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The Destabilising Civil War In Sudan

The death toll is constantly rising in Sudan. Unlike Turkey or Syria, the northeast African nation has experienced no natural disasters in recent times. However, a civil war between the country’s Army and Paramilitary Forces has triggered a fresh crisis, creating troubles for the Sudanese people. One can sense the smell of gunpowder anywhere in Khartoum, as explosions and exchanges of fires continue in the capital (and also in other major cities). As expected, common people have stopped stepping out of their residences due to fear.

While the Sudanese Army is loyal to the current de-facto ruler of the country, General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman al-Burhan; members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF, the Paramilitary Forces of Sudan) follow the instructions of former Army Chief General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (generally referred to as Hemetti, Hemedti, Hemeti or Hemitte).

The real crisis began in April 2019 when Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir, the then President of Sudan, was deposed in a coup d’état. al-Bashir, an authoritarian ruler, had formed the RSF in 2005 in order to suppress the anti-Government protests by the marginalised people in Darfur. RSF, previously known as Janjaweed militia group, became paramilitary forces in 2013. al-Bashir, who came to power in 1989 after leading a group of officers (as a Brigadier General of the Sudanese Army) in a military coup that ousted the democratically-elected Government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, served as the seventh President of Sudan under various titles from October 16, 1993 to April 11, 2019. He sent the RSF to Yemen and Libya in order to take part in the war. Members of the RSF reportedly violated Human Rights in those countries, as they committed genocide and raped hunderds of women.

In 2019, the RSF, led by Hemedti, helped the al-Burhan-led Sudanese Army oust al-Bashir. After the ouster of al-Bashir, the RSF attacked some people who took part in a peaceful event held in front of Army Headquarters in Khartoum. The RSF personnel raped and killed many on that eventful day. At that period of time, the Army and the RSF also struck a deal before the formation of an Interim Government with representatives of the Armed Forces and pro-Democracy political outfits. However, the Army overthrew the Interim Government, led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok al-Kinani, in October 2021, and took control of the country. The RSF did not like the Army’s move, and the two Forces got involved in a conflict.

Meanwhile, Hemedti has accumulated a huge amount of wealth in recent times by exporting gold illegally extracted from mines. He has spent a large sum to strengthen the RSF. As allegations of torture by the Paramilitary Forces have surfaced at various places, common people have raised the slogan One Country One Army. They want the merger of the RSF with the Army. The people of Sudan are also against the interference of the RSF in agriculture, trade and other sectors. After considering the scenario, diplomats recently predicted the country would soon experience a conflict between the two forces. They were right. A large section of the RSF is still loyal to the previous Government. Hence, the Paramilitary Forces would never accept the leadership of General al-Burhan.

The civil war in Sudan has destabilised neighbouring Red Sea, Sahel and the Horn of Africa regions. Ethiopia, Chad and South Sudan, too, are affected by the conflict. Countries, like Russia, Saudi Arabia and the US, have been keeping an eye on Sudan for a long time because of its precious mineral resources. They have also made an unsuccessful attempt to increase their influence in the African nation. So far, Sudan has managed to safeguard its resources.

Meanwhile, Indian Minister of External Affairs Dr Subrahmanyam Jaishankar discussed the current political situation of Sudan with UN Secretary General António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres on April 20 (2023). On his way to Latin America, the Indian minister arrived in New York to meet the UN Chief. He informed Guterres that the Indian Embassy in Khartoum still remained open. However, the Indian Government decided to bring its officials back due to the bloodshed there. Dr Jaishankar reportedly urged the UN Chief to help Sudan resolve the ongoing crisis, stressing that it would go out of control soon.

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