Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, "Hamidti".. A camel and gold trader who rose in the Sudanese army

Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, who is nicknamed "Hamidti", was born in 1975 in Darfur, and became famous in his youth for trading in camels and sheep, and he continued to move between Chad, Libya and Egypt. He formed a militia with which he began securing convoys and deterring bandits, and it developed into a large force that caught the attention of the Sudanese government, which aspired to include it in support of the Janjaweed militia in order to suppress the rebellion of the armed movements in the western Darfur region, and so that militia was his gateway to entering the arena of politics until he became deputy Head of the Transitional Military Council shortly after the coup against Omar al-Bashir, who appointed him and brought him into the army.

Birth and upbringing

Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo was born in 1975 in the state of North Darfur, and his ancestry goes back to the Mahamid tribe of the Al-Hilaliyya Arab Bedouin tribe, which has a great popular depth in Darfur, Kordofan, Chad and a number of African countries. He received his education in traditional books, but he has been out of education since 1991, when he was 15 years old at the time.

In the mid-1990s, Hemedti became a well-known young man in trade routes and routes. He was active in the camel and sheep trade and importing cloth, especially between Libya, Mali and Chad. He led a small group to secure convoys and deter bandits and thieves in the areas controlled by his tribe.

And between Darfur, Chad, Libya and Egypt, Hamidti moved as a camel seller and protector of convoys until he made a great fortune, and formed a militia that drew the attention of Sudanese politicians to their desire to include the tribes in their alliance with the Janjaweed in order to confront the rebellion in Darfur, and his militia later enabled him to influence Sudanese political affairs.

political experience

With the outbreak of the Darfur conflict in 2003, Hemeti's militia attracted elements from the Janjaweed and began to attract the attention of decision-makers in Khartoum. Soon, it began to attract members of different tribes, until it formed national popular forces under the name of "Border Intelligence Units" and appointed Hemeti over it.

In 2007, Hemedti was appointed brigadier general, and his forces were included in the Sudanese intelligence service. Then, in 2013, ousted President Omar al-Bashir restructured it and called it the "Quick Support Force", and made it an official paramilitary entity led by Hamidti, who was granted by al-Bashir great powers and privileges that aroused the jealousy and wrath of senior officers. Al-Bashir made the force fight on behalf of the Sudanese government during his reign during the war in Darfur.

Hamidti's wealth increased during that period, accompanied by an increase in his influence and forces, until he seized the main gold mining sites in the Darfur region, and by 2017 gold sales in the country accounted for 40% of exports.

In 2015, Hamidati was able to develop his foreign relations, as he sent the Rapid Support Units to Yemen after Sudan joined an alliance with Saudi Arabia to fight the Houthis.

According to unofficial statistics, in 2019 the Rapid Support Force numbered about 40,000 members, most of them from Sudanese tribes from the west and east, and Al-Bashir armed them with light and medium weapons such as rifles, small cannons, and four-wheel drive vehicles. Reports say that it has now become about 100,000 armed, armed and fast-moving four-wheel drive vehicles.

Some reports say that Hemedti and his forces took control of the gold mines in Sudan, in Jebel Amer in particular, after the overthrow of the former Janjaweed militia leader Musa Hilal, which gained Hemedti financial independence and strength outside the control of the army apparatus, which was exacerbated by some hands of external support, as his opponents say.

Omar al-Bashir tried to strengthen the influence of the Rapid Support Force and make it a center of power parallel to the army, in order to avoid any military coup. Hamidti continued his remarkable rise in the Sudanese ruling circles, and he obtained exceptional military promotions that elevated him to the rank of major general and then to the rank of lieutenant general, without the pressures of the military leaders succeeding in overthrowing him after the army's hostility to him grew.

In January 2017, the government approved the "rapid support" law and transferred the affiliation of the "force" from the Security and Intelligence Service to the armed forces, although most of its members are not military.

The overthrow of Omar al-Bashir

With the escalation of the demonstrations in 2018-2019, Hamidti decided to abandon Al-Bashir, who remained his protector for 15 years, and refused to suppress the demonstrators. He also called for the overthrow of Al-Bashir and all the men of the old guard, a reduction in the transitional period, and a referendum on the survival of Sudanese forces in the Yemen war, as he made With remarkable statements, he called on the government to provide services to citizens and provide them with a decent life.

Secret negotiations began between Hemeti and the army regarding merging his forces or reducing their powers, and the two parties reached a deal in which Hemeti was offered the position of Vice President of the Military Council, in return for guarantees that did not prejudice the interests of the army in the post-Bashir period, which was represented in protecting its old powers, and ensuring that it maintained control over The vital resources of the state, and curbing any upcoming government that aims to overthrow him from the scene.

In addition to the new authority he enjoyed, the commander of the Rapid Support Forces maintained an independent budget for his forces, in addition to fortifying his position throughout the transitional period of impeachment or trial, which appears in the outcomes of the constitutional document signed in late 2019.

Abdullah Hamdok (the prime minister of the transitional government at the time) clashed with the Rapid Support Forces because of an initiative that included joining those forces with the military and settling their status, so Hamidti and Al-Burhan decided to turn against Hamdok.

The dispute with the proof

Until the date of the exceptional measures taken by the Sudanese army commander, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, in October 2021, the relationship between him and his deputy, Hamidti, was good, and Hamidti had extensive power, especially in choosing members of government in the states.

The two sides were allies against the civil forces after al-Bashir was removed, and Al-Burhan became head of the Sovereignty Council and commander of the army, while Hamdan became deputy head of the Sovereignty Council.

In May 2021, differences flared up between the two parties over power and influence, until they almost reached armed confrontation, but Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok and civilian members of the Sovereignty Council intervened to reconcile them, until they agreed to end the partnership with the Forces for Freedom and Change on October 25. The first is 2021.

After that, Hemedti started again accusing Al-Burhan and said that he had "lived with him a trick" to overthrow the ousted President Omar Al-Bashir, and accused him of having an "agenda" to restore Al-Bashir's regime to power, and declared the inability to form an executive government, with the worsening economic crisis and the deterioration of the security situation, then He retired to Darfur, then talked about the hands of military intelligence stirring unrest in Central Africa, and criticized the performance of the security services loyal to Al-Burhan.

And the army began to see a wide threat in the growing capacity of Hemedti's irregular forces, and their possession of the latest weapons, with their control over a large budget thanks to their financial independence, and Hemedti's tendency to build a new alliance with tribal notables and Sufi sheikhs, at a time when the army was looking for a civilian front to complete the period. transitional government and the transfer of power to an elected government in which it guarantees that its interests will not be prejudiced.

By the end of 2022, Hamidti unilaterally declared his support for the transitional constitution prepared by the Sudanese Bar Association, and the constitution stipulated the removal of the military establishment from power, and the integration of all other forces into the Sudanese army, in a comprehensive security and military reform process.

Proposals for a political settlement between the military and civilians emerged in August 2022 under regional and international auspices, and the commander of the Rapid Support Forces, Hamidti, was more enthusiastic about the settlement, compared to the army commander who accepted it "with great reservations."

On December 5, 2022, Al-Burhan and Hamidti signed a preliminary framework agreement with civilians to end the political crisis in the country, and to hold 5 workshops devoted to security and military reform, justice, transitional justice, and others. Despite Al-Burhan signing the framework agreement, he stipulated on more than one occasion that the Rapid Support Forces be integrated into the army to implement the agreement.

Then Hamidti issued an official statement in February 2022, announcing his remorse for participating in the October 25 "coup", and then obstructing the workshops listed for security and military reform in the agreement.

Al-Burhan and Hamidti signed the security and military reform paper on March 15 under the auspices of the Quartet consisting of the United States, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which set the maximum ceiling for merging the Rapid Support Forces at 10 years, but the dispute arose again regarding the method and details of the merger.

This was followed by several attempts at mediation between the two parties, but they failed and without solutions, and the focus of the dispute was that Al-Burhan and those with him believed that the forces should be subordinate to the army commander, while Hamidti saw that they should be for the head of the state according to what was stated in the framework agreement.

In April 2023, a dispute broke out between Hemedti and Abdel Fattah al-Burhan over the timeline for merging the Rapid Support Forces and who would assume the position of Commander-in-Chief of the Army during the merger period, as well as the position of the Rapid Support officers in the future hierarchy.

The "Rapid Support Force" headed to the city of Marawi, in northern Sudan, on April 13 to station near Marawi Airport, where an air base was said to include elements of the Egyptian army present to assist the Sudanese army in an expected war against the RSF.

The stationing of Hemedti's forces angered the army, which in return strengthened its presence in the region with additional forces, bringing matters to the point of armed confrontation and igniting throughout the cities of Sudan, in light of accusations exchanged between the two parties about the cause of the first flame.

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