On 15 April 2023, a war broke out in Sudan, negatively affecting a large number of people and resulting in widespread displacement and loss of life. This conflict is between Abdal Fattah al-Burhan-led Armed Forces and Mohamed Hamdan Dauglo-led Rapid Support Forces. There are three aspects to this conflict that need to be addressed: military and political instability, and social corruption.
Firstly, there are two distinct groups in the Sudanese armed forces, and these include a side that toils for peace and a solution for the conflict, and another side that perpetuates violence and escalates the situation. The second group follows the preferential regime of Omar Albashir’s past military government, which was led by Ali Karti and Osama Abdallah. These individuals were known for their brutal tactics and disregard for human rights, and they currently refuse to acknowledge the international community’s peace talks in Jeddah.
In addition, Lieutenant General Yasser al-Atta, the Assistant Commander-in-Chief of the Sudan Armed Forces, made distorting comments and created a rivalry with the president of Kenya, William Ruto, who was hosting a meeting in the hope of pushing for lasting peace in the war-torn country. This has further complicated the situation, raised concerns about the Armed Forces’ commitment to finding a peaceful resolution, and raised doubts about their true intentions and commitments to ending the ongoing conflict in Sudan.
Burhan has made a number of foreign visits after staying in Sudan for the first few months of the war. This was only possible after Mohammad Hamdan Dauglo lifted his intense hold in exchange for Burhan travelling to Jeddah and participating in the search for peace in Sudan. However, Burhan’s promise was not honoured, as he travelled to multiple destinations, including Egypt and the United States of America, but instead of searching for a solution, he continued to claim that the Rapid Support Forces are militias and are not considered a legal force. This contradicts reality, as the RSF has been actively involved in military operations and has been recognised as a legitimate force by the Sudanese government. Alburhan’s statement undermines the efforts made by the RSF to maintain security and stability in Sudan.
Moreover, regardless of what is said now, it is undeniable that they are an armed force that was created in the Constitution of 2005 by the Sudanese government, and afterwards, the general Burhan himself gave them complete independence in armaments and movement. This means that they are not under the direct control of the Sudanese Army but rather operate independently within the framework of the Constitution. It is important to acknowledge that the Rapid Support Forces play a significant role in maintaining security in Sudan, as recognised by the government previously.
To go back to the beginning of the conflict and how it began, the RSF were merely defending themselves from the horrendous attacks made on them in their camp north of the capital, Khartoum. Since the first attack on April 15th until today, they have only been involved in defensive actions to protect themselves and civilians from the devastating attacks and airstrikes made by the Armed Forces.
The Sudanese Armed Forces are the official military of Sudan, responsible for national defence and maintaining the country’s territorial integrity. However, their actions during the conflict have raised concerns about human rights violations and excessive use of force. It is crucial to understand that many of their attacks are not just affecting the RSF but civilians as well, leading to a humanitarian crisis. Many homes and neighbourhoods are being destroyed as a result of the aeroplane attacks made by them. Despite all of these facts, the RSF continues to be wrongly blamed for many human rights breaches, when the true violations are the result of armed forces actions. They are known for taking advantage of aid provided by countries and selling it to civilians, causing additional hardship and instability. This exploitation of resources not only exacerbates the issue but also undermines efforts to restore strength.
Another fact that is being overlooked is that many of their’ camps are located in civilian-populated areas, using them as literal human shields, putting innocent lives at risk during times of conflict. Despite these clear indications, the RSF continues to bear the brunt of criticism, diverting attention from the true perpetrators.
I speak confidently because my family is among those who have suffered as a result of the armed forces’ ruthless actions. On 18 January 2024, an airstrike targeted innocent citizens at 1 am, killing five of my family members and wounding three. The victims were Mustafa Salah, Ahmed Jeed, Yousif Elshaib, Ahmed Reefa Ahmed, Mahir Elshaib, and the injured three women.
This is the most recent example of what the Armed Forces have committed and are continuing to commit in their campaign against innocent civilians, and atrocities like this cannot be blamed on the RSF as they do not use any form of airstrikes. I am deeply heartbroken that many are refusing to acknowledge the activities that Burhan is responsible for. I cannot personally comprehend how he does not fight his enemies head-on but instead destroys their neighbourhoods and targets their families.
The international community must hold him accountable for the countless lives lost and the devastation caused. It is imperative that we raise awareness and demand justice for the victims of these horrific acts.