Agricultural production has come to a halt in Sudan’s breadbasket, Gezira. This is at a time when hunger in the war-torn country is at the highest level ever recorded during the harvest season between October and February, with nearly 40% of the population facing “acute hunger.” The Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) are on the retreat after the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) stormed across Gezira last week, disrupting harvest in this State which produces half of all the wheat grown in Sudan. Farmers are too terrified to return to their fields, and have in some areas “gone so far as to flood canals and sacrifice their harvest in order to make it difficult for RSF to enter,” said Jamal (name changed), spokesperson of the Resistance Committees (RC) in Hasahisa city.
Heavy shelling in Sudanese capital Khartoum and its sister-cities of Khartoum Bahri (North) and Omdurman continued on the morning of Monday, May 22, hours before a seven-day ceasefire was scheduled to begin at 9:45 p.m local time. The “Agreement on a Short-Term Ceasefire and Humanitarian Arrangements” was signed on May 20 by the envoys of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—former allies and partners-in-coup who have been fighting each other since April 15. By then, the death toll of civilians caught in the crossfire had climbed to 850, while nearly 4,000 others were injured, said the Sudanese Doctors Union (SDU), stressing that these figures do not include casualties among fighters.
Sudan is experiencing its fourth week of conflict between two military factions, which has caused the death of over 700 people. Sudanese civilians have fled the capital and the country altogether while the fighting continues with no end in sight. Commentators have so far focused on the military factions and ethnic conflicts. A reductive explanation has been given for the food crisis in Sudan, such as economic crisis, climate change, and the Ukraine war. The significance of macroeconomic policies and the institutions that promote them at the root of these crises tend to be overlooked. Toppling over the breadbasket The IMF imposed liberalization in Sudan, particularly in the agricultural sector, to promote exports.
Since April 15 hundreds of thousands of people have been dislocated in the Republic of Sudan, a strategically important state and a member of the African Union (AU). The two military structures which have dominated the body politic for many years have now turned against each other leaving the country in an unprecedented social crisis. Reports from inside Sudan indicate that over 500 people have been killed in the fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF). Thousands of others have been wounded, seriously injured and traumatized as their homes have been damaged along with the loss of jobs, the diminishing healthcare services and the disruption of communities within Khartoum, Omdurman and other areas throughout the vast country.
Reports from Sudan’s largest seaport, Port Sudan, located on the Red Sea, describe a chaotic scene of thousands of migrant workers and their families attempting to leave the country in order to escape a conflict between two military factions fighting for control of the government. The corporate media in Europe and the United States confine their coverage to describing the suffering of civilians and the numbers killed. Their analysis is limited to dissecting the personalities of the two generals commanding the two opposing military forces: Gen. Abdelfattah al-Burhan, who commands the army, and his one-time ally and deputy, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti), who commands the Rapid Forces Militia.
Over 180 people have been killed and more than 1,800 injured as the fighting within Sudan’s security forces continued in several densely populated cities for the third day. The figures were announced in a press conference given by Volker Perthes, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Sudan, on Monday April 17. The highest number of deaths have been reported in the capital Khartoum city where Sudan’s powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) is trying to capture key areas and infrastructure from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF). Led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, aka Hemeti, the deputy chairman of the military junta ruling since the coup in October 2021, the RSF is battling the army for the Presidential Palace, the HQ of SAF, the airport, as well as other key areas in the capital.
Tensions simmering between Sudan’s army and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) boiled over into armed clashes on the morning of Saturday, April 15, following disagreements over the integration of the autonomous RSF into the army’s command chain. The issue of integration was a key aspect of a deal that Sudan’s ruling junta was to sign with right-wing civilian forces to share power with the latter. The left in Sudan has been critical of the proposed deal, questioning the sincerity of the parties. Speaking to Peoples Dispatch a few hours before the fighting broke out, the Sudanese Communist Party’s Foreign Relations Secretary, Saleh Mahmoud, said “Both the forces, the army and the RSF, have a mutual interest in escalating armed conflict, so that it can be used as a reason to not hand over power to the civilian forces.”
On December 5 yet another transitional political framework was signed in the Republic of Sudan by the military regime and the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), the broad-based democracy organization inside the country. The agreement is designed to break the stalemate which has been in existence since a military coup removed former President Omar Hassan al-Bashir in April 2019. This new accord was met with much skepticism and angry protests from various political tendencies throughout Sudan. The Resistance Committees which have organized street demonstrations over the last four years have categorically rejected the new agreement saying it does not bring about the removal of the military as the dominant political and economic force inside the country.
In the Republic of Sudan since December 2018, mass demonstrations and civil unrest has wracked the country which is a gateway between northern, central and east Africa. During April 2019, due to the uncertainty caused by the mass demonstrations, strikes and rebellions, the former administration of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir was overthrown by a group of high-ranking military officers. Just two months later, as thousands of youth and workers occupied Khartoum in the area near the ministry of defense, the protesters were attacked leaving many dead and even more injured. The most recent military coup grew out of the failure of a African Union (AU) brokered peace agreement to establish a transitional regime which would after more than three years result in the election of a civilian government.
Revolutionary slogans and music defying the military junta continue to resonate from at least four sit-in protests in Sudan as on Monday, July 11, eleven days after security forces injured over 600 during the landmark anti-coup protests on June 30. Efforts are underway to organize a total civil disobedience campaign and political general strike. Sudan’s pro-democracy protest movement is arguably at its strongest since the coup on October 25, 2021, and growing despite the continuing attacks on sit-ins and the custodial torture of detainees. The over 5,000 neighborhood Resistance Committees (RCs) across Sudan, which are leading the struggle against the junta, “are working hard to produce a unified political charter”, said Muaz Khalil, spokesperson of the RCs in Al Kalakla Al Quteia neighborhood of capital city Khartoum.
“No negotiation, No compromise, No Partnership with the military” remains the main slogan in the unrelenting mass-protests, rallies, and barricades organized in cities across Sudan since the military coup on October 25, 2021. Now in the fifth month, the civil resistance continues to draw hundreds of thousands week after week to the streets. On March 14, the nation-wide demonstrations, like in other weeks, were met with repression from the army and the militia of the military junta. Since the coup, at least 87 young protesters, including minors, have been killed in the crackdown while over 3,300 have been injured, and over 500 are still undergoing treatment, according to data compiled by Hadhreen Organization. 28 have lost limbs or other organs and at least eight have been paralyzed as on Friday, March 11.
The long-awaited “Charter for the Establishment of the People’s Authority” was proposed by the Khartoum Coordination of Resistance Committees (RCs) in Sudan on Monday, February 28. Mass demonstrations against the military coup were reported from at least 14 cities in Sudan on the same day. The security forces unleashed a violent crackdown against the protests. Two people were killed, including a 15-year-old, and at least 210 protesters were injured, according to the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD). At least 27 of the injuries were caused by gunshot wounds. 47 people were injured after being directly hit by stun grenades and tear gas canisters, which the forces reportedly fired directly onto the bodies of the protesters.
On Saturday, February 26, thousands of elderly people in Sudan took part in the ‘Mothers and Fathers march’ to voice their support for the youth who, organized under the neighborhood Resistance Committees (RCs), continue resisting the military junta daily on the streets. The security forces attacked this demonstration, injuring at least 34 people, said the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD). At least 83 pro-democracy protesters have been killed by security forces, and more than 3,000 have been injured in the four months since the coup by army chief Abdel Fattah al Burhan on October 25, 2021. Over 450 of the injured protesters remain hospitalized as of Sunday, February 27, according to data compiled by Hadreen Organization. 26 have lost limbs or other organs and seven are paralyzed.
Like most countries, the Republic of South Sudan is a complex nation of shifting alliances and external influences. Recently, President Salva Kiir, who sports a Stetson hat gifted him by George W. Bush, signed a peace agreement with old enemies, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition. Around the same time, the so-called Embassy Troika consisting of the US, Britain, and Norway facilitated International Monetary Fund (IMF) programs for South Sudan. When China proposes investment schemes, US politicians call it “debt-trap diplomacy.” As has been seen in South Sudan, when Western corporations seek to plunder poor, resource-rich nations, they call it “development.” The West’s interest in South Sudan is oil. Invoking the colonial-era “white man’s burden” of 19th century imperialists, the US government-backed Voice of America recently justified foreign interference in South Sudan by pointing out that the country’s 3.5 billion proven barrels of crude cannot be easily exported due to the lack of pipeline infrastructure and financial mismanagement.