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The Sudanese Apocalypse: Part 1

Sudan: a nation notorious for civil instability, has erupted into a state within breathing distance of a ferocious full-blown national war.

Khartoum International Airport. Photo: Getty Images

However, whilst the outbreak of violent conflict itself may arise during one unfortunate night, the foundations of such hostilities are rarely as short-tempered.

Often, these underlying roots can be traced empirically for decades, providing unrivalled insight into the precise causes, implications, and potential resolutions to this distressing crisis.

The Darfur War represents both the modern origin and a microcosm of the greater Sudanese struggle. Disturbingly intertwined with allegations of genocide, state-sanctioned rape, and crimes against humanity, it is this conflict between emerging rebels, southern liberation groups, and the Sudanese government which encapsulates the domestic tensions of the 21st century.

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Between 2003 and 2004, estimates place the figure of casualties at 300,000, and those forcibly displaced as exceeding 2.7 million.

This immense loss of life was primarily perpetrated by the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), Janjaweed, and Rapid Support Forces (RSF); military factions acting on behalf of President Omar Al-Bashir. 

Therefore, in addition to underscoring the brutality which plagues political conflict within Sudan, ordinary citizens were left antagonised, victims of atrocities committed by their very own proclaimed leaders.

This metaphorical ‘sour taste,’ amongst the Sudanese public would evolve into an acidic infection of hatred for their government under Al-Bashir, from wherein subsequent outbreaks of violence would emerge. 

Following 2004, anti-government protests would sporadically flare, challenging Al-Bashir’s democratic legitimacy, as the formerly loyal RSF and SAF betrayed the President due to internal political and economic divisions beginning to implode.

This culminated through the 2019 Sudanese coup d’état, orchestrated by the RSF and SAF, with the removal of Al-Bashir, dissolution of the national legislature, and the immediate ascension of a ‘Transitional Military Council.’

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Yet, this military usurpation of Al-Bashir’s authority did not satisfy the Sudanese public, who persisted in protest, pursuing the ultimate objective of a transition towards a civilian accountable democracy.

The Khartoum Massacre, a ruthless murder of over 128 sit-in protestors, necessitated the African Union’s intervention to restabilise the increasingly volatile and distressing civil unrest.

Eventually, this foreign intercession would ensure demands for the continued democratisation of Sudan were partially fulfilled by the establishment of a unified civilian-military government, the ‘Transitional Sovereignty Council (TSC).’

However, as shall be discussed below, this was nothing more than a fleeting political façade.

The TSC would itself collapse following another military coup in October 2021, which, rather than implying the incompetence of Sudanese democratic authorities, is more suggestive of an unrelenting plague of political tumult, turmoil, and military tyranny afflicting the country.

Emergent from this revolution was a military junta monopolised by the RSF and SAF, an affront to any desire for continued Sudanese democratisation.

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