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What You Need to Understand About Imperialism in Sudan

While the U.S. continues to fund an active genocide against the Palestinian people with the settler colonial state of Israel, imperialism continues to wreak havoc in Africa. The Black Alliance for Peace urges readers to stay alert and engaged on struggles happening all over the Global South as they all connect back to the belly of the beast. We have been following one of the latest flare-ups in Sudan as part of a multi-year long brutal war between ruling class actors that have led to one of the largest refugee crises in the world. 

When elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

U.S. Out of Africa: Voices from the Struggle

AFRICOM Watch Bulletin spoke with Salome Ayuak who is an educator, researcher, and organizer currently serving as the Information Secretary of the South Sudanese Acholi of North America Association and a member of Black Alliance for Peace – Atlanta. 

AFRICOM Watch Bulletin: In December of 2022 it seemed that negotiations for a two year transition to civilian leadership in Sudan were in the process. By April of 2023 fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) began. According to the UN, over 12 thousand women, men and children have reportedly been killed in Sudan and between about 7.4 million have been displaced. And yet, even prior to October 7th when the current crisis in occupied Palestine intensified, we hear very little about  Sudan. What are your thoughts about why?

Salome Ayuak: The current lack of attention to the war in Sudan can be attributed to several factors. First, there’s lack of knowledge and political education regarding the Horn of Africa overall which results in limited public interest and discourse. Understanding the current war requires a deeper grasp of Sudanese history beyond humanitarian statistics, which many people do not have the inclination to explore in this era of quick information. To truly comprehend the present moment, studying the history of Sudan is necessary, rather than relying solely on social media graphics that conveniently appear on our feeds. This is especially crucial considering the lack of access to internet and telecommunication tools in Sudan, making it challenging, if not impossible, for everyday people to document the war for the western audience. Furthermore, the absence of a strong international movement in solidarity with Sudan contributes to its limited visibility in global discourse. Historically, much of the international discourse on Sudan has been controlled by neoliberals such as the Clooneys and Clintons, who dictate to those in the West, particularly the U.S., when and how to “save Sudan,” or more specifically, Darfur. The ongoing wars in the Sudan  from the first Sudanese civil war which began one year before the 1956 flag independence up until 1982 and the second civil war from 1983 – 2005, have also led to a desensitization among many, who may view it as just “another African country at war,” thereby diminishing the significance of the present popular uprisings turned war between armed forces who are all in opposition to the most important group in this fight – which are the interests of the masses of Sudanese peoples. If we claim to be pro-African peoples, we must amplify all struggles of African peoples towards liberation. If we don’t know enough about the struggles, then we must study it so we have correct analysis to stand in real solidarity. 

AWB: Talk about the 2-3 most important things most people just don’t get about Sudan and its current geopolitical situation

SA: Sudan’s geopolitical situation is deeply influenced by the economic consequences of South Sudan’s secession in 2011. The split resulted in a significant loss of oil revenue for Sudan, as the majority of oil fields were in the newly independent South. This economic downturn was further exacerbated by IMF austerity measures imposed on Sudan, including cuts in public sector development budgets, downsizing of the government, and lifting of subsidies on essential goods like sorghum and petroleum. The austerity measures led to bleak living conditions (already experienced by those in the peripheries) to expand to the professional class in the city centers such as doctors who now need 2-3 jobs to live. This led to protests in the city and the cultivation of groups such as the Sudanese Tea Sellers Association, Sudan Professionals Association, and neighborhood groups who in 2019 were at the forefront of revolts. 

The geopolitical landscape of Sudan involves the complex interplay of militias and foreign actors. In terms of militias and foreign involvement, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Hemedti, and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), led by Burhan, play crucial roles. RSF has been legitimized through bilateral trade agreements on minerals.  The Wagner Group from Russia and Canadian lobbyists have further played roles in legitimizing these militias. The involvement of external powers, including the U.S., the European Union, and Israel, in training, financing, and arming these militias and forces adds another layer of complexity. The RSF’s access to gold mines in Darfur and its role in blocking immigrants at the behest of European nations illustrate the multifaceted connections shaping Sudan’s geopolitical situation.

It is also important to mention the role of the U.S. in fueling conflict in Sudan to control its energy resources, cementing access to the Red Sea which links the Mediterranean to Asia and is one of the world’s busiest waterways.

The current geopolitical situation is also influenced by neo-colonial interests, with the split of Sudan into Western Sudan, South Sudan, and Sudan, reflecting regional and international designs. The control over different regions by the RSF and SAF aligns with neocolonial strategies, reinforcing the influence of external actors in Sudan’s internal affairs.

AWB: Recently, the African Union honored former UN Ambassador Susan Rice as a leader “working to empower across the African Diaspora.” This is the same Susan Rice who as an operative of then-President Obama worked to blockade Sudan’s ports and launched selective bombing raids in Sudan. What should be one’s takeaways about the African Union from this as well as its recent track record?

SA: The African Union of today is made up of neocolonial puppets for western governments. Similar to Burhan and Hemedti, they do not work for the interests of the masses of African peoples. The U.S. necessitates misleaders such as those currently in power in order to continue controlling African land, people, and resources. Leaders such as John Garang, who advocated for Sudanese resources to be in the hands of Sudanese people are killed while leaders like Yoweri Museveni in Uganda who work for the interest of the U.S. supplying troops to fight Africans in Congo are to live long lives. 

AWB: What are the most hopeful signs about Sudan and how can others support moving that hope forward?

The most hopeful sign about Sudan is the people know this war is not theirs. Before the war, the Sudanese people were fighting a popular movement, in line with Sudan’s long history of peoples led revolts from the 1998 Mahdist Revolts to the 1964 anti-police violent revolts, to 2019 revolts against exploitative living conditions. We, the Sudanese people, have a strong history and understand revolution as a process. The sit-ins, demonstrations, boycotts, writing of the People’s Charter, neighborhood associations, were all cultivated by the people of Sudan – everyday people from tea sellers to lawyers to students to hustlers. The revolts we’ve seen are not mouth fed and the people of Sudan know that neither Hemedti nor Burhan is fighting in their interests. 

Originally published by the Black Alliance for Peace 


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The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) seeks to recapture and redevelop the historic anti-war, anti-imperialist, and pro-peace positions of the radical black movement. Through educational activities, organizing and movement support, organizations and individuals in the Alliance will work to oppose both militarized domestic state repression, and the policies of de-stabilization, subversion and the permanent war agenda of the U.S. state globally.

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