Why are we ignoring the slaughter in Sudan?: There is no excuse for indifference when we pay such close attention to other wars (William Fear, 13 April, 2024, The Critic)

Since the war kicked off in April of last year, the RSF’s conduct in Sudan has been nothing short of horrifying. They have subjected the civilian population to countless massacres, rapes and pillages. In one sense, the RSF is fighting a military conflict against the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), but in another, they are enacting a fanatical ethnic cleansing campaign against the Masalit people of Sudan. A UN report estimated that last year in the city of El Geneina alone, between 10,000 and 15,000 people were killed by the RSF, and that the RSF appeared to be specifically targeting people of Masalit ethnicity. According to a report from Conflict Observatory, there is evidence the RSF forced Red Crescent aid workers to dispose of the dead. The piles of bodies are visible from orbit.

To make matters worse, the RSF appears to be on the front foot. Heavy fighting is going on in Khartoum between the RSF and the SAF. Although the capital isn’t yet under full RSF control, the government has evacuated to Port Sudan, on the Red Sea. The British Embassy in Khartoum has long since closed. The RSF has gained a foothold in the south-west of Sudan, and has a particularly strong presence in Darfur.

Of course, the SAF is by no means a morally superior force to the RSF. The SAF are also indicted for war crimes and have been jointly responsible for massacres with the RSF before the conflict began. The key difference, of course, is that the only one side in this conflict is actively and currently enacting an ethnic cleansing campaign in Darfur — and it’s the RSF.

The RSF’s progress on the battlefield has been in part due to their use of imported materiel, such as MANPADS (Man-portable air defence systems) to interrupt the SAF’s air superiority. With ground-to-air attack capability, the RSF can manoeuvre more easily and safely, with diminished fear of attack by air. Last year, the RSF successfully downed a highly prized SAF MIG-29 jet over Khartoum using a MANPADS. It isn’t entirely clear how the RSF is sourcing these weapons, but the US Treasury has issued a statement claiming Wagner Group acted as the supplier. Of course, such weapons may be being procured by multiple routes. Given the credible reports of materiel being provided courtesy of the UAE, it’s possible some of the alleged weaponry being offloaded at Amdjarass are MANPADS.

What does the UAE get in return from the RSF? Here, it’s important to remember the RSF has control of many of Sudan’s gold mines. In exchange for the arms it receives from the UAE, the RSF channels the spoils of its gold mines through the UAE, using various holding companies. […]

Aside from expressions of diplomatic “concern”, the United States’ response to the reports of the UAE funding the RSF — given the RSF’s ethnic cleansing campaign — has been decidedly limp. The reason why is geopolitical. The US maintains a strong relationship with the UAE, which is valued by both parties. The two nations have common regional interests, and cooperate for military and intelligence purposes. The prospect of losing such a strong foreign-policy partner in the Middle East would be a disaster in the eyes of the United States. The fact that a close ally is in league with a genocidal paramilitary group in Sudan is simply an inconvenient fact to the United States. The dead Masalit piled high in El Geneina, it seems, are an unfortunate casualty of diplomacy.