The Sudanese army dashes Sudanese hopes after the Manama negotiations with escalation in El Fasher

The talks in Manama came to a halt due to the Sudanese army re-establishing its relationship with Iran to obtain both military and logistical support on the ground

Throughout the past period, the Rapid Support Forces have exercised restraint to prevent endangering civilians’ lives, in line with initiatives proposed by civilian administrations and various entities to avoid war and destruction in the city of El Fasher. There was hope of reaching a settlement during the Manama talks, which were thwarted by the Sudanese army commander Abdul Fattah al-Burhan‘s rapprochement with Iran, leading to renewed escalation on the fronts after the army’s reversal on its commitments to respond to negotiation initiatives and reach a ceasefire.

The Rapid Support Forces repelled an attack by the Sudanese army in the city of Fashir in North Darfur, inflicting heavy losses on the attacking force’s equipment. Several individuals and officers were captured, as mentioned in a post on their Twitter account. The attempt to attack our forces in El Fasher is not the first of its kind, as the Rapid Support Forces have previously been subjected to similar attacks despite their commitment to civilian initiatives to preserve civilian lives and deny opportunities to those seeking to ignite war in North Darfur.

The statement added, “We condemn the unethical actions perpetrated by the remnants and terrorists in their attack on our forces, using displaced persons’ camps and densely populated neighborhoods as human shields, in an attempt to draw our forces into battle in residential areas.” The field developments come after reports revealed secret meetings between the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Sudanese Army, Lieutenant General Shams al-Din Kabbashi, and the Deputy Commander of the Rapid Support Forces, Lieutenant General Abdel Rahim Hamdan Dagalo, in the Bahraini capital of Manama in recent days, raising hopes among civil and political forces in Sudan that things would move towards de-escalation and be a step towards ending the war, despite the negative messages emanating from al-Burhan.

Sudanese await any step that these meetings pave the way for a direct meeting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces commanders after their meeting in Djibouti was postponed, which was coordinated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and became impossible after Sudan’s suspension of its membership in the regional organization.

Three meetings were held between the two sides in Bahrain last January, marking the first communication at this level between the conflicting parties in the conflict in nine months. Reuters reported that the two sides agreed in principle on declaring principles including preserving Sudan’s unity and its army, and further talks to discuss a ceasefire, but a follow-up meeting was postponed last week.

Supporters of ending the war speculated about the validity of the leaks, based on allegations that General Kabbashi is the army’s closest leaders to negotiated solutions, and that once he steps down from the general command, which he has been trapped in for several months, he announced the resumption of Jeddah negotiations, which exposed him to attack from the parties calling for the continuation of the war. 

According to sources, the meeting was attended by several countries led by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, along with the United States. The Egyptian side held previous meetings to meet Kabbashi and Abdel Rahim with a delegation from the Rapid Support Forces in preparation for this meeting.

However, informed sources later mentioned that the negotiations in Manama were halted due to the Sudanese army‘s re-establishment of its relationship with Iran, aiming to obtain both military and logistical support on the ground.

Reactions varied between supporters of the army and supporters of the former regime from members of the Sudanese Islamic Movement (the Brotherhood) and their party, the National Congress, calling for the war to continue, between those supporting the Manama talks, and those who considered it “betrayal.”

These talks come at a time when battles between the two parties are raging on several fronts in Khartoum, West Kordofan, and El Fasher in North Darfur, with continued mobilization of the army on the southern border of Al-Jazira state in central Sudan, controlled by the Rapid Support Forces, since mid-December. The number of war refugees continues to increase, as announced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, last week, that the fighting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces in Sudan has led to the displacement of about 8 million people.

The “Jeddah platform” negotiations were lifted due to the parties’ non-compliance with their commitments, and the army’s pretext for not withdrawing the “Rapid Support” forces from civilians’ homes and civilian property, while the Rapid Support Forces affirm that the army “did not comply with goodwill gestures represented in arresting the Islamists who fled from prisons, and stopping the anti-media campaigns.”

Efforts to stop the fighting in Sudan moved to IGAD, at the request of Army Commander Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, but he froze dealing with it, citing that it “did not meet the deadline” set for a meeting between him and Hemeti, while Hemeti announced his readiness to implement its recommendations. Disputes over IGAD’s decisions led to the army commander’s request to suspend his country’s membership in it.

In contrast, international, regional, and Western efforts, in particular, are intensifying pressure on the parties to stop the fighting, initiated by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock’s visits to African countries concerned with the Sudanese file, with the aim of coordinating international mediation initiatives and increasing pressure on the warring parties. Last Friday, she met with the President of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit, and the Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta. The South Sudanese presidency said the meeting “discussed the peace process.”

At the beginning of her tour in the region, Baerbock was forced to stop in Saudi Arabia after Eritrea refused her plane’s passage on its way to Djibouti, from where she moved to Kenya and South Sudan.

The IGAD summit held in Uganda on January 18th last pledged to hold a meeting between al-Burhan and Hemeti within two weeks of the decision date. However, the Sudanese army blocked that by refusing to participate in the summit; protesting against Hemeti‘s invitation to participate in it, and also announced the suspension of Sudan’s membership in the regional body.

With the end of the deadline for the meeting between the two men set by IGAD, al-Burhan, in his latest statements, prematurely ended the regional body’s efforts, saying, “What IGAD is doing” does not concern his army, alongside international and regional pressure campaigns to stop the war in Sudan.

Despite Sudan’s suspension of its membership in IGAD, the organization pledged to use all means to stop the war, making Khartoum a demilitarized zone, removing the fighting parties from it, deploying African monitoring forces, as well as addressing the humanitarian crisis, paving the way for a political process to permanently end the causes of the war, a plan that has been agreed upon by the international and regional communities.

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