The deadly Sudan conflict – here’s what you need to know

Over the weekend, fighting has exploded in the country.

The deadly Sudan conflict – here’s what you need to know
A man looks at the damage inside a house during clashes between the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces and the army in Khartoum, Sudan April 17, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer

The backstory: In 2019, the dictator of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, was ousted after an uprising. Without Bashir in power anymore, the friction between different security forces grew. One of those is the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a semi-organized paramilitary force put together by Bashir to crush a rebellion in Darfur and then sent to fight in the wars in Yemen and Libya. It’s led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, aka Hemedti. The other is the Sudanese armed forces, led by the current Sudanese leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Up until recently, the two forces were allies.

More recently: In 2021, Sudan’s post-Bashir transition into becoming a democratic society wasn’t really working out, and there was another coup against this civilian-led government. This coup involved Sudan’s army, putting al-Burhan in charge. This led to regular protests nationwide and other economic and international relations issues. Since the army took control, there’s been a power struggle to make the RSF part of the official armed forces and restore civilian rule.

The development: Over the weekend, fighting has exploded between the two forces. They’re fighting for power and dominance of the country, both claiming control of the presidential palace and the international airport in Khartoum. On Tuesday, both forces agreed to a US-brokered ceasefire, but that failed. Another ceasefire was declared to begin on Wednesday, giving civilians 24 hours to evacuate areas like Khartoum, which have become battlegrounds. But that has also failed, and critical supplies are running short in the country. According to Sudan’s health ministry, at least 270 people have died, and 2,600 have been injured in the violence.

Key comments:

“We are fighting for all Sudanese people,” an RSF spokesperson said in a statement to CNN. “We [are] going to bring all responsible parties to justice and give them a fair trial.”

“This is an attempted coup and rebellion against the state,” General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, leader of the Sudanese armed forces, told CNN over the phone.

“It is a very bleak and dangerous situation looking forward,” said Ghazali Babiker, who leads the Sudanese chapter of Doctors Without Borders.