Regional Summit Fallout: Could This Be the Final Chapter of the War?
More than 100 days have passed since the war erupted in Sudan, springing from the capital Khartoum and extending its raging flames to the western side in many cities between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). The war is widely regarded as the most significant setback to modern Sudanese aspirations for democratic change, representing one of the darkest chapters in Sudan’s history, if not the worst.
Reports show that over 3.3 million people have been displaced from the country since the war started, with over 757,000 individuals crossing the borders into neighbouring countries, according to the Displacement Tracking Matrix.
Throughout these months, thousands of innocent lives have been tragically lost as the battle reached its peak, with a staggering and terrifying number of human rights violations being committed, unfortunately, persisting to this day.
The Global Response
The political tone worldwide has been calling for the two armies to put down their weapons and resort to the voice of reason. Yet there continues to be a wedge between the local opinions wanting to cease the war, and dragging it to the extreme. Time has shown the latter that nothing will come from it, but continuous losses for the country and its people.
With both sides facing each other for more than three months with no one managing to reach the state of full domination militarily, it is obviously more than ever that it is about time (actually way beyond it) that this chapter should be concluded with effective negotiations and constructive preparations for what is to come next in order to rebuild the country.
Among the various initiatives that have been held to bring the two sides of the war together, a promising hope arises from the Neighbouring Countries’ Summit that was held on July 13 in Egypt.
The Major Outlines
Since the start of the war, various initiatives have been called to cease the war and allow humanitarian aid to reach citizens, yet none have been held up properly.
The Saudi-American initiative in Jeddah established a ground plan that was not executed by both sides to the level that showed their seriousness in ending the disaster. A couple of short truces have been announced that were partially or fully violated, and the bath of blood and destruction continued to happen.
On May 11, Jeddah’s negotiations managed to reach an agreement which was known as “The Declaration of Commitment to Protect the Civilians of Sudan”, which was signed by both SAF and RSF representatives, dictating their mutual support for civilians’ rights. Short-term ceasefires were issued to facilitate the reach of humanitarian aid to the people and to prepare both sides for a permanent ceasefire and progress to resolve the core of the political problem that led to the war in the first place.
Last night in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, representatives of the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces Sign A Declaration Commitment to Protect Civilians in Sudan 🇸🇩 https://t.co/X4GqnF71rB pic.twitter.com/eXOHZ5EcZw
— Saudi Embassy USA (@SaudiEmbassyUSA) May 12, 2023
Regrettably, this was followed by a lack of necessary commitment from both RSF and SAF to advance the negotiations to the next level. Their failure to uphold the terms of the agreement resulted in several attempts to freeze the negotiations until both sides could reach a mutual understanding to resume the process, and journey to democracy.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) proposed a roadmap to solve the crisis during its summit that took place on July 10 and 11 and planned a meeting between Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Head of State of the Transitional Sovereignty Council and Commander of SAF, and Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, Commander of RSF, in Addis Ababa to bring the heads of both sides together in hopes of reaching a possible solution to the dilemma. Yet, the representatives of both sides apologised in their stead for their inability to attend.
The State Transitional Sovereignty Council of Sudan had reservations against Kenya leading IGAD’s summit and threatened to withdraw from the meeting sessions if things remained as they were. That reaction was not a surprise since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared more than once before that it would not be interested in participating in any negotiations held by the IGAD if it was led by Kenya, which has been known for its close connection and support for the RSF.
The end of IGAD’s summit was full of negative remarks since it called for regional peacekeeping forces’ intervention, which was considered a direct declaration of disrespect and breach of the nation’s sovereignty.
A Promising Milestone
Just two days after IGAD’s summit, Cairo hosted the Neighbouring Countries’ summit on July 13, which came out with encouraging results as both SAF and RSF showed agreement to its approach to end the war.
The summit concluded the importance of reaching practical steps towards stopping the conflict, and the RSF representatives agreed to that if it abided by the previously established terms that have been agreed on in the Saudi-American initiative in Jeddah.
Is There Light At The End of the Tunnel?
Since the war started, there have been two major opinions amongst citizens of Sudan: one that called for stopping the war and resorting to peaceful solutions, and the other sided with seeing the war to the very last bit, with the ambitions that the SAF would drive out the RSF completely through domination. This proved to be anything but attainable, leading to more destruction throughout the country.
The worrisome part which hindered the progression of negotiation attempts was the impact of the previous government regime remnants who sought the war as an opportunity to use the chaos within to seize control of the country again using their influence on the SAF. They represent the loudest voices that call for continuous war against RSF, disregarding the suffering of civilians in all aspects because, most likely, there won’t be any similar chances for them in the near future to exploit their way back to power.
Lt Gn Fateh Al-Rahman Mohiuddin on AlJazeera:
“It is not important even if all #Sudan burns completely.
The important thing is that forces of freedom § change and RSF cease to exist.”
Note: He is a Former advisor to Burhan, Fmr Navy commander § member of the Islamic Movement https://t.co/2uYZIaQgPm
— SudanUprising (@SudanzUprising) June 17, 2023
Additionally, the ongoing violence and war crimes, predominantly concentrated in Darfur and escalating into numerous massacres in El Geneina, Al-Fashir, Nyala, and other cities and villages, including the abduction and brutal murder of West Darfur governor Khamis Abakar by the RSF, have rekindled the demand for justice regarding past atrocities spanning over three decades in the region. The lack of decisive enforcement of justice has undoubtedly played a role in reaching the current situation.
Full report: https://t.co/QGqx0ubvjG
— Int’l Criminal Court (@IntlCrimCourt) July 13, 2023
Several sanctions have been issued against the warlords who breached humanitarian law and committed such crimes from both sides. However, these measures are not nearly enough, and we hope that persistent international pressure from this angle can help catalyse the current negotiations to reach terms that will ultimately put an end to this gloomy chapter for good.
We are all looking forward to the next chapter where Sudan is bound to rise again, hopefully like the phoenix from the ashes, as it has done many times before by the grace of God and the resilience and solidarity of its astounding populace.