Threats from Sudan. The events on April 15th were not a huge surprise to many. Attempts to form a Civilian led Government that would organize and plan elections for later this year failed twice, first on April 1st and then again on April 6th. However negotiations were still continuing. In an ironic twist it was announced that the leaders of the Supreme Council General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and his deputy General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo aka Hemeti would meet to resolve this impasse that would have allowed the deal signed in December 2022 to advance forward.
It appears that the RSF had other ideas in mind. In the days prior to the outbreak of fighting RSF units deployed to Khartoum and other cities nationwide and had a confrontation with the Army. It should be noted that under the terms of new leadership the RSF would be integrated with the Sudanese Army. Could this have been a catalyst in the fighting?
What are the major differences between the Army and the RSF? The RSF actually were established by the Bashir regime during the Darfur Conflict comprising Arab Militias known as the Janjaweed.Some estimates place the total number of troops in this force at around 100,000 men. However there are allegations that units of the RSF deployed into Libya in 2020 to support forces led by General Khalifa Haftar. The RSF would also be deployed to Yemen to assist the Saudi-led campaign against the Houthis as well. Hemeti would also boast that his forces prevented a Coup attempt against the Central African Republic earlier this year. Another relationship that needs to be examined is the RSF ties with Russia. Hemeti visited Moscow on the evening that Moscow renewed its assault on Ukraine and is a vocal proponent of allowing the Russian Navy to construct a base on the Red Sea.
It should be noted that General Burhan also has a network of allies as well. One of Burhan’s major supporters has been Egypt. That could explain the motive why the RSF reportedly took some Egyptian Soldiers hostage during the initial hours of conflict. Another base of support for Burhan is supposed to be the Gulf States, specifically Saudi Arabia and the UAE.. There is another supporter of General Burhan that will come as a surprise to many. In February 2023 Burhan met with a delegation from Israel as well. Burhan signed onto the Abraham Accords as well so that brings up a question of is this incident designed to weaken those Accords?
So why did the fighting break out? It appears that we have two leaders in the Sudanese Military that view their “colleague” as a direct threat to their power.They decided that they were not going to willingly give that up either. Neither individual comes across as or should be respected as a democratic idealist. Both seem reluctant to have civilians take over power in Sudan. This situation is best described by an African Proverb: “When two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers.” In this case the grass is a metaphor for the Sudanese People. Knowing that the deadlines to foster a transition to Civilian rule were missed twice already in April 2023 shows that the die was cast to lead up to the violence on April 15.
So what happens next? That is the great question. Already various Governments around the World have urged restraint and condemned the violence that broke out. There have been no indications that Burhan or Hemeti will meet to resolve their issues. Various Ceasefires have been agreed to and promptly ignored. As of May 22nd a new ceasefire is currently in place.
What does this mean for East Africa? That is a great question which could provide some unique answers. If the RSF are defeated it is feasible for some of their fighters to find work in Libya for General Haftar or even in the Central African Republic assisting that Government in its efforts to restore a functional government to that country. If they are victorious then Russia may have a new vassal in the World. The longer instability reins in Sudan the worse it will be for the region.
That is a problem Africa doesn’t need at this time nor do any of the players have the desire to resolve it soon unless it’s in their favor.
***Featured photo source Dna India