As Irish war hawks seek to use the Sudanese crisis to argue for a bigger military force, Kieran Allen looks at how the EU funded the warlords who crushed the Sudanese revolution and are now facing off against one another.
The mainstream media is running a story about how the Irish army must rescue Irish citizens who are caught in the current crisis in Sudan. Cathal Berry TD, a former member of the Irish Rangers, has been given plenty of airtime to claim that a bigger military force is required.
The political establishment wants to use the crisis to hammer yet another nail into the coffin of Irish neutrality. They pretend that they are being hampered by a ‘triple lock’ legislation which limits the numbers of soldiers in conflict zones to 12.
The bigger story is that over 400 Sudanese have been killed and over a thousand injured because of a civil war between two rival armies. One is led by Hemedti from the Rapid Support Forces and the other by Abdulfatah al-Burhan, the current de facto ruler of Sudan.
In 2018 a revolution started in Sudan due to the rising costs of living. It quickly turned into a political movement for the overthrow of the dictator, Omar al-Bashir.
In order to head off a genuine revolution, the Sudanese army led by al-Burhan removed Bashir after his thirty-year rule.
They thought they would be welcomed by the people but many saw through their manoeuvre and the protests continued.
Outsourcing Barbarism: The EU’s Dirty Role
And here is where the EU’s dirty record came into play.
Since 2014, they had been sending money to the Sudanese government and military to detain and prevent migrants travelling to Europe. Programmes like the EU Trust Fund for Africa were used to transfer large sums of money – estimates range between €200 million and €600 million.
The Sudanese dictator Bashir delegated much of this funding to the Rapid Support Forces, a paramilitary group that involved Hemedti. This group has its roots in the Janjaweed militias that committed a genocide in Darfur. In 2017, a report from the Enough Project warned that the funding would strengthen the RSF and would risk “underwriting a complicated system of a militia state”.
But with the money, Hemedti went around boasting that he was protecting the borders of the EU.
A Revolution Destroyed
After the Sudanese revolution continued, both Burhan and Hemedti turned their guns on the pro-democracy protesters. In 2019, the Transitional Military Council, of which they were both members, staged a violent crackdown which led to the deaths of over 100 protestors.
As the regime violence ramped up in 2019, the EU suspended the funding. But the damage was done. The EU had strengthened the Sudanese regime, including its brutal police force and the RSF militias – all for the purpose of preventing migrants from getting to Europe. This firepower was then turned on the Sudanese people.
Then in December 2022, the EU alongside the US, Saudi Arabia, Britain and UAE pressured ‘moderate’ elements of the revolution to agree to a government led by al-Burham and Hemedti on the promise of an eventual return to democracy.
Few people in Sudan believed that these thugs, who controlled the country’s goldmines, ever intended to step aside. But the EU and the US did not care. They wanted ‘strong men’ to rule over the country.
The murderers, al-Burhan and Hemedti fell out over the integration of the RSF into the regular army.
But the real issue is that both wanted control over the country and its valuable resources. Both wanted to be the top dog.
We Need an Active, Positive Neutrality
Far from the Sudanese crisis being yet another excuse to undermine Irish neutrality, the real issue is why did the Irish government go along with disgraceful efforts to fund the two thugs who are now killing the Sudanese people?
If Ireland had a positive neutrality which stayed away from colonial machinations, it would have spoken out loudly against the EU’s dirty record in Sudan.
But the Irish establishment has no such desire.
We should show our solidarity to all those facing a humanitarian crisis in Sudan. Tragically, a heroic people’s revolution against a brutal and bloody regime has not been carried through. The people are now paying the price.
Our hope is that the revolution rises again and removes the scourge of military rulers from Sudan and takes back control of its natural resources for the benefit of its people.