSF with weaponry. Larry Johnson rubbished this claim on his website, writing that there is no earthly reason why the Russian government would foment a coup against a government which it has made several deals with in relation to military co-operation.[25] The naval base for Russia in the Port Sudan area would ensure the Russian naval access to the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean, and would spare its ships from long voyages to reach the region. The US deep state had assumed that with Al-Bashir gone, Sudan’s agreement on the naval base with Russia would be scuttled. Then the SAF effectively retook control in October 2021, and re-started the talks with Russia on the agreements made with the previous Al-Bashir administration. Then the US state triggered a colour revolution in an attempt to reverse the military consolidating Sudan’s sovereignty. This has not succeeded so far, so the internal pro-Western NGO types were temporarily sidelined in favour of a civil war option. Sudanese who die in this fracas are but “collateral damage” for Washington and London.

Incorrigible regime change and proxy war operative Victoria Nuland, the US Under Secretary of State, was in Sudan on March 9 this year, supposedly to “discuss democracy”.[26] Little more than four weeks later, Sudan is being torn apart by war, in a similar way to which Ukraine was after Nuland and Co orchestrated a violent Nazi led coup in Kiev in 2014. Without offering political endorsement of either the SAF or the government of the Russian Federation, the agreements Sudan makes with Russia are a necessary step taken to ward off relentless US and British imperialist interference. If Sudan does not work with Russia in the military sphere, and with China in the economic sphere, Sudan will most likely be Balkanised further into smaller states, and its economic development will stall. This is one reason why the US, Britain and France are generally no longer welcome in Africa – if they ever were.

It is in the interests of workers the world over to defend Sudan against Anglo/US imperialist meddling, whether that be through disingenuous “NGOs”, the NED, USAID and Soros backed “democracy” projects OR direct military subversion. Sudan’s right to trade with China and uphold military agreements with Russia or whomever they choose must be respected. At the same time, the assistance from Russia and China is not aimed at allowing Africa to finally break from Western imperialism through the establishment of a network of workers’ states, the nationalisation of the major means of production and regionally integrated planned economies. This requires the assembly of Marxist vanguard parties throughout the African continent and beyond, linked to workers’ struggles in the West, in a crusade to finally end capitalist exploitation, proxy coups and regime change wars.

Workers League    


[1] (23-04-2023)

[2] (23-04-2023

[3] (23-04-2023)

[4] (23-04-2023)

[5] (23-04-2023)

[6] (23-04-2023)

[7] (23-04-2023)

[8] (23-04-2023)

[9] (26-04-2023)

[10] (26-04-2023)

[11] (26-04-2023)

[12] (26-04-2023)

[13] (26-04-2023)

[14] (26-04-2023)

[15] (26-04-2023)

[16] (26-04-2023)

[17] (26-04-2023)

[18] (26-04-2023)

[19] (26-04-2023)

[20] (26-04-2023)

[21] (26-04-2023)

[22] (26-04-2023)

[23] (26-04-2023)

[24] (26-04-2023)

[25] (29-04-2023)

[26] (29-04-2023)

Photo: General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (“Hemedti”) of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan (at left) and General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).

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