Sudan faces an attempted coup as its military engages in battles in Khartoum against rival paramilitary forces. The clashes have so far killed dozens of civilians and fighters. According to a Reuters report, “The fighting that broke out on Saturday between army units loyal to General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, is the first such outbreak since both joined forces to oust president Omar Hassan al-Bashir in 2019.”
The RSF and the military have been competing for power as political factions negotiate forming a transitional government after a 2021 military coup.
The country has also experienced military coups and political instability throughout its history, and the overthrow of al-Bashir in 2019 is an example of the country’s fragile political environment. The transitional government formed after the coup is struggling to navigate the complex political and economic challenges facing the country.
Furthermore, Sudan has faced environmental threats such as desertification, climate change, and water scarcity, which have had adverse effects on the country’s agriculture and water resources. These challenges have led to increased competition for resources, exacerbating existing conflicts and tensions.
The Sudanese army announced its control over strategic bases belonging to the RSF in Port Sudan, Kasala, Kadaref, Demazin and Kosti, but the fog of war has complicated details and the ability to confirm the facts.
The RSF is a paramilitary group in Sudan that was officially established in 2013 as a branch of the Sudanese Armed Forces. The group was initially formed to combat rebel groups in the Darfur region but has since expanded its operations to other parts of Sudan.
The RSF has been accused of committing numerous human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, and rape, particularly in the Darfur region. The group is a well-equipped and well-funded paramilitary force with an estimated strength of over 40,000 troops, has its own command structure, and operates independently of the Sudanese Armed Forces, although it is technically under the control of the National Intelligence and Security Services.
Sudan has a power struggle on its hands and unless Khartoum can gain control quickly and thoroughly, it faces a dangerous coup d’état that will only sink the country into further poverty and despair.
The United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) is situated in the country specifically to assist in avoiding these types of military confrontations and potential disasters. It was established in June 2020 by the United Nations Security Council to support Sudan in its transition towards a democratic, peaceful, and prosperous society.
UNITAMS has three main objectives: to support the political transition in Sudan; to support the protection and promotion of human rights in Sudan; and to support the provision of humanitarian assistance and development in the country. To achieve these objectives, UNITAMS has a range of activities, including supporting the Sudanese government in implementing key reforms such as security sector reform and constitutional reforms.
But UNITAMS has clearly failed in its mission to prevent a political breakdown and a military eruption. UN missions have consistently failed such as those in Rwanda, Lebanon, or Syria, among many other examples.
There is no reason Sudan cannot get back on track to a more stable system of governance and back on the path toward security and stability. Such a process will benefit all Sudanese citizens.
Failure to achieve stability will be catastrophic.
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