The conflict in Sudan is escalating and has reached the point where embassies are airlifting their staff out of the capital, Khartoum. Foreign powers are rescuing their nationals using military special forces, airlifts, and convoys driving past fighters from both sides during a short cease-fire. 2015 Sudanese Tutu Fellow Samah Salman has been interviewed by Voice Of America about the conflict.
News agencies are reporting that the two main factions have been using artillery, airstrikes, and small arms in a conflict that has left millions of people caught in the crossfire, and in the past two weeks alone, hundreds killed.
In the VOA Africa interview with Esther Githui-Ewart, Samah was asked about the origins of the conflict and whether what was occurring could be called a coup. She responded by outlining the relatively short political history of Sudan since 1956. She said that since then, most transitions in power had been military coups with a few short periods of democratic civilian rule interspersed between this rule. The current conflict emerged from a negotiating framework agreement between all of the parties to try to reverse the 2021 coup and transfer power to a civilian government. A sticking point was the process by which the paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces, would be integrated into the Sudanese military. The subsequent conflict is between the Sudanese military and the RSF.
You can watch the entire interview at the VOA website or below:
In another interview, she was joined by Jeffrey Feltman, former US Special Envoy to the Horn. He said that the priority at this point should be supporting a cease-fire. The longer the conflict continued, the greater the temptation by external parties to meddle and put their fingers on the scale in favour of their chosen candidate. Samah said that a lack of accountability has created this sense of impunity by the players on both sides of the conflict. They have got away with war crimes, but without accountability, the leaders will tolerate any excess. Former dictator Omar al-Bashir- who was jailed after being ousted - should have been turned over to the International Criminal Court for his crimes and for which a warrant for his arrest from the ICC was issued in 2009.
The 21-minute interview provides valuable insights into the situation right now and possible options going forward.