Biden’s benign neglect brought the RSF to the brink of victory. Now, Washington has a chance to save Sudan.
The diplomatic needle has moved on Sudan at last. There’s an opening to halt the carnage, end the famine, and save the state from collapse. An intricate diplomatic dance is underway involving African and Arab leaders as well as the United States.
Almost eight months after fighting erupted in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, followed by mass atrocities in that city and in the western region of Darfur, a serious peace initiative was finally set in motion this past weekend. A summit meeting of African leaders, held in Djibouti at the initiative of Kenyan President William Ruto, agreed on an overall formula for a cease-fire and political talks.
The two rival generals—Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), and Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as “Hemeti,” commander of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF)—both agreed. The United States and Saudi Arabia, which had suspended their long-running, unproductive talks with the warring parties a week earlier, attended the summit and backed its outcome.
The Djibouti summit comes on the heels of upgraded political attention to Sudan in Washington. On Dec. 4, the U.S. Treasury Department announced sanctions on two members of the former regime of Omar al-Bashir for their role in facilitating external support for the SAF and its Islamist backers, along with a third who is doing the same for the RSF. On Dec. 6, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued an atrocity determination—formally finding that the RSF is responsible for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing. He spoke of “haunting echoes of the genocide that began almost 20 years ago in Darfur.” Blinken also said that the SAF is committing war crimes.
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