Sudan’s Struggle: A Nation in Chaos, Where No One Truly Wins
In the heart of Darfur, a rugged mountainous region, a forgotten community struggles to survive amidst the chaos that has consumed Sudan. Cut off from the world, they lead a primitive existence, armed with little more than their guns and the sustenance provided by orange trees. While they may have been spared the relentless bombings that plagued Sudan for years, their fate remains uncertain.
Outside the relative tranquility of Jebel Marra, Sudan is mired in a catastrophic conflict. The bloody war, now in its fifth month, pits the Sudanese Army (SAF) against the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), leaving more than five million Sudanese displaced and 80% of the nation’s hospitals inoperable. Over 20 million people face acute food shortages, and the capital city has been reduced to rubble. This is a nation that was already burdened by poverty and decades of strife before the current conflict erupted on April 15, 2023.
The situation has reached a deadly impasse, with SAF controlling the north and east, while RSF maintains a tenuous grip on most of Khartoum and the western regions of Darfur and Kordofan. Both sides enjoy foreign support and seem determined to continue fighting, despite talks of negotiations. In Sudan’s tumultuous history, outright victory has proven elusive.
However, SAF’s leader, Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, has recently undertaken a series of diplomatic moves that could potentially tip the scales in favor of his army. His visits to Egypt, South Sudan, Qatar, Eritrea, and Turkey signal an effort to secure not only diplomatic but also military and financial support for the SAF regime. Al-Burhan’s newfound mobility has allowed him to rally support for his cause, even as Sudan’s industrial infrastructure lies in ruins.
Maintaining air superiority has been crucial for SAF’s relentless aerial bombardment of RSF positions, albeit at the cost of civilian casualties. While these nations may not have substantial financial resources to offer, they can provide crucial military assistance guided by Sudanese intelligence. Every bit of support counts in a conflict where neither side is willing to yield.
Al-Burhan’s outreach also extends to uncommitted groups within Sudan, particularly Minni Minawi and Abdel Aziz al-Hilu, former rebel commanders who could significantly impact the conflict’s course. If these forces join the fight against RSF, they may challenge RSF’s dominance in the west, where chaos often reigns.
These seasoned leaders understand the brutal history of Sudan’s armed forces, which have long oppressed marginalized communities. Al-Hilu, in particular, advocates for a secular, unified, and professional army, a far cry from SAF’s historical role. Reports suggest that meetings between Al-Burhan and these commanders have occurred, although official denials have followed.
For Al-Burhan, the question is what concessions he can offer to entice these leaders to join his ranks. Traditional alliances with Arab tribes of Kordofan, once a barrier to cooperation with ethnic Nuba SPLM-N, may no longer apply, given the shifting allegiances. Gold mines in Kordofan, once part of RSF’s economic empire, could sweeten the deal.
As the conflict grinds on, it remains unclear whether Al-Burhan’s initiatives will bear fruit. Sudan’s history is littered with dashed hopes, and the path to dominance, if not outright victory, is far from certain. RSF, with its resources and foreign support, still presents a formidable challenge.
However, RSF’s leadership is increasingly elusive, and their ability to unite their forces is in question. Stealthy leadership can buy time but may not secure victory. In this brutal conflict, where the line between victory and defeat is blurred, Sudan remains a nation in turmoil, with no clear winner in sight.