internal conflict in Sudan A short battle or a long war?
May 03, 2023

internal conflict in Sudan A short battle or a long war?

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Since April 15, Sudan has been witnessing bloody confrontations between the Sudanese army forces and the Rapid Support Forces. This confrontation broke out after the escalation of tension between the two parties, against the background of the talks that were taking place in the past months to reform the security sector; especially, the issue related to the integration of the Rapid Support Forces within the army institution, as the army was asking for a short timetable for this integration, in exchange for a long-term schedule according to the request of rapid support forces, in addition to disputes over many detailed items.

This crisis reflects one of the deep problems that the new regime in Sudan carried from its predecessor. The Rapid Support Forces were sponsored by the Al-Bashir regime, and were consolidated as a parallel force to the army, due to the former regime's policy of fragmenting power centers in the state, to prevent a military coup.

Since the start of the military clash between the two sides, both insist in their mobilizing discourse that they are close to achieving a sweeping victory over the other side, but all data indicates that it will be difficult for either side to win in a short time.

The tendency of foreign countries to quickly evacuate their nationals - a measure usually taken months after the outbreak of similar events - shows that international estimates do not tend to indicate that the conflict will be short or can be resolved within days or even weeks.

According to available data, the conflict is heading towards major two scenarios:

The first says that one of the two sides will be able to win the battle; and most likely this side will be the army. However, the decisive defeat will take a long time and will be at a great cost. Moreover, it will leave deep effects on the Sudanese state and society, which will lay the foundation for new time bombs that could explode at any moment.

The second says that the Rapid Support Forces retreat to their main stronghold in Darfur. In this case, the many militias present in Sudan will have to decide to join one of the two sides of the conflict, which will spark a civil war that may not end in decades.

Due to the nature of the existing social and political complexities in North and East Africa, the spark of conflict would likely spread to neighboring countries, especially South Sudan, Chad, Libya and the Central African Republic.

It is highly unlikely that there is a possibility of a third scenario in which the two parties sit again at the dialogue table and be able to reach an understanding that would bring them back to cooperation in any form; as the current conflict has often brought the two parties to the point of no return.

With the prolongation of the conflict, and in light of any scenario, the possibility of regional and international countries entering the conflict will increase. This will turn Sudan into a hotbed of proxy war, and an arena for a struggle for influence between the powers of the region and powers from outside it.


Dimensions for Strategic Studies (DSS) is a London-based institute dedicated to research and analysis of geopolitical, economic and humanitarian affairs, with a team of experts across the Middle East, North Africa and beyond.


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