An October 2021 coup added new dangers to the turbulent transition that followed Sudan’s 2019 ouster of Omar al-Bashir, one of Africa’s longest-ruling leaders. The strongman’s toppling, prompted by a sustained, peaceful campaign by a diverse and well-organised protest movement, raised hopes that the country might make a transition to more inclusive, civilian-led rule. Military officers were however reluctant to change. Civilians blamed them for inciting an ethnic group demanding greater representation under an October 2020 peace deal to block access to Khartoum from the coast, causing crushing shortages of essentials in the capital. Sudan matters because it sits in one of the most geostrategic locations on the continent, straddling the Horn and North Africa, with a long Red Sea coastline, and serves as a historical bridge between North and sub-Saharan Africa. Through research and advocacy in Sudan, we aim to reduce the likelihood of domestic conflict by encouraging more inclusive governance and positively engaged regional and foreign policies.

CrisisWatch Sudan

Unchanged Situation

Army chief fled Khartoum as fighting in capital raged on, inter-ethnic clashes flared in Darfur, and tribal mobilisation threatened stability in east.

Army leader fled Khartoum amid heavy fighting. Hostilities between Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued in Khartoum, with RSF attacking SAF military bases and SAF conducting airstrikes and firing artillery. Notably, SAF early Aug targeted Shambat bridge, key RSF supply line to sister cities Omdurman and Bahri; SAF and RSF 20-23 Aug battled over Armoured Corps base in Al-Shajara neighbourhood, SAF’s only remaining stronghold in capital besides headquarters. Meanwhile, army chief Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan 24 Aug escaped headquarters after months-long RSF siege, subsequently visiting regional bases and Port Sudan before 29 Aug travelling to Egypt for talks.

RSF-SAF clashes in Darfur enflamed intercommunal conflicts. RSF 4 Aug claimed it had defeated SAF in Central Darfur, which SAF denied; in South Darfur, fighting between SAF and RSF throughout month killed scores and displaced 50,000 from state capital Nyala; and in North Darfur, fighting 17 Aug resumed in state capital El-Fasher. SAF-RSF fighting exacerbated intercommunal conflicts, particularly in South Darfur; notably, Salamat and Beni Halba tribes throughout month clashed in Kubum locality; rival Reizigat clans fought in and around Nyala. Meanwhile, media outlet The New Humanitarian 15 Aug reported testimonies of Darfuri refugees in Chad alleging RSF attacks on non-Arab civilians, especially Masalit, fleeing region.

Tribal mobilisation in east threatened stability, fighting continued in Kordofan. In eastern Sudan, RSF late July accused former President Bashir’s National Congress Party and Islamists in military of arming tribal militias, prompting number of Arab tribes to join RSF in Aug. In North Kordofan state, SAF 1 Aug clashed with RSF near Umm Ruwaba city. In South Kordofan state, rebel group Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North continued targeting SAF positions, notably in state capital Kadugli and Dalami town.

Burhan rejected RSF call for negotiations. Amid stalled external mediation efforts, RSF 27 Aug expressed willingness for talks and presented ten-point plan for “lasting peace”; Burhan next day rejected initiative.

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In The News

21 Sep 2023
The east [of Sudan] is a powder keg. We just haven’t seen it blow up yet. Al Jazeera

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
31 May 2023
The concern now is if these Jeddah talks collapse, it confirms more or less that Sudan is basically in freefall into a full civil war. Al Jazeera

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
3 May 2023
Both sides [fighting in Sudan] have their own reasons for confidence, which is one reason we haven’t gotten to peace talks. Washington Post

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa
18 Apr 2023
You need a cease-fire [in Sudan] quickly or you are staring at civil war. Bloomberg

Murithi Mutiga

Program Director, Africa
15 Apr 2023
Sudan is on the precipice of civil war. This is the double-headed monster that seized power after Bashir. Now the two heads have turned on each other. Washington Post

Alan Boswell

Project Director, Horn of Africa

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Shewit Woldemichael

Senior Analyst, Sudan
Shewit Woldemichael

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