One year of fighting.. What are the possible scenarios for the course of the war in Sudan? | Policy

Sudan is entering its second year since the outbreak of fighting between the army and the Rapid Support Forces, without a glimmer of hope for ending the war that threatens its unity and social fabric. About a quarter of its citizens are now displaced or refugees.

With the absence of any solution to the crisis, the inability of any party to resolve the battle militarily, and the expansion of the scope of military confrontations, experts and observers believe that the country is facing bleak scenarios.

Where is the war in Sudan headed, what are its repercussions, has the external factor most influenced its course, has internal division fueled it, and what are the scenarios for the future of this crisis. Al Jazeera Net asked 11 questions to 3 Sudanese thinkers and experts.

The Sudanese Army published, on its Facebook page, pictures that it said were of combat vehicles and equipment being displayed by the Army Corps of Engineers Command, which it had seized from the support forces, in the battle that took place between them last week, and through which the Army was also able to seize the headquarters. Radio and television in Omdurman.  Source: The Sudanese Army, on its Facebook page
Vehicles and combat equipment that the army announced its seizure from Rapid Support after taking control of the radio and television headquarters in Omdurman (communication sites)
  • Where is Sudan headed after a year of war?

Sudanese thinker Muhammad Mahjoub Haroun believes that as the war continues to deplete the human and material capabilities of the state and society, the military performance of the National Army and the civil forces supporting it that fight alongside it is improving, in contrast to the decline in the performance of the Rapid Support and the civil groups allied with it, especially with regard to organized military action under the leadership of Unified.

While he believes that the National Army’s chances of controlling a large area of ​​the capital are the greatest, he believes that achieving broad army control over Sudan’s regions, especially the west of the country, will not be in the short term, according to Haroun.

  • What is the impact of external factors on the course of the war?

In terms of external factors, regionally and internationally, Haroun believes that the basis from which one should start is that the external position is contested by two largely equivalent factors, the first of which is the increasing embarrassment over the widespread violations committed by the Rapid Support rebels, in particular, as he described it.

The second is related to the fears of forces in the region, and in the broader international arena, that regional and international security (the Red Sea as a very important waterway, migration across the Mediterranean, and the spread of chaos in Sudan into its neighboring countries) will be affected by a Sudanese war with no end in sight.

But Sudan’s marginality and its declining importance in the foreign policy priorities of these powers, as Haroun says, are two factors that reduce the possibility of the regional and international role rising to the level of positive engagement required.

  • Is the external factor more influential than the internal factor on the situation in Sudan? Why has the role of political and civil forces declined?

According to Haroun, the external factor will not, in any case, be more influential than the internal factor. He says, “See, for example, the case of the Palestinian resistance in the ongoing Al-Aqsa flood war. The external factor will remain influential and important, but what is on the ground is the one that represents the greatest importance, and has the best ability to influence. The Sudanese political and civil forces are living in weak conditions whose causes are known, and therefore they are not the main forces.” In the national scene at home, the main forces, in our current situation, are the forces that are fighting, both regular and civil.”

According to Haroun, the role of political and civil forces is declining for internal reasons, including their lack of ability to self-develop and keep pace, and because of their influence by the long years of military-rescue rule, and because of their fragmentation, and the emergence of armed protest movements in the outskirts of the country, and the lack of stability required to provide the environment conducive to the emergence of a strong civil society, as well as The weakening of the Sudanese state, which has a negative impact on the overall situation.

A picture shows the Army’s Masrat targeting a convoy of rapid support vehicles in Omdurman - Military Media
A picture shows the army marches targeting a convoy of rapid support vehicles in Omdurman (Military Media)
  • Can the war be resolved militarily?

Of course, the war, like any war, will not be resolved militarily. According to Haroun, it is natural that the tipping point of the balance of military power in favor of the national army is the moment required to build on the priority of a political solution through negotiation that enables the Sudanese men and women to recover their threatened state and strengthen the unity of their country through understandings based on the agreement. What are the root causes that caused the war, and with agreement on what the national public interest is that establishes the idea of ​​citizenship under whose umbrella everyone comes together.

  • What are the possible scenarios for the end of the Sudanese crisis?

  • Reaching a political agreement through long and difficult negotiations can be helped by a regional and international agreement based on the importance of preserving the entity of the state, the unity of Sudan, and the stability of the country.
  • Submitting to a fait accompli, due to reaching a state of war exhaustion, and this is its main feature: the sovereignty of a state, not a state.
  • Or impose a solution from the outside, due to the internal inability to achieve stability, as Sudanese thinker Muhammad Mahjoub Haroun believes.

  • After a year of war, there are indications that cracks have emerged in the social structure. How can they be addressed?

Dr. Manzoul Assal, professor of anthropology and former director general of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Khartoum, agrees that the current war has deepened social rifts that emerged from the Darfur war that erupted in 2003. The discourse on social media reflects the transformation of these rifts into social division, and he considers them dangerous and should not be Minimizing its impact.

According to Asal, the importance of the social incubators of the Rapid Support Forces should not be underestimated, because they exist and are effective. He believes that what is required is to think about overcoming the social crisis, and the first step to address this is to silence the guns and then build confidence.

  • Political and civil blocs are demanding reform of the military and security institutions. Is there a need for political reform to ensure stability in the country?

The former director of the Center for Peace Studies acknowledges that the parties suffer from problems, and there is a need for political reform, but it cannot happen before achieving security stability, and this will not be achieved before reforming the military and security institutions, because they have been in politics since the country’s independence.

  • What does Sudan’s future look like in light of the conditions it is experiencing?

The future of Sudan is very dark, and there are no indications that the war will stop soon. The more the crisis continues, the more the blood, killing, and destruction will become more complex. There is no justification for the extreme positions of the army leadership, and there is no intersection between continuing the fighting and engaging in negotiations to end the war. All of Sudan’s experiences have had wars end with settlements, according to the director. The previous year of the Center for Peace Studies at the University of Khartoum.

  • Did polarization and political division contribute to fueling the Sudanese crisis?

Sudanese politician Dr. Al-Wathiq Kamir believes that polarization and political division did not contribute to fueling the crisis, but rather it had the greatest contribution to the failure of the transitional period and provided the environment for the complexity of the crisis, the October 2021 coup, and the outbreak of war in April 2023.

The two periods of transition after the revolutions of October 1964 and April 1985 achieved their goal and objective end by holding elections, regardless of the subsequent failure of being unable to sustain the democratic transition for a few years. Had it not been for the cohesion of the main political forces at that stage and their preservation of their organizational unity, cohesion and unity of purpose, and the unity of the civil forces represented by the elected professional organizations, this would not have been achieved.

As for the last experience after the December 2019 revolution, the Forces of Freedom and Change coalition was unable to cohesion and maintain its unity, and divisions occurred in its ranks, and it entered into a conflict with the military component, which was also divided, which led to the current war between the army and the Rapid Support, as well as Kamir told Al Jazeera Net.

  • Will the continuation of military confrontations open the door to civil war or tear the country apart and lead to the emergence of warlords?

The confident Kamir believes that any war, if prolonged, will have dire consequences and disastrous results. Although the current war appears to be between two parties, it has caused a clear political and social division by virtue of the support of the Rapid Support Militia with social incubators, and the claim of some of its leadership that their fight against the founders of the 1956 state is “the history of Sudan’s independence,” as if they were accusing the Sudanese in the center and north of the country who appeared to have a spirit Hostility that does not differentiate between the Rapid Support, its leadership, and its social incubators, and has extended to include Darfur and Sudan.

  • What are the expected scenarios in the second year of the war?

Al-Wathiq Kamir says that the reality of severe political conflicts and armed conflicts in Sudan, even before independence, leads to apprehension about the future. The current fears of leading the nation toward disintegration and civil war have increased, especially with the belief that arming the popular resistance will add more fuel to the fire and explode civil strife.

According to Kemer, the current situation and its complications make the future open to all possibilities. But the extension of the war, its area and the multiplicity of its parties, and the entry of armed popular resistance, could lead to a civil war. He believes that future scenarios depend on the course of the war, the balance of military power, how to stop the war, and the political vision for ending it.

One of the scenarios is for the war to stop through negotiations that end with an agreement between the army and the Rapid Support to form a national army with unified leadership and combat doctrine, and for the Sudanese of all political factions to come together in a Sudanese dialogue body without excluding any party in order to discuss the founding issues of the state. This is the opposite scenario for the country’s disintegration, as Kemer believes.

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