Musa Hilal Aligns with Sudanese Armed Forces, Sparking Crisis in Darfur

Tribal leader Musa Hilal aligns with Sudanese military against RSF, raising concerns over power dynamics and risk of atrocities in Darfur conflict.

Hadeel Hashem
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Musa Hilal Aligns with Sudanese Armed Forces, Sparking Crisis in Darfur

Musa Hilal Aligns with Sudanese Armed Forces, Sparking Crisis in Darfur

Musa Hilal, the tribal leader of the Mahamid Rizeigat Arab tribe in Darfur, has announced his support for the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and state institutions in the ongoing conflict against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Hilal urged his followers not to join the war on the side of the RSF, which he accused of being "mere militias" comprised of mercenaries.

The move by Hilal, a longtime rival of RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, is seen as a significant development that could affect the balance of power in the battle in Darfur. Hilal expressed his desire for Sudan to regain its position as a country based on sound economic foundations. His alignment with the SAF is linked to his rivalry with Dagalo, which culminated in Hilal's arrest by the RSF leader in 2017.

However, Hilal's statements have been disavowed by some Mahamid leaders, sparking a crisis within the tribe. The conflict between Hilal and Dagalo is rooted in the struggle over local leadership in the joint border areas and control over state resources and privileges. Hilal's supporters joining the ranks of the SAF is expected to bolster the army's position, indicating that the RSF may be weakening and losing the gains they made before the war erupted on April 15.

Why this matters: The alignment of Musa Hilal, the founder of the Janjaweed militia with a history of human rights abuses, with the Sudanese Armed Forces highlights the complex dynamics of the conflict in Darfur. It raises questions about the true motives behind the war and the ongoing struggle for power and resources in the region.

The implications of Hilal's move are significant. It suggests that the narrative of the current war being fought to rid Sudan of militias and their violations is a "fig leaf," as Hilal's criminal record is now being overlooked by those supporting him. The Kizan, a political faction, are still relying on enlisting political power with military force, which may lead them to constantly search for militias parallel to the army.

The path to lasting peace and democratic transformation in Sudan, according to experts, lies in establishing a single professional national army and dismantling the reality of multiple armies and militias. The forces of peace and democracy are being called upon to unite and organize their ranks to raise the banner of peace and prepare for the battle of democratic transformation.

The escalating violence in Darfur has raised concerns about the risk of ethnic cleansing and genocide, with the RSF and allied Arab militias accused of conducting a systematic campaign against non-Arab communities. The United Nations has warned of the imminent risk of mass atrocities, including killings, sexual violence, and the destruction of communities.

The United States has also expressed deep concern over the situation, condemning the reported razing of multiple villages west of El Fasher by the RSF and its militias, as well as the indiscriminate aerial bombardments by the SAF in the region. The U.S. has called on all armed forces in Sudan to immediately cease attacks and prepare in good faith for negotiations to end the war and restore power to the people of Sudan.

Key Takeaways

  • Musa Hilal, a tribal leader, supports Sudanese Armed Forces against Rapid Support Forces.
  • Hilal's move could affect the power balance in the Darfur conflict, linked to his rivalry with RSF chief.
  • Hilal's alignment with SAF raises questions about the true motives behind the war in Sudan.
  • Escalating violence in Darfur raises concerns about ethnic cleansing and genocide by RSF and allied militias.
  • US calls for immediate cessation of attacks and preparation for negotiations to end the war in Sudan.