Holding bullet cartridges in Khartoum, Sudan, May 2023. Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah / Reuters

For the past year, much of the world’s attention has been focused on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions between the United States and China over Taiwan—flashpoints that could trigger direct or even nuclear confrontation between the major powers. But the outbreak of fighting in Sudan should also give world leaders pause: it threatens to be the latest in a wave of devastating wars in Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia that over the past decade have ushered in a new era of instability and strife. Mostly because of conflicts, more people are displaced (100 million) or in need of humanitarian aid (339 million) than at any point since World War II.…  Seguir leyendo »

Does America Realize That Sudan Is Too Big to Fail?

Two heavily armed groups, led by sworn enemies, square off in a dense metropolitan area that is home to about as many people as New York City. Hundreds of civilians have died, and thousands have been wounded, though the true toll may be much higher. People are pinned down in their homes by street-to-street fighting and aerial bombardment. They are running out of food and water; hospitals are running out of supplies. International humanitarian workers have packed up their white sport utility vehicles and high-tailed it to safety. Western and regional diplomats have boarded helicopters, buses and planes to get out.…  Seguir leyendo »

The aftermath of clashes in Khartoum, Sudan, April 2023. Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah / Reuters

Less than five years into its halting journey toward democracy, Sudan is spiraling toward protracted civil war. On April 15, fighting erupted between the country’s two main security organs, the army and a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which have been jockeying for power ever since they jointly overthrew longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019. The hostilities have been most intense in the capital city, Khartoum, but violence has broken out in at least eight of Sudan’s 13 states. Hundreds of civilians have been killed and regional powers are lining up behind the main belligerents, promising to replenish their war stocks and enabling them to continue tearing the country apart.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the day before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, a top general from Sudan was  visiting Moscow. Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo – known as Hemedti – had already made a name for himself leading one of the so-called  Janjaweed militias that helped carry out a genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region decades earlier.

Until last week, Dagalo was also one of the two military men leading a Sudanese government that was meant to be working its way to a democratic transition.

By the time he went to Russia last year, Dagalo and his militia, Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), were already the  primary beneficiaries of involvement in Sudan by the Wagner Group, the Kremlin-linked mercenary army that has been fighting in Ukraine recently, but also has a  wide footprint in Africa and other parts of the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Damage from fighting in Khartoum, Sudan, April 2023. Reuters.

On Sunday, April 23, barely one week after vicious fighting erupted in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, the United States special forces evacuated U.S. embassy staff by helicopter, and other foreign nationals fled the city in hastily arranged emergency convoys. As the chaotic face-off between Sudan’s de facto leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and his heavily armed rival, General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, continued, it was unclear when the diplomats would return.

What is happening in Sudan is a mobster shootout, and the world is running away from it. That’s a reasonable first reflex to a terrifying war that has already involved the use of the country’s heaviest weapons in the streets of the capital.…  Seguir leyendo »

A destroyed military vehicle in Khartoum, Sudan. Marwan Ali/Associated Press

Khartoum has been wracked with violence for nearly a week. At least 413 people have been killed and millions trapped without food, water or electricity, while a former Janjaweed militia — the Rapid Support Forces led by Lt. Gen. Mohamed Hamdan, known as Hemeti — battles the army for control of Sudan’s capital.

After violence erupted last Saturday, many pointed to the fact that Sudan is still merely four fitful years into building a civilian-led government after decades of military rule. General Hamdan and Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who heads the Sudanese Army, had joined forces to remove President Omar Hassan al-Bashir from office in 2019 following a pro-democracy popular uprising, and continued their alliance as they jointly led a military coup in late 2021, removing the (at least nominally) civilian-led transitional government.…  Seguir leyendo »

Smoke is seen rising from a neighborhood in Khartoum, Sudan, on April 15. (Marwan Ali/AP)

The violence that erupted on April 15, and is now metastasizing between Sudan’s two most powerful generals and their respective forces, was sadly predictable. The marriage of convenience between the two warlords — built on a shared contemptuousness of Sudanese civilians’ democratic aspirations — collapsed into winner-takes-all battle for supremacy in which civilians are the collateral damage.

It didn’t start this way. In the aftermath of the popular revolts that ousted longtime Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (known as Hemedti), leading the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), overcame bureaucratic and ethnic jealousies by establishing common cause.…  Seguir leyendo »

El general Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, comandante de las Fuerzas Paramilitares de Apoyo Rápido de Sudán. Ashraf Shazly / AFP via Getty Images

Decenas de personas han muerto en enfrentamientos armados en la capital sudanesa, Jartum, tras meses de tensión entre el ejército y el poderoso grupo paramilitar Fuerzas de Apoyo Rápido (RSF, en sus siglas en inglés).

Detrás de las tensiones hay un desacuerdo sobre la integración del grupo paramilitar en las fuerzas armadas, una condición clave de un acuerdo de transición que nunca se ha firmado pero al que se han adherido ambas partes desde 2021.

El general Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo, más conocido como Hemedti, es el líder de la RSF y uno de los principales impulsores de la guerra civil que sufre el país.…  Seguir leyendo »

Four years ago, almost to the day, the people of Sudan were celebrating a revolution after overthrowing longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir. Now the East African country faces the possibility of a complete collapse similar to the chaos we see today in Yemen or Libya.

On Saturday, rival military factions began fighting each other in the capital of Khartoum. The two sides battled for control of the nation’s airports, bases and military compounds. Violence quickly spilled into the streets and across the country.

Some 45 million Sudanese effectively are held hostage and are unable to venture out of their homes for fear of being killed in the crossfire.…  Seguir leyendo »

The supply chain of a seemingly innocuous cash crop – sesame – has intersected with transnational conflict dynamics, exacerbating tensions between Ethiopia and Sudan.

Late 2020 saw the beginning of the devastating war in Tigray and the occupation of a disputed region on the Ethiopia–Sudan border – Al Fashaga – by the Sudanese army. These shocks disrupted settled patterns of land ownership and control in both Ethiopia’s volatile north and Sudan’s borderlands, historically the heart of the sesame and oilseed production that is economically vital to both countries.

These seemingly harmless cash crops are now embedded in local, subnational and national political contestations in both countries. Sesame value chains are being reshaped, with power and profits being used to entrench the grip of political and armed actors who are reinforcing new patterns of land control and driving informal and illicit trade – impacting the coping mechanisms of local communities and threatening to fuel further conflict.…  Seguir leyendo »

International pressure is essential to reach an agreement that establishes a credible civilian government.

The signing of the Framework Agreement (FA) on 5 December 2022 between Sudan’s military leaders and its leading pro-democracy parties is a major step to reversing the damage done by the disastrous military coup in October 2021.

The FA removes any formal role for the military in Sudan’s politics. A civilian head of state and prime minister will select the cabinet and chair the Defence and Security Council. The armed forces will be prohibited from non-military business activities and security sector reform will lead to a unified, professional and non-partisan national army. Elections are due to take place at the end of a two-year transitional period.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Sudanese man waves his country's flag as he stands in front of a barricaded street during protests in the capital Khartoum to mark the second anniversary of the revolt that toppled the previous government, on Dec. 19, 2020. ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP via Getty Images

Three years ago last month, Sudan overthrew its autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir. For the United States, the United Nations, and the international community, Sudan’s revolution was seen as a historic opportunity to transition a dictatorship into a democracy. The United States pledged $700 million to support the transition to democracy in addition to around $600 million in annual assistance. The U.N. set up a mission to support the elections. French leader Emmanuel Macron held a high-profile international donor conference to support the civilian government.

But today, Sudan’s democratic movement is all but stamped out. A military coup against the civilian prime minister in October 2021 halted hopes of a real transition.…  Seguir leyendo »

Watch List 2022. Africa. Sudan: Toward a Reset for the Transition

Crisis Group’s Watch List identifies ten countries facing deadly conflict, humanitarian emergency or other crises in 2022. In these places, early action, driven or supported by the EU and its member states, could save lives and enhance prospects for stability.

Sudan’s once-promising transition away from autocratic rule has veered off course. On 25 October 2021, the country’s generals deposed the civilian-led cabinet in a coup, abruptly ending the civilian-military power-sharing arrangement that was to steer the country to free elections. Under considerable international pressure, armed forces chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan reinstated Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on 21 November. That concession did little to mollify protesters furious at the military’s power grab.…  Seguir leyendo »

Demonstrators in Khartoum, Sudan, during a Jan. 9 rally against military rule. (Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/Reuters)

On Monday, the U.N. mission in Sudan initiated consultations aimed at helping resurrect the country’s democratic transition, amid a growing political crisis after Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned Jan. 2. His resignation followed months of turmoil after a military coup on Oct. 25 derailed Sudan’s two-year effort to transition toward democracy. Hamdok had agreed to return as prime minister after being placed under house arrest in October, but he quit after the military interfered in his governance.

Hamdok’s resignation leaves only Sudan’s military leaders in control, complicating U.S. and international efforts to facilitate the return to a civil-military power-sharing agreement. His return had failed to persuade a highly mobilized grass-roots movement that Sudan is back on track toward full civilian rule.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sudanese anti-coup protesters take to the streets during a demonstration in Khartoum, Sudan, on Nov. 30. Thousands of protesters rallied against a deal reinstating the prime minister after his ouster in a military coup last month. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

On Oct. 25, the head of the Sudanese Armed Forces, Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, seized power from Sudan’s transitional government, established after mass protests in 2019 ousted longtime dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The Sudanese people and the international community promptly condemned Burhan’s coup. Now, an agreement between Burhan and the prime minister of the transitional government, Abdalla Hamdok, purports to reverse the coup. In reality, it entrenches military rule.

The Sudanese people did not hesitate in calling out the duplicitous nature of references to democracy in the agreement, signed Nov. 21. Tellingly, 12 ministers of the pre-coup government resigned in response to the signing.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Es Sudán la próxima Libia?

Los países poscoloniales con nula o escasa tradición democrática que se libran de dictaduras brutales no suelen convertirse en democracias. En vez de eso, es común que deban enfrentar caos político y una competencia de actores extranjeros en busca de ventajas estratégicas. Es lo que ocurrió en Irak después de la caída de Saddam Hussein y en Libia tras el derrocamiento de Muammar el Gaddafi. ¿Le aguarda a Sudán el mismo destino?

Hasta ahora, parece que sí. Cuando en 2019 un golpe militar sacó del poder al viejo dictador sudanés Omar al Bashir, las mismas potencias extranjeras que hicieron de Libia su campo de juego estratégico vieron una oportunidad para sentar presencia en el cruce de caminos entre África subsahariana y Medio Oriente.…  Seguir leyendo »

¿Se puede reabrir la apertura democrática de Sudán?

La implementación del acuerdo de 2019 para compartir el poder entre los líderes civiles y militares de Sudán, que preveía una transición a un orden democrático después del derrocamiento del dictador Omar al-Bashir, nunca se vio fácil; pero después del golpe militar del mes pasado, la pregunta ahora es si la democracia sigue incluida en la agenda en absoluto.

Los militares y la Fuerzas de la Libertad y el Cambio (FFC, por su sigla en inglés), que representaban a los revolucionarios que derrocaron a Bashir en abril de 2019, desconfiaban entre sí desde el primer momento, pero no tenían más alternativa que llegar a un acuerdo después de su destitución.…  Seguir leyendo »

Spraying next to a stencil painting of Sudan's top army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan with a writing in Arabic that reads 'leave' during a protest in Khartoum against the 2021 military coup. Photo by AFP via Getty Images.

The head of Sudan’s armed forces Lieutenant General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan claims the military coup of 25 October was to protect the transition to democracy because political infighting was stalling progress on establishing crucial institutions. But despite a clear determination to make the coup stick, the military is clearly under pressure and may have overestimated its chances of success.

The coup has been accompanied by arrests of politicians, activists, and leaders of local resistance committees, including some of Sudan’s most effective advocates for democratic transformation. Additionally, administrators appointed since the revolution have been dismissed while members of the old regime and Bashir’s feared intelligence service have reappeared.…  Seguir leyendo »

KHARTOUM, SUDAN - OCTOBER 30: Sudanese people stage a demonstration demanding the end of the military intervention and the transfer of administration to civilians in Khartoum, Sudan on October 30, 2021. Mahmoud Hjaj/ANADOLU AGENCY/Anadolu Agency via AFP

What has been the reaction to the coup over the past two weeks?

The Sudanese people have mobilised swiftly and peacefully against the 25 October coup, recalling the protests that toppled the dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019. Since the generals wrested full control of government from the civilian-military power-sharing arrangement made to oversee the post-Bashir transition, men and women in the capital Khartoum and other towns have taken to the streets, culminating in coordinated countrywide demonstrations numbering hundreds of thousands on 30 October. Many Sudanese workers are meanwhile striking, paralysing the country’s economy, though banks and key businesses such as pharmacies have occasionally reopened as organisers sought to ease the burden on the public.…  Seguir leyendo »

People protest in Khartoum, Sudan, on Oct. 30. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

As an unpopular military coup engulfed Sudan in recent days, I was reminded of a different vision for that country: the democratic one where a multitude of voices can express themselves freely without fear of repercussion.

From afar, that seemed to be the path the country was on after a popular uprising brought down the dictatorship of former president Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2019. We in the free world should be doing everything in our power to help the Sudanese people get back on that path.

“In a new Sudan, never again we will jail journalists,” Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said in his closing remarks at the United Nations in September 2019.…  Seguir leyendo »