Sudan’s civil war is domestic, but risks involving outsiders

debtour days Armed men stormed Muhammad’s home after war broke out in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum. A businessman (whose name has been withheld for safety) and his family were ordered to leave, and the soldiers set up anti-aircraft guns on the roof of the apartment building. Muhammad’s family moved with relatives to a quiet neighborhood nearby. But even that quickly became unsafe, and fighting escalated, and the streets were littered with corpses.

The fighting may have begun as a narrow power struggle between official forces known as the Sudanese Army (safety), and rapid support forces (rsf), converted from militia to paramilitary organization. But the longer it lasts, the greater the risk of involving outsiders due to Sudan’s geopolitical importance.

Sudan straddles the Nile River, the lifeblood of Egypt. It also has a port near the Horn of Africa, which dominates the southern chokepoint of the Red Sea and is close to the Persian Gulf. These major arteries of the global economy are watched by the United States, China and France, which have military bases in Djibouti. “The horn is very strategic and the epitome of other international conflicts,” says Comfort Elo, president of the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank. It is “where West meets East, and the Gulf meets Europe”.

So far the two seem evenly matched.of SAF It is led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who seized power and consolidated as the de facto leader of Sudan in the 2019 and 2021 coups. but, RSFMore Though ostensibly underdog, its commander, Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemeti), has considerable personal wealth. RSFMore It is said to dominate elements of Sudan’s gold trade. He also leads a loyal army of tens of thousands.

These assets have allowed Mr. Dagalo to overthrow Barhan over control of the transition that saw the brutal Islamist regime toppled under former dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019 and later to become the country’s vice-president. I was able to contend with the general. Guns and money may have also helped him emerge as a semi-autonomous figure on the international stage in recent years, cutting deals with foreign powers.of RSFMore Sharath Srinivasan, a Sudan expert at the University of Cambridge, points out that it’s not just ‘anti-government militias’. “It’s a national actor.”

After nearly three weeks of fighting in Khartoum and elsewhere, especially West Darfur, neither side has a decisive advantage.of RSFMore What it lacks in tanks and air power, it makes up for by digging into residential areas of the capital. A Sudanese woman said men raped her and forced her to cook. rsf occupied their home.

Khartoum civilians also safetyOn May 1, three women who were selling tea across the street from the hospital were killed in the blast.according to united nations, the fighting has already killed more than 500 civilians and injured many more (actual figures are believed to be higher). As many as 800,000 refugees are expected to cross the Sudanese border in the coming weeks and months.

of rsftheir armies also receive better salaries and have more recent combat experience. safety, managed to secure key parts of the capital, including the international airport and the country’s largest oil refinery. It also appears to control the presidential palace and national broadcasting station. “For the last two weeks, they’ve been walking around like they own the place. RSFMore– Controlled district of East Khartoum.

of RSFMore It also controls Darfur, Mr. Dagalo’s home base, and controls two of the region’s three air bases.Bloody clashes in El Geneina saw Arab tribal militias RSFMore Attacked non-Arabs in town, but may have been subdued.

The military is in charge of almost every other location. Thousands of Sudanese and foreign citizens have fled cities in the Red Sea port of Sudan in the country’s troubled east. safety Early war. The countryside around Khartoum is also more or less peaceful. “It’s business as usual,” reports a university professor who recently fled the city with his family.

but, rsf They are deploying guerrilla operations to attack military units and facilities in the capital. SAF‘s sky dominance has been sacrificed. “We attacked every supply store around Khartoum,” says a mid-level soldier. SAF.several convoys RSFMore Reinforcements from Darfur were reportedly destroyed by airstrikes.

The question is whether either side can break the deadlock quickly.of SAF Although he has decades of experience fighting rebels in far-flung regions, this is his first time fighting in the capital. You can’t simply bomb your way to victory there like you’ve done elsewhere. “Khartoum will be a meat grinder for some time,” predicts Western security analysts. hello, SAFleadership may hinder its ability to impose significant superiority in heavy weapons.

of RSFMoream also confused. As the battle continues, you will struggle to resupply and regroup your troops. Even if he wins, Dagalo is hated by residents who claim he was responsible for the massacre of hundreds of protesters in Khartoum in 2019. rsf, police, intelligence agencies. His army’s current actions only push them further away. “People have military backing,” says Adem.

The prospect of a prolonged war depends on how Sudan’s neighbors react. Due to its size and strategic position on the Red Sea, Sudan has long been viewed as strategically important not only by China, Russia and Western countries, but also within the region. Overlooking the shipping lanes leading to the Strait of Bab Al Mandab, through which about 10% of the world’s seaborne trade passes.

Gulf countries, especially the United Arab Emirates (United Arab Emirates) and Saudi Arabia are focused on economic benefits. In December, a UAE company signed a $6 billion contract to develop a port and economic zone on Sudan’s Red Sea coast. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates backed General Barhan and Dagalo after a joint coup, handing out about $3 billion in emergency aid. However, neither country has a clear interest in furthering the conflict. Saudi Arabia has already evacuated thousands of Sudanese fleeing through Port Sudan. Like Europe, it fears a sudden influx of refugees.

Complicating matters, however, is the ambiguous relationship between the emirate and Mr D’Agallo. RSFMore to support their war in Yemen in 2017. United Arab EmiratesThere are two main statelets in . Harry Verhoeven of Columbia University said emirates “do not have a particular affection for Hemeti.” since the war began United Arab Emirates has continued to supply his army.

As such, Gulf states may be “leaning back and hedging their bets to see which way the cards roll,” Elo suggests. It may also be the Russian approach. RSFMoreThe main purpose of the Kremlin is to “block Sudan’s transition to democracy,” says Samuel Ramani, author of “Russia in Africa.” This is because Khartoum’s military government is better suited than a civilian democratic government for its ambitions of building a naval base in the Red Sea.and it doesn’t care safety or rsf superiority.

The civil war in Sudan is nothing like the civil wars in Syria, Libya and Yemen. But the country shares long and porous borders with conflict-ridden neighbors such as the Central African Republic, Chad, Libya and South Sudan. Each has its own bewildering array of militias and rebel groups, many with ethnic or business ties. RSFMore Or to its rival. Some may see an opportunity to profit from the turmoil in Sudan. “The longer the conflict drags on, the more external actors will intervene,” warns Sriman Bardo, who heads the Sudan Transparency and Policy Tracker, a conflict monitoring group.

Another potential intervener is Eritrean President Isaias Ahwerki, who has sought ties to Mr Dagalo and has a history of supporting Sudanese rebels.Another one of them is Khalifa, a warlord in Libya who has ties to Wagner’s group. RSF.

Mr. Dagalo rsf Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNAs) control much of eastern Libya and have cooperated in the past. 2019 RSFMore troops were dispatched to assist LNAsalso endorsed by United Arab Emirates, In an attack on the Libyan capital Tripoli. Two days before the outbreak of the Sudanese civil war, Haftar’s eldest son arrived in Khartoum for a meeting with Dagalo.

No matter what help Mr. Haftar offers, RSFMore Libyan warlords need to keep pace with another foreign sponsor, Egypt, which can be limiting. Egypt, Long Sudan’s most influential neighbor, SAF Under General Burhan. Sudan considers it vital to its security and is reluctant to let either the civilian government or Mr. Dagalo take charge.

Early in the war, Egyptian jets were reported to have attacked RSFMore Munitions depot. On May 1, Mr Dagalo accused the Egyptian Air Force of attacking targets in North Khartoum.Extent of military involvement unknown, but Egypt likely to ramp up support for military support SAF if flagged. “Egypt is the most serious factor,” says Rift Valley Institute’s Magdiel He Gizouri. “Egypt’s current goal, as they know it, is to save Sudan’s central power.”

A wider conflagration may still be avoided. Despite ethnic clashes in Darfur, so far the conflict has generally been limited to fighting between two armed factions. On May 2, the two countries agreed to a seven-day ceasefire brokered by the President of South Sudan. Peace talks in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, could begin soon.

All the while, humanitarian disasters are on the rise. Khartoum’s food and water supplies are dwindling. There are few functioning hospitals in the capital. Pregnant women die during childbirth. “Without a ceasefire, everything will fall apart.” united nationsSexual and Reproductive Health Authority of Sudan.

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