Darfur RSF/J Atrocities backed by UAE, Qatar and Other Arab States

Sudanese refugees from the Tandelti area who crossed into Chad, at Koufroun, near Echbara, are seen on April 30, 2023. (Gueipeur Denis Sassou /AFP via Getty Images)

by Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdallah and Jerry Gordon[i]


Rapid Support Forces/Janjaweed (RSF/J), Arab tribal militias and members of the Tamazuj Movement have been committing genocidal atrocities and ethnic cleansing of the indigenous African people of Wester Darfur since the Sudan civil war erupted April 17, 2023, between Sudan Army Forces (SAF) of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and General Mohamad Hamdan Dagalo “Hemeti,” commander of the RSF/J.  The RSF/J with the assistance of members of the Tamazuj Movement, as well as other Arab tribal militias attacked civilian population of al Geneina targeting Masalit and other indigenous African people. They killed thousands of people and forcibly removed thousands from their homes in al Geneina, Masteri, Ardamata, Adikong and their surroundings. Men were killed, women raped, and children were enslaved. The attacks of Geneina alone have resulted in the killing of 8,970 civilians, injured 6,858, refugees or displaced 800,000 and an estimated 3,000 are detained by the militias with their whereabouts unknown.

Sudanese women who fled conflict in Geneina in West Darfur in Ouran Refugee Camps Adre, Chad 7-25-23 Source: Reuters

The RSJ/J UAE and Other Arab States support

What is less well known is the supply of weapons and other war material to the RSF/J forces in Darfur by over 119 air flights between the UAE and the Amdjarass Airport in eastern in Chad.  See this CNN report by Nima Elbagir: Refugees Describe Atrocities Against Refugees Fleeing Sudan’s Civil War.  In September, 2023, The US Treasury issued sanctions against the brother of RSJ/J commander Hemeti, Gen. Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo a deputy leader of the RSF, for the paramilitary group’s role in human rights violations and ethnic killings in Sudan.  A Foreign Policy report by Yasir Suldan on these US sanctions noted: “Despite the RSF’s lobbying campaigns on Capitol Hill, the RSF remains a synonym for the Janjaweed militia that killed thousands in Darfur.”

Hemeti’s family relations with former Russian Wagner Group in Africa and the UAE reflects its ownership of Sudan’s largest gold-mining operations and partnership allowing transit of production to Russia as well as dual-use devices.  A younger brother, Algoney Hamdan Dagalo oversees this network  from Dubai.

The relationship between UAE and other Arab states over significant agricultural investments in Sudan stemmed from a March 2017 conference in Amman, Jordan that sought more than $6 billion in commitments.

The Sudan military connection involving Hemet began during the UAE -Saudi Coalition War against the Houthi Rebels in Yemen when the deposed former Bashir regime in Khartoum in 2016 supplied troops in a multi-billion deal after Bashir abandoned a 15-year relationship with Iran.

West Darfur Governor Khamis Abakar of Massalit ethnic group killed by RSF on June 14,2023 in El Geneina                                

Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in Darfur

Genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes and human right abuses are carried out against the undefended civilian population of Darfur. Atrocities in Darfur are continuous since the international community is not only silent but abandoned the fate of the Darfuris to be decided by RSF/J, Arab tribal militias and oil rich Middle East Sheiks. Killing en masse, burying people alive, rape, detention, kidnapping for ransom and slavery. Other atrocities include ethnic cleansing, genocide, forced displacement, summary executions of men, women, children, community leaders and traditional chiefs. For instance, they killed the 85-year-old Mohamed Arbab the traditional Chief of Masteri. They also assassinated Abdelbasit Dina, the traditional Chief, and several others summarily executed. The militias also organize robbery of civilian properties, arson, destruction of homes, government institutions including hospitals using bulldozers and appropriation of land. The RSF/J destroyed homes with children and elders inside, abducted of women and forced them to work in militia family homes as servants. Moreover, they often kidnap children to use them as herders and men to cultivate land. The militias also robbed markets and burned down the IDP camps entirely. Furthermore, they destroyed properties and set fire to the food stores with the objective to starve people to death. Aiming to make a demographic change, they destroyed historical monuments including those of the Massalit kingdom and replaced by Arab names (Dar Arab).

On April 24, 2023, clashes between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and its sponsored Janjaweed militias known as Rapid Support Forces began in Al Geneina. The fighting between RSF/J militias and the SAF began in the Western parts Al Geneina city, and continued for about one hour before the SAF withdrew its forces. Even though SAF had withdrawn its forces, the SRF/J launched fierce attacks against the Massalit civilian population inhabiting Hai Al Jebel Quarters in which the militias killed 95 people and injured 110 others. This is the only start of the militia’s attacks on the civilian population of indigenous Africans. On April 25, the RSF/J, Tamzuj Movement (An Arab movement formed during Juba negotiations by Burhan and Hemeti), and Arab tribal militias carried out a wide range of attacks against the Massalit population dwelling in Hai Al Jebel, Thora, Tadamon, Al Bihera, Geneina Market, and a number of Internally Displaced Peoples Camps (IDP) including Kirinding, and Abu Zarr in which the militias killed more than 400 civilians and wounded 600 others.

On April 27, 2023, the RSF/J, Tamazuj and Arab tribal militias continued their attacks on civilian population. They killed 450 people, wounded 303 others as well as destruction of all IDP camps. On May 12, 2023, the RSF/J, members of Tamazuj Movement and its Arab tribal militias continued their attacks on Al Geneina city. They killed 414 people and injured 317. They use various types of weapons include snipers to kill people especially those who try to save the injured. May 13, 2023, the RSF/J and Arab tribal militias attacked Al Geneina with a large force and from different sides of the city. In this attack, they killed 307 civilians and wounded 201. The attacks continued to May 14, 2023 in which they bombarded the city with heavy artillery including mortars, multiple Rocket Launchers, RGP7. Followed these fierce attacks resulted into the killing of 505 civilians and wounded 603. Despite these horrible attacks on civilian population, the SAF’s 15th Infantry Division did nothing to protect people. The RSF/J and its militia continued their repeated attacks from May 21, 2023 to June 9, 2023 which they killed 770 civilians and injured 515. Facing these devastating attacks in addition to lack of water, food and medicine, and destruction their homes forced the civilian population to come out of their homes and trying to flee to neighboring Chad. The militias attacks continued on the Southern parts of Al Geneina on June 12, 2023 and killed 319 people and wounded 413. On June 14, 2023, they abducted and assassinated the Governor of West Darfur Khamis Abdallah Abakar with his father and three others. These barbaric crimes that the RSF/J, and Arab tribal militias has been committing against the people Darfur since the beginning of the war in 2004. The abduction and assassination of the governor and act on his dead body indicating the degree of hatred and the culprit evil intension of the RSF/J and Arab tribal militias toward the indigenous population of Darfur.

On June 15, 2023, the death toll 6016 civilians were killed and wounded 4000 people mostly from Massalit ethnic group. Some of these people killed when they were fleeing the war zone moving toward Ardamata and Adikong hoping to reach safety in Chad.

On May 28-29, 2023, the RSF/J attacked the town of Masteri about 50,000 South Al Geneina and killed 600 people and injured 300 others. The rest of the population of Masteri fled to Chad. Followed the capture of the 15th Infantry Division Garrison in Al Geneina by RSF/J on November 5, 2023, they killed 2000 people, and wounded 800 while 370 others were missing and their where abouts still unknown. Eyewitnesses said they have seen 700 people detained Al Geneina but currently no one knows their where abouts.

Similar attacks are also carried in Buram on November 19, 2023, South Darfur in the pretext that the victims have refused to support RSF in its war against the SAF. The militias also summarily executed over 45 activists in Kutum North Darfur. The atrocities are continuous in the other parts of Sudan in the daily bases. Girls are kidnaped from Khartoum and brought to Darfur to be sold openly in Kutum and Kakabiya markets. They sell these girls to whoever wants them for 40,000 Sudanese pounds. They bring them in the back of Toyota pickup trucks on market days. To riase the effectiveness of its forces, the RSF/J currently has begun recruiting terrorists from the African Sahel Region include members of Boko Haram and Islamic State in Libya.

Solutions Darfur/Sudan Crisis

Failure of the international community to resolve the Darfur crisis. The international community in one way or another engaged to resolve the crisis in Darfur since its early beginnings in 2004. First, they deployed African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS). Second, they deployed European Union Forces (EUFOR) to protect refugees in Eastern Chad in 2006. Finally, the international community deployed the United Nations-African Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) with a huge force. This force of over 20,000 remained in Darfur for more than 10 years but has categorically failed to protect civilians while the genocide against the people of Darfur continuous in their presence. So, these involvements had brought nothing. They have neither protected the civilian population from RSF/J attacks nor brought peace to Darfur.

We also have witnessed several peace agreements between the Sudan government and the Darfur resistant movements, notably, the Abuja Peace Agreement in 2006, Doha Peace Agreement in 2013 and Juba Peace Accord in 2020. Despite several agreements, peace is nowhere to been seen in Darfur in particular and Sudan in general and the country became a collapsed state. The situation today looks like if all these agreements are made to lead Sudan to become a complete failed state. The question one could ask is: why have all these efforts not brought peace in Darfur? Why is the genocide and ethnic cleansing continuous? Most people have not realized that the crisis in Darfur and Sudan are controlled by powerful and oil rich foreign countries that supporting RSF/J financially and politically. These big foreign actors are the states that engaged with the international community pretending to help resolve the crisis but on contrary, they are the one who fueling the crisis through supporting of the Rapid Support Forces/Janjaweed militias. The RSF/J force are mercenaries constituted from foreigners and financed and armed by foreign actors.

These powerful countries using their oil wealth supported President Bashir to commit genocide in Darfur and destabilize the region. Today, the same countries supporting RSF/J financially, politically and guidance to launch war against the people Darfur in particular and Sudan in general. These wealthy countries bribe authorities in different Africa countries and international organizations such as UN, AU, IGAD just to silent them. For instance, Gaddafi was paying monthly salary of $250,000 to some heads of African states for them not to talk about the Darfur atrocities and to assist former President Bashir to block the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest. The crisis of Darfur in particular and Sudan in general requires a comprehensive solution. First, assist the Sudan United Movement to dismantle RSF/J and its militias. Hold the RSF/J and its militias accountable of their crimes and refer them to ICC for prosecution. Deny or exclude Middle East States and Egypt from engaging to settle Sudan’s crisis because they are the one who are fueling these tribal conflicts in the name of Arabs vs. indigenous Africans. Establish a government of national unity to address the root causes of Sudan’s problems which rests on historical injustice, economic, political, security dimension of the conflict, and alleviate human suffering.


Given that the RSF looks powerful following the capture of most SAF garrisons in Darfur, the militia organization is weak in terms of political structure and popular support in Sudan. RSF/J forces are constituted from Arab tribal mercenaries, terrorist organizations, human traffickers, and drug cartels operating in the African Sahel region. The group also extended its recruitment to include members of South Sudan with rebels and Ethiopian refugees in its ranks. A video clip showing a South Sudan mercenary occupied a civilian home in Khartoum. What makes the RSF look powerful is the huge financial assistance it receives from foreign actors, notably, UAE, State of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other members of the Arab League. The organization could be easily dismantled if the international community held these states accountable for their actions against Darfur in particular and Sudan in general. There is a need to stop these Middle East countries from supporting and financing this Islamist mercenary group to destabilize Darfur, Sudan, and the African Sahel Region. Once the funding sources and supplies dry up, the group could easily be disarmed and its members who commit human rights abuses and war crimes prosecuted.


[i] Jerry Gordon is a senior editor at the New English Review.  Lt. General Abakar M Abdallah is Chairman of Sudan United Movement and former senior Chadian Army Intelligence and Pan-Sahel Counterterrorism Force commander. He is a graduate of the US Army War College, National Defense University and the US Army Intelligence and Security School. They are co-authors with Deborah Martin of Genocide in Sudan: Caliphate Threatens Africa and the World, JAD Publishing, 2017.


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