Musa Hilal Aligns with Sudanese Army, Deepening Rift in Darfur Conflict

Influential Darfur tribal leader Musa Hilal aligns with Sudanese army against RSF, shifting power dynamics in the region's conflict.

Shivani Chauhan
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Musa Hilal Aligns with Sudanese Army, Deepening Rift in Darfur Conflict

Musa Hilal Aligns with Sudanese Army, Deepening Rift in Darfur Conflict

Musa Hilal, the influential tribal leader of the Mahamid Rizeigat Arab tribe in Darfur, has announced his support for the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in the ongoing conflict against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Hilal's alignment with the army marks a significant development in the power dynamics of the region, as he urges his followers not to join the RSF, which he labeled as "mere militias" comprised of mercenaries.

In a speech to his supporters, Hilal reaffirmed his commitment to the "56th State," referring to a modern and independent Sudan. He criticized the rebel forces, accusing them of sacrificing the country and engaging in armed looting. Hilal also took aim at the RSF leader, Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, for disparaging his person and rank while failing to earn the rights he speaks about.

Hilal's decision to side with the SAF is seen as a blow to the RSF, which has been losing ground in the ongoing conflict in Darfur. Analysts link Hilal's move to his longstanding rivalry with Dagalo and the struggle for local leadership and control over state resources in the region. Both Hilal and Dagalo hail from different sections of the same Rizeigat tribe, adding a layer of complexity to the conflict.

Why this matters: The alignment of Musa Hilal with the Sudanese Armed Forces has the potential to shift the balance of power in the Darfur conflict. As a prominent tribal leader, Hilal's stance could influence the allegiances of other groups and further complicate the already fragile situation in the region.

The ongoing war between the RSF and the formal army, which erupted in April 2023, has had devastating consequences for Sudan. Thousands of lives have been lost, millions have been displaced, and the country's infrastructure, trade, and agriculture have suffered severe setbacks. The conflict has also seen the dismissal of the governor of North Darfur, Abdel Rahman Nimr, by the Sudanese military leader, Burhan, due to Nimr's neutral stance on the war.

The RSF has been accused of attacking towns, plundering universities, and clashing with other armed groups such as the SPLM-N al-Hilu in the Nuba Mountains. The Sudanese Armed Forces have responded with airstrikes on RSF positions and offensives to link their forces in Omdurman. The United Nations reports that over 7.5 million people in Sudan have been displaced by the war, with numerous casualties resulting from the ongoing violence.

The Sudanese government's decision to suspend ties with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and ban grassroots committees highlights the escalating tensions in the region. The government viewed IGAD's invitation to Hemedti to attend a summit in Uganda as a violation of Sudan's sovereignty. Meanwhile, the African Union Commission has announced the creation of a High-Level Panel on Sudan to facilitate peace efforts in the country.

Hilal's alignment with the SAF has raised questions about the narrative that the current war aims to rid Sudan of militias and avenge the dignity of raped women. Critics argue that supporting Hilal, the founder of the Janjaweed militia with a history of human rights violations</

Key Takeaways

  • Musa Hilal, a tribal leader, supports Sudanese Armed Forces against Rapid Support Forces.
  • Hilal criticizes RSF leader Hemedti and accuses rebel forces of sacrificing the country.
  • Hilal's alignment with SAF seen as a blow to RSF, which has been losing ground.
  • Ongoing war between RSF and army has had devastating consequences for Sudan.
  • Hilal's support for SAF raises questions about the narrative of the current war.