Peace Talks

Design by Creative Director Kemper Rodi

Article by Keith Pemberton

Over the past seven months, a violent conflict in Sudan has undermined democracy and disrupted the livelihoods of tens of thousands of civilians. The conflict emerged from decades of political disenfranchisement, social unrest, and religious extremism. 

The two conflicting parties are the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. The RSF originated from a collection of militias unified in 2014, and when General al-Burhan proposed the dissolution of the organization in March he was met with resistance. This precipitated a climatic event on April 15th, 2023, when fighting broke out in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

Since the beginning of the conflict millions of Sudanese civilians have become refugees fleeing to countries like Egypt and Morocco. In June, a truce was agreed upon and broke leading countries like the United States and United Kingdom to impose sanctions on the warring nation.

Although the violence has yet to cease completely, many non-governmental organizations have urged for increased humanitarian aid. Throughout the summer, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, Fillipi Grande, acknowledged that it is his priority to provide medical support to civilians in high impact area   . Foreign Dignitaries in the European and African Union have also aired sentiments that prioritize the physical well-being of civilians in the midst of the conflict.  

This September marked one of the deadliest months in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, since the beginning of the conflict. On September 2nd, a drone strike in a market killed 21 people; a week later, an explosive in a residential neighborhood killed six more people; and the following day, a drone attack killed at least 43 people. 

The Rapid Support Forces have made steady gains this past month against their opposition by taking over a military base in North Kordofan and the Wad Ashana garrison, a town located in Central Sudan that shares a border with the White Nile States.   

The RSF is keen on gaining a larger foothold outside of Khartoum as the paramilitary troops march toward Kosti. Kosti is another major city near the southern tip of Sudan that is home to a railway station and airport. The control of vital transportation infrastructure gives the Rapid Support Forces the ability to regulate the movements of weaponry across, thus securing a foothold near the southern border. 

Despite this recent victory, the RSF is facing accusations of human rights abuses from the SAF . Publications across North Africa have reported on the sexual violence committed by paramilitary associates.The need for military intervention is a recent idea floated by the United States and Norway, but democratic backsliding in Niger, Mali, and Libya has led to growing anti-Western sentiments. Nonetheless, the overarching objective of both the United Nations and its member states is to end the conflict before the warring sides stop distinguishing between soldiers and civilians. 

Although the Sudanese army is complicit in the violence through deadly drone airstrikes, their general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, is on a mission to gain international support to end the war and restore order. This past summer, al-Burhan met with Egypt’s President, Qatar’s Emir and members of the UN General Assembly to share his perspective. Through diplomatic efforts, Burhan hopes to gain legitimacy from the international system and end the conflict with the SAF back in control. But, with draining resources and the unpredictability of the RSP, time is of the essence.

Keith is a first-year in Branford College. You can contact him at