Sudan’s rival generals battle for control

Briefly: Africa’s third largest country plunged into chaos over the weekend as rival generals fought for control of key strategic sites across the country.

The backstory here is more complicated than a Christopher Nolan film, but in short, dictator Omar al-Bashir ran Sudan for 30 years until jubilant mass protests led to a 2019 coup that ousted him.

Following another coup in 2021, two generals ran Sudan jointly: the country’s military chief was leader, while a powerful warlord (head of the Rapid Support Forces, or RSF) was deputy. The plan was to return Sudan to civilian rule this month, but the two generals couldn’t agree on how to incorporate the RSF into Sudan’s military.

And those tensions boiled over into military clashes this weekend, leaving dozens of civilians dead in the capital Khartoum and across Sudan. Despite a brief humanitarian pause on Sunday, the rival factions vow they’ll fight to the end.

Intrigue’s take: The one thing potentially worse than a brutal dictator is the anarchy that can emerge after they’re gone. Here, however, the power struggle between rival generals doesn’t necessarily reflect broader divisions across Sudan, where support for a path to democracy remains high.

But there’s a geopolitical angle here too: external powers have long been drawn to Sudan’s resources and strategic location. And this time around, Egypt is close to Sudan’s military, while the Saudis and Russians prefer the RSF. If these external players try to help their preferred general prevail, things could get even messier.

Also worth noting:

  • In February, Sudan’s military endorsed a proposed Russian naval base which would grant Russia a foothold on the Red Sea (home to 30% of global container trade). The RSF had already endorsed the proposal.
  • The ICC issued two arrest warrants for former dictator Bashir in 2009 and 2010 over alleged war crimes in Darfur. He’s still serving a jail term in Sudan for corruption after $130M in cash was found in his home.
Latest Author Articles
Iran launches first-ever direct attack on Israel

After three decades of shadow war and 13 days of foreshadowing, Iran launched its first-ever direct attack on Israel early on Sunday morning.

21 April, 2024
The four most intriguing lines from the IMF’s World Economic Outlook

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) just dropped its latest World Economic Outlook. Didn’t have time to read all 202 pages? We got you.

18 April, 2024
Six quick signals from Kishida’s visit to the US

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has kicked off his US visit, hitching a ride with President Biden in ‘The Beast’ to crush some crab cakes over at BlackSalt last night, before continuing the week’s formal program today (Wednesday).

10 April, 2024
The world condemns Ecuador’s raid on Mexico’s embassy

An international tit-for-tat culminated on Friday night with Ecuadorian police dramatically storming Mexico’s embassy to arrest Ecuador’s former vice president.

8 April, 2024