The civil war in Sudan that erupted in April 2023 is spreading. With thousands killed and millions displaced, the troubled nation is in danger of further fragmentation.
is led by the nation’s actual ruler, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, while the RSF is commanded by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti. The two men joined forces to stage another coup in 2021 that removed a civilian government two years after the ouster of Mr. al-Bashir. But now the two are fighting each other for control of the nation.
The war has spread to 10 of Sudan’s 18 states, further destabilizing a country that is already suffering from violence, displacement and poverty. On December 19, 2023, the RSF took over Wad Madani, the capital of Al Jazirah state.
Violence escalates in many regions
The renewed violence kicked off on April 15, 2023, with clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF in Khartoum, the capital. However, the unrest has since expanded into other states, including South and Central Darfur and South Kordofan. The escalation exposes old and new cleavages between Arabs and Africans, Muslims and Christians, semi-nomadic pastoralists and agriculturalists.
These social divisions have spurred killing among warring factions and reignited ethnic violence as militias and local self-defense groups join in the fight. Moreover, competition for resources and strategic routes in the Darfur region and the Red Sea state is becoming intense. In Khartoum, the RSF controls critical areas, while the SAF has intensified airstrikes against the RSF strongholds.
The RSF has also secured at least four regional military bases. In June, the governor of West Darfur was kidnapped and killed after he denounced killings of civilians by the RSF and requested foreign intervention. Several villages in the region have been attacked. In November, between 800 and 1,200 people were slaughtered in Ardamata, close to the border with Chad, by the RSF and the Janjaweed Arab militias. The massacre, targeting the members of the non-Arab Masalit group, is another sign of an upsurge of ethnic violence in West Darfur.
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