Congressional Briefing: Report on UAE Intervention in Sudan, War Crimes, and Arms Export

Congressional Briefing: Report on UAE Intervention in Sudan, War Crimes, and Arms Export

On May 31st, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) convened a conference at the House of Representatives to address the human rights situation in Sudan.

The discussion also focused on the State Department report regarding the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) involvement in Sudan, including war crimes and arms exports. Saif Al Muthanna, Director of the Washington Center for Human Rights, coordinated the event. The conference brought together experts and advocates to shed light on the pressing human rights concerns in Sudan.

Hiba Abdulwahhab, an independent researcher specializing in politics and society of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and President of the Middle Eastern Women Organization, served as moderator for the event.

Two prominent panelists, Hagir Elsheikh and Mohamed Seifeldein, who are well-known figures in human rights advocacy and policy analysis, participated in the discussion.

Hagir Elsheikh is deeply involved in the Sudan’s working advocacy group for Congress and the State Department, bringing invaluable insights into the current situation and efforts to influence policy. Her work has been instrumental in raising awareness and advocating for international intervention to address the human rights abuses in Sudan.

The second distinguished panelist speaker is Councilman Mohamed Seifeldein, the first Sudanese American and immigrant elected to the Alexandria City Council. Councilman Seifeldein has been a vocal advocate for human rights and has worked tirelessly to support the Sudanese community both locally and internationally. His unique perspective as a Sudanese American leader provides critical insights into the diaspora’s role in advocating for peace and justice in Sudan.

This important event shed light on the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Sudan, focusing on the areas of concern including the involvement of foreign powers, war crimes, and the devastating impact of arms exports. This year Sudan has seen a dramatic escalation in violence and human rights abuses.

Since the April 15th, 2023 conflict erupted between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the country has witnessed widespread atrocities. Civilians have been deliberately targeted, infrastructure destroyed, and obstruction of Humanitarian aid. Elsheikh, argued that the situation in Sudan is not merely a conflict, but a full-blown war. While internal issues exist, she emphasizes the significant role of external forces in fueling the violence.

Mohamed Seifeldein echoed this statement, highlighting the concerning involvement of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He suggests the UAE’s arming of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has essentially turned the conflict into a “UAE war” within Sudan. This strategic positioning of the RSF allows them to control agricultural land, further pulling away resources away from the general population.

These forces now dominate all of the country’s resources, leaving the remainder of the populace in shambles.

The current situation in Sudan is one of the worst humanitarian disasters, pushing people into famine which has resulted in the death toll increasing to more than 100,000 since 2019. Elsheikh emphasized the critical need to raise awareness about the unfolding humanitarian disaster in Sudan. Due to the lack of media coverage, Sudan’s crisis isn’t receiving nearly the same level of attention as other global disasters. This implies a call to action for increased media focus and international support for the Sudanese people.

A key point of concern raised by both speakers was the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) involvement in the country. Seifeldein called for an end to the UAE’s actions, suggesting they have significantly worsened the conflict. He pointed out the UAE’s use of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) not just in Sudan, but also in the ongoing war in Yemen “need to be stopped”. Elsheikh and Seifeldein emphasized the urgency for the international community to withdraw all support from the RSF, highlighting the group’s destructive role within Sudan. Although Seifeldein emphasizes that Iran is the cause of destruction in Sudan, Elsheikh further broadened the discussion by mentioning the potential influence of other external actors like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia as these countries arm and train the forces in Sudan.

Seifeldein also mentioned the United States involvement, potentially advising both the UAE and militant groups within Sudan. He implied the RSF wouldn’t be able to operate at this scale without significant backing from external actors. Additionally, Seifeldein emphasized the importance of the US to stop providing weapons to the UAE as an arms deal has recently been made. In regard to supporting efforts for the country, Elsheikh discussed multiple points and these include border security. Currently anyone can come into Sudan, therefore, to stop Sudan from becoming a terrorist ground there should be an increased international security and intelligence in the nation.

Additionally, Elsheikh mentions that local efforts are also important as the “Sudanese people do not lack the ability”. It’s the matter of providing the resources which includes Investing in education so equipping the Sudanese population with knowledge and skills is crucial for long-term stability. Engaging with Sudanese communities in the country by understanding the needs and concerns of the people directly affected by the conflict is vital and enhancing intelligence in the country to stop potential threats. Are all important efforts that need to be taken.

Elsheikh argues that addressing the root causes of instability, such as lack of resources and opportunity, can help prevent individuals from resorting to extremism. The discussion wasn’t only limited to identifying the problems as an audience member asked how US citizens could help Sudan. Elsheikh suggested leveraging social media to raise awareness about the war and pressuring elected officials to stop arms sales to the UAE. Mohamed Seifeldein emphasized the power of knowledge. He encouraged continued engagement with events like this conference to understand the complex web of actors involved in the conflict.

He also highlighted the importance of recognizing “whitewashing” tactics used to downplay the severity of the situation. By staying informed and advocating, US citizens can play a role in pressuring for positive change. This conference focused on Sudan highlighted the country’s escalating war and the devastating humanitarian crisis. Panelists argued external actors, particularly the UAE’s arming of the RSF, fueled the conflict. They stressed the lack of media attention compared to other crises. The key message was to raise awareness and pressure for an end to the war, with solutions including social media advocacy and understanding the complex web of international involvement. 

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