Warring Parties in Sudan to Hold Talks in Saudi Arabia
Sudan has been in a delicate political situation since 2019 when mass protests arose and led to the ouster of President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, a dictator in power for 30 years. Since then, Sudanese civilians and officials, along with the United States and other foreign powers, have been trying to move the nation from military rule to a civilian-run government with democratic elections.
However, in October 2021, General al-Burhan and General Hamdan carried out a coup that stalled progress towards a transition process. Diplomats from the United States and other countries were working on a new agreement with the generals to get the process back on track, and they thought that the generals were ready to embrace the pact. But weeks ago, disagreements emerged between the generals regarding how to integrate their forces, including a timeline to do so. One issue was the chain of command, with General Hamdan wanting to report directly to a civilian leader, while General al-Burhan wanted General Hamdan to report to him.
One of the last plans discussed before fighting broke out was a proposal that both generals maintain operational control of their own forces, and sit on an integration committee with a new civilian head of state, according to a State Department official. The potential for progress was hindered by a conflict between the military forces of the two generals, resulting in a need for talks to be held.
African officials say that when the conflict began three weeks ago, both sides thought they could easily win. However, as the battle intensified, particularly in Khartoum, the rival parties began to accept that talks were necessary. This resulted in African governments making diplomatic efforts in recent days, leading to talks being set between the warring parties.
If the generals agree to allow a secure way for aid to enter Sudan, the majority or all of immediate aid would come by ship to Port Sudan and then be taken overland to Khartoum and other places. The United States has pledged to work with the United Nations on this process.
Critics argue that the Biden administration should have tried to punish the two generals after the 2021 coup instead of collaborating with them. U.S. officials claim they and their partners withheld economic aid and debt relief from the Sudanese government to pressure the generals to support a transition to civilian rule and democracy.
There is hope that the talks scheduled to take place in Saudi Arabia between the warring parties will lead to progress towards a civilian-led government in Sudan. The negotiations will focus on agreements for a new government, and hopefully, this will lead to stability for the nation.