Sudan army returns to Saudi Arabia for talks as war enters fourth month
Sudanese army representatives have traveled back to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to engage in negotiations with the rebel group Rapid Support Forces (RSF), according to a government source. The talks resume as the conflict between rival generals reaches its fourth month.
The anonymous source, who spoke to AFP, revealed that a delegation from the armed forces has returned to Jeddah for discussions with the RSF rebels. The RSF has not provided any official comment regarding their participation in the talks, which were adjourned by Saudi and US mediators last month due to repeated violations of ceasefires.
The war erupted on April 15 when a power struggle escalated into full-scale conflict between army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his former deputy, RSF commander Mohamed Hamdan Daglo. The ongoing fighting has claimed the lives of at least 3,000 people and displaced over three million individuals.
The return of the Sudanese army delegation to Saudi Arabia indicates a renewed focus on diplomatic efforts after boycotting the talks in Ethiopia last week, hosted by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an East African regional bloc. The Sudanese foreign ministry had objected to the leadership of Kenyan President William Ruto within the IGAD quartet, accusing Kenya of siding with the RSF.
Prior to the suspension of talks in Jeddah, US mediators expressed growing frustration over the reluctance of both sides to work towards a sustained truce. Experts speculate that both General Burhan and General Daglo have chosen a strategy of attrition, aiming to gain greater concessions at the negotiating table in the future.
The residents of Khartoum, the capital city, have endured constant air strikes, artillery blasts, and gun battles for the past three months. The violence has led to the displacement of 1.7 million people, while millions who remain in the city find themselves trapped in their homes as the violence continues unabated.
Witnesses have reported clashes and airstrikes in various parts of the capital, with the northwest being particularly affected. The army fighter jets have conducted airstrikes in the south, while RSF drones targeted Khartoum’s largest military hospital, resulting in casualties.
The situation is even worse in the western region of Darfur, where a significant portion of Sudan’s population resides. Entire villages and neighborhoods have been destroyed, and there are reports of mass civilian deaths and targeted assassinations of officials based on their ethnicity. These acts have been attributed to the RSF and allied Arab militias.
In response to the grave humanitarian situation, the International Criminal Court has launched an investigation into suspected war crimes, including sexual violence and ethnic targeting.
While the conflict has primarily focused on Khartoum and Darfur, new fronts occasionally emerge. Witnesses have confirmed that a rebel group seized an army base in South Kordofan state in the south.
The dire circumstances have led to the displacement of over 2.4 million people within Sudan. However, these displaced individuals face numerous challenges, including roadblocks, a collapsed banking system, and inadequate healthcare services, making it difficult for responders to provide sufficient aid.
After three months of intensifying hostilities, Martin Griffiths, the UN under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, expressed concern about the hardening battle lines, which hinder humanitarian access to millions in need. Aid groups and health workers emphasize the urgent need for humanitarian corridors, which were promised but have yet to materialize, to prevent disease outbreaks and overwhelmed care facilities.
Griffiths renewed appeals for the safe passage of aid and denounced the confiscation of relief supplies and the obstruction of convoys by fighters at checkpoints.
The UN reports that 740,000 individuals have sought refuge in neighboring countries, putting additional strain on nations already facing economic crises or political instability. South Sudan, for example, is grappling with the closure of trade with Sudan, combined with an influx of returnees and refugees, which further complicates an already fragile humanitarian situation.
During a summit of Sudan’s neighbors in Cairo, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on international donors to fulfill their commitments, referring to the $1.5 billion in aid pledged at a conference in Geneva in June. This amount falls far short of the estimated needs of Sudan and its neighboring countries, exacerbating the humanitarian challenges faced by the region.