Global Witness shows the financial networks behind Hemeti and the RSF in a new report released.
The new report disclose that not only have RSF captured a large part of the country’s gold industry through a linked company, but the leaked bank data and corporate documents show their use of front companies and banks based in Sudan and the UAE.
RSF: Men Without Mercy
The RSF is a paramilitary force that was established in 2013 under the Sudanese intelligence bureau, the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS). The RSF was fashioned out of Janjaweed militias and was assembled in response to anti-government rebel movements in Darfur. Analyst says RSF has been accused of a myriad of human rights abuses in Darfur and elsewhere.
In recent years, the RSF was used as a coup-proofing mechanism for former President Omar al-Bashir, who was recently forced out of power because of popular demonstrations against his regime.
The RSF is reported to be better equipped than other paramilitary and militia groups in Sudan. At the time of their arrival in Darfur in February 2014, the RSF was reported to consist of 5,000 to 6,000 troops with 600 to 750 vehicles. However, this number is widely believed to have grown during the past year.
From a lowly Janjaweed commander, Dagalo has risen up the ranks to the Number Two spot in Sudan following Bashir’s April 11 ouster. The 40-something-year-old RSF chief is now the deputy head of Sudan’s ruling Transitional Military Council (TMC).
The RSF is now the real ruling power in Sudan. They are a new kind of regime: a hybrid of ethnic militia and business enterprise, a transnational mercenary force that has captured a state.
Hemeti’s central role in the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the violent dispersal of protests have not helped improve the military’s popularity. In April, videos circulated on social media depicted the Sudanese army ‘protecting’ the demonstrators outside military headquarters in Khartoum. Now the media make little reference to Sudan’s armed forces.
Sundan’s Gold and External debts
The loss of oil revenues from South Sudan, which became independent in 2011, together with the global decline in oil prices, plunged Sudan into a dramatic economic crisis. In the 2000s, the concomitant increase in the prices of minerals, particularly gold, led to a renewed interest in mining on the part of the Khartoum regime.
Sudan’s Gold Production was reported as 107,400.000 and the value of gold exports through the Central Bank of Sudan in 2017 amounted to $1.87 billion, accounting for about 57 per cent of the country’s total exports, in addition to other large amounts that fueled the economy without going through the Central Bank.
Sudan ranks second in Africa and ninth in the world on the list of gold producers. A small gold boom since 2011 has not made up for the loss of oil revenue, in part because traders avoided selling to the Central Bank and instead smuggled gold out of Sudan to countries where prices were higher.
Furthermore, Sudan’s $55 billion in external debt prevents the government from accessing new foreign credit, except ad hoc loans mostly from Gulf allies.
Sundan’s Powerful and Rich Hemeti
Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known by the nickname “Hemeti” is one the most powerful military figure in Sudan, and also one of the richest. His vast wealth comes from the control of the Jebel Amir gold mines of North Darfur (which Hemeti took with inordinate amounts of bloodshed, particularly that of the Bani Hussein); his mercenary activities over the past six years in Darfur; the funds from the European Union’s disastrously conceived “Khartoum Process” to stanch the flow of African migration to Europe; and from the discretionary “political budget” that permits unrestricted and unrecorded diversion of national wealth to NISS, army, and RSF leaders chiefly Hemeti.
Moreover, that Hemeti has chosen to take this Sudanese wealth abroad to the very actor that has done most to enable the Transitional Military Council, the UAE is particularly outrageous.
Sudan itself is desperate for such investment of national wealth, and such large diversion of that wealth by Hemeti, his brother, and NISS officials should make it clear to all that they have no interest in Sudan and its collapsing economy, but only in their self-enrichment.