Sudan, which borders the Red Sea, the Sahel, and the Horn of Africa, is in the news again: The recent outbreak of war has so far claimed the lives of over 400 people. And events in Sudan might have stirred the greater region’s hornet nest. Indeed, there is a strong likelihood that the war could have a domino effect across the already troubled Chad Basin and the Sahel.
Given Sudan’s proximity to Chad—a country that has suffered from the devastating activities of violent extremist non-state actors including Boko Haram and its splinter group the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) over the past decade—and the Central African Republic, infighting in the country’s urban areas, such as the Khartoum and Darfur regions, has grave consequences for regional peace and security. The fighting is also particularly significant given the recent rise in violent extremist attacks in West Africa’s coastal states, which has led to the creation of the Accra Initiative, aimed at stemming the tide of violent extremism, by concerned West African states.
One consequence of the conflict in Sudan is the anticipated proliferation of small arms and light weapons among state entities across the region; this could also result in a widening illegal arms trade due to the creation of new smuggling corridors including from Libya in the northwest. This issue is further complicated by the porous nature of the region’s borders, which reflect the widespread prevalence of contested spaces, such as in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria.
These disputed territories reinforce the dangers of these weapons falling into the wrong hands—such as those of violent extremists. There is also the likelihood of the infiltration of foreign terrorist fighters, especially given the links of the Rapid Support Forces (one of the warring parties) to the Janjaweed.
The Janjaweed is a mostly Sudanese Arab militia that operates particularly in Sudan’s Darfur region, and in eastern Chad. It remains active to this day and is rumored to operate in faraway Yemen, as well. Dangers posed by the Janjaweed add to the prospect of increased collaboration across the region among violent extremist organizations whose political and ideological goals align.