Sudan: The “Forgotten War” Continues to Worsen

Source: FSSPX News

Tukuls in the Abyei region

The forgotten war of Sudan is on its way to worsening after two armed forces of Darfur, which had remained neutral until this point, declared their support for the army against the Rapid Support Force (RSF).

Before this new situation, Le Figaro pointed out on November 22 that Sudan is “on the brink of unprecedented tragedy.” Early in the month, the RSF—the paramilitary group opposing the government—completed the conquest of El Geneina, part of Darfur, in the southwest of the country.

This conquest was accompanied by pillaging and slaughter, according to the UN. The massacre caused more than 1,000 deaths. By the end of May, the region had already mourned at least 5,000 deaths. Dr. Clément Deshayes, researcher at the École Militaire’s Institute for Strategic Research, denounces it as a “clear policy of ethnic cleansing.”

More Than 20 Years of War

The war in Darfur has been going on for more than 20 years. At first, it concerned ethnic groups, especially the Masalit, which were settled there, opposing nomad Arab tribes within which the RSF recruits. Their leader, Mohamed Hamdam Dagalo—also known as Hemedti—was vice president of the Sovereignty Council of the transitional government until the month of May.

On April 15, 2023, the RSF brutally took action against the regular Sudanese army, moving the conflict in a new direction; now Hemedti opposes the head of state, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. The two men had seized power in 2021. Khartoum, the country’s capital, has been devastated by clashes since April and is under the control of the RSF.

As for Darfur, controlling it is essential for Hemedti, who must continue his war by an attack on El Fasher (Al Fashir), the largest city in the region. But this part of the country receives hundreds of thousands of refugees. The risk to human life is considerable.

The Darfur region in the southwest of Sudan, with El Geneina and El Fasher (Al Fashir)

A New Order Which Complicates the Conflict

On November 17, 2023, the minister of finance, Jibril Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and Mini Arko Minawi, governor of Darfur and leader of the Sudan Liberation Army, announced their intention to join the regular army, accusing the RSF of committing atrocities at Darfur.

Minawi decided to abandon neutrality because he was convinced that “the goal of the war is to divide Sudan.” And Jibril Ibrahim stated that he “had at first adopted a position of neutrality in order to serve as mediator,” but he accuses the RSF of “attempting to divide the country in collaboration with foreign mercenaries [the Wagner militia] in order to implement a foreign program.”

The decision of the JEM and the SLA was criticized by another creation of Darfur, the Revolutionary Democratic Current (RDC), which stated in a communiqué that “their position is an extension of their opposition to democracy and to the revolution of December (2018), and of their support for the coup d’état of October 25 (2021), of which the war of April 15 (2023) is a direct consequence.”

The coup d’état of October 25, 2021, jointly led by the army and the RSF against the transitional government of the time, had led to the formation of a military junta whose internal disputes degenerated into civil war in 2023.

The Abyei region, enclosed between Sudan and South Sudan

The Possible Extension of the War in South Sudan

Another troubling event is the attack that caused 32 deaths in Abyei, a border zone rich in oil, contested by Sudan and South Sudan. This attack was condemned by Bulis Koch Aguar Ajith, Abyei’s minister of information and South Sudan spokesperson for the region, in a statement from Sunday, November 19.

Abyei has a special status, governed by an administration composed of officials appointed by Juba (the capital of South Sudan) and Khartoum. The clashes in Abyei risk destabilizing this already volatile region, while the ongoing crisis in Sudan has “effectively suspended” the talks between the two countries on this long-disputed territory.

The conflict in Sudan thus risks involving the neighboring states, while a “Libyan” scenario takes shape with the formation of two governments contesting control of the country. Bear in mind, the conflict in Darfur has already caused close to 300,000 deaths and 2.7 million displaced persons.

As for South Sudan, a country created by the partition of Sudan on July 9, 2011, it has a Christian majority (over 60%), unlike Sudan, which is more than 90% Muslim. One of the reasons—but not the sole reason—for the partition was the desire of Christians to escape Muslim domination.