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Weapons collection campaign increases risk of armed clashes in Darfur: Enough

North Darfur governor waves his hand greeting RSF forces that arrived in El Fasher on 11 Oct 2017 (ST photo)
November 9, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The ongoing weapons collection campaign in Darfur region does contribute to bringing stability in the region but could increase the risk of armed confrontation, as the government target only the tribal gunmen who threaten the regime’s hegemony, says Enough Project in a report released Thursday.

Since the start of the arms collection operation last August in Darfur’s five states and the three states in the neighbouring Kordofan region gradually a standoff appeared in North Darfur between the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Border Guards Forces another (BGF) militia led by the notorious Mahameed tribe leader Musa Hilal. Both are controlled by the Sudanese army but the latter refuses to be merged with the former for tribal dynamics.

The Washington based anti-genocide group warned in a report authored by Suliman Baldo that the government since the launch of the current campaign last August has been only motivated by its "narrow security and political survival considerations"

"Darfur faces a dangerous military standoff, with a disarmament campaign by Sudan’s government, increasing the risk of armed conflict and mass violence," says Enough new report titled “Ominous Threats Descending on Darfur”.

According to the report, the weapons collection campaign which is now in its mandatory phase " has only worsened existing tensions and security threats rather than alleviated them.”

The fact that Hilal refuses to merge his troops with the RSF fearing to lose his tribal authority triggered the mobilisation of more than 10,000 militiamen who are now massed in North Darfur increasing the risk of military clashes in the region.

During the recent weeks, the government sought to reduce Hilal’s influence and deployed its troops the areas surrounding his headquarters but also captured gold mines in Gebel Amer and another key stronghold area of Hilal’s: Saraf Omra.

For his part, Omer Ismail, Senior Policy Advisor at the Enough Project, minimised the whole Darfur disarmament campaign saying it was part of the government public relations campaign to lure the international community.

"The campaign appears to be meant to present President Omar al-Bashir’s regime to the international community as a guarantor of domestic and regional stability," he said.

"However, the campaign only served as a reminder of the government’s role as the leading agent of the proliferation of weapons in the country and the region," he further pointed.

Recently, the RSF general commander stated that they do not intend to fight Musa Hila stressing they belong to the same Darfur Arab tribes. However, he said they are determined to clear the western Sudan region of unauthorized weapons.

Also, the Sudanese government said additional troops of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) will be also deployed in the region.

The author of the report said a successful disarmament of Darfur region can be implemented if the government abandon its "destructive policies as the arming of certain loyal tribes against others collectively labelled as regime opponents".

"It would also require the Sudanese government to develop a comprehensive strategy to address the root causes of a conflict that also pushed the citizenry to arm themselves in order to protect their families and communities,” he added.

(ST)