It is now nearly eight months since General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Hemedti, leader of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), embarked on a war that is destroying the country and causing one of the worst humanitarian crises the country has ever seen.
Even if they agreed to lead the coup d’état together, which overthrew the civilian government that emerged from the revolution in 2018, their competition was far too strong to share power. On both sides, these armed structures are above all tools enabling the SAF’s senior officers and the Hemedti family clan to prosper. Each owns conglomerates of companies and gold mines. Faced with popular pressure, the generals were forced to negotiate a sharing of power with civilians. It was the issue of dissolving the RSF that sparked off the hostilities.
THE SUFFERING OF THE POPULATION
From Khartoum, the capital where the first battles raged, the conflict continued to spread to the states of South Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur, with ethnic clashes between militias allied to the RSF and non-Arab communities. Although the humanitarian consequences have been overshadowed by the conflict in Ukraine, and now by Israel’s attacks on Gaza, they are no less catastrophic. According to Human Rights Watch, nearly five million people have been displaced, and war crimes are being committed on both sides. Women are paying the heaviest price, with widespread sexual violence, particularly in Darfur, where the UN is warning that young women are being enslaved in areas controlled by the HWW.
STRUCTURING CIVILIAN FORCES
The USA and Saudi Arabia have relaunched a peace process. Neither side is prepared to accept a humanitarian truce, let alone peace talks. They have merely agreed to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid. At the same time, a meeting was held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to structure a civil front against the war, bringing together political parties, trade unions and associations and chaired by former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok. The idea is to convene a national conference of all the forces of Sudan to impose the voice of civilians in future peace negotiations.
Faced with this initiative, the resistance committees, the linchpin of the mobilisations against the coup d’état, have differing points of view. Some, such as the coordination of resistance committees in the province of Al-Qadarif, are taking part, while others prefer to remain on the sidelines, sticking to their charter of popular power and believing that Hamdok’s concessionary policies towards the military are partly to blame for the situation.