A new military and political reality is taking shape in Sudan as the Rapid Support Forces achieve battlefield victories, causing hesitant forces or those who initially showed support for the army to reconsider their calculations. In recent days, the Rapid Support Forces have successfully expanded their influence on more than one front and gained control of army bases in the regions of Darfur, Kordofan, and Khartoum. They are currently preparing to move towards El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State.
Sudanese sources revealed that the positions of armed movements are fluctuating. Some have openly sided with the Rapid Support Forces, while others are still hesitant in their support. Some movements that initially appeared close to the army are now trying to distance themselves from it after realizing they are in the same basket as the remnants of Omar al-Bashir’s regime. They may lose their gains after his regime’s fall and could find themselves in a repetitive scenario if the remnants achieve a military victory, which is unlikely given the current field reality.
The same sources emphasized that some armed movements originating from the Darfur region, which remained neutral since the outbreak of the war, could face a political dilemma if the Rapid Support Forces manage to impose their full control over the region after their military victories. They may face pressure or confrontations with the Rapid Support Forces if they cannot change their stance.
The sources anticipated changes in the positions of some armed movements, which could lead to further defections within them. This is due to the varying stances towards the army and the Rapid Support Forces. There are leaders who want to place their bets on the latter after their military success in Darfur. With a political settlement, the Rapid Support Forces will become an important force in Sudan, in contrast to the army leadership, headed by General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, whose military and political future remains uncertain.
Notably, there have been significant stances from some armed movements in recent times, especially in the Darfur region, such as the Sudan Liberation Movement, whose leader and the region’s governor, Minni Minnawi, confirmed his ongoing communication with the “brothers” in the Rapid Support Forces. A few days earlier, the Sudan Liberation Movement, a faction led by Minni Minnawi, and the Justice and Equality Movement, under the leadership of Jibril Ibrahim, distanced themselves from a statement by armed movements signatory to the peace agreement, describing the Rapid Support Forces as “rebel militias” and calling for their ‘accountability’’.
The statement from the two movements emphasizes that the joint statement of the movements participating in the Juba Consultative Forum was not discussed and developed by all the organizations mentioned in it. They assert that the statement was released at an inappropriate time and does not support efforts to resolve the national crisis and stop the bloodshed. The movements make it clear that the statement does not represent them and take the opportunity to call for upholding the spirit of organizational work, strengthening alliances, and promoting political practices in this critical time in Sudan’s history.
Observers believe that these positions reflect the beginning of a shift regarding the ongoing developments in Sudan, and armed movements are closely monitoring the situation on the ground, as this will shape their future directions.
Civil forces appear to be less cautious in their approach and some of their leaders are openly at odds with the Rapid Support Forces. This was evident in the recent statements by prominent figures in the Freedom and Change Alliance, such as Yasser Arman, who expressed hope that the Rapid Support Forces would utilize their achievements for long-term strategic goals, indicating the neutralization of remnants of the former regime.
Civil forces are in alignment with the Rapid Support Forces when it comes to dealing with the remnants of the previous regime. Both sides hold the remnants responsible for igniting the ongoing war since April 15th, with the intention to manipulate the situation and return to the scene. Analysts believe that civil forces, while they try to present themselves as the third equation in the Sudanese scene and work on forming a broad front, are, in fact, closer to the Rapid Support Forces.
Sudanese political analyst Ash-Shafei Adeeb explains that the military components currently engaged in the war do not align with the civil forces. The latter still have concerns that the military in Sudan lacks the desire to hand over power to civilians or contribute to the success of democratic transition. Civil parties and forces are convinced that they need to wait for the outcome of the ongoing negotiations in Jeddah to determine their political stance.
Adeeb further states that the democratic transition in Sudan faces significant challenges, and there might not be a transition that aligns with the aspirations of civil forces. Consequently, the relationship between civil forces and military components will not be at its best, and it depends on the positions of some forces that lean towards one side or the other.
Observers of the Sudanese situation believe that the battlefield remains the critical point in determining the political trajectory in Sudan. They note that the balance of power on the ground currently leans noticeably in favor of the Rapid Support Forces, despite external pressures aimed at halting their progress.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed deep concern over reports of an imminent attack in El Fasher, North Darfur in Sudan. He called on the warring parties to immediately cease further attacks and fulfill their obligations under international humanitarian law regarding civilians.
Data suggests that the Rapid Support Forces intend to take control of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur State. Observers believe that the American pressure comes from Washington’s understanding that controlling El Fasher would mean strengthening the Rapid Support Forces’ gains and, consequently, they would have the practical ability to impose their conditions for peace.
Deputy Commander of the Rapid Support Forces, Abdelrahim Dogolo, announced in a video clip on Wednesday the move to take control of all Sudan’s states and army locations in the country. This followed their takeover of the 21st Division in the city of Zalingei, the capital of West Darfur State. Dogolo called on the Sudanese army commander to surrender, telling him, “You have nothing left… there’s no fighting army. You are now defending the General Command from inside the basement, and every day we advance, and we will take it from you.”
The Rapid Support Forces had announced on Tuesday that they had taken control of the 21st Division, the army’s headquarters in Nyala, the capital of South Darfur State, the second-largest city in Sudan after Khartoum, and the army’s central command in western regions. Dogolo urged Burhan to “raise his hand” over the armed forces and called on those he described as elements of the former regime within the army to surrender.