Sudan is a critical gateway for Central Africa to the Red Sea and trade with the Emirates. Dahlan has been tasked to manage this region by Tahnoon and MBZ with the aim of pliant strong men being installed or supported in Egypt, Libya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, and beyond.
Dahlan has been accused of involvement in the destabilization of Sudan, supporting the coup and the negotiations over water usage caused by the construction of the massive hydroelectric dam program. Specifically, the Sudanese People’s Congress Party Bashir Adam Rahma accused Dahlan of coordinating with Israel to achieve the secession of Darfur and seize the Red Sea supposedly in support of UAE interests.
“In coordination with Israel, Dahlan is trying to secure Darfur’s secession that serves the UAE’s interests in the region.”
Sudanese People’s Congress Party Bashir Adam Rahma
Dahlan visited Sudan in 2015 ostensibly to mitigate the tensions among Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt over the dam project in the Nile River. The use of water from the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has created conflict between these countries, but his meetings may be used to mask another purpose: The destabilization of governments and regions on behalf of the UAE and Israel. He is suspected of also building support for the UAE-backed ouster of Omar al-Bashir on 11 April 2019 in a military coup d’état. The attempt to bring Sudan into the Abraham Accords may be part of this activity.
Assumption that Dahlan was involved in the ouster of Sudan’s leader comes from reporting on his visits to Sudan immediately after the coup to hold meetings with senior officers from the army with an Emirati official.
Dahlan was in contact with Mohammed Hamdan “Hemeti” Dagolo, head of Rapid Support Forces, which is accused of killing thousands of civilians in the country. Darfurian mercenaries were hired to support another UAE strong man, Khalifa Haftar in the UAE’s bid to topple the GNA in 2019.
Dahlan has been supporting the current leader of the coup Abdelfattah al-Burhan and has been accused by Bashir’s supporters and Islamists of acting as Israel’s proxy in the region. Israel and the UAE would benefit from Sudan becoming the entry port into central Africa. The completion of the longstanding concept of a trans-African highway system from Sudan to Port Khartoum would be a major logistical project that would directly supply raw materials to the UAE. Control over Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Eritrea would be a major step, benefitting the UAE.
Dahlan is believed to be one of the main figures for attempting normalization process between Sudan and Israel. Israel has a long history in Sudan’s internal affairs going back to the training of Anya-Nya by foreign mercenaries.
The Russian-based group, Wagner, initially entered Sudan in 2017 as “Meroe Gold” and “M Invest” giving them access to Darfur and the border with neighboring Central African Republic. Wagner also assisted in brutally suppressing popular uprisings against Bashir. After Bashir was deposed, these Russian mercenary groups not only stayed but expanded to protect and train Dagalo’s men. Russia does have a strategic interest in establishing a naval base in Sudan as they did in Syria. The UAE has tasked Dahlan and other military advisors with maintaining this relationship with Wagner. As a result, they have increased their visits to St Petersburg since the spring of 2021.
Ethiopia attacked Tigray on 3 November 2020, and Dahlan has linked Sudanese support to this conflict. One of his missions in Sudan is described as maintaining stability with Ethiopia. However, Dahlan was photographed visiting a resort with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in January of 2021 after fighting broke out with Tigrayan elements.
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