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Sudan is sliding into civil war

Secondevery morning Since April 15, residents of the Sudanese capital Khartoum have been waking up to the thunder of airstrikes and the crackle of nearby gunfire. In just the first four days of fighting between the forces of two rival Sudanese generals, nearly 300 people, mostly civilians, were killed and more than 2,600 were injured. Armed men have been raiding and looting homes. “It’s like ‘Call of Duty,'” said one resident whose home was hit by bullets. Food, water and medical supplies are starting to run out.

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The warning signs of a looming crisis are not hard to read. Tensions have been building for months between the two most powerful figures in Sudan’s military junta: General Abdel Fattah Burhan, Sudan’s de facto leader since the 2019 coup; Muhammad Hamdan Dagalo (better known as Hemedti). He is the leader of the Rapid Support Force (RSF), a paramilitary unit formerly known as the Janjaweed, accused of genocide in Darfur, including murder and rape.Many warn of imminent conflict between the two countries RSF and the Government’s Sudanese Armed Forces (singapore armed forces) loyal to General Burhan.

The crisis deteriorated rapidly on the morning of 13 April, when residents of Merowe, northern Sudan, saw RSF Drive through town and take positions around the airfield, which is the base of the fighter jets. In response, singapore armed forces soldiers surrounded RSF men, reportedly ordering them to retreat. Soon, representatives of the U.S. government, the European Union, and several other Western governments were warning of an impending confrontation between the two forces. Over the next 24 hours, diplomats shuttled between the two camps in an attempt to stem the conflict. In Khartoum, residents braced for the worst.

In the early morning hours of April 15, fighting broke out between the two sides. singapore armed forces and RSF. Both sides accused the other of shooting first. According to the National Army, Mr Dagalo’s forces had staged an anti-government insurgency.this RSF The answer was that the military had effectively launched an “all-out attack” against its members. Mr Dagalo described his boss as a “criminal” who would either be caught or “die like a dog”. Both sides claimed the upper hand quickly.

Within hours of the first shots, tanks rolled through the streets of central Khartoum, with fighter jets roaring overhead.when the air force bombs RSF base, RSF The international airport was hit; video circulating online showed smoke rising from the tarmac. Clashes erupted between the national broadcaster and the area around the presidential palace. Soldiers on both sides fired rockets near homes where civilians had taken shelter. “We heard very heavy artillery fire,” a resident of central Khartoum said by text message. “The sounds and voices are horrible.”

Fighting has also spread to other parts of Sudan (see map).almost immediately RSF Claimed to have captured Merowe Airport.Heavy gunfire was also reported near the Obaid Air Force Base in the North Kordofan region and at various locations in Darfur; 3 United Nations Aid workers were killed in clashes between the two armies in the city of El Fasher. It is unclear whether the conflict will turn into an all-out war. But neither seemed willing to stop the violence and negotiate. The temporary ceasefire brokered by the mediators broke down within minutes.

Behind the latest clashes is a power struggle between General Burhan and Mr Dagalo, and between a complex mix of political parties, militias, rebel leaders and foreign powers allied with them. It is a fight over who will control the direction of Sudan’s political transition, which began four years ago with the overthrow of the brutal Islamist regime led by former dictator Omar al-Bashir.

democracy is shattered

Mr Bashir was forced to step down in 2019 following months of protests led by a coalition of pro-democracy activists. Sensing that Mr Bashir’s time had come, his generals – including General Burhan and Mr Dagallo – staged a coup to oust him. Protest leaders and the armed forces then struck a power-sharing deal that was supposed to lead to elections and a civilian government. But Mr Bashir’s divide-and-conquer strategy, honed during his three decades in power, has left a ticking time bomb: a motley crew of militias and armed factions vying for power.

The most powerful and prominent is the RSFMr Bashir created it to balance the military and intelligence services, with its own command structure and funding. Mr Dagallo, at the helm, has made no secret of his ambitions to rule.

General Burhan, who also rose to prominence under Mr Bashir, sees himself as the custodian of the military’s interests, including its sprawling business empire, is no exception. Since independence in 1956, Sudan’s armed forces have dominated its politics. The country’s previous two democratic experiments – in 1964 and 1985 – were crushed by soldiers. General Burhan, who is also backed by a powerful Islamist group linked to Bashir’s regime, delivered the latest blow to democracy in 2021 when he launched a campaign against the civilian leaders of the transitional government formed after Bashir’s ouster. Second coup. The country has been in turmoil ever since.

In December, leaders of the civilian bloc and the military government signed a tentative agreement pledging to install a fully civilian government and hold elections within two years. If implemented, it would open the door to foreign aid and debt relief, helping Sudan’s collapsing economy.But it also means integrating RSF Enter singapore armed forces, and the establishment of a single national army under civilian supervision. A final agreement will be signed in early April.

The prospect of a settlement appeared to hasten the showdown. Both stand to benefit from the deal, which will weaken the armed forces’ political and economic power. Unwilling to hand over command of the force, Mr Dagalo insisted that the RSF be integrated into the national army within a decade, while still claiming he supported the deal. General Burhan is said to hope to achieve this within two years to weaken his opponent and ensure American preeminence. singapore armed forces.

More fundamentally, neither he nor the Islamic conservatives around him would accept any deal that would actually contain ISIS. singapore armed forcesbusiness interests.In the latest round of negotiations, Mr Dagalo also demanded that more than 800 senior officials be removed from the singapore armed forces Jonas Horner, an expert in the area, said it was “simply too much” for General Burhan to be part of the integration process. In early April, a now-banned Islamist official from Mr Bashir’s party told Reuters their group was trying to block the pending deal.

As such, Mr Horner believes that Islamists in the army may decide to launch a quick strike to “reassert Islamist control of the transition period and the country”. In recent months, the two sides have steadily expanded their forces and consolidated their positions in the capital and other strategic locations. Tanks were spotted moving on the Nile in Khartoum. General Burhan and Mr Dagallo are said to have stopped speaking in the days leading up to the fighting.

The danger of a wider fire is considerable.these two singapore armed forces and RSF Has an extensive ethnic and patronage network across Sudan. The Islamists around General Burhan are deeply entrenched in the Sudanese state and economy. As the two disintegrate, lawlessness is spreading.In Khartoum, gunmen open fire and attack US diplomatic convoy European UnionAmbassador of his family. Mohammed Osman of Alberdi, a Sudanese human rights group, said that in Nyala, South Darfur, militants on motorcycles robbed pedestrians in the streets. Warehouses belonging to aid agencies have been looted.

The involvement of other countries in the region could also complicate matters. Mr Burhan has political support from neighboring Egypt. He may also have its military backing.this wall street journal An Egyptian jet reportedly struck RSF Ammunition Depot.posted video RSF Captured Egyptian soldiers or pilots and jets are displayed at Merowe Air Force Base on April 15. Egypt denies any military involvement in the conflict.

Mr Dagalo, by contrast, is close to Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, who have long meddled in the affairs of their neighbours.Mr Haftar has reportedly shipped a shipment of weapons to RSF. Both Mr. Haftar and Mr. Dagalo were supported by the United Arab Emirates (United Arab Emirates) in the past, and RSF army for saudi arabia and United Arab Emirates in the war in Yemen.

Mr Dagalo claimed he was fighting “radical Islamists who want to isolate Sudan”, in an apparent effort to win Gulf support for his own war. So far, neither seems to be doing much to stop the fighting. Mr Dagalo also absurdly claimed that he was fighting to “protect democracy and uphold the rule of law”, without mentioning the 2019 RSF More than 100 peaceful pro-democracy protesters were massacred.

in balance

It’s too early to tell which side will win. The national army controls the skies, which is why Mr Dagalo’s men appear to be focused on seizing Sudan’s airport. It also has tanks and heavier weapons. But in Khartoum, neither side appears to have been dealt a decisive blow. Perhaps, if Mr Dagalo is eventually driven out of the capital, he will try to hide in his tribal base in Darfur. This risks turning the current narrow struggle between the two factions into a wider civil war between regions and ethnic groups. But if he is killed, RSF There could be a split, which could lead to anarchy.

Neither bodes well for Sudan’s troubled but once hopeful democratic transition. With no light in sight at the end of the tunnel, civilians caught in the middle are now trying to flee Khartoum for safety in the countryside. “We don’t support either side,” said Ahmed Ismat, a protest leader in Khartoum. “Any war means the end of a revolution.”

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