Briefly: A third attempted ceasefire in Sudan crumbled last night (Wednesday), as the warring Sudanese military and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) accused one another of breaching the US-brokered truces.
Who’s gaining the upper hand?
- The military now controls access to Khartoum, cutting off RSF units inside
- It repelled RSF attacks on its HQ yesterday, and retook a key airbase
- It’s now bombarding the suburb where RSF chief ‘Hemedti’ owns homes
- And the RSF is appealing for international help
On balance, the above suggests things aren’t going well for the RSF, which is similar in size to the military (100,000 soldiers) but lacks heavy arms and intel.
In parallel, a joint statement by 14 embassies in Khartoum (one of Africa’s largest cities) said more than 270 civilians had died, with food and medical supplies dwindling. And the impacts are becoming regional and global:
- Thousands of civilians have crossed into neighbouring Chad
- An EU rep has been shot, a US convoy attacked, and aid workers killed
- Germany and Japan are struggling to evacuate their citizens, and
- Egypt is now aiding Sudan’s military, while a Libyan group is helping the RSF
Intrigue’s take: It seems unlikely either faction can ‘win’ outright at this point. And even if one side managed to vanquish the other, it wouldn’t be able to rule Africa’s third largest country alone. Both factions lack a political base, and have lost legitimacy after their joint 2021 coup plus the current unfolding catastrophe.
So some kind of stalemate is most likely. And that might explain why the US is preparing a sanctions package against both factions (pressuring them to negotiate), while African leaders are preparing a visit to mediate.
Also worth noting:
- While Hemedti accused the military of breaching international law this week, he was himself once accused by the ICC of “indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians” in Darfur.
- Russian mercenary outfit Wagner has issued a statement denying any involvement in Sudan, following various reports to the contrary.
- The neighbouring country of South Sudan exports most of its oil through Sudan, which is a key regional oil hub.