In the final days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, residents of Khartoum, Sudan, would normally be relaxing during fasting hours and enjoying the weekend.
Instead, they experienced airstrikes and gunfire as rival Sudanese armed forces turned their guns on each other.
Fighting between the country’s military, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) led by General Abdel Fatah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Force (RSF) paramilitary led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemeti”, began on Saturday the following week. Of tensions
There were conflicting reports of a 24-hour ceasefire between the two groups on Tuesday, but… the fight continues hours before the ceasefire was reportedly to begin.
Videos taken by residents showed armed tanks rolling down the streets and bullets ripping through the glass windows of residential buildings.
“There are clouds, clouds of smoke coming from the middle of Khartoum.”
“There are clouds, clouds of smoke coming from the center of Khartoum,” said Khalil Youssef al-Nour, a resident of the capital.
“Guns, like machine guns and heavy guns,” he described what he heard from inside his home.
What many observers have warned is a deadly showdown as tensions between the two armies escalate since the military ousted Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
“Since then, they have been operating independently,” said Khalud Khair, founding director of the policy think tank Confluence Advisory in Khartoum.
“They have different foreign policies, different income streams and different types of domestic politics policies or ideas on how to consolidate their power in 2019, and then a coup in 2021,” he explained.
Both the SAF and the RSF are battling for power, even as they are engaged in talks that many hope will return the country to civilian-led rule.
Talks broke down last week amid disagreement over the details of integrating the RSF into the military.
,Both now want to take control of Sudan through the court through control of Khartoum,” Khair said.
In media appearances since the fighting broke out, both General Burhan and General Hemeti have given identical messages – that one is protecting the Sudanese people, and the other is the country’s enemy.
Fighting in the streets is also playing out on social media, with both sides posting videos to show victories at strategic locations.
“They are trying to convince people that they should withdraw their position,” Khair said. “I think their biggest miscalculation is that they don’t understand – neither Burhan or Hemeti – understand that the people of Sudan, especially the people of Khartoum, don’t want normal either.”
The battle is already heavy. According to the Sudanese Doctors’ Central Committee, at least 144 civilians have been killed. Over the weekend, the World Food Program also announced it was suspending operations in the country after three of their aid workers were killed amid clashes in the Darfur region.
Aerial bombardments and heavy artillery have also destroyed key infrastructure, including hospitals. Khartoum International Airport,
“Guns, bombs, they never stop. They might stop for half an hour, an hour, but you know, they start again.
“The gunshots, the bombs never stop,” said Fadil Mahmoud, a Khartoum resident who lives near the airport. “They might stop for half an hour, an hour, but you know, they start again.”
Mahmoud said the conflict was making it difficult to observe Ramadan.
Khartoum residents are having to make decisions about whether to risk their lives by going out to do simple tasks, such as charging their phones or Shopping for food, water and medicine,
“There is no electricity here because we are close to the conflict,” Mahmoud said. Many shops are also closed. “We have drinking water. It can last us three days.”
Pressure on both generals from international and regional players has so far failed to defuse the conflict.
Political analyst Khair said, “The endgame for both appears to be total destruction of the other.”
Sudan’s former civilian prime minister, Abdullah Hamdok, urged generals on Saturday to stop the fighting, warning that a war in Sudan would mean a war for the entire region.
Emergency meetings were also held over the weekend by the African Union, the Arab League and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – a key body in the region.
The government of Kenya later announced that the IGAD had “resolved” to send the presidents of Kenya, South Sudan and Djibouti to Sudan for mediation “at the earliest possible moment” – with the main airport not operational. complex decision.