Truce Falls Apart in Sudan

April 19, 2023

Air strikes rocked Sudan’s capital of Khartoum on Wednesday, shattering a fragile 24-hour truce between clashing forces in that country.

Five days of fighting so far between Sudan’s two top generals, Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, have sparked a humanitarian crisis as the citizens of Sudan have been left “paralyzed” without food, water or electricity across the country.

Hundreds of Sudanese are reportedly attempting to flee Khartoum, some carrying luggage as they travel by foot while others have crowded into vehicles. 

“Khartoum has become a ghost city,” said Atiya Abdalla Atiya, secretary of the U.N. heath agency Doctors’ Syndicate.

The two generals had just 18 months ago jointly brokered a military coup to derail Sudan’s transition to democracy. But tensions over this past weekend erupted between armed forces chief Burhan and head of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) paramilitary group Dagalo into unprecedented combat for control of Sudan and its population of more than 46 million people.

Each man has tens of thousands of troops deployed just in the capital of Khartoum, and each has vowed not to negotiate a cease fire despite mounting global diplomatic pressure. 

An internationally brokered 24-hour truce on Tuesday broke down swiftly, suggesting a potentially prolonged fight between the two generals. 

According to Doctors’ Syndicate, nearly 300 people have been killed in the past five days.

Meanwhile, Dagalo’s RSF said Wednesday it would release some 30 or so captured Egyptian soldiers “when the appropriate opportunity arises.”

Officials from Egypt, which backs the Sudanese military, said the soldiers had traveled to Sudan for joint military exercises, but have since become pawns in the Sudanese infighting. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke separately by phone with the two clashing generals. And along with the U.S. and Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been calling on both sides to stand down. 

International pressure had recently driven Burhan and Dagalo to agree to a framework deal with political parties and pro-democracy groups. But the signing was repeatedly delayed as tensions rose over integrating the RSF into Sudan’s official armed forces and the future chain of command.

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