After seven months of war, Sudan faces the risk of breaking up

Seven months of war between rival generals in Sudan have left thousands dead and displaced millions and the risk of disintegration of the country, already fragile before the outbreak of hostilities, increases.

As the paramilitary troops of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continue their brutal offensive in the Darfur region, experts fear a “Libyan scenario”, referring to the inextricable political crisis rocking this North African country’s neighboring Sudan, where two governments compete for power, one established in the west and the other in the east.

In Sudan, RSF, which now controls most of the capital, Khartoum, has made stunning advances in Darfur. At the same time, government and army leaders left the capital to retreat to the city of Port Sudan, spared from the clashes, adding to fears of a breakup of the country.

“Continued fighting could lead to terrifying scenarios, including division,” says Omar Youssef, a spokesman for the Forces for Freedom and Change, the civilian bloc ousted from power in the 2021 coup led by the two allied generals and now at war. .

“The growing wave of militarization (of civilians) exacerbates social fissures,” he adds to Agence France-Presse.

At the negotiating table, the two camps, unable to gain a decisive advantage, have little intention of making concessions, as the failure in early November of talks sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia once again demonstrated. the country in the event of an extension of the status quo.

The inability to reach a political solution could, in fact, lead to a situation comparable to that of Libya, plunged into a major political crisis since the 2011 revolt, with “more than one government, without real effectiveness or international recognition “, deciphers Fisent al-. Salik, political analyst and journalist.

Offensive in Darfur

The conflict, which began on April 15 between army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhane and his deputy-turned-rival, Gen. Mohamed Hamdane Daglo, left more than 10,000 dead, according to an estimate by the NGO Armed Conflict Location & Event Date. Project, considered very undervalued.

It also displaced more than six million people and destroyed most of the infrastructure.

In early November, further massacres were reported following a large-scale RSF offensive in Darfur, where the militia quickly claimed control of army bases in nearly every major city in the region.

In the city of Ardamata alone, hundreds of people are believed to have been killed by armed groups, forcing more than 8,000 people to flee to neighboring Chad in a week, according to the UN.

The European Union said it was “appalled” by the “more than 1,000 deaths” in two days in Ardamata and warned against possible “ethnic cleansing”.

Since the start of the war, the UN has registered more than 1.5 million internally displaced people in Darfur, a region the size of France that is home to a quarter of Sudan’s 48 million people.

No winner

If General Daglo can count on the support of strong allies, first of all the United Arab Emirates, General Burhane retains his role as de facto head of state on the international stage, regularly participating in the summits of UN and the Arab League.

On the ground, however, the RSF’s frantic advance in Darfur “gives them an advantage and allows them to move within their base,” according to Mr. Salik, which thus refers to the Arab tribes.

These are Arab militiamen, the Janjawids, who make up the bulk of the FSR’s troops. In the 2000s, under General Daglo, they led a scorched-earth policy in Darfur, committing looting and rape and murdering members of non-Arab ethnic groups in the name of deposed dictator Omar al-Bashir.

Despite the advance of paramilitary troops in Darfur, the chances of either side achieving a decisive victory remain slim, a military expert told Agence France-Presse on condition of anonymity.

According to him, “even if (the army) succeeds in regaining control of Khartoum, which promises to be very difficult, sending troops to retake RSF-controlled areas of Darfur represents a huge logistical challenge,” as they are separated by more than 1,400 kilometers . Khartoum from the city of El-Geneina, located on the border with Chad.

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