Sudan, a nation struggling to establish a democratic system, is currently facing a power struggle between the army and a paramilitary unit known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Hundreds of people have been killed and injured in the ongoing conflict, which has hit its peak in the capital, Khartoum.
The battle for control of Sudan is intensifying, with the army and the RSF, led by former allies, now locked in a fierce rivalry. As a result, ceasefires have been short-lived, and the conflict has escalated, causing significant damage to infrastructure and leaving citizens without basic necessities.
Sudan’s Struggle for Democracy
1. The Rule of Omar al-Bashir
For 30 years, Sudan was ruled by President Omar al-Bashir, who rose to power in a military coup in the late 1980s. Under his rule, the country experienced significant turmoil, culminating in the people rising up and demanding that he step down.
2. Pro-Democracy Protests
In response to decades of one-man rule, Sudanese citizens took to the streets to demand a transition to democracy. These protests eventually led to the army’s intervention, but the people did not want the military in power either.
The Transitional Government
1. Sharing Power with Political Groups
Under pressure from protesters, the army agreed to share power with various political groups in a transitional government. The intent was for this government to oversee the transition to a democratic system. However, two years into the process, the army ousted the prime minister and seized power once again.
2. Military Coup and Seizure of Power
With the military back in control, the people of Sudan found themselves trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of power struggles involving the same key players. Despite ongoing talks between the military and political groups representing the pro-democracy movement, the underlying rivalry between the army and the RSF has hindered progress towards a true democratic transition.
The Rival Forces
The Sudanese Army
1. Led by General Abdul Fattah Al Burhan
The Sudanese army, a central player in the power struggle, is led by General Abdul Fattah Al Burhan. He is currently the country’s de facto leader and has a history of working alongside the RSF, particularly during the war in Darfur.
Rapid Support Forces (RSF)
1. Led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalu (Hameti)
The RSF, a paramilitary unit, is led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalu, widely known as Hameti. Like General Al Burhan, Hameti has been a key player in Sudan’s tumultuous past, with both men having been on the same side during the Darfur conflict.
2. History and Role in Darfur
The RSF has its roots in the Janjaweed militia, which was used by al-Bashir’s army to fight rebels in the Darfur region. This militia has been accused of committing war crimes and genocide, leading to charges being brought against al-Bashir himself. In 2013, the militia was rebranded as the RSF and began working alongside the Sudanese army on various missions.
3. Growth in Power and Influence
Over time, the RSF has become increasingly independent and powerful, amassing considerable investments within Sudan and abroad, particularly in the gold trade. This growth in power and influence has fueled the tension between the RSF and the Sudanese army.
The Ongoing Conflict
Disagreements over the Integration of the RSF into the Army
One key point of contention between the two forces is the timeline for integrating the RSF into the Sudanese army. While the army has proposed a two-year timeline, the RSF is pushing for a longer, 10-year period. This disagreement has further exacerbated the power struggle between the two sides.
The Escalation of Violence
1. Attacks on Each Other’s Bases
The conflict between the Sudanese army and the RSF has escalated to the point where both sides have traded accusations of attacking each other’s bases in Khartoum. This has led to a series of violent clashes and attempts to gain control of strategic locations, such as the presidential palace, the airport, and the state TV channel.
2. Air Attacks and Shelling
The Sudanese army, which has air power at its disposal, has been conducting air attacks on RSF bases in the capital. Many of these bases are located in residential areas, causing significant collateral damage. In response, the RSF, which lacks air power but has access to anti-aircraft weapons, has been engaging in shelling and ground combat.
The Impact on the People of Sudan
1. Casualties and Injuries
The ongoing conflict has resulted in hundreds of casualties and injuries, with civilians caught in the crossfire. This has created a dire humanitarian situation in the country.
2. Lack of Basic Necessities (Water, Electricity, Food)
As the fighting continues, the people of Sudan are facing a severe shortage of basic necessities, including water, electricity, and food. This has further compounded the suffering of the population.
3. Damaged Infrastructure (Airport, Residential Areas)
The conflict has also led to significant damage to key infrastructure, such as the airport and residential areas. This destruction has made it increasingly difficult for the people of Sudan to access essential services and has further destabilized the nation.
Calls for a Ceasefire
1. African Union, UN, EU, US, UK
The escalating conflict in Sudan has prompted calls for a ceasefire from various international organizations and countries, including the African Union, the United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and the United Kingdom. These entities have expressed concern for the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the potential destabilizing effects on the region.
Potential Mediation by Influential Countries
1. Egypt’s Ties to the Sudanese Army
Egypt, a close ally of the Sudanese army, could potentially play a mediating role in the conflict. Its close relationship with General Al Burhan and the Sudanese military could enable it to exert pressure on the army to de-escalate the situation and come to a resolution.
2. UAE’s Ties to the RSF
Similarly, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has ties to the RSF, which could make it a potential mediator in the conflict. As an influential player in the region, the UAE might be able to leverage its relationship with the RSF to encourage dialogue and compromise between the rival forces.
The ongoing power struggle between the Sudanese army and the RSF has thrown the future of Sudan’s democracy into uncertainty. Despite the aspirations of the Sudanese people for a more democratic and inclusive government, the continued rivalry and violence have made the path to democracy more elusive.
Ultimately, the Sudanese people must have a say in determining their own future. A political transition that genuinely represents their desires and aspirations is crucial for Sudan to break the cycle of violence and instability.
This can only be achieved through a genuine commitment from all parties to work together, with the support and encouragement of the international community, to find a lasting and peaceful solution.