In April 2023, war broke out in the capital Khartoum between the Sudanese army led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces headed by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti”. Fighting quickly spread to other parts of Sudan, particularly Darfur to the west and Kordofan to the south. Instability in Sudan, a strategic country that connects the Sahel, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Red Sea, will have ramifications well beyond its borders. The war has already sucked in outside actors. Meanwhile, long-running rebellions in several of the country’s peripheral regions persist. Through research and advocacy, Crisis Group aims to contribute to mitigating and resolving the conflicts in Sudan. 


CrisisWatch Sudan

Deteriorated Situation

Conflict Risk Alert

Rapid Support Forces (RSF) scored major victories in Darfur, reportedly targeting ethnic Massalit communities; RSF advances to North Darfur triggered Juba Peace Agreement (JPA) signatories to renounce neutrality, raising risk of all-out ethnic conflict in Darfur.

RSF captured West Darfur and East Darfur state capital, left trail of alleged mass atrocities. Having captured South and Central Darfur states late Oct, RSF 4 Nov seized West Darfur, 21 Nov captured East Darfur state capital El Daein. Refugees in Chad claimed RSF committed “many atrocities” during early Nov attacks on Ardamata in West Darfur, including ethnically-motivated killings and sexual violence. Thousands of people fled Ardamata and evidence of mass graves emerged.

JPA signatories threatened to fight RSF if it advances towards El Fashir, North Darfur. Paramilitary early Nov began march on North Darfur state capital El Fasher, prompting two JPA signatories, Sudan Liberation Movement under Minni Minawi and Justice and Equality Movement, 16 Nov to renounce neutrality and fight alongside Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF); third signatory, Gathering of Sudan Liberation Forces, 20 Nov followed suit. Groups deployed forces across North Darfur, raising fears of all-out ethnic conflict. Involvement of JPA signatories, whose members largely hail from Zaghawa community, could reverberate in Chad, where Zaghawa community lives and dominates govt and military (see Chad).

Fighting in Kordofan and capital Khartoum persisted. RSF continued advance in Kordofan region, targeting oil infrastructure. Notably, paramilitary launched more attacks on North Kordofan state capital El Obeid, through which major pipeline runs. Offensive brought fighting near border with South Sudan and disputed Abyei region, raising risk of spillover (see South Sudan). Meanwhile, battle for Khartoum continued. Notably, RSF 20 Nov claimed it had seized Jebel Awlia army base south of Khartoum, which could facilitate advance into White Nile state.

In other important developments. U.S.-Saudi facilitated talks in Jeddah city 7 Nov failed to yield ceasefire. Reports late Nov surfaced of Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) plans to hold emergency summit on Sudan in early Dec. Army General 28 Nov publicly accused United Arab Emirates of supplying RSF.

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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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