“The Sudanese are a really nice, kind people I learned living there for 10 years”
“The Sudanese are a really nice, kind people I learned living there for 10 years”
  • Kevin Lee 기자
  • 승인 2023.05.09 16:32
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Looking at the civil war in Sudan

By Kim Jong-do (Director of the Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, Korea University)


Twenty-eight Koreans living in Sudan departed from the Korean Embassy in Khartoum, the capital city, at dawn on April 23, and ran a long distance of 33 hours and 1,200 kilometers at risk to arrive in Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast.

They arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from there, and then returned home safely on our air transport plane on the afternoon of the 25th.

General Burhan (left) and General Dagalo (right)
General Burhan (left) and General Dagalo (right)

First of all, I offer my condolences and congratulations to them. In addition, I would like to thank the government authorities for their efforts to protect Korean residents, the Korean Embassy in Sudan, and the UAE and Saudi Arabia for their sincere cooperation.

I witnessed two instances of coup d'état while studying abroad in Sudan for 10 years from 1982. Watching the armed conflict between the two military leaders, I have mixed emotions and am deeply concerned that it may escalate into an all-out domestic war.

On April 15, in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan, the Rapid Support Force (RSP) militia attacked government forces and announced that they had seized the Presidential Palace, the residence of the Army Chief of Staff and Khartoum International Airport.

Director Kim Jong-do
Director Kim Jong-do

However, the government forces denied this. The heads of both groups are comrades who joined forces to overthrow the dictatorship of Omar Bashir, who seized power in a 1989 coup. The two protagonists are General Abdul Fattah Burhan of the government forces and Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, commander of the militia.

Street protests demanding an end to the 30-year dictatorship of Omar Bashir, who took power in a coup in 1989, began in January 2018 when the price of bread, a staple food, was raised.

At the end of that year, it tripled, and the government's protests continued. In August 2019, the Bashir administration ended and a joint transitional government was established. Again, in October 2021, the military, under the joint command of Burhan and Dagalo, toppled the interim government, which was aimed at transferring civil affairs, in a coup.

The armed conflict was sparked by a difference of opinion over the issue of integrating the 100,000-strong force of the RSP into the government forces. Burhan claimed two years for the RSP's incorporation into the government forces, and Dagalo insisted that it would take 10 years. Each person had a different way of counting.

The RSP, organized in 2013, is an organization developed from the Janjawid militia that carried out ethnic cleansing on behalf of government forces in the Darfur region of western Sudan.

As the RSP grew in strength and deployed members nationwide, the government army, which felt threatened, wanted to integrate the RSP into the government army as soon as possible before it was too late.

Sudan, which gained independence from Britain in 1956, had 16 coups so far, and two coups occurred during 1982-1992 when I was studying abroad, forcing me to taste tear gas and a curfew.

Sudan had the largest area in Africa before South Sudan became independent in July 2011, and has lived with more than 500 tribes in more than 150 languages.

Sudan is in the spotlight because of its potential. Early on, the late Daewoo Group Chairman Kim Woo-joong saw its potential and once had his Middle East headquarters here, and actively expanded tire factories, pharmaceutical companies, textile factories, construction, and civil engineering projects. Seeing Sudan's potential, oil-producing countries in the Middle East invest in various fields, especially with the headquarters of the Arab League's agricultural development Arab Organization in Khartoum.

This is a sign that there is agricultural potential. When I planted young radishes while serving as the head of Hangeul School, I could eat them in about two months.

Now that the civil war has begun, countries around the world have begun to bounce their abacus. Burhan is close to Egypt, and Dagalo is close to the Libyan National Army (LNA), the United Arab Emirates and the Wagner Group, a Russian mercenary group.

Neither the U.N. nor the Arab League are actively engaged in it. It's like looking across the river. It is a sin to stand by while living in the same era.

It is time for the world to stop sitting on its hands and gather wisdom as soon as possible to prevent a second Darfur crisis or a Syrian civil war in Sudan. The Sudanese people I've lived in for 10 years are really nice and kind. I sincerely ask the two military leaders to abandon their self-interest in what is the way for the country and the people and gather their middle fingers to end the civil war as soon as possible and to get the potential means out of poverty.


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