A presence that anguishes Washington. The head of US diplomacy Antony Blinken expressed concern Monday about the presence of the Russian mercenary group Wagner in Sudan, where violent fighting for ten days opposes the army to paramilitaries, leaving hundreds dead.
"We have very serious concerns about the engagement of Prigozhin's group -- the Wagner group -- in Sudan," Blinken said at a joint press conference with his Kenyan counterpart Alfred Mutua, who criticized the role played by some Middle Eastern countries.
"Now is not the time to take sides"
"We have been concerned for some time about the role played by some of our friends in the Middle East, as well as Russia and others, who support one side or the other," Kenya's foreign minister said.
"This is not the time to side with one side or the other," he said, asking "external forces to leave Sudan alone." Mutua did not name any particular country. For his part, Mr. Blinken noted that the Wagner group, which is also active in Mali or the Central African Republic, brings "where it is present its share of additional deaths and destruction".
Press reports quoting officials reported weapons supplied by the Wagner Group to General Mohamed Hamdan Daglo's Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which is opposed to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, Sudan's de facto ruler.
Wahsington rules out any operation
The Kenyan minister again expressed hope that his country could mediate in this conflict, with President William Ruto ready to visit Sudan as soon as conditions permit. Faced with the deteriorating security situation, the United States evacuated its diplomatic staff from Sudan -- less than a hundred people -- on Saturday night and suspended the operations of its embassy in Khartoum.
But Washington has so far ruled out any operation to remove US nationals still in Sudan, preferring to help them on a case-by-case basis. The US secretary of state was unable to quantify the number of US citizens, many of whom have dual Sudanese nationality, but said "a few dozen" had informed the authorities of their willingness to leave the country.
"We are working closely with our allies and partners to do what we can to help them find a way out if that's what they decide," Blinken said, while highlighting the challenges. He said a convoy had been "robbed and looted," without elaborating.
- Wagner Group
- Central African Republic