UAE 'cancels' UK ministerial meetings after accusations of sending weapons to RSF in Sudan war

UAE 'cancels' UK ministerial meetings after accusations of sending weapons to RSF in Sudan war
The UAE is reportedly angry after the UK's 'lacklustre' response to accusations it is providing the RSF militia with weapons amid the war in Sudan.
3 min read
29 April, 2024
The Sudanese government has accused the UAE of providing weapons to the RSF militia [Getty/file photo]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has cancelled a number of meetings with UK ministers after being accused of fuelling the ongoing war in Sudan, The Times reported on Sunday.

Earlier this month, on 19 April, the UN Security Council held a meeting on Sudan following a request by the UK, where Khartoum's representative accused the UAE of providing military assistance to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) militia, who have been fighting Sudan's armed forces for over a year.

The Emiratis then went on to pause all ministerial meetings with the UK following the accusations, UK former minister Nadhim Zahawi wrote in The Times, adding that they are "expressing their anger" that the UK is "standing by while the Sudanese defame them".

He added that the UK's response to the Sudanese allegations against Abu Dhabi was considered "lacklustre" by the UAE government.

On Saturday, Khartoum called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on what it called UAE "aggression" -  alleged support for RSF paramilitaries battling the army.

Sudan has repeatedly accused the UAE of financially supporting the RSF throughout the war, which Abu Dhabi has denied.

The request was submitted by Sudan's UN representative, Al-Harith Idriss, the official Sudanese news agency said, as cited by AFP.

Four ministerial meetings between the UK and the UAE in coming weeks have been cancelled over the dispute, The Times said.

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The incident is the latest in a series of tensions between the UK and the UAE after London said it would ban foreign ownership of UK newspapers in March this year, following the UAE’s alleged plans to take over the Telegraph Media Group.

The war in Sudan, triggered by a power struggle between Sudanese generals Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who heads the Sudanese army and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who leads the RSF, has been ongoing since April 2023.

An estimated 13,000 to 15,000 Sudanese have been killed in the war, with thousands more injured and millions displaced.

UN groups and NGOs have warned of a catastrophic humanitarian crisis that could threaten the country, which is already experiencing high levels of food insecurity.

The latest development comes as reports emerged on Friday that the RSF is closing in on the capital of the North Darfur state, threatening the lives of its residents.

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Al-Fashir is reportedly the last stronghold of the Sudanese army in Darfur. Experts have warned that some 800,000 people will be under siege as the RSF carries out its attack against its rival.

The RSF  has also been accused of carrying out killings and forms of sexual violence in West Darfur, which could amount to crimes against humanity.

A UN report in January on Sudan included "credible" claims that the UAE has provided weapons to the Daglo’s RSF via a desert airbase in neighbouring Chad.

Several shipments of weapons and ammunition were unloaded each week from cargo planes at an airport in the Sahel country, before being handed over to the RSF.

The UAE has denied arming the group, claiming that the cargo planes carried humanitarian aid, rather than weaponry.