There’s been a lot of fighting going on in Sudan lately, and it’s not good news. The military and paramilitary forces have been fighting each other, and hundreds of people have died as a result. Many people have had to flee their homes to escape the violence, which could cause even more problems for the country and the surrounding area.
So why are they fighting? It seems like there’s been a power struggle between two different factions of the military regime. One faction is loyal to the current ruler, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, while the other follows a former warlord named Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, who is also known as Hemedti. This rivalry goes back to before the 2019 uprising that removed the country’s dictator, Omar al-Bashir.
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF – also known by the name of Janjaweed), who follow Hemedti, is the main paramilitary group involved in the fighting. It was created by Bashir to put down a rebellion in Darfur over 20 years ago, and it has a reputation for committing atrocities.
The conflict can be broadly categorized into two main parts: the conflict between the government and rebel groups in the western region of Darfur and the conflict between the government and rebel groups in the southern region of the country.
The Darfur conflict started in 2003 when rebel groups, made up primarily of non-Arab ethnic groups, took up arms against the Sudanese government, which they accused of neglecting and marginalizing their communities. The government responded by supporting Arab militias known as Janjaweed, who committed atrocities against non-Arab communities, leading to a humanitarian crisis that saw thousands of people displaced and killed.
In the southern region of Sudan, the conflict was mainly a result of historical marginalization and discrimination against the region’s predominantly Christian and animist population. The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) took up arms in 1983, leading to a prolonged civil war that lasted for over two decades. The conflict was eventually resolved in 2005, with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which granted autonomy to the southern region and paved the way for a referendum on independence. In 2011, South Sudan officially gained independence, becoming the world’s newest country.
When Bashir was ousted in 2019, the RSF, led by Hemedti, cooperated to remove him from power. However, the power-sharing deal that was supposed to bring about a democratic government was interrupted by a coup in 2021, which put the army back in charge. The reason for the coup was primarily due to a power struggle between the military and the civilian-led transitional government that came to power after the ousting of former dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
Though Burhan and Hemedti worked together to get President Omar al-Bashir out of office, experts say that one reason for their fallout is Hemedti’s rising desire to be the leader of Sudan. In the past few years, he has made a lot of money, which has made his RSF bigger and more of a threat to Burhan’s army.
The civilians who led the protests against Bashir have been calling for more oversight of the military and the integration of the RSF into the regular armed forces. They also want the military to hand over its profitable agricultural and trade holdings and to face justice for alleged war crimes, including the killings of pro-democracy protesters in 2019.
Sudan is located in a volatile region of Africa that borders the Red Sea, the Sahel region, and the Horn of Africa. This has attracted regional power plays, which could make it difficult for Sudan to transition to a civilian-led government. Several of Sudan’s neighbors, including Ethiopia, Chad, and South Sudan, have been affected by political upheavals and conflict. Sudan’s relationship with Ethiopia has been particularly strained over disputed farmland along their border.
The international community is also concerned about what’s happening in Sudan. Major powers such as Russia, the US, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are all trying to gain influence in the country. Western powers fear that Russia could establish a base on the Red Sea if Sudan’s military leaders become more open to this idea.
All in all, the situation in Sudan is very complex and dangerous. It’s important for the international community to find a peaceful solution to the conflict and to support efforts to bring about a democratic government in Sudan.