Artillery continues to rock Khartoum on Friday despite US sanctions against the army and paramilitaries, which appear to be preparing an escalation in their struggle for power.
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Artillery fire and fighting echo through Khartoum, residents told AFP, after the army announced it had redeployed troops to the capital.
Seven weeks of war between the army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhane, and the paramilitaries of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of General Mohamed Hamdane Daglo left more than 1,800 dead and more than one and a half million displaced persons and refugees.
On Thursday, Washington announced sanctions against two army arms companies and two companies, including one operating in Sudan’s gold mines, run by General Daglo and two of his brothers.
According to a 2019 study, these two companies transferred millions of dollars to FSRs from and to dirham accounts in the United Arab Emirates.
Despite everything, “the army should soon launch a massive offensive, that’s why it withdrew” from negotiations in Saudi Arabia for a truce, deciphers researcher Kholood Khair.
Killed in a market
Diplomatic isolation, diplomats and experts have been hammering for years, is not a real threat to the two warring generals.
General Daglo is considered one of the richest men in Sudan – Africa’s third-largest gold producer – and can easily win allegiances, and General Burhane, like all his peers in the army, has developed during the long years of embargo strategies to circumvent international sanctions.
Today, “the army wants to record military gains to be in a better position in the event of the resumption of negotiations”, assures Kholood Khair.
Under pressure from the United States and Saudi Arabia, the two camps had pledged three weeks ago to “protect civilians”, then had signed two truces that remained a dead letter.
On Wednesday, the army withdrew from negotiations supposed to create safe corridors for civilians and humanitarian aid, and the next day the United States and Saudi Arabia said they were officially suspending them.
On Friday, the army said it was “surprised”, claiming to have submitted a proposal for “informal” discussions which was “ignored”.
American diplomacy announced that its chief Antony Blinken would be next week in Saudi Arabia, without specifying whether Sudan would be on the agenda.
While the army scuttled the negotiations in Jeddah, it deployed its heavy weapons in Khartoum. Since then, the guns have continued to thunder, killing at least 18 civilians in a market on Wednesday.
Opposite, the FSR continue to take up residence in hospitals or homes of civilians thrown on the roads of the country, one of the poorest in the world.
The fighting is even harder in Darfur (west), bordering Chad.
Displaced people who arrived on the spot told Médecins sans frontières (MSF) that they had seen “armed men shooting at people trying to flee on foot, villages looted and the wounded dying”.
UN mission expired
And the situation could deteriorate with the rainy season, especially for the displaced.
Summer is usually the season for malaria, peaks in food insecurity and child malnutrition.
“The already extremely precarious living conditions in the makeshift camps will get worse and the flooding of the rivers will complicate movement and supplies,” warns MSF.
And the aid workers who, before the war, helped a third of the 45 million Sudanese, may no longer be there.
Eighteen of them were killed and no safe corridor was cleared for them to help. Their shipments arriving by air are blocked at customs. And international staff are denied visas to come and relieve local employees who are exhausted or holed up at home.
Three-quarters of hospitals have ceased to operate and the remaining quarter has to deal with almost empty reserves.
The Security Council is due to discuss on Friday the fate of the UN mission in Sudan, whose mandate officially expires on Saturday.
The United Arab Emirates, current president of the Council, and its three African members, Gabon, Ghana and Mozambique “have a crucial role to play in this decision-making”, pleads the NGO Norwegian refugee council (NRC).
General Burhane has already demanded the replacement of the head of the mission, Volker Perthes, and most of his members were evacuated from the country at the start of the war.