Ali Fatty, Student Jamia Ahmadiyya International Ghana
The current conflict in Sudan is an armed conflict between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the rival factions of the military government of Sudan.
This ongoing war in South Sudan has raised many concerns about the future of the country. According to preliminary updates, dozens of individuals from both military factions and innocent civilians have lost their lives due to this latest escalation. Several women and children have become victims of the war. Lack of access to basic commodities and social facilities for life’s sustenance has become a serious humanitarian crisis.
According to a report by the United Nations, South Sudan is recognised as the least developed country (LDC), where over half of its population of 8.3 million people is estimated to live in conditions of extreme poverty. Recently, the South Sudanese marked their independence anniversary, commemorating their secession from Sudan in 2011. Regrettably, the period following South Sudan’s independence has been marred by numerous devastating conflicts and ineffective governance, according to critics. (“South Sudan joins list of least developed countries, bringing global total to 49”, https://unctad.org/)
Recently, the United Nations General Secretary, Antonio Guterres, warned that Sudan is on the brink of a full-scale civil war, potentially destabilising the entire region. (“The world is in ‘great peril,’ U.N. chief warns global leaders”, www.nbcnews.com/)
Last month, a deadly fight broke out in a poor market between the two military factions, leaving at least 27 people dead in Mayo, the neighbourhood of South Sudan’s capital. This happened after a truce treaty, which was mediated by Saudi and US authorities, failed.
The Sudanese Doctors Trade Union stated: “Medical staff are under pressure to deal with so many cases with limited staff. We invite all nearby physicians and medical personnel to visit the hospital so that they can provide as much assistance as possible.” (“Sudan: 27 detailed killed in shelling of market in poor area south of Khartoum”, www.mamostv.tv/)
An eyewitness to the shelling of the market and a volunteer at the Al-Bashir Hospital, Abdelmotal Saboon, commented: “In fact, it was the worst day I’ve ever witnessed, with scenes of men, women, and children in terrible condition that I will always remember. I have no idea why the heavy artillery was used, other than to kill innocent people.” (Ibid.)
Mohammed Zain, a resident of Mayo, said: “Since all of our relatives are here, they cannot flee because no one can afford to leave”. (Ibid.)
Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, is home to almost 10 million people. It has 54 hospitals, but as of 21 April, only four were reported to be in operation, which has worsened the humanitarian crisis in the country. (“Sudan updates: Warring factions to hold direct talks”, www.dw.com/)
Many Africans on the continent and in the diaspora have raised their displeasure with the regional bloc AU for failing to mitigate peace talks successfully between Sudan’s military leaders to restore peace and order in the country.
Moreover, there is a belief among many that peace agreements mediated by external countries or organizations, often non-African entities, are driven by hidden motives. It is argued that these parties have occasionally exploited the vulnerabilities of such nations, clandestinely extracting their valuable natural resources.
Satellite images show Wagner forces’ gold mining operations in Sudan
Sudan is Africa’s third-biggest gold producer. Satellite images examined by various media sources and the open-source group “All Eyes on Wagner” reveal a Russian transport plane shuttling between two major Libyan airbases. These airbases are linked to Haftar and used by a sanctioned Russian fighting group. The purpose of these flights is to supply deadly weapons to RSF leader General Hemedti, who controls parts of the country where gold mining is dominant. Yevgeniy Prigozhin, the founder of the Russian mercenary force Wagner, has been accused of manipulating Sudan’s gold reserves by creating internal conflicts within the army. (www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-65328165)
“Yevgeniy Prigozhin and his network are exploiting Sudan’s natural resources for personal gain and spreading malign influence around the globe,” opined then-US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in 2020. (www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-65328165)
In July last year, CNN investigated the Wagner Forces’ gold mining activities in Sudan, and their findings have since been authenticated by the European Council, which stated that, “Through its affiliation with the Sudanese army, the Wagner Group has secured the right to mine Sudanese gold and export it to Russia”. (https://edition.cnn.com/2023/02/27/europe/russia-wagner-sudan-gold-sanctions-eu-intl/index.html)
The Wagner Private Military Company and its founder, Yevgeniy Prigozhin, have had some engagements in Sudan previously monitored by international organisations. It is said that when they initially arrived in Sudan around 2017, they started their operations with then-President Omar al Bashir, showing alliances and unflinching support for him until he was ousted from office by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. (“Russian mercenaries in Sudan: What is the Wagner Group’s role?”, www.aljazeera.com/)
Similarly, it is reported that the Wagner Group abetted former president Omar Al-Bashir to maintain his self-perpetuating rule in Sudan by campaigning for him even in the media, says Dr Samuel Ramani, author of a book about Russia’s activities in Africa. “Prigozhin was calling for […] the protestors to be accused of being pro-Israel and anti-Islamic,” he says. (www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-65328165)
The start of the conflict between the two military factions
When General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan toppled the government of Omar Al Bashir, the Wagner forces simultaneously swapped their backing to the general, ruling the country with his deputy, who is the commander of the RSF (Rapid Support Forces).
When the two commanders also parted, leading to the current war we are witnessing, the Wagner Forces dubiously did not show open support to either of them. Instead, they remain on the fence to watch the leaders’ fight.
According to Kholood Khair of the Confluence Advisory, a think-tank on Sudanese affairs, Wagner is not choosing sides in the conflict because “Wagner has had links to both General al-Burhan’s enterprises and to Mr Hemedti’s enterprises to different extents and in different ways,” she says. (www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-65328165)
Multiple sources indicate that the Wagner Group is seeking to increase its gold mining operations in Sudan through its partnerships with Meroe Gold and M-Invest.
Islamic solutions to conflict resolution
The Holy Quran has guided Muslims in all aspects of their lives, whether it is the ways of fostering peace and love among themselves or the methods of conflict resolution in times of conflict. These golden teachings, if acted upon by the world, will serve as a great means of creating peace around the globe.
In the world today, it is common for people to act unjustly towards others out of enmity, but Allah the Almighty tells us in the Holy Quran:
“O ye who believe! Be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people’s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do.” (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.9)
Since the start of the war in Sudan, the voice of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih Vaa, is constantly heard echoing in the African continent, addressing the Sudanese leaders and their citizens to come to terms and allow peace to rein in their country, rather than pursuing their self-centred desires. This has always been the way of Huzooraa, not just in relation to Sudan or Muslim countries.
On 6 October 2015, during the keynote address of Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahamdaa at the Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands National Parliament, he beautifully explained this teaching of Islam:
“Islam teaches that no opportunity for peace should be wasted and so even if there is only a glimmer of hope then you must try and grasp it. In chapter 5, verse 9, Allah the Almighty has proclaimed that the enmity of a nation or people should never incite you to act otherwise than with justice and fairness. Islam teaches that in all circumstances, no matter how difficult, you must remain firmly attached to the principles of justice and integrity. Thus, even in a state of war, justice and fairness are of paramount importance and when a war concludes, the victor must continue to be just and never resort to undue cruelty.” (“World Peace & Security – Critical Issues of Our Time”, www.reviewofreligions.org/)
In Chapter 49, verse 10, of the Holy Quran, the Islamic approach to brokering peace between two parties involved in conflict is best explained in the statement of Hazrat Amirul Momineenaa:
“A golden principle for the establishment of peace is given in chapter 49, verse 10 of the Holy Qur’an, where it says that if there is a dispute between nations or groups, third parties should seek to mediate and to bring about a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
“In the event of an agreement, if either party unjustly seeks to subjugate the other and contravenes the negotiated settlement, then the other nations should unite together and use force if necessary to stop the aggressor. However, once the aggressive party withdraws, they should not be humiliated or unduly restricted. Rather, they should be permitted to move forward as a free nation and a free society. This principle is of great significance in today’s world and in particular for the major powers and international organisations such as the United Nations, to act upon. (Ibid.)
An exemplary incident that showcases the Holy Prophet’ssa approach to conflict resolution, which Muslims of all generations take pride in, is the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. This incident ultimately led to the triumph of Muslims in Mecca. Despite the peace terms and conditions presented by the Meccans seemingly not favouring the Muslims, the Holy Prophetsa agreed to all of them in order to establish peace. This act of accepting the peace agreements, even when they appeared disadvantageous, exemplifies the Prophet’s commitment to fostering harmony.
Professor Stanley Lane-Poole, a British orientalist and archaeologist, who was also a Professor of Arabic Studies at Dublin University, wrote:
“The day of Muhammad’s greatest triumph over his enemies was also the day of his grandest victory […] He freely forgave the Quraish all the years of sorrow and cruel scorn they had inflicted on him, and he gave an amnesty to the whole population of Makkah. The army followed his example and entered quietly and peaceably. No house was robbed, no woman insulted […] It was thus that Muhammad entered again his native city. Through all the annals of conquest, there is no triumphant entry comparable to this one.” (Lane-Poole, S. (1882), The Speeches and Table Talk of the Prophet Muhammad, London, MacMillan; www.reviewofreligions.org/12971/ways-to-establish-world-peace-the-khalifah-in-canada/)
Regarding this statement, Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa expressed:
“Thus, this writer testifies to the fact that at the time of triumph, the Holy Prophetsa did not seek glory and nor did he seek vengeance against those who had tormented him and his followers. Rather, his response was to grant forgiveness to each and all alike. (Ibid.)
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa,during his Eid-ul-Fitr sermon delivered on 2 April 2023,prayed for peace to reign in Sudan and urged members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community to remember Sudan and all the warzone areas around the world in their prayers. Huzooraa said:
“We shall now pray and pray for humanity in general, particularly those who are hungry without food. In fact, they do not even have access to a drop of water. Currently, the people in Sudan are being afflicted by the turmoil there, and despite being Muslims, they are not only deprived of the joy of Eid; in fact, they have become a target of various kinds of injustices at the hands of fellow Muslims. They have to witness their loved ones; innocent children die in agony before their eyes, owing to the actions of their leaders and those who desire power.
“May Allah the Almighty grant them wisdom and create ease for those who have been deprived. We do not have the means to physically help them by going there, but we can at least help them by praying for them.” (https://youtu.be/vJ4ewMwZ4qI?t=1900)