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As the Wagner Group intensifies its relationship with Sudan leaders, Al-Burhan denies everything

Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan visits military units at his country’s border area with Ethiopia on Monday, in Al-Fashqa area, Sudan on November 29, 2021 [Sudanese Presidential Palace/Anadolu Agency]
Sudan's army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan visits military units at his country’s border area with Ethiopia on Monday, in Al-Fashqa area, Sudan on November 29, 2021 [Sudanese Presidential Palace/Anadolu Agency]

Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan has denied that Russia's Wagner group is in Sudan or involved in mining in the country, joining the Kremlin and the group's main financier Yevgeny Prigozhin in denying links to the shadowy mercenary group.

Al-Burhan's comments follow a lengthy investigation by the New York Times, which says that the Wagner Group has increased gold exploration in Sudan and that a Russian gold processing plant in the desert outside Al-Ibediyya is just one of the group's outposts in the country.

The so-called private Russian military contractor Wagner Group is expanding across Africa including in Libya, Mozambique, the Central African Republic and Mali and has joined the invasion of Ukraine.

Analysts say that Wagner Group is not private but is a network of mercenaries supporting Russia's policy goals and is linked to state actors. The Kremlin denies it has any links to the group, but experts say it is financed by oligarch Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is close to the Russian president.

Last year the EU imposed sanctions on the Wagner Group, accusing it of serious human rights abuses and carrying out operations on behalf of the Kremlin.

The EU also imposed a travel ban and an asset freeze in October 2020 on Prigozhin, though he continues to deny any links or even that the groups exist.

READ: World Food Program suspends food aid to South Sudan over insufficient funds

Analysts say that the Wagner Group offers military support to African countries, for example nominally offering to help with military and terror conflicts.

In exchange it gains access to natural resources including oil, gas and diamonds by targeting countries that are rich in raw materials, or secure access to strategic locations.

Beyond gold, in Sudan, Wagner is backing Russia's project to build a naval base on the Red Sea and uses the country to launch operations into Sudan's neighbours.

Last year, General Al-Burhan overturned the country's democratic transition, seized power in a coup and dissolved the players leading Sudan to democracy.

Many Sudanese civilians died as protests for the return of civilian rule were quashed with lethal force, with the help of the Wagner Group.

Since the army seized power in October, the Wagner Group has intensified its partnership with General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo ,who was also instrumental in Sudan's coup, according to the New York Times, contrary to Al-Burhan's recent denials.

Hamdan is known for his instrumental role as commander in the Darfur conflict in which 300,000 civilians died.

Earlier this year Al-Burhan visited Cairo as links between Sudan and the military regime in Egypt deepened.

In 2015 Al-Burhan coordinated sending troops from Sudan to Yemen to support the Saudi-backed coalition in the country.

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AfricaEgyptEurope & RussiaNewsRussiaSudanUkraine
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