A brief compendium of recent, highly informed news reports on fighting in Sudan, with brief excerpts
[all emphases in bold are mine—ER]
• Sudan: MSF denounces looting of El Geneina Teaching Hospital: Staff reports overwhelming needs due to violence in North Darfur
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) | April 28, 2024
“It is utterly unacceptable to see the El Geneina Teaching Hospital and other facilities under attack, looted, running out of staff and supplies. We are deeply concerned about the safety of health care staff and our teams in West Darfur. Many people are trapped in the midst of this deadly violence. They fear risking their safety and lives trying to reach the rare health facilities that are still functional and open.
“For years, MSF has been providing medical assistance to all communities in West Darfur, who have been frequently affected by violence and who otherwise have no access to health care.
“In El Geneina Teaching Hospital, MSF managed the pediatric and nutrition inpatient departments, infection prevention control measures, and water and sanitation services. Over the years we have witnessed a steady stream of patients coming not just from El Geneina city and the nearest camps for displaced families, but from all over the West Darfur state.
“The current fighting has forced us to stop almost all of our activities in West Darfur.”
Separately, MSF’s team in El Fasher, North Darfur, is working to treat people injured in recent violence. So far, 410 people have made it to the hospital for treatment, and 55 conflict-related deaths have been recorded there. MSF’s project coordinator in El Fasher, North Darfur, Mohamed Gibreel Adam, gave the following statement in a video yesterday, April 27:
“The situation is very, very difficult here. The access to health care is interrupted. There is no water. There is also no electricity. Lack of fuel has impacted all the life-saving services.
“Due to safety, referral of hot cases and [access to] life-saving [treatment] at night is not possible due to a lack of security and movement. Here is our [pre-]natal care department, where we see some ladies are trying to be registered to see the doctor, but due to the many cases they are only seeing the hot cases and doing triage and registration.”
• Shifting alliances in Sudan’s Darfur as new civil war fears rise
Locals in Darfur arm themselves, believing army-RSF conflict could reignite ethnic violence and open war in region.
Al Jazeera, April 27, 2023 | by Mat Nashed
The Arab Rizeigat tribe is particularly at odds with the non-Arab Masalit because both compete over dwindling land and water resources. The former has often retaliated with collective punishment against the Masalit to settle personal disputes, residents and rights groups said.
In 2019, the killing of a Rizeigat man in the Krinding displacement camp, where members of the Masalit tribe live, set off an attack by Arab fighters. Survivors said a local commander in the RSF spearheaded the violence, which killed 72 people. Less than two years later, Rizeigat gunmen attacked camps for displaced Masalit people again, killing at least 138 people, according to local medics. A third major attack occurred in the nearby town of Krenik in April 2022, which saw at least 168 Masalit killed and thousands displaced.
• How the West enabled Sudan’s warring generals
“It is a fight between two partners in one crime, [the] 25 October 2021 coup, over the spoils of their crime. This is a war between two evils who both don’t have the interest of this country in their hearts,” Amgad Fareid, a former adviser to the ousted Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, said in a recent blog post. He added that the international community helped to create the current situation unfolding in Sudan, by continuing to push for the formation of a government at any cost — lending legitimacy to Hemedti and Burhani as political actors even as they sought to thwart the process and avoid genuine reforms.
The general’s shared sense of impunity was underlined in October 2021, when they staged a coup, arresting Hamdok and his cabinet. Jeffrey Feltman, who was the first US special envoy for the Horn of Africa at the time, said that the series of events came as a shock. Just five hours earlier, he and his team had met with the prime minister, as well as Hemedti and Burhan, who said that they would agree to a plan renewing a civilian-military partnership.
“Their action demonstrated that they never intended to reciprocate. Since then, history has repeated itself again and again: SAF and RSF leadership have made commitments only to subsequently break them,” Feltman said in a recent op-ed in The Washington Post.
• What next for Sudan fighting after top Bashir-era officials freed
Analysts say revival of loyalists of former ruler Omar al-Bashir could tilt balance of power in war between army and RSF
Al Jazeera, April 28, 2023 | by Mat Nashed
https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/4/28/what-next-for-sudan-fighting-after-top-bashir-era-officials-freedAny significant support that al-Burhan receives from the NCP and the wider Islamic movement in Sudan could make regional actors such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates uneasy, warned Boswell.
Analysts said that Egypt is backing al-Burhan since it viewed the army as the most supreme sovereign institution, even as it pressured Sudan to turn over members or sympathisers of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood who fled Cairo’s crackdown since general-turned-president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power a decade ago, according to news reports.
The UAE, which has more sway with Hemedti, may also step-up support for the RSF due to its ideological aversion to political Islam in the region.
• CHANGING FACES Sudan: Hemeti’s multi-million dollar image make-over
April 25, 2023 | The Africa Report.com | by Vincent Duhem
Since 2019, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo ‘Hemeti’ has undertaken significant means to reform his image as a warlord, an effort partly ruined by the armed conflict that has pitted him against General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan since 15 April.
Last November 2022, a small team of French lobbyists met in Dubai with a simple objective: to present a vast, Hemeti-oriented communication strategy. For two days at the Grand Millennium Hotel, one presentation after another was seen, slides scrolling by, one detailing the progress of the Hope for Sudan operation, along with a variety of media campaigns, political lobbying, and online influence. Enter a new public relations strategy for the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
• “The worst of worst case scenarios”: western diplomats blindsided over Sudan crisis
Residents and regional experts say governments and NGOs should have been better prepared for violence
The Guardian, April 25, 2023
Was there no warning, one staff member asked? “No, we did not have any early warning,” Perthes said, according to minutes of the meeting viewed by the Guardian.
But others disagree, saying that governments and international organisations should have been much better prepared for the crisis. They say it was always clear that army units loyal to Sudan’s military ruler, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, would end up fighting the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, and that warning lights were flashing red long before 15 April, when the shooting started.
Shamael el-Noor, a Khartoum-based Sudanese political analyst, said conversations with both factions convinced her violence was coming. “I was aware of the pressure between the RSF and the army and certain that [it] could at any time escalate into an unwanted [violent] situation. I was totally expecting that there will be an explosion, [and] knew that if it was going to erupt anywhere it would surely be in Khartoum … I just wasn’t sure about its level,” el-Noor said.
Stefan Dercon, director of the Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford and development adviser to successive Conservative foreign secretaries, said they thought the UK had been unrealistic. “I was shocked the main thing we kept focus on with other embassies was transitional justice, gender empowerment and parliamentary things when the basic deal had not been done in the country, including the economic deal,” Dercon said.
• Generals in Their Labyrinth
The conflict in Sudan is multidimensional, and could generate instability that spreads to the broader region.
Carnegie Middle East Center, April 28, 2023 | by MOHANAD HAGE ALI and ALI ALI
Last but not least, there is a regional dimension to the conflict. Egypt supports the Sudanese military, while the RSF is allegedly receiving backing from a number of regional actors, including the United Arab Emirates, the commander of the Libyan national army, Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, and the Russian Wagner Group. The RSF’s biggest source of funding is gold mining, which has allowed it to grow tremendously at the expense of much-needed development.
Before the coup in 2021, the civilian government was cash-strapped and besieged by a military that controlled a large share of the economy and an RSF whose funding came from one of the country’s most lucrative resources. Regardless of their statements to the contrary, Burhan and Hemedti share an interest in a weakened civilian opposition.
However, if both men continue their military confrontation their grip on power might loosen, and other military actors—either existing rebel groups from the provinces or new ones—could escalate the violence, causing greater displacement of the civilian population. Before the current conflict, Sudan already had 1.1 million refugees and 2.5 million internally displaced persons. The fighting, which has already caused a significant wave of displacement from Khartoum and left 60 percent of health centers in the capital out of service, could quickly bring about a major humanitarian crisis with regional implications.
Any international political intervention should take into consideration the need to restore balance to Sudan’s political scene. This means implementing a more inclusive transition, one that empowers and widens civilian representation as a way forward. Pressuring regional players to engage constructively in the process would also help pave the way for a more durable peace. The alternative could mean enduring instability in Sudan, which could then spread to the country’s neighbors.
• Sudan fighting: No talks until bombing stops, Hemedti tells BBC
BBC April 28, 2023
The UN says RSF troops are forcing people from their homes and looting and extortion is taking place. However, Hemedti told the BBC his rivals were dressing up in RSF uniforms in order to discredit his fighters. He categorically denied involvement in looting and taking over hospitals, saying his troops were trying to help residents of a city reeling from fierce clashes that began 14 days ago. “My team is working on the water and electricity supplies for the areas we control. Unfortunately, all the technicians and engineers have disappeared. And this is our main problem,” he said.
[More utterly shameless mendacity from Hemedti—ER]
One mapping of where the fighting is currently taking place (April 28, 2023)