The strategic partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia is a notorious one that has led to flagrant human rights abuses and atrocities. Saudi Arabia is an oil powerhouse in the world, and the US had entrenched interests in Saudi oil. In turn, the US gives arms to Saudi Arabia. And that is where the whole problem is. The existence of this unholy alliance is largely the cause of instability in the Middle East region.
But this goes beyond the Middle East. Sudan is entangled in this deep web of autocracy and disregard for human dignity. When the US supplies arms to Saudi Arabia, the peace in Sudan increasingly goes under threat and severely undermined. All the efforts achieved by the democratic force powered by the protests of the Sudanese are undone.
Sudan served as a prime example to the world of the power of unity and accord when mass protests led to long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir stepping down as the country's president. The voice of the Sudanese conquered. Democracy prevailed. But the euphoria of al-Bashir stepping down was soon quashed when the military brutally descended on innocent, unarmed protesters. After his resignation, civilians were demanding civilian control, while the military was adamant to remain in control.
Subsequent protests to this effect were met with cruel and heartless heavy-handedness. The military dispersed peaceful protesters on 3 June 2019 who were holding a sit-in, calling for a civilian-led government. This civil disobedience resulted in at least 100 people being killed. Their bodies were thrown into the Nile River. Women were raped in the streets. Basically, peace seemed a remote possibility. And even when the protests started in December 2018, civilians would be abducted, beaten, tortured and killed.
At the centre of these dastardly acts of brutality was the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). They acted on behalf of the Transitional Military Council temporarily in charge of Sudan. The aim was to shoot and kill. RSF atrocities were so serious that Sudan blocked the internet so that the world would not witness what was happening in the country. But where do the RSF get the weapons to commit acts of brutality on the citizens of Sudan?
Saudi Arabia is a full supporter of Sudan. The support is so conspicuous that critics have said the Middle East country has a lot of leverage in the politics of Sudan. Saudi Arabia transfers the arms to Sudan, and these are the arms used by the military to silence and inspire fear in the people. Saudi Arabia even provides massive amounts of aid to Sudan, in ways that compromise the independence of Sudanese politics. At the beginning of the year, the Saudis transferred $2.2 billion to the al-Bashir regime.
The RSF leader Mohamed Daglo is in good books with the Saudi Arabian regime. He met with the Saudi crown prince Mohamed bin Salman in May 2019 where he was assured of continued cooperation between the two countries in the Yemeni War. Sudan is Saudi Arabia's ally in the war. The RSF is recruiting child soldiers in Sudan to fight Saudi Arabia's war against Iran in Yemen.
And yet, President Donald Trump seems all the more determined to increase the flow of arms to Saudi Arabia. Which is of great detriment to the stability of the Sudanese democratic movement.
The US is basically supporting the violence in Sudan since Sudan gets some of the arms from Saudi Arabia, and this case Saudi Arabia gets weapons from the US.
It is only morally correct for the US to cut arms supplies to Saudi Arabia. But that will hardly happen. And this because economic and political interests always come first over the welfare and wishes of the people.
Header image credit - Reuters