What Is at Stake in the Sudanese Civil War

The conflict in Sudan is throwing the country into a full scale civil war that seriously affects the security of countries throughout the region, including neighboring Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Chad, and Libya. In addition, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states could find themselves dragged into the conflict. Since most, if not all of these countries, especially Egypt, have good relations with Russia and are participating in some way with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and several of them are important members of the emerging Global South, a major civil war in the region would serve the interests of the Western war party.

The conflict began on April 15, when the so-called Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, clashed with the Sudanese National Army near a military base in Merowa and in Khartoum. The Sudanese Army commander, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, heads the Sovereign Council, which serves as the current government, while Dagalo is formally his deputy in the Council. The latter is said to have launched the rebellion over his opposition to an earlier internationally-brokered agreement to integrate the RSF into the national army within two years, as part of a transition toward bringing Sudan under civilian rule. He reportedly wanted the time frame of integration to be extended to ten years. On April 21, al-Burhan issued a public statement that the Sudanese Army would prevail, and would secure a “safe transition to civilian rule”. The country is already facing a humanitarian catastrophe, with tens of thousands of Sudanese fleeing to Chad and Egypt.

The United States, United Kingdom and European Union have called on both sides to return to the negotiating table. But now that their diplomatic missions have been evacuated, they might very well attempt to manipulate the crisis, so as to assure the coming into power of a government that serves their anti-Russian and anti-China agenda in Africa. This would promise a prolonged civil war, potentially involving neighboring countries and even leading to a breakup of Sudan.

The Egyptian government is attempting to preempt such a policy, by declaring its support for the institutions of the central government. Speaking at a special ministerial meeting of the African Union (AU) on April 20, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, while fully supporting the need for a ceasefire in Sudan, “emphasized the necessity of protecting Sudan’s institutions and preventing their collapse and stressed that official state institutions should not be dealt with on an equal footing with non-state entities,” according to a report in the Egyptian government-backed Al Ahram News. In other words, the Rapid Support Forces, which in reality is nothing more than a heavily armed militia, should not be put on the same level as the Sudanese army:

The AU special session included the foreign ministers and senior officials from neighboring countries, as well as Kenya and Djibouti, in addition to the UN Secretary General, the Secretary-General of the Arab League, and representatives of the permanent members of the UN Security Council and of the European Union.

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