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Sudan: Army Claims Islamists Indirectly Involved in Conflict

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Men who assisted as former Sudan president Omar al-Bashir’s intelligence agents and are associated with his Islamist movement are engaged in fighting side by side with the army in the ingoing war in Sudan, thus, hampering efforts to stop the carnage.

Along with the war, the army has also been continuously defending itself against claims made by its competitors in the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that it takes help from Bashir’s discredited supporters to fight. Bashir is an Islamist long disliked by West and was overthrown in 2019 following a popular uprising.

An army official said, “The Sudanese army has no relation with any political party or ideologue. It is a professional institution.” However, thousands of Islamists were reportedly fighting with the army, according to the three military sources and one intelligence source.

Another military official said, “Around 6,000 members of the intelligence agency joined the army several weeks before the conflict. They are fighting to save the country.”

These figures were corroborated by former employees of the nation’s now-defunct National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS), a potent organisation dominated by Islamists.

An Islamist comeback in Sudan might make it more difficult for regional countries to negotiate with the army, impede efforts to establish civilian rule, and ultimately lead to more internal strife and international isolation in the nation that previously served as Osama bin Laden’s base of operations.

Mohammed al-Fadl, an Islamist fighter, was killed this month in fighting between RSF forces and the army, according to family members and Islamists. The battle suggests involvement of Islamists. They said that he had been fighting alongside the troops.

One Islamist fighting alongside the army said, “We are fighting and supporting the army to protect our country from external intervention and keep our identity and our religion.”

In a statement, Bashir’s previous ruling National Congress Party said it had no involvement in the combat and merely provided the army with political support.

The army charged the RSF with elevating Islamists and former regime supporters to their highest positions, a claim the RSF refuted. Analysts’ choice for army chief, Abdel Fattah Burhan, has openly refuted charges that Islamists are assisting his forces. In a video released in May, he yelled to celebrating soldiers, “Where are they?”

Fighting between the army and a paramilitary force has been going on in Khartoum, Darfur, and other places for ten weeks in the third-largest country in Africa by area. 2.5 million people have been forced out of their homes as a result of this fighting, which has destroyed the area and caused a humanitarian crisis. If one or both sides got reinforcements, the situation might get worse.

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