EU-Sudan: A Cynical Division of Labor


On the collaboration of European imperialism with the Sudanese military in order to stop migration


By Michael Pröbsting, International Secretary of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 9 July 2019,




The European Union likes to present itself in public as a guardian of democracy and human rights. Hardly a week passes without EU officials in Brussels lecturing one country or another of the so-called Third World to behave “like a civilized nation”.


We have always denounced such presumptiveness as empty and hypocritical. The latest example of this is a revelation that illuminates the direct collaboration of the European Union with the military dictatorship in Sudan intended to stop migrants from coming to the self-proclaimed “old continent”. A broad alliance of mostly Sudanese and Eritrean human rights groups has published an open letter to the EU Commission elucidating the role of European Council president, Donald Tusk, in farming out its migrant policy to countries known for systematic abuses, including Sudan. The signatories state: “During your term as president of the European Council, the European Union and its member states have externalised migration policy through direct and indirect cooperation with regimes and militia forces that are entirely unaccountable.” [1]


According to a report by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’ at least 160 million Euros were allocated to Sudan in 2016-17. [2] A significant share of this went to the notorious Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, known as Hemeti. This is the force that has been central in the brutal oppression of ethnic minorities in Darfur as well as directly responsible for the killing hundreds of protesters in the recent months.


General Hemeti is fully aware of his role and repeatedly reminds the EU that it needs him. In a recent public speech he clearly asserted that: “[The RSF] protects the Europeans from the influx of millions of irregular migrants. We work on behalf of the Europeans, we protect their national security.[3]


How true the general speaks! The worst butchers in Sudan “work on behalf of the Europeans and protect their national security”. They brutally arrest, rape, or kill refugees who are fleeing the tragic conditions in their home countries. [4]


Meanwhile, the European governments “critically monitor the human rights situation” in Sudan and wag their fingers. But in reality they are very happy to have such efficient and effective henchmen as General Hemeti do their dirty work. [5]


In fact, such a cynical division of labor between “democratic” Europe and a slew of brutal dictators in Africa and the Middle East is a long-standing enterprise. Let us provide just a few recent examples. In October 2010, the European Union signed a deal with the Gaddafi regime. It paid the dictator 50 million Euro “to combat the flow of illegal migrants to Europe”. [6] Of course, the European imperialists miscalculated because a few months after signing the deal the Libyan masses rose up and overthrew the dictatorship. Since then the European paymasters have worked hard to “stabilize” Libya so that it can more effectively resume its intended role as a migrant buffer. [7]


In September 2018, the leaders of the European Union held an informal EU summit in Salzburg to which they invited General Sisi, the butcher of Cairo. [8] There they announced the plan for "in-depth cooperation" with the Egyptian military. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, whose country held the EU's rotating presidency at that time, said: "Egypt and the North African countries can be important partners for us in preventing ships heading to Europe and after their rescue being brought back, in other words to the countries of transit. (...) Only in this way can we reduce illegal migration, can we destroy the business model of the smugglers, and stop drownings in the Mediterranean. (...) "We've got to ensure that as few people as possible leave northern African countries for Europe. If they do, the situation should be dealt with as close to the African coast as possible." Kurz also praised the regime of General Sisi: “Egypt is efficient. Egypt has served as an example when it comes to illegal migration and people smuggling. [9]


What a glaring example of the cynical collaboration of “democratic” imperialists and dictators in semi-colonial countries in safeguarding the interests of the monopoly capitalists!


All of this does not come as a surprise. We Marxists have always emphasized that the EU’s lectures about “democracy and human rights” originate in the hypocritical foundations of European imperialism. Yes, there are more bourgeois-democratic liberties in Europe than in many other countries. This is because Western Europe belongs to the one of the richest regions of the world, based precisely on the super-profits of imperialism. The imperialist ruling classes have funded the luxury of bourgeois democratic norms by utilizing these super-profits to pacify important sections of European society. (Naturally, this does not exclude brutal police attacks against mass protests like the “Yellow Vests” in France or the independence movements in the Basque country or Catalonia.)


However, one of the most important reasons why Western Europe has become so wealthy is the long and brutal history of colonialism. While direct colonial rule hardly exists today, the imperialist Great Powers continue to squeeze enormous profits by indirectly dominating the formally independent, semi-colonial countries of the South.


The result of this obscene system is that the “democratic” imperialist powers have, for decades, cultivated the collaboration of various dictatorships in the semi-colonial countries. For their services, these dictators have been rewarded with substantial payments from European governments. In short, the European corporations and governments, as well as the Arab dictators, need and support each other. It is an alliance of robbers and killers based on an extremely reactionary division of labor!




[1] Open appeal to the EU’s Donald Tusk over Eritrea and Sudan, June 19, 2019,

[2] Jérôme Tubiana, Clotilde Warin & Gaffar Mohammud Saeneen: Multilateral Damage. The impact of EU migration policies on central Saharan routes, Netherlands Institute of International Relations ‘Clingendael’, CRU Report, September 2018, p. 36

[3] Kaamil Ahmed: EU accused of 'hiding' from links to Sudanese armed groups in migration funding. Paramilitary force led by Sudan military council leader Hemeti is benefiting from EU migration funds in Sudan. 26 June 2019

[4] On the issue of migration to Europe see e.g. RCIT: Defend Refugee Rights! Support the Arab Revolution! Defeat EU Chauvinism and Imperialism! An Open Letter to All Revolutionary Organizations and Activists for an International Solidarity Campaign), 22.05.2016,; on the Marxist position on the slogan of Open Borders see e.g. The Slogan of "Workers’" Immigration Control: A Concession to Social-Chauvinism, 27.3.2017,

[5] On the RCIT’s assessment of the Sudanese Revolution see Sudan: Fight Back against the Generals with a General Strike! International solidarity with the Sudanese people! 04 June 2019,; Yossi Schwartz: Sudan: Down with the Military Dictatorship! 03.06.2019,; RCIT: Algeria and Sudan: Two Important Victories and a Warning. No trust in the army command and the old elite! Continue the Revolution! 11 April 2019,; RCIT: Sudan: Bring Down the Regime of Omar al-Bashir! Organize Committees of Action! For a General Strike and Popular Insurrection to bring down the Regime! For a Workers and Poor Peasants Government! 28 December 2018,

[6] See Bjarte Vandvik: The EU's dubious refugee deal The EU is paying Libya to deal with refugees seeking a new life in Europe. Can we trust Gaddafi's regime to look after them? The Guardian, 20 October 2010; see also Michael Pröbsting: Liberation Struggles and Imperialist Interference. The failure of sectarian “anti-imperialism” in the West: Some general considerations from the Marxist point of view and the example of the democratic revolution in Libya in 2011, Autumn 2012,

[7] On the RCIT’s assessment of the revolutionary process in Libya see e.g. Libya: Defend Tripoli! Defeat Haftar! For Popular Militias to organize an independent struggle against the counterrevolution! 9 April 2019,

[8] For the RCIT’s analysis of the military dictatorship of General Sisi see e.g.: Michael Pröbsting: EU Leaders Praise Egypt’s Military Dictatorship. Imperialist Europe Aims for Close Collaboration with General Sisi’s Regime to Stop People Fleeing War and Misery. This is an Alliance of Robbers and Killers! 21.09.2018,

[9] Salzburg Summit – EU intends to push forward cooperation with Egypt, 20 Sep 2018,; EU leaders to seek 'in-depth cooperation' with Egypt on migration. Plans to deepen EU ties with Cairo over migration crisis would turn 'a blind eye' to human rights abuses, critics say, 2018-09-20; Michael Peel and Alex Barker in Salzburg and Heba Saleh: EU and Egypt to launch talks on curbing Mediterranean migration. Discussions to examine how Cairo can help cut numbers in return for economic benefits, 2018-09-20,; Bojan Pancevski and Laurence Norman: EU in Talks With Egypt for Help With Curbing Flow of Migrants. Refugees could be diverted to the North-African country in return for investments, financial incentives, Sept. 20, 2018