Is Iran forming an unlikely alliance with the Gulf to challenge the US?
Will external forces take advantage of the conflict in Sudan as they did in Libya?
Sudan clashes erupt
Fighting between rival armed factions in Sudan has continued for three days, resulting in shelling of hospitals in the capital, Khartoum, and appeals for safe passage from patients. The Sudan Doctors’ Trade Union has reported that around 100 people have died in the violence between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), with more than 1,800 injured. Both sides claim to control key sites in Khartoum, where residents have been seeking shelter from explosions. The UN envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, has stated that the death toll is 185 people, higher than the doctors’ union’s estimate. The fighting is between army units loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the RSF, commanded by Sudan’s deputy leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The fighting has taken place around the Republican Palace and in other regions of the country, including Darfur and Kordofan.
According to the Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, the ongoing fighting in Sudan has resulted in the deaths of 97 civilians and dozens of security force personnel, with 942 people injured. The World Health Organization has reported that since the Rapid Support Forces mobilized their forces on Thursday, more than 83 people have been killed and over 1,100 people injured across the country. The WHO has not provided a breakdown of the number of civilians killed. The UN World Food Programme has suspended its operations in the country following the deaths of three staff members. The WFP expressed horror at the news of the deaths and stated that one of its aircraft was damaged during an exchange of gunfire at Khartoum airport on Saturday, impacting its ability to provide aid.
Both sides have also been closing the door on any possibility of compromise. The SAF has said in a statement that no talks would take place until the RSF was “decimated and dissolved”, while the commander of the RSF, Mohamed Hassan ‘Hamedti’ Dagalo told Al-Jazeera that the RSF’s goal is to put Al-Burhan on trial.
Reaction of neighbors
The Peace and Security Council of the African Union has cautioned against outside intervention in the Sudan crisis and has called on the warring factions to quickly find a peaceful solution through inclusive dialogue. The council rejected any interference from external sources that could further complicate the situation in Sudan. In an emergency meeting held in Addis Ababa, the council also requested regional countries and other interested parties to support ongoing efforts to return the country to a constitutional order. The council demanded that the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces promptly adopt a peaceful resolution and engage in inclusive dialogue to settle their differences.
Meanwhile, Egypt and Saudi Arabia called for holding an emergency meeting at the level of permanent delegates in the League of Arab States to discuss the ongoing military clashes.
“The successive and dangerous developments in Sudan necessitate holding this meeting for consultation and coordination among the Arab countries to defuse the current crisis, and work to restore stability to Sudan as soon as possible,” said Abu Zeid.
Holing the emergency meeting comes in terms of Paragraph 5b of Article Five of the League Council’s bylaws, which stipulates that the Council can hold, when necessary, an extraordinary session at the request of two member states, Abu Zeid continued.
Egypt has confirmed that a group of its soldiers has been captured in Sudan as the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has said it would cooperate in returning them. This could be a chance for Egypt to get involved in the conflict, as it has always seen itself as a key player in Sudan. On Saturday, the leader of Sudan’s paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) stated that his forces were prepared to collaborate with Egypt to facilitate the return of Egyptian troops who surrendered to the group in the town of Merowe in northern Sudan. According to two Egyptian security sources, Egyptian officials were able to communicate with the leader of the Egyptian unit to verify the safety of the troops.
It is unclear however, what conditions the RSF could place on this release, and whether Egypt would cooperate.
Prospects of resolution
The conflict in Sudan currently has no foreseeable resolution, making peace seem unattainable in the near future. To ease the situation, the Arab League has urged the Sudanese army and RSF to declare a ceasefire during the three-day Muslim festival of Eid al-Fitr.
The Secretary-General of the league, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, stated in a video message that he urges the parties in the name of Islam, Arab values, and humanity to end the conflict during the holiday, enabling civilians to respond to urgent humanitarian cases.
The International Committee of the Red Cross has warned that the number of civilian casualties will increase if the fighting does not end soon. Director of Africa at the International Committee of the Red Cross, Patrick Youssef, stated that the short truce period will not allow medical aid to be secured, and corpses to be removed from the streets. Furthermore, he added that all hospitals in Sudan need medical materials to carry out operations.
For any ceasefire to be achieved, the Arab League and African Union will have to increase their mediation efforts. A lasting peace agreement would also require compromise from both the Sudanese army and RSF.