The outbreak of hostilities and subsequent rapid developments in Sudan over the past two weeks appear to have blindsided external observers. Many, including impatient diplomats, had initially enthusiastically touted a declaration by Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan of the military’s intent to withdraw from politics altogether, hopefully in favor of a civilian-only interim authority.
Among most Sudanese, however, the writing had been on the wall since late last year that the marriage of convenience between the Sudanese Armed Forces, under Al-Burhan, and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, led by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, was on its last legs.
Having seized power in 2021, two years after former President Omar Bashir was overthrown in a military coup, the two military leaders busied themselves with manipulating the political transition process to safeguard their own interests, which had nothing whatsoever to do with staying out of politics.
Prior to tensions building early this year that this month spilled over and led to sporadic clashes in Khartoum, the two military factions had shared power in a loose coalition that was responsible for the “soft” coup in late 2021, during which civilians were ejected from the temporary transitional government.
Despite the subsequent public protests against the military junta, it was clear to most Sudanese that there would be no miracle — in a country on the brink, suffering from soaring inflation, crumbling infrastructure and now a crippled democratic transition — to resuscitate the hard-fought revolution that had ousted Bashir.
Now, Sudan is on the verge of a full-blown civil war and the focus for the global community appears to be getting as many of their citizens out of the country as quickly as possible, rather than taking effective steps to preempt a conflict in a very fragile part of the world.
Should Sudan descend into all-out war, the spillovers to other states would be catastrophic. This alone should motivate Gulf nations to take a more active interest in efforts to deescalate the conflict, facilitate dialogue, and galvanize support to shore up the vulnerabilities in Sudan that only make armed conflict inevitable.
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