How Sudanese Mercenaries Fuel the Conflicts in Yemen and Libya

Facing a lack of opportunities at home, Sudanese youths are vulnerable to recruitment into foreign conflicts.

Sudan is a country of contradictions. It has untapped natural resources and fertile land that could feed the entire Arab region. Yet the majority of its people are poor and hungry, and the country’s gross domestic product per capita is only $700. It has a robust and dynamic civil society, but since shortly after its independence in 1956, Sudan has been plagued by a succession of military dictatorships with brief democratic interludes. Despite its enormous economic potential, it has turned into a satellite state desperate for foreign aid as a result of the corruption, lack of vision, and ethnic and tribal wars that have afflicted it. It’s this sad reality that has made Sudan’s young population vulnerable to recruitment by armies and militias fighting the region’s two prolonged and bloody civil wars. Yemen In 2015, Sudan became involved in Operation Firmness Storm, the Saudi-led campaign to dislodge the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who seized power in a military coup in 1989, said his country’s intervention would help restore the power of the legitimate government of President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi after the Houthis captured the capital, Sanaa, in September 2014. Knowing that this reasoning wouldn’t resonate […]

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Hilal Khashan
Hilal Khashan is a Professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. He is a respected author and analyst of Middle Eastern affairs. He is the author of six books, including Hizbullah: A Mission to Nowhere. (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2019.) He is currently writing a book titled Saudi Arabia: The Dilemma of Political Reform and the Illusion of Economic Development. He is also the author of more than 110 articles that appeared in journals such as Orbis, The Journal of Conflict Resolution, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Middle East Quarterly, Third World Quarterly, Israel Affairs, Journal of Religion and Society, Nationalism and Ethnic Politics, and The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.