Sudanese soldiers on a military vehicle gesture as they arrive to the port city of Aden, Yemen on November 9, 2015 [File: AP/Wael Qubady]

It is not the first time in history that the people of Sudan are forced to supply the armies of foreign powers with soldiers. In the seventh century, the Nubian kingdom of Makuria signed a treaty with the Arabs who had just conquered Egypt to send 360 slaves a year in exchange for peace. These slaves would then become the backbone of Muslim armies for centuries to come.

Then in 1820, Muhammad Ali Pasha, the khedive of Egypt, invaded Sudan with a relatively small well-armed force. By 1824 it had gone as far south as the northern borders of

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