Supporting civil war factions and jihadist insurgents in Africa is par for the course for the Sudanese president, indicted war criminal Omar al-Bashir. Weapons manufactured in Sudan have been found in the Central African Republic, where the Seleka militia is engaged in a brutal power struggle with local vigilantes and factions loyal to deposed president François Bozize. In a bid to obtain influence with a neighbor that has been mired in civil warfare for decades, the Khartoum regime has applied the same strategy from its own civil war: arming human rights violators and engaging in ethnic cleansing.
Reports by independent observers have documented Sudanese weapons in the hands of the Seleka. These are made by the state-owned Military Industry Corp., which according to this report uses Iranian and Chinese technical advisors to manufacture its armaments. A similar report states that Iran and Sudan signed a mutual defense pact in 2007 and details Iranian exports of small arms, RPG’s, land mines, mortars, and UAV drones to Sudan.
The Seleka also receives manpower in the form of Sudanese mercenaries. Human Rights Watch has also documented Chadian troops providing escort to Seleka fighters. The mercenaries, having obtained experience in the Libyan revolution against Qaddafi, have now moved on to the C.A.R to bolster the Seleka forces.
The reasoning behind Khartoum’s arming and reinforcing the Seleka is clear: to have direct influence on a new regional ally in the event the Seleka manages to seize power again, or at least a seat at the table if a power sharing agreement is signed. Beyond that, the larger strategic aim is to prevent the lawless C.A.R. becoming a sanctuary for Sudanese opposition groups. Finally, Sudanese business enterprises, with Chinese and/or Iranian backing, are likely angling for a piece of the mineral reserves of the C.A.R.