Sudan’s rival generals have returned to the negotiating table in Saudi Arabia, but the fighting shows no sign of easing as they wrestle to control the country’s second-largest city. The war of attrition between army chief Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo has resulted in the death of over 9,000 people and displaced nearly six million in just six months. Despite the high casualties, neither side has been able to gain a decisive advantage.
Stalemate in Khartoum
In Khartoum, the air force has failed to dislodge the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which still controls the capital’s streets, while the army holds the country’s east. Peace talks resumed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, with the aim of securing a cease-fire deal and the delivery of humanitarian aid. However, the talks will not address broader political issues, according to statements from the Saudi foreign ministry and the US State Department.
RSF’s strategic move
To break the stalemate, the RSF claimed to have captured Nyala, the South Darfur state capital and the largest city in Darfur. With its airport, railway, and key highway intersection, Nyala could be essential for resupplying forces in the area. The RSF has held the Om Dafouq border post with the Central African Republic for the past three months and reportedly taken control of additional supply routes to Khartoum.
Strategic importance of Nyala
Nyala is not only strategically important for military purposes but also serves as the economic heart of Darfur. It has economic ties with Chad, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Cameroon, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The city’s capture would cement the RSF’s hold on Darfur, where ethnically motivated killings by the RSF and allied militia have triggered a new probe by the International Criminal Court.
The RSF released footage of Daglo’s brother and deputy leading troops into Nyala, claiming that the city and its army infantry division had fallen. However, the army responded by stating that the 16th infantry division had repelled the attack and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy. Residents reported that RSF fighters have spread out across the city, with no sign of the army. This conflicting information highlights the complexity of the situation on the ground.
War of attrition
Previous attempts to mediate in the war have only resulted in brief truces that were systematically violated. Analysts believe that Burhan and Daglo have chosen to wage a war of attrition, hoping to gain greater concessions at the negotiating table later. This approach prolongs the suffering of the Sudanese people and exacerbates the humanitarian crisis in the country.
The need for a lasting solution
While the current peace talks aim to secure a cease-fire and deliver humanitarian aid, it is crucial to address the broader political issues that have fueled the conflict. Sudan needs a comprehensive and inclusive peace agreement that addresses the grievances of all parties involved. This includes addressing issues of power-sharing, economic development, and justice for past atrocities.
The international community must continue to support Sudan in its quest for peace. The United States and Saudi Arabia, as mediators in the current talks, have a crucial role to play in facilitating a lasting solution. They should exert pressure on both sides to prioritize the well-being of the Sudanese people and work towards a peaceful resolution.
In conclusion, Sudan’s rival generals have returned to the negotiating table, but the fighting continues to escalate. The capture of Nyala by the RSF has further complicated the situation on the ground. It is essential for the peace talks to address not only a cease-fire and humanitarian aid but also broader political issues. The international community must continue to support Sudan in its pursuit of a lasting peace agreement.