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Articles and ViewsRapid Support Forces and the prospects for transitional democracy in Sudan Written by Osman Gasm
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Rapid Support Forces and the prospects for transitional democracy in Sudan Written by Osman Gasm

08-02-2021, 11:59 PM
عثمان قسم السيد
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Registered: 04-19-2021
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Rapid Support Forces and the prospects for transitional democracy in Sudan Written by Osman Gasm

    11:59 PM August, 03 2021

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    The abnormal position of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the Sudanese security structure raises a question about the prospects for a democratic transition and how Sudan can enjoy peace and stability in the presence of two regular forces, one under the command of the state, while the other under the leadership of a family that has a private budget that is not subject to oversight and has external relations that extend outside Official diplomatic systems. This is the reality of the Rapid Support Forces, which enjoy a special status and are not subject to the control of the state and democratic systems. Whatever the officials justify the presence of these forces, the reality provides counter evidence. This article deals with the phenomenon of rapid support from the perspective of the modern security studies curriculum, arguing that despite the increasing use of private security agencies locally and internationally, the current situation of the rapid support forces is detrimental to the process of democratic transition, due to the nature and structure of these forces and their doctrine based on the counterinsurgency approach ). These forces derive their legitimacy from counterinsurgency law, which gave them power in extra-judicial abuses, while they derive their financial power by controlling large swathes of mineral-rich land to motivate their personnel. Before entering the top of the article, I will briefly address the views on the use of special military and security forces in general.
    Private security and military companies are considered one of the most important recent developments in security studies due to their escalating role in bridging security gaps, especially after the Cold War and after the events of September 11, and this is mainly due to the ability of these forces to deal with situations that are considered to be of high cost to conventional armies. On this basis, the US government contracted with some private companies such as Blackwater in its war in the Gulf and its war on terrorism such as its war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia. Sierra Leone and Angola also contracted with private security companies such as Sandline and Executive Outcome. Some recent examples include the Central African Republic government contracting Russian military personnel to enhance its security capacity in deterring insurgents and to train its military forces. Although the Rapid Support Forces differ in terms of composition, but there is no doubt that the idea of ​​creating special forces outside the security system to work on the contract system to perform dirty roles (dirty work) is not far from the thought of the former regime in its formation of rapid support, especially after the accusation of its symbols and its president in the year 2009 AD. their involvement in grave violations in Darfur.
    In his book The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa: Money, War, and the Works of Power, Professor Alex de Waal coined the term “military rentierism” to describe the emerging role of countries such as Uganda and Burundi and their troop contributions in Somalia as a means of earning financial resources. The same applies to the Rapid Support Forces, which became part of the “Decisive Storm” campaign in Yemen led by the Arab coalition in exchange for money for its members and leaders. As for the local level, the Rapid Support Forces were rewarded for their efforts in combating the rebellion by granting them control over the Jabal Amer gold mines, which they claim to be affiliated with. government last year.
    Security and military special forces have become a means of assigning blame in case of serious violations, as is the case with Blackwater and its abuses in Abu Ghraib prison, money laundering or organized crime cases, because these forces are basically contracting and do not have a clear chain of command-and-control. This is what made those who reject the idea of ​​private security institutions see their negative role as responsible for undermining the state's control over the situation, and thus undermining the democratic process. Observers fear that the presence of such forces in countries suffering from fragile institutions and shortcomings in governance that authoritarian regimes use these forces to suppress and undermine democratic rule. Examples include how, in April 2019, former President Omar al-Bashir asked the commander of the Rapid Support Forces to break up the sit-in to protect him from protests that threaten his rule.
    There are those who believe that the special security and military forces are useful for dealing with difficult situations where situations are chaotic and do not allow the intervention of conventional armies. This view justifies the approach of international interventions to prevent genocide or large-scale violence. It is interesting that the Rapid Support Forces were prepared to take on roles that the army could not, and thus became part of the civilization of conflict in Darfur, which explains the heavy casualties among civilians in Darfur, which led to the displacement of nearly two million people, and the killing of about half million within a year. The civilization of armed conflict by creating forces outside the military system and attracting civilians to the conflict as combatants and perpetrators is a clear violation of international humanitarian law. It is shameful for the post-revolution government to maintain forces involved in massive and internationally documented violations, such as the Rapid Support Forces, which were part of the process of civilizing the conflict, beginning with the Janjaweed, then the border guards, and later the Rapid Support Forces.
    The presence of a huge force with a history of atrocities and human rights violations without accountability or complete demobilization undermines the democratic transition in Sudan for several reasons: first, these forces assembled as part of the counterinsurgency do not currently have a mandate to continue their tasks as a permanent fighting force outside the military hierarchy; Especially since the government is currently involved in negotiating with all the rebel groups.
    Secondly, as some claim, the Rapid Support Forces were established according to a law approved by the dissolved parliament. It should be noted that the legal system in which these forces were formed is invalid, especially after the overthrow of the regime that established them. Moreover, the parliament was not representative of all Sudanese and that is why it passed a bill allowing atrocities to be carried out against some Sudanese. It is well known that the mission of the Rapid Support Forces is to combat the insurgency in Darfur and elsewhere that has led them to commit atrocities against communities deemed sympathetic to the rebels. Is post-revolution Sudan in need of forces with this mandate؟
    Some went so far as to portray these forces as a national force that is denied by reality, especially if we ask how a force like this can have two brothers in its hierarchy, and what are the criteria for appointing them as a commander and an alternate commander - in all known systems it is not possible to employ two members of the same family in the same system. Undoubtedly, the RSF is a private army with an independent hierarchy, run by the Hemedti family and operating independently of the state. This makes its existence a challenge to democracy where all armed forces are subject to the democratic will of the people through civilian rule.
    Finally, given the current concerns in the Sudanese peace negotiations about merging the RSF and others into one army, the issue is not about having a single army but rather about reforming the security sector to make it professionally play its role away from the market and politics. The issue of building a single national army that is not ideological is not for bargaining and negotiation, but rather a matter of reform that guarantees the future of democratic Sudan.

    And for the rest of the story

    Written by Osman Gasm Alsaed

    [email protected]

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