Abdul Baqi Al Dhafer, Journalist and political analyst
In 2010, as a young man, Mohamed Hamdan Dogalo, nicknamed “Hemeti”, seemed calm and shy during his negotiations with the government against which he had rebelled for failing to provide security for his close kin in South Darfur state.
Negotiations were not difficult because the 30-year-old’s ambitions were not so high. He was content to return to work for the government, where he was appointed as an officer in the Border Guard forces.
The ambitious young man subsequently rocketed through the ranks. In less than ten years, he came close to reaching the top of the army hierarchy. He was recently awarded the rank of Lieutenant General coupled with the position of First Deputy to the Military Council.
Hemeti’s career showcases his ability to snatch evasive opportunities and turn potential loss into an astounding victory. Only weeks ago, he was one of the most loyal allies of former President Omar al-Bashir. Indeed, Field Marshal Omar al-Bashir utilised him as a threat to anyone who dared think about rebelling against him as part of the delicate balance of power in Sudan.
When General Taha Osman’s ascendency came to an end, some thought that Hemeti would get the sack, but he quickly restored his long-standing relationship with General Salah Gosh, who began to regain his glory with the National Salvation Front.
When the power of the National Salvation Front began to crumble, Hemeti was once more able to handle the change. Using language open to interpretation, he insisted that his forces had no jurisdiction to break up the riots. He gathered his forces from remote regions and made them camp close to unfolding the events.
“Hemeti might recalibrate his position in the future by presenting himself as a civilian politician, taking advantage of his new image as a revolutionary. He might also depend on the new geopolitical reality that has extended Sudan’s western geography to the outskirts of Khartoum. But this is a long way for a young man who is used to shortcuts.’’
Armed with the foresight that Field Marshal Bashir’s era is drawing to an end, Hemeti joined the forces of change among senior generals. On the morning of the revolution, he recalibrated his position to align it with the new power centre represented by the angry street. He adopted demands to shorten the transition period. This meticulously thought-out stance earned him an additional star on his shoulder as well as the position of the second strongman. He did not subsequently talk about the duration of the transitional period.
The second strongman’s position is not the ceiling of the ambition of this reckless and courageous young man. He has begun to present his new image to the international community through meetings with Western ambassadors, confirming that the Sudanese army forces in Yemen will continue their mission until victory. This is another signal to which we will return later.
Hemeti might recalibrate his position in the future by presenting himself as a civilian politician, taking advantage of his new image as a revolutionary. He might also depend on the new geopolitical reality that has extended Sudan’s western geography to the outskirts of Khartoum. But this is a long way for a young man who is used to shortcuts.
He might also wait for the post of President to become vacant, as happened with Lieutenant General Ibn Auf. In this case, Hemeti would not accept to be ignored. He would be backed by four sides. The first is the rebellious street, which believes that Hemeti might be the best person for the transitional period, since he is not supported by the army to a large extent.
The second is the regional power represented by the Arab Alliance, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This coalition is keen on steering Sudan clear of the tide of the Muslim Brotherhood. To this end, they would not find a better option than Hemeti.
The third side is the people of Western Sudan, whose aspirations are supported by history and geography. They might support him for a while as he represents their dream of political equity. The fourth institution that would likely support him is the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) that are now commanded by his younger brother.
Although the RSF does not represent a preponderant force in the balance of military power, those who fear chaos do not want a confrontation with them, especially since they fortified themselves in the streets of Khartoum.
“In addition, the honeymoon with the rebellious street might change rapidly in such as a way as to reclassify Hemeti as an opponent of the revolution. At any rate, Hemeti was able to make his presence known in Sudan’s daily political life, which is a tall order for an ordinary person.”
Hemeti’s dreams might clash with a different reality. The Sudanese army, which has strict norms and hierarchies, has reluctantly accepted that Hemeti may advance through the hierarchy without graduating from the Sudanese Military College.
On the Darfur front, there are those who do not forgive Hemeti’s role in changing the military balance of power. Even within his clan, there would be opposing voices such as that of the currently imprisoned Musa Hilal, who might represent a significant rival. In addition, the honeymoon with the rebellious street might change rapidly in such as a way as to reclassify Hemeti as an opponent of the revolution.
At any rate, Hemeti was able to make his presence known in Sudan’s daily political life, which is a tall order for an ordinary person.
Source: Aljazeera.net (Original Content -Arabic)