/Fighting in Sudan: A simple guide to what’s behind the fighting

Fighting in Sudan: A simple guide to what’s behind the fighting


Fierce fighting across Sudan has dashed hopes for a peaceful transition to civilian rule.

Forces loyal to two rival generals are vying for control and, as is often the case, civilians have suffered the most, with dozens killed and hundreds injured.

Here’s what you need to know.

At the center of the clashes are two men: Sudan’s military leader, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.

Until recently, they were allies. The two worked together to overthrow ousted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir in 2019 and played a pivotal role in the 2021 military coup.

However, tensions arose during negotiations to integrate the RSF into the country’s armed forces as part of plans to restore civilian rule.

The key question: who would report to whom under the new hierarchy.

These hostilities, sources told CNN, are the culmination of what both sides see as an existential struggle for dominance.

It’s hard to underestimate how seismic Bashir’s ouster was. He had led the country for nearly three decades when popular protests sparked by rising bread prices ousted him from power.

During his rule, South Sudan seceded from the north, while the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Bashir’s arrest on alleged war crimes in Darfur, a breakaway western region.

After Bashir’s ouster, Sudan was ruled by an uneasy alliance between military and civilian groups.

It all ended in 2021, when the military dissolved the power-sharing government.

The Rapid Support Forces are the preeminent paramilitary group in Sudan, whose leader, Dagalo, has enjoyed a rapid rise to power.

During the Darfur conflict in Sudan in the early 2000s, he was the leader of Sudan’s notorious Janjaweed forces, implicated in human rights violations and atrocities.

An international outcry caused Bashir to formalize the group into paramilitary forces known as Border Intelligence Units.

In 2007, his troops became part of the country’s intelligence services, and in 2013, Bashir created the RSF, a paramilitary group he oversaw and led by Dagalo.

Dagalo turned on Bashir in 2019, but not before his forces opened fire on a pro-democracy, anti-Bashir sit-in in Khartoum, killing at least 118 people.

He was later appointed as a deputy to the transitional Sovereign Council that ruled Sudan in partnership with the civilian leadership.

Burhan is essentially the leader of Sudan. At the time of Bashir’s ouster, Burhan was the inspector general of the army.

His career has followed a course almost parallel to that of Dagalo.

He also rose to fame in the 2000s for his role in the dark days of the Darfur conflict, where the two men are believed to have first come into contact.

Al-Burhan and Hemedti cemented their rise to power by currying favor with the Gulf powers.

They commanded separate battalions of the Sudanese forces, which were sent to serve with the Saudi-led coalition forces in Yemen.

Now they are locked in a power struggle.

It is unclear where the fight will end. Both sides claim control of key sites and fighting has been reported across the country in places far from the capital Khartoum.

While various official and unofficial estimates put the Sudanese armed forces at around 210-220,000, the RSF is believed to number approximately 70,000, but is better trained and better equipped.

International powers have expressed alarm. In addition to concerns about civilians, there are likely other motivations at play: Sudan is rich in resources and strategically located.

CNN previously reported on how Russia has colluded with Sudanese military leaders to smuggle gold out of Sudan.

Dagalo’s forces were a key recipient of Russian training and weaponry, and CNN’s Sudanese sources also believe that Sudan’s military leader Burhan was backed by Russia, before international pressure forced him to publicly deny the presence of the Russian mercenary group Wagner, in Sudan. .

Sudan’s neighbors, Egypt and South Sudan, have offered to mediate, but in the meantime, all that is certain is more misery for the Sudanese people.