Sudan’s constitutional head calls on the UN Assembly to designate the RSF and its leader as terrorists
Speaking on Thursday 21st September, on the podium at the headquarters of the UN General Assembly, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, the Chairman of the Sudan Sovereign Council and Sudan’s Head of State, delivered an impassioned speech urging the international community to fully recognise the heinous crimes committed by the rebel militants of the RSF led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti (formerly his deputy at the council), and to officially designate the RSF a terrorist organisation.
A bold attempt to redefine the narrative of the conflict
In his address, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, made a bold attempt to redefine the prevailing narrative of the conflict in Sudan, as he described the heinous acts committed by the RSF against the ordinary and unarmed citizens of Sudan, which he said included murder, looting, theft, rape, kidnap, occupation of civilian’s homes and property, the wanton destruction of infrastructure – including hospitals, utilities, government offices in Khartoum and the Darfur region. He urged the international community and the UN Council, to designate the RSF and its leaader, Hemedti, as a terrorist organisation. In a statement, which to many will have echoed the language used by Volodymyr Zelenski, the President of Ukraine, in an address in New York, at the same podium two days earlier, he said:
‘We call upon you, Mr. President (of the UNGA), and the international community to recognise them as terrorist organisations and unite against them to safeguard the Sudanese people, the region, and even global security’
Burhan cautions the African Union and IGAD for their involvement with 'external influences'
Burhan used the opportunity to caution African regional bodies such as the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), to cease their involvement with 'external influences' and to live up to their responsibilities towards peace and security in the region. He said:
‘I must emphasise here the need for our regional organizations to assert their independence and prioritize the interests of African peoples to regain the trust of the continent. We will not seek anyone’s participation in resolving our issues based on their interests or those of their nations’
His inference related to intelligence in his possession, which clearly showed that rebel groups were receiving assistance from outlawed and terrorist organisations stationed in some of Sudan’s neighboring countries. He underscored the danger that a failure to take action to stop this, could see the conflict expanding beyond Sudan’s borders. He said:
‘Regional and international interventions to support these groups have become evident and overt, signifying the spark that could ignite the entire region, impacting regional security and neighbouring nations directly’
US and International Community show a reluctance to call out specifically the RSF's heinous crimes
Despite economic sanctions and asset freezing being imposed against the RSF and its leader Abdel Rahim Daglo, for crimes committed in West Darfur, several regional countries with strong links and economic ties to the RSF, are understood to have not adhered to the sanctions issued by the US State Department in Washington. Remarkably, these violations have not triggered any sort of recourse from the US, who have shown a reluctance to respond to widely reported war crimes and human rights abuses committed in Khartoum. Instead, the actions committed by the RSF and widely reported by human rights organisations continue to be framed in language, which avoids pinning responsibility on the actual perpetrators. Indeed, just a day before Burhan’s arrival in New York, USAID issued a statement announcing over $130 million in humanitarian support to the people of Sudan, in which they referred to the conflict as:
‘senseless violence’…’between the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces [which] erupted on April 15’… The parties to the conflict continue to perpetrate grave protection violations, including the widespread use of rape and other forms of sexual violence as a tactic to terrorise populations and instill fear and subjugation.
The language used echoes that of all US government statements, which refuse to acknowledge that the conflict began with an attempted military coup and the failed assassination of the presiding head of state, by Hemdti and his RSF forces.
In what has been described as an attempt to undermine the address by Burhan at the Assembly, Abdel Rahim Daglo (Hemedti), just a few hours earlier on the same day, published an online recorded video statement, announcing his readiness to end the civil conflict between his forces and the forces of the Sudan Armed Forces and to engage in comprehensive political talks.