A prominent leader in the Sudanese army, Lieutenant General Yasser Al-Atta, said that the army fully controls all the provinces of the country, with the exception of some limited enclaves.
He accused the media affiliated with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of fabricating lies to raise the morale of its members.
In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Al-Atta - a member of the ruling Sovereignty Council – thanked Saudi Arabia and the United States for their mediation to end the fighting in Sudan. He stressed, however, that the army was seeking to expel the rebel forces from Khartoum, limit their presence to one camp, engage the good elements into the army and prosecute the senior leaders of the RSF.
Al-Atta denied the possibility of the current conflict turning into a civil war, “because the army and its leadership represent all of Sudan’s regions and tribes.”
He confirmed the intervention of the Russian Wagner forces in the fighting and gold extraction operations, revealing that General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, commander of Sudan’s RSF, owns a large stock of gold (53 tons in Russia and 22 tons in another sister country and inside Sudan).
The army controls all provinces
Al-Atta told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Sudanese army was in complete control of all the provinces, except for some rebel enclaves, which have lost most of their capabilities and were currently carrying out some criminal acts.
“Conflicting information is the result of the misleading media of the rebels,” he emphasized, noting that the army has captured and destroyed all of the Rapid Support military bases in the capital, which forced the paramilitary group to deploy in the vicinity of the presidential palace, and inside the residential neighborhoods.
They are also present inside hospitals, schools and densely populated neighborhoods, he remarked.
“For the reasons I mentioned, the General Command set up new strategies to defeat [the Rapid Support Forces]”, by taking into account the need to protect the citizens and avoid causing damage to the state’s infrastructure.
The “mother of all battles” was led by Al-Burhan
According to Al-Atta, the Sudanese army succeeded in expelling the Rapid Support Forces from the General Command and the Khartoum airport.
“Recently, they summoned large forces from outside Khartoum, estimated at three battalions, which deployed in the airport neighborhood next to the house of the president, and in the vicinity of the General Command, while three battalions occupied the headquarters of the Operations Authority, and three others the headquarters of the dissolved National Congress (the ruling party during the era of ousted President Omar al-Bashir). The two locations are directly adjacent to the south of the airport.”
He continued: “All these forces were crushed in the battles of the General Command, which we called ‘the mother of all battles,’ and were personally led by the Commander-in-Chief [Abdel-Fattah Al-Burhan]. There remains the Battle of the Palace in which we besieged them, and they will be completely defeated.”
“They did not win any battle because they betrayed our forces that were working with them side by side.... The irrational ambitions of their leadership led them to this holocaust,” Al-Atta stated.
The Saudi-American initiative
The Sudanese army’s senior official thanked Saudi Arabia and the United States for their mediation to end the fighting.
“But our goal in the dialogue is only to expel the rebel forces from the capital, limit their presence in one camp, and select members who meet the conditions of the military service to join the armed forces ... The remaining members will be handed over to the demobilization commission to be qualified for public life,” he said.
He also stressed the need to prosecute the senior leaders of the RSF for the crimes they committed against the country and the citizens.
“Any dialogue that does not address these points will be a postponement of the war,” he warned.
Fears of a civil war
Asked about fears that the clashes would develop into a civil war, in light of the presence of many armies and security breaches, in addition to the fragile economic situation, Al-Atta said: “No, these battles will not lead to a civil war because the Sudanese army includes all the tribes of Sudan.”
He added: “Our problem is with the Dagalo gang and some of the criminal leaders who forced these young men into a battle to serve their personal interests only. So there will never be a civil war in this direction, God willing.”
On fears of regional and international parties engaging in the war, Al-Atta emphasized that the Sudanese army “did not ask any country to support us in the war, knowing the sensitivity of the matter.”
“We have a dead sniper from Wagner, and we have received some information... that there are attempts by sister countries to seek help for the rebel militia, and that [Hemedti] forces include mercenaries from Chad, Niger, Mali and others,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Wagner in Sudan
On the support proposal offered by the commander of the Russian Wagner forces, Al-Atta said: “We don’t want his help. We only deal with recognized international, regional and humanitarian countries and organizations. If the state of Russia wants to help, it is welcome.”
He pointed to the Wagner members’ presence in Sudan, saying: “All the world knows where they are. Wherever there are gold mining companies for Hemedti, in Sudan or on the borders with Libya or Central Africa, there are Wagner elements.”
Sudan’s gold is being smuggled
According to Al-Atta, Sudan’s gold has been smuggled abroad for years, and the volume of smuggled production is very large.
“The information available to me indicates that Hemedti has stocks estimated at 53 tons in Russia and 22 tons in another sister country..., while he is hiding tons in Sudan,” he revealed.
Responding to accusations that the army commander had allowed the Rapid Support Forces to expand and recruit freely, in violation of the army law, Al-Atta said: “The army commander stopped the last recruitment and refused to give them military numbers. Despite this, they recruited more than 36,000 soldiers, who have now been stopped by the war.”
He explained that the army commander always avoided confrontation and tended to integrate them under political pressure.
“But the politicians forged alliances with them due to their lack of experience and temporary tactics...” he remarked.
Hemedti is lying
Al-Atta accused General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, commander of Sudan’s RSF, of fabricating lies.
He also pointed to conflicting reports about pressure exerted on Libyan National Army (LNA) commander Khalifa Haftar to support Hemedti.
“Recently, we learned that he went back on this. We sincerely hope for this move by a brotherly and dear country,” he noted.
As for Ethiopia, Al-Atta thanked Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for “his courageous stance that border issues can only be resolved through dialogue.”
“He is a man of morals stemming from a great African civilization... He is saluted and appreciated,” he noted.
Perthes’ negative role
The Sudanese army official described as “negative” the role of Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in Sudan, Volker Perthes.
“His role is very negative, because he falls into a circle of influence that makes him walk in one limited direction that will not allow him to solve the problem. His idea will not lead us to safety. It is better to replace him with another envoy who is neutral and open to all,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.