Sudan has witnessed many military coups since independence. The generals have been in power for more than 58 years in total, almost 90 per cent of its years as an independent state. Military rule has been interspersed by transitional periods between the military and short-lived sovereignty councils for periods ranging from one to four years.
Of all the generals who seized power, the name of Lieutenant General Abdel Rahman Suwar Al-Dahab stands out. He promised to manage a transitional phase and hand over to a duly-elected civilian government and he kept his promise. In an unprecedented and unique event in the Arab world, he stepped down voluntarily in 1986; no other Arab military ruler has ever handed power to a civilian ruler.
When Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan became the head of what was called the Transitional Sovereignty Council in 2019, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, served as his deputy. The council announced that it had thwarted two military coup attempts in 2021 and arrested the rebel officers.
Al-Burhan was head of the Sudanese Army, and Hemedti led the so-called Rapid Support Forces, a militia with roots in the notorious Janjaweed militia in Darfur. It was clear that there was a latent conflict smouldering beneath the surface between the two, waiting for the right time to erupt. Each sought support from regional powers. The UAE, Ethiopia and Israel backed Hemedti, while Egypt and Saudi Arabia were Al-Burhan’s primary supporters.
Ironically, Al-Burhan has never severed his connection with the Zionist entity; he has had a long relationship with Israel. When he took charge of Sudanese military intelligence, he reopened the secret Mossad office in Khartoum, which was active during the late Nimeiry era and was used to move Ethiopian Falasha Jews to occupied Palestine. He also allowed Mossad to conduct raids on Sudan against Hamas members during Omar Al-Bashir’s presidency.
For the time being, Al-Burhan wants to consolidate his rule by getting closer to Israel. He is aware that it is a supporter of ruling regimes in the Arab world, and that without its approval, Arab rulers will never stay in power. He met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda in 2020. The arrangements were made by the UAE, which mediated to get Sudan into the accursed Abraham Accords. They agreed to initiate dialogue aimed at normalising relations between Sudan and the occupation state; Netanyahu described the meeting as ” historic”.
With support from Abu Dhabi and the full backing of Israel, a delegation of senior Sudanese military officers visited the occupation state two weeks before Al-Burhan’s second coup in 2021, which toppled the government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. According to Israel’s Walla news website, the administration of US President Joe Biden asked Tel Aviv to use its relations with Al-Burhan to reinstate Hamdok and his ministers and release all detainees. It is worth noting that all Western governments condemned the military coup, but Israel didn’t.
Moreover, a Mossad delegation visited Khartoum following the coup and met with Hemedti, since when numerous Zionist officials and figures, both civilians and Mossad intelligence officers, have visited the Sudanese capital. The most recent visit was by Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in February. After meeting with Al-Burhan, he announced that Sudan had agreed to normalise relations with Israel and that they would sign a peace agreement in Washington within months. One of his predecessors also visited Khartoum, where in 1967 the Arab world had declared “No recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no peace with Israel”. Mockingly, the minister said: “Today there is peace, recognition and negotiation with Israel.”
The Zionist entity deceives both sides, who are merely tools to execute its diabolical plan to sow dissent in the country and ultimately divide Sudan yet again. Israel played a hidden and dirty role in the secession of South Sudan. The winds of division have now reached Libya, Yemen and the rest of the Arab world.
Hemedti has not left the arena for Al-Burhan to monopolise relations with the Zionists. News agencies reported that he sent his brother Abdel Rahim and his advisor Youssef Ezzat to Tel Aviv to ask for military and political support.
Israel knows the geographical importance of Sudan and its enormous reserves of natural resources. It also understands the importance of Sudan remaining under military rule to normalise relations and sign the Abraham Accords, despite Israeli influence within the civilian Forces of Freedom and Change. The best option for the Zionist entity is to prevent the transfer of power to civilian forces which oppose normalisation and are in line with the general sentiment of the Sudanese people who strongly reject links with the occupation state.
The bloody conflict between the two coup wings looks set to burn everything in its path and spread chaos in Sudan. The main victims will be the Sudanese people, of course, until one of them eliminates the other. The battle between Al-Burhan and Hemedti is a zero-sum game with no turning back, no negotiation and no power-sharing as in the past. It is either victory or defeat; one of them will end up dead or be a fugitive. If Hemedti is defeated, he will seek refuge in the UAE; Al-Burhan will flee to Egypt.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.