Saturday, October 28, 2023

“Army Chief Warns: Failure to Resolve Conflict in Sudan May Lead to Fragmentation”


Sudan’s Army Chief Warns of Country’s Division if Conflict is Not Resolved

The head of Sudan’s army, General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, issued a warning on Thursday that the northeast African country could face division if the ongoing conflict between the military and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is not resolved. Sudan has been embroiled in chaos since tensions between the two factions escalated into open fighting on April 15.

In a speech delivered to the country’s police force in the city of Port Sudan, Al-Burhan emphasized the urgency of resolving the conflict, stating, “We are facing a war, and if it is not resolved quickly Sudan will be fragmented.” These remarks echo his earlier statements made during a visit to Egypt, where he met with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to discuss potential solutions to the crisis. However, no specific details about any initiatives or terms were disclosed.

The conflict in Sudan has resulted in widespread displacement, with over 4.6 million people forced to flee their homes. Of these, more than 3.6 million have sought refuge in safer areas within Sudan, while over 1 million have crossed into neighboring countries. The situation has created a humanitarian crisis, with urgent needs for shelter, food, and medical assistance.

Al-Burhan’s recent speeches have revealed conflicting positions regarding reconciliation with the RSF. While ruling out any possibility of reconciliation during a separate speech on Monday, he vowed that his forces would defeat the paramilitary group. Analysts suggest that Al-Burhan’s statements are aimed at appeasing different factions, including both domestic and international audiences.

Kholood Khair, the founder and director of Confluence Advisory, a think tank specializing in Sudanese affairs and politics, explains that Al-Burhan is attempting to cater to the expectations of various stakeholders. “The domestic audience plus Egypt want to hear that he and SAF (Sudanese Armed Forces) are equal to the task of beating the RSF, and the Western international community plus Saudi Arabia want to hear that a ceasefire might be imminent,” Khair said.

The conflict has turned Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, into an urban battlefield, with neither side able to gain control of the city. In the Darfur region, which witnessed a genocidal campaign in the early 2000s, the conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension. Rights groups and the United Nations report that the RSF and allied Arab militias have been attacking ethnic African groups, leading to further violence and displacement.

Last week, Al-Burhan managed to leave Sudan’s besieged military headquarters in Khartoum, where he had been stationed since April. He traveled to Port Sudan, which is under the control of the army. The fighting has resulted in a significant loss of life, with the UN human rights office estimating that at least 4,000 people have been killed. However, activists and doctors on the ground believe that the actual death toll is likely much higher.

The international community has expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in Sudan and has called for an immediate end to the violence. Efforts are underway to facilitate dialogue and negotiations between the conflicting parties to achieve a peaceful resolution. The United Nations and other humanitarian organizations are working tirelessly to provide aid and support to those affected by the conflict.

It is crucial for Sudan’s leaders to prioritize the well-being of their people and work towards a sustainable solution that addresses the root causes of the conflict. The division of Sudan would have severe consequences not only for the country but also for the wider region. Cooperation, dialogue, and compromise are essential to prevent further bloodshed and ensure a stable and prosperous future for Sudan.

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