Just days after the Sudanese army accepted an invitation to resume talks, brokered by the US and Saudi Arabia, aimed at ending over six months of fighting with the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), the RSF captured Nyala – the country’s second largest city.
Nyala is the capital of South Darfur state and is, for the RSF, a strategically important bridge to the Central African Republic (CAR), from which it receives much of its weaponry and reinforcements, reportedly supplied by Wagner mercenaries.
The seizure of Nyala is seen as a turning point by some, as it appears to put the RSF in a stronger negotiating position ahead of the Saudi-sponsored talks.
The conflict between the Sudanese army and the RSF extends far beyond Sudan’s borders. For Gulf superpowers, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, the war is also seen as an opportunity to claim hegemonic power in the Middle East.
Amdjarass, the Chadian town just across the Sudanese border, is the base from which the UAE is running an operation supposedly to help Sudanese refugees. But behind the façade of what the UAE maintains are humanitarian efforts, lies covert support for the RSF.
“The Emirates has done more than anyone else to sustain the RSF and to prolong the conflict in Sudan,” Cameron Hudson, a former CIA analyst on Africa, told the New York Times.
In stark contrast to public statements calling for peace, the UAE has been fuelling the conflict through its supply of weapons, drones, and medical treatment to injured RSF fighters.
Another silent genocide
Mass graves, razed villages, the rape of women and girls, millions displaced, people brutally massacred. One would be forgiven for thinking these atrocities refer to Darfur 20 years ago. But this is Sudan today, where genocide is happening again.
In 2003, they rode on horses; now they arrive in trucks. While its name may have changed, the RSF’s targets remain the same – the Masalit people.
Local [Masalit] people were forced to dispose of bodies in a mass grave, denying those killed a decent burial
Since conflict between the Sudanese Army and the RSF broke out in April, RSF fighters have engaged in widespread attacks on the Masalit ethnic group.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported in July that “local [Masalit] people were forced to dispose of bodies in a mass grave, denying those killed a decent burial”.
The crisis has been referred to by UK Minister for Africa Andrew Mitchell as bearing “all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing”, a first for the British government.
To date, at least 7000 people have been killed and over five million displaced – we are witnessing genocide in its purest form.
International bodies lack coordination
While the African Union has said that it is committed to restoring peace and stability in Sudan, the body remains silent on the ethnic cleansing currently underway.
The Sudan foreign ministry was highly critical of a meeting between AU Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat and a RSF representative in Addis Ababa on 3 September.
In a June statement, current President of the UN Security Council Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, of the UAE, called on the warring parties to “immediately cease hostilities, facilitate humanitarian access and establish a permanent ceasefire arrangement and to resume the process towards reaching a lasting, inclusive and democratic political settlement in Sudan”.
No end in sight
There is little evidence of resolution as the conflict remains ongoing. Over the course of the last six months, several short-lived truces have been violated.
With Saudi and US-sponsored peace talks now underway in Jeddah, the RSF may have bought some leverage by taking Nyala.
But with the UAE – the RSF’s only real sponsor – seemingly not involved in the scheduled negotiations, it is doubtful that Sudan will see peace any time soon.
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