Since 15th April 2023, Sudan has been engulfed in another conflict between the SAF (Sudanese Armed Forces) and the paramilitary group RSF (Rapid Support Forces). Renewed fighting has led to hundreds of deaths across the country.
Seal of the RSF, Image Source: rsf.gov.sd
Sudan in its recent history has been through several wars and conflicts, including 2 civil wars (1955-1972 and 1983-2005) and the war in Darfur. During the war in Darfur, the then strongman leader, Omar Al-Bashir relied on the support of the RSF paramilitary group to fight the war in Darfur.
The RSF is led by Mohammad Hamadan Daglo and derives its support mainly from the camel-rearing Arab tribes and militias (janjaweed) in the region. Under Al-Bashir, the RSF was institutionalised and the RSF and Daglo grew in status, power and resources.
However, after large-scale protests in 2018 and 2019, Al-Bashir was overthrown in a military coup (which involved both the RSF and SAF). A brief attempt at a civilian-military unit government was made, but later a military junta would be set up in 2021.
Soon, tensions began to rise between the RSF and SAF as both groups grew wary of each other’s influence. Key issues arose on the integration of the RSF into the army, and of the authority of RSF officers in the hierarchy.
Insignia of the SAF Image Source: Public Domain
Beginning of the Sudan War 2023
On 11th April, RSF forces were deployed to the capital city of Khartoum and the RSF began mobilisation as well. The government declared this mobilisation to be illegal and the conflict began.
The RSF took control of several key sites in the city, including the Khartoum International Airport, and fighting raged through the city. In other parts of the country like Darfur fighting has broken out between the two sides as well.
While some small ceasefires have been signed, fighting continues to take place throughout the country, and Khartoum seems to bear the brunt of street-to-street combat between the two groups.
As a result of the fighting, over 300,000 people have been internally displaced, and over 100,000 people have fled the country. The Sudan war has led to the death of over 500 people, but the actual figures may be higher.
Another consequence is the evacuation of foreign nationals from the country by their respective governments. However several foreigners, from all across the globe have been killed in the Sudan War already.
Rumours of foreign involvement are also rife, with the SAF claiming that the RSF is receiving support from 2 unnamed neighbouring countries. Similarly, some sources claim that the RSF is working in cooperation with the Russian Wagner Group.
The RSF however, denies all such claims. The RSF also took Egyptian military personnel as prisoners, as they were conducting military exercises with the Sudanese government.
The war in Sudan does not bode well for the region, as spillovers from the conflict may cause political upheaval in the neighbouring countries. The conflict may lead to further instability for Chad and the entire Sahel region, which is already one of the poorest regions in the world.
Similarly, the Ethiopian government already has pre-existing tensions with the Sudanese government, and the burgeoning conflict may cause more clashes and border disputes.
In the end, Sudan is already on the verge of an all-out civil war and a humanitarian crisis is in the making.