London – While the crisis escalates between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces, Western capitals are following what is happening with a lot of anxiety, and this concern has strong motives, starting with the vital and strategic location of Sudan and the Western apprehension of the Russian expansion in it, as well as the fear of a new wave of migration that may reach this time to Europe.
So far, the statements of the influential European countries (Germany, France and Britain) have not expressed concern and called for calm and a return to negotiations, but by going back to what was published about the Sudanese case during the past months from Western research centers as well as in the largest Western newspapers, it appears that the possibility of the collapse of the situation in Sudan He was present in the mind of the European decision-maker.
How does Europe view the Sudanese crisis?
Europe and the West generally approach the Sudanese crisis through 3 main issues:
- The first is the strategic location of Sudan: here we find the British newspaper, the Financial Times, quoting more than one Western expert that the escalation of the conflict will have wide regional repercussions, in addition to concern over the movement in the Red Sea, which is one of the important arteries of global trade. The British newspaper "The Guardian" says that what is happening in Sudan – if it continues – will have repercussions on the relationship with neighboring countries, especially with Ethiopia, which has entered into border conflicts with Sudan more than once.
- As for the second issue, it is the file of immigrants: Sudan hosts about a million refugees from neighboring countries, and the United Nations says that there are about 7 million Sudanese who have been subjected to forced displacement due to armed conflicts. The commander of the Rapid Support Forces, Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo, “Hemedti,” had previously warned The Europeans, during an interview with the American newspaper "Politico" at the end of 2021, confirmed that his country may become a source for the influx of immigrants.
- As for the third issue, it is the fear of Russian influence: and this fear is what made the Russian moves in Sudan under scrutiny until the European Union announced last February the imposition of sanctions on the "Meroe Gold" company, which it said was a branch of the Wagner Group, It is a way to circumvent US sanctions and "exploit Sudan's wealth of gold," as well as the talks that brought together Sudan and Russia to establish a Russian military base in the Red Sea, a project that was met with great Western rejection.
What Western expectations of the course of events?
The "Financial Times" newspaper quotes the "Crisis Group" center as saying that the longer the armed conflict lasts, "the more likely it is that the influence will spread to neighboring countries, and the greater the risk of parties close to the Sudanese border entering this conflict."
For his part, Alex de Waal – one of the largest Western experts familiar with Sudan and author of the book "Sudan's Unfinished Democracy" – says that what is happening "may be a prelude to civil war."
De Waal added, in statements to the British media, that the two sides "have the ability to continue fighting because they are well armed, and each side greatly fears the other, in addition to the absence of any reliable Sudanese party that can play a mediating role."
Did Europe predict the fighting scenario previously?
The armed confrontation between the army and the Rapid Support Forces was the worst scenario developed by Western research centers and was always expected, and we find a research paper of the European Council on Foreign Relations "ECFR" (ECFR) – which is one of the largest specialized centers in foreign policy – warning of isolating Army decision and engage in armed conflict.
Theodore Murphy – who is the director of the African department at the center – says in this paper that the turning point in Sudan is the resignation of Abdallah Hamdok, "which posed great challenges to the European decision-maker."
The research paper – which was drafted more than a year and a half ago and was presented to European decision makers – warns that "the army's record of gaining strength recently shows its intention to seize full power, so international partners need to focus first on the army."
It appears from the paper that the Europeans' obsession with armed conflict over power has been present for a long time, and that is why all recommendations focused on linking international aid to Sudan to the army's retreat from its desire to monopolize power, and to grant civilians a greater margin of power.
How can western countries intervene?
According to the Guardian newspaper, the United States has the greatest Western influence in Sudan in the face of Russian influence, in addition to Saudi and Emirati influence, but what the West really fears most is giving Russia an opportunity to increase its influence there by giving it an outlet in the Red Sea.
It appears that the Western strategy in dealing with the events in Sudan will be through coordination with regional countries that have influence in this country, and not to interfere directly in negotiations and mediation.
Also, the Sudanese file – according to the current reactions – does not appear to be a priority for the West, which is preoccupied with the Ukrainian war, and all it is looking for is to cut off any Russian expansion in Sudan.