I would disagree with framing the cause of the conflict as Khartoum’s marginalization of the periphery: this risks playing into the RSF’s self-image and propaganda, and more importantly, obscuring the underlying dynamics of the war and how it ends.

In my opinion, what Sudan is facing is not really a civil war in the sense of a clash between different segments of society with different interests and political demands. It’s not fundamentally a tribal or ethnic war either despite obvious elements of such cleavages. The comparison ought to be to China’s Warlord Era, or medieval Italy: powerful families with private armies fighting for control over what remains of a predatory state apparatus after the fall of the old regime.

You pointed out that international organizations have been content to “give war a chance“ instead of pressing for peace talks. But there is no diplomatic mediation possible, because there are no longer genuine political issues at stake. The SAF cannibalized the Sudanese economy long ago: the generals took over entire sectors of the economy worth billions of dollars. For its part the RSF now controls its own infrastructure and businesses, is deeply embedded into global financial networks, has steady revenue from its gold mines, willing fighters from all over the Sahel, and limitless weapons. They even have their own ammunition factories. Would they give that all up in peace talks and become farmers?

There’s nothing external actors can plausibly offer them to put down their weapons that’s more lucrative than what they have now. And even if the RSF were somehow put down and the SAF muzzled, Hemedti has demonstrated that the basic business model of ‘warlordism-as-a-service’ is sound. Another ambitious entrepreneur of violence will inevitably reemerge. The best option available now may be to try to minimize the fallout, send humanitarian assistance, support refugees in neighboring countries and try to prevent the conflict from spreading further.

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The core vs periphery struggle is, in my view, an important structural driver of this conflict and Sudan's many other conflicts. One shouldn't hide from that fact simply because it might be used by Hemedti to mobilize. Instead, peacemakers should confront this and neutralize its mobilization potential.

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I also agree that it is, in more or less all circumstances, a mistake to not say a true component of a conflict because it plays into one side's propaganda. Usually, all sides in the conflict have some sort of legitimate grievance and that ultimately needs to be dealt with if any sort of agreement is to be reached. The SAF and its supporters openly use messaging making it clear they don't consider the Chadian Arabs who make up I believe 10~ of Sudan's population to be full members of the state. Not a lot of sense in denying the nature of the situation when it's also the SAF's argument.

In this case, everyone knows that Khartoum has been developed while the rest of Sudan looks like Chad or Niger. The problem is how to make all of the people in the periphery buy into a state that has only noticed them to abuse, or at best use them to abuse others?

Further ,you are correct that people seem to be using the situation to settle tribal scores, which is of course the RSF's claim. A lot of the atrocities one sees about are said to be committed by "RSF-aligned militias" with "aligned" doing an excessive amount of the work in the sentence and seemingly just meaning that they speak Sudanese Arabic.

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I always compare this to either of Rome's triumvirates then civil wars, they even threw out the 3rd guy they started with!

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Superb writeup and very thoughtful analysis.

What could foreign powers like EU do now or more realistically should not do to move towards peace in mean time and genuine progress in long run?

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Excellent piece. However, I do believe Hemedti is capable of ruling Sudan, but it would certainly be a violent military state, at least at the start, and no one has properly consolidated power across Sudan before in the modern era.. I don't think Burhan can rule Sudan, and further that he would not transition to civilian rule, likely at all. Hemedti seems relatively more likely to run a semi-fair election, of the kinds Deby always held in Chad, but it's far from the inclusive civilian rule that many Sudanese want. At the same time, due to the RSF's on point public messaging about equality and human rights, it would be easy for the "International community" to pretend they are telling the truth, especially as the RSF calls for international investigations into crimes, whereas the SAF, who control Sudan's UN seat, block them.

What you have properly picked up on here is that due to the centrality of Khartoum and the vastness and diversity of Sudan, from a political theory perspective it needs to be understood as an empire, not a modern nation-state. Montesquieu mentions that empires will use the strategy of ravaging the frontiers to keep the capital safe and prosperous, which is absolutely the Bashir method of ruling Sudan.

One thing that is difficult about this war is that the people the most likely to speak English well and to use the internet and especially to be Western educated are primarily all from the riparian elite who were used as local partners under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, and they would hate to be ruled by anyone from the desert nomad tribes even if he was a saint. Notice Burhan's persistent message that Hemedti is a foreigner because he is from what is called a Chadian tribe, despite that he is from Sudan. Some Western hacks purporting to be Africa experts, such as Cameron Hudson, have even suggested there is a common fear in Chad that Hemedti would try to take over part of their country if he is kicked out of Sudan. Overall, lack of access to credible information is a major problem in this conflict, as almost everyone with voice to speak to the "West" is either tied to Khartoum's elite or alternately made a career of monitoring the situation in Darfur and perhaps go too far in assuming the "African" tribes in Darfur are not themselves partisans in the conflict.

It's a sad thing though, this war is a massive humanitarian catastrophe, and seems to mostly enter wider discourse when Israel's supporters cynically, and usually inaccurately, reference it to call people anti-semitic for noticing what they are doing in Gaza.

I will certainly be sharing this on Twitter. I have written about this twice and also did an interview on it, but in none of those instances did I seem to have much success getting people to notice Sudan.


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