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North Africa

The conflict in Sudan could spread across Africa

Soldiers loyal to Fattah al-Burhan in Khartoum. AFP/Getty

There is no “good side” in the battle for Sudan, says Richard Kemp in The Daily Telegraph, but, as with so many recent conflicts, “Russian troublemakers are not far from the action”. Before the deadly clashes between the ruling General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, the two were allies in a coup to seize power in 2021. It was former president Omar al-Bashir who brought in the Kremlin-backed Wagner Group to train and arm his elite troops, in exchange for highly lucrative gold-mining contracts. After his downfall, the Russian mercenaries were only too happy to align themselves with his successors.

Wagner has been pouring weapons into Sudan ever since, and smuggling “vast quantities of gold out”, lining the pockets of its boss Yevgeny Prigozhin and helping Vladimir Putin get around sanctions to “fuel his illegal war in Ukraine”. The danger now is that the rebels, cash-rich and armed to the teeth, could be “about to wreak havoc” across North Africa. If neighbouring Ethiopia or Egypt feel the need to get involved, things could quickly “spiral out of control”. And the inevitable chaos in nearby Chad, Eritrea and South Sudan when they receive a “deluge of refugees” will be a breeding ground for extremists. Opening up vast swathes of the desert “for the next Bin Laden” ultimately undermines British and American security. Whether by “accident or design”, Putin is helping unleash a “wave of violence” across Africa that will not be easily contained.