Months of silence from Sudan’s army over alleged Emirati interference in the civil war have erupted into harsh exchanges between Khartoum and Abu Dhabi. The conflict, ongoing since mid-April, has claimed over 12,000 lives and displaced millions in a brutal clash between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF). In November, General Yasser al-Atta openly labeled the UAE a “state mafia” supporting the RSF, accusing Abu Dhabi of funneling weapons through Chad, Uganda, and the Central African Republic with the assistance of the Wagner Group, Russian mercenaries. UAE officials remained silent on the accusations.
Experts had warned of this supply line, but Sudan’s army only publicly accused the UAE in November, expelling 15 UAE diplomats. Earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported weapons found in aid shipments sent via Uganda to Sudanese refugees in Chad. The UAE promptly denied involvement, claiming neutrality.
UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed’s support for RSF Chief Mohamed Hamdan Daglo dates back to 2015 when Daglo provided paramilitaries for the Saudi-Emirati ground intervention in Yemen. Daglo, a key figure in Sudan’s gold mining sector, also engages in profitable gold trading with the UAE.
Despite being the top formal buyer of Sudanese gold, many support lines between the UAE and Sudan are discreet. The UAE’s involvement in Sudan operates through curated networks to achieve strategic goals with plausible deniability.
Diplomatic tensions peaked in November when pro-army demonstrators in Port Sudan demanded the expulsion of the Emirati ambassador. Sudan’s acting Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq revealed Abu Dhabi had expelled Sudanese diplomats, prompting Sudan’s retaliatory move to declare 15 UAE diplomat’s persona non grata.
The Foreign Ministry’s action is seen by experts as an act of desperation amid dwindling options. While no side holds a decisive military advantage, the RSF now controls key areas, including Khartoum and Darfur, expanding its influence southward. General Burhan’s bold stand aims to draw international attention to alleged UAE support for Daglo’s RSF through illicit weapon injections.