Sudan Faces Fierce Clashes Between Military and Paramilitary Forces: International Community Urges Immediate End to Violence
Sudan has been rocked by fierce clashes between the country's military and the powerful paramilitary forces, with fighting breaking out in the capital city of Khartoum and other parts of the country. The tensions have been simmering for weeks and escalated to direct clashes, with both sides accusing the other of starting hostilities. The situation has drawn concern from the international community, with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other top diplomats urging an immediate end to the violence and a return to talks to resolve outstanding issues.
The Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group that emerged from Arab armed groups accused of carrying out massacres in Darfur in the early 2000s, claimed to have taken control of the presidential palace and Khartoum International Airport, as well as Merowe Airport, which houses Sudanese and Egyptian fighter planes. The military, however, denied these claims, and witnesses reported seeing fighters from both sides firing from armoured vehicles and machine guns mounted on pick-up trucks in densely populated areas of the capital.
The current tensions stem from a disagreement over how the RSF should be integrated into the military and what authority should oversee the process, a key condition of Sudan's unsigned transition agreement with political groups. Sources in Sudan's civilian movement and the military have told CNN that the main points of contention include the timeline for the merger of the forces, the status given to RSF officers in the future hierarchy, and whether RSF forces should be under the command of the army chief or Sudan's commander-in-chief.
The fighting has caused chaos in the capital and other areas, with residents reporting hearing heavy gunfire and seeing armoured vehicles from both sides roaming the streets. Major airlines suspended flights to Khartoum International Airport, and Saudi Arabia's national airline reported that one of its aircraft was involved in an accident, with video footage showing the plane on fire on the tarmac. The Sudanese Doctors Union said that at least 25 people had been killed in the fighting, and there are concerns that the situation could escalate further, with troop movements and army warnings indicating heightened tensions.
The international community, including the United Nations, the European Union, the African Union Commission, the Arab League, and Qatar, has called for a ceasefire and for both parties to return to negotiations to settle their dispute. UN envoy for Sudan, Volker Perthes, and the Saudi ambassador in Sudan, Ali Bin Hassan Jafar, have been in contact with the RSF chief and the top military official to try to end the violence. The situation is extremely dangerous, and urgent action is needed to avoid further escalation and prevent Sudan's total collapse.
0. “Al-Burhan says he was surprised by RSF attak on his house” Sudan Tribune, 15 Apr. 2023, https://sudantribune.com/article272974/
1. “Choas in Sudan amid an attempted coup as government fighter jets fire missiles over capital” Daily Mail, 15 Apr. 2023, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11977019/Choas-Sudan-amid-attempted-coup-government-fighter-jets-fire-missiles-capital.html
2. “UN chief and officials condemn fighting between Sudanese forces” UN News, 15 Apr. 2023, https://news.un.org/en/story/2023/04/1135702
3. “Sudan unrest: How did we get here?” Middle East Eye, 15 Apr. 2023, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/sudan-unrest-how-did-we-get-here
4. “At least 25 killed, 183 injured in clashes across Sudan as paramilitary group claims control of presidential palace” CNN, 16 Apr. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/04/15/africa/sudan-presidential-palace-intl/index.html