KHARTOUM (Caasimada Online) – Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, experienced intense explosions and gunfire on Monday as the struggle between the national army and paramilitary forces, led by opposing generals, entered its third day.
The death toll has now exceeded 100, marking unparalleled hostilities in the nation’s heart.
Sudanese analyst Kholood Khair stated, “Never before in Sudan’s history, particularly since gaining independence, has such extreme violence occurred in the center of the capital.”
The strife stems from an ongoing power struggle between Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy, Mohamed Hamdan Daglo, who leads the influential paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
The two generals, who took control in a 2021 coup, have been at odds over the RSF’s proposed integration into the regular army – a crucial requirement for a conclusive agreement to resolve the crisis following the coup.
Worsening humanitarian conditions
The escalating hostilities have forced Sudanese civilians to seek refuge in their homes, with many concerned that a protracted conflict could plunge the country into further chaos and hinder the return to civilian governance.
The World Health Organization cautioned that multiple hospitals in Khartoum currently treating injured civilians “have run out of blood, transfusion equipment, intravenous fluids, and other essential supplies.”
UN Special Representative Volker Perthes, who is in Khartoum, expressed dismay over both sides’ failure to adhere to a humanitarian pause.
The Central Committee of Sudan Doctors, a pro-democracy group, reported dozens of security force fatalities and approximately 942 injuries.
Despite widespread appeals for a ceasefire and safe ambulance corridors, the streets remain too hazardous for transporting the injured to hospitals.
International calls for ceasefire ignored
Global leaders and organizations, including the African Union, Arab League, and East African Bloc IGAD, have been vocal in their demands for an immediate ceasefire.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that intensifying hostilities would “further exacerbate the already fragile humanitarian situation.”
At the same time, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the feuding generals to agree on an “immediate cessation of violence” and initiate negotiations.
However, both generals have shown no willingness to engage in dialogue, with each labeling the other as a “criminal.”
Each side blames the other for instigating the conflict and claims control of essential sites, such as the airport and presidential palace. However, these assertions cannot be independently verified.
The ongoing violence has significantly impacted crucial aid efforts in Sudan.
Three UN staff members from the World Food Programme lost their lives in fighting in the western region of Darfur, prompting a “temporary halt” to all operations in a country where one-third of the population requires assistance.
In Khartoum, power outages have affected large areas, and the few remaining open grocery stores have warned that they will only last a few days if supplies cannot reach the city.
From coup to widespread conflict
The 2021 coup, orchestrated by the generals, disrupted the transition to civilian rule following the 2019 removal of former autocratic president Omar al-Bashir.
The RSF, under Daglo’s command, was established under al-Bashir in 2013, evolving from the Janjaweed militia that the government deployed against non-Arab ethnic minorities in Darfur, leading to accusations of war crimes.
The coup resulted in international aid cuts and sparked frequent protests met with lethal force.
General Burhan, who ascended the ranks under al-Bashir’s three-decade rule, justified the coup as “necessary” to involve more factions in the political process.
Conversely, General Daglo later described the coup as a “mistake” that failed to effect change and inadvertently revitalized remnants of al-Bashir’s regime, which the army overthrew in 2019 following mass demonstrations.
As tensions between the rival generals intensify, fighting has also flared up in other areas of Sudan, including the western Darfur region and the eastern border state of Kassala.
Analyst Kholood Khair pointed out that the RSF forces had “strategically” established bases in “densely populated areas” as a deterrent to potential conflicts, knowing that the high civilian toll would be a significant factor.
“However, it is now evident that their relentless pursuit of total domination has caused them to disregard civilian protection,” Khair added.
Sudan’s future remains uncertain
With no resolution in sight for the violent power struggle between the two generals, Sudan’s future appears increasingly uncertain.
The ongoing conflict threatens to derail progress toward a stable, civilian-led government and exacerbate a precarious humanitarian situation.
The international community’s calls for an immediate ceasefire and dialogue between the warring parties have been ignored, leaving Sudanese civilians trapped in the crossfire and fearing for their lives.
In a country with a long history of brutal civil wars, coups, and uprisings, the current violence in Khartoum is a stark reminder of the challenges ahead for Sudan.
As the conflict between al-Burhan and Daglo escalates, the prospects for peace and stability seem increasingly remote.
The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen, prompting urgent calls for action from the international community.