Has America Just Lost Sudan?

Black smoke covers the sky above the capital Khartoum, Sudan.

Has America Just Lost Sudan?

Who will win it?

For most of modern history, Sudan has been among the Arab nations most hostile to the West. For decades, dictator Omar Bashir governed Sudan with an iron fist, sponsoring genocide and terrorism. This changed in 2019. The military overthrew Bashir and announced a transition to democratic civilian rule. The United States helped it broker a normalization agreement with Israel. It looked like the unthinkable could happen: Sudan could join the Western camp.

As of 2024, that chance is all but nipped in the bud. Since last April, Sudan has been locked in civil war between two military factions. The jury is out as to which one is likely to win at this point. But in the chaos of war, both have had their American links cut. Whatever window to the West 2020 opened now looks to be permanently shut.

One of the two major players in the war is the Rapid Support Forces (rsf). Formerly known as the Janjaweed (a derivative of an Arabic phrase meaning “devils on horseback”), the rsf is the descendant of the Arab militias Bashir used as the “tip of the spear” in his notorious genocide in Darfur.

rsf leader Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo has garnered diplomatic support. He receives backing from Russia and the United Arab Emirates, and he recently toured Africa where the leaders of Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda greeted him as if he were Sudan’s leader. It’s not a given that Dagalo will become Sudan’s next leader, but he has the backing of several influential international power players.

He is also stirring up haunting memories in Darfur. Human rights groups estimate the rsf has killed thousands of Darfuri civilians since last April.

Some world leaders don’t seem too bothered by Dagalo’s genocidal streak. But the U.S. is trying to isolate Dagalo. In September, the Treasury Department sanctioned Abelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, Mohammed’s brother and a senior rsf leader. The State Department also put visa restrictions on rsf commander Abdul Rahman Juma. These were the first U.S. sanctions on any individual Sudanese since the war’s start.

Earlier this month, four senators issued a resolution pushing the Biden administration to support “tribunals and international criminal investigations to hold the rsf and allied militias accountable for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.” Sens. Ben Cardin, Jim Risch, Tim Scott and Corey Booker singled out Dagalo’s role in the rsf.

Sudan controls a large stretch of Red Sea coastline, which as Yemen’s Houthi movement has demonstrated, is a critical sea lane. Sudan also controls the upper reaches of the Nile River, putting America’s ally Egypt at its mercy for access to water. If Dagalo became Sudan’s next leader, it’s unlikely he would see America as a natural partner.

It would seem America’s next logical option is to support the other side of the conflict: the Sudanese Armed Forces (saf). They represent the “regular” military. The saf and their leader, Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, led Sudan’s government before the civil war. They were also the driving force in ousting Bashir from power.

But circumstances aren’t that straightforward.

Just because the saf looks slightly more palatable than the rsf doesn’t mean they’re sweethearts. The saf has its fair share of accusations of war crimes as well. The Treasury Department is sanctioning saf affiliates in connection to money laundering.

With the rsf’s powerful foreign sponsors, if the saf wants to win, it would need foreign partners of its own. But if it won’t get much help from America, where can it turn?

The saf used to be an Iranian proxy. Iran and Sudan cut relations in 2016. But the saf needs friends, and Iran always has its doors open to pariah states that need a strong foreign backer. Sudan and Iran reopened relations last year.

This new friendship is paying out. Bloomberg cited “senior Western officials” in January claiming that Iran is supplying Sudan with the Mohajer-6, an air-to-surface attack drone equipped with precision-guided munitions.

The Mojaher-6 is one of Iran’s most valuable military exports. It is partly because of Iranian gifts like the Mojaher-6 that Russia’s war effort in Ukraine continues. The Mojaher-6 was one of the weapons Ethiopia used to end the recent Tigray War.

Once a country becomes dependent on Iranian technology, it usually means Iran’s presence is there to stay. Hezbollah and Venezuela demonstrate this. The saf may have turned to Iran out of desperation, but if they win the civil war, Iran’s influence likely won’t go away anytime soon.

Whoever ends up winning the civil war likely will not be a friend of America. This would have major ramifications for Western influence in this key area of the world.

A prophecy in Daniel 11 says: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. … He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps” (verses 40, 42-43).

This is a prophecy of two end-time power blocs. Biblical and secular history point to the king of the north as being a united European power bloc. (Read History and Prophecy of the Middle East for more information.) Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has for over three decades identified the king of the south as radical Islam, led by Iran.

What will comprise this “push”? There are several different facets to it. One of these is revealed in verse 43. This verse names some of Iran’s allies the king of the north would war against: “But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.”

“Why would Iran be so interested in gaining control over Libya and Ethiopia?” Mr. Flurry asks in The King of the South. “Get a good map of the Middle East, particularly of the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. You can quickly see why the king of the south, or radical Islam, is so interested in an alliance with or control over these two countries (as well as Egypt and Tunisia). They are on the two seas that comprise the most important trade route in the world!”

Iran’s Houthi proxies in Yemen targeting commercial shipping shows how much power Iran already has on the Red Sea. Being able to control Red Sea trade is a huge asset for a country that relies on oil exports as much as Iran.

Where Sudan fits into this equation isn’t clear yet. But it sits on the Red Sea. Whether Burhan or Dagalo wins the war, neither looks like he’ll rush to the American camp. Burhan is already reaching out to Iran. Dagalo could do the same once the dust settles, or he could turn to Europe and side against the king of the south. Other prophecies show this soon-coming king of the north won’t be a friend to America either.

Whatever happens with Sudan’s civil war, it seems America’s window of opportunity to influence the nation has been locked and barred.

To learn more, request a free copy of The King of the South.