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ModernDiplomacy.eu: Sudan Crisis: A Game of Power

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Saturday, 26 August 2023

photo:Xinhua/ Mohamed Khidir

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Sudan has been in conflict since its founding, with various groups fighting for control of the government and resources. Because this country is rich in oil and gold reserves, which have always attracted many different groups to govern the country, resulting in widespread violence and political instability.  The most recent conflict that broke out in mid-April 2023 between the Sudanese Army Forces (SAF) and a paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) centered around the capital Khartoum and the Darfur region. Sudan’s two rival power blocs are engaged in fierce battles for supremacy, leaving families in constant terror and chaos in Khartoum and other war-torn areas. 2.5 million people have been internally displaced in just 3 months following the escalation of violence in Sudan’s West Darfur El-Geneina. Thousands of people are crossing into neighboring Chad, Libya, Egypt, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, and Ethiopia to escape the violence. According to an estimate, around 3000 people have been killed and more than 6000 people have been injured. With each passing day, the situation is getting worse due to the increasingly violent and confrontational behavior on both sides which is making the populace more and more frightened.

The terrible war that has been going on for more than 3 months between the two most powerful rival generals, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan the leader of (SAF) and the leader of (RSF) Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo widely known as “Hemedti”, is simply a power game that aims to seize power over the resource-rich nation of more than 46 million people. A war that has forced more than half the population to seek aid and brought the country to the brink of civil war. But here the suspicions arise that both generals do not want to lose the power and influence that they currently hold because both sides want to secure their interests. Now both men are fiercely competitive and it is feared that this fight will not only divide the country but also lead to further deterioration in the political chaos that may be engulfing the neighboring countries as well.

One of the main reasons for the conflict in Sudan is directly linked to the country’s resources. The two generals are vying for control of these resources, which tipped over into outright violence. Sudan is home to more than 500 ethnic groups and is rich in natural resources and a political power struggle rooted in ethnic and regional division further complicated by the fight for control over natural resources such as oil and precious minerals and metals. At the heart of the conflict, both sides have tens of thousands of fighters, foreign backers, and vast military resources. The military controls much of the country’s economy, but the RSF operates large gold mining areas which is a key source of income for the powerful group. Sudan is Africa’s third-largest exporter of precious metals and an estimated 90 tonnes of gold on the global market in 2021 came from Sudan. It also has massive deposits of Copper, Iron, Chromium, and Uranium as well as abundant arable land which supports an agriculture-dependent economy. Also the country is located on the Nile River, vital for irrigation and hydroelectric power plants. The country has strategic ports on the Red Sea and is the only point of export of around 137 thousand barrels of oil a day. If the violence continues, it could spill over and affect regional access to water, mineral exports, and oil supplies which is likely to create a severe humanitarian crisis. In this region, there is a political crisis and political competition between two generals representing their own interests. Frontiers have no significance in this conflict and control of resources is the primary prize. Both forces are attempting to firmly establish their grip over key sectors of the government and the Sudanese economy.

To conclude, a cursory analysis of the political game makes it clear that the two main actors are interested in gaining access to maximum resources at any cost. Both sides are engaged in a never-ending struggle to establish their supremacy in the region. Efforts should be made to end this bloody war through serious mediation in order for Sudan to finally return to the path of democracy. Otherwise, when will this bloody confrontation end, it is impossible to say anything with certainty. One can only hope that Sudan will soon be released from this perilous power struggle and that the populace will be able to sigh with relief. Additionally, the longer the war continues, the harder it will be to stop violence elsewhere, particularly in Darfur, where separate peace efforts will be needed until a larger agreement is reached. There have been several demands for an end to hostilities on a global scale, but neither side appears willing to compromise. All should advocate for a peaceful resolution to the conflict and a difficult political process to decide Sudan’s future.

 

   *Ms. Shahzadi Irrum Assistant Research Fellow (Balochistan Think Tank Network, Quetta)


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