Foreign Policy Watch: India-Africa

An overview of Sudan’s civil war 


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Bordering countries of Sudan;

Mains level: Important issues in the Global world;

Why in the News? 

The inability of successive governments to articulate a shared vision has resulted in the unfair distribution of wealth and resources in Sudan.

ANKARA, TURKIYE – NOVEMBER 3: An infographic titled ”Sudanese civil war intensifies in the western cities” is created in Ankara, Turkiye on November 3, 2023. Since mid-April, the intensity of the conflicts between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Sudan, which have resulted in nearly 10,000 casualties, shifted from the capital Khartoum and its surroundings to the western cities. (Photo by Yasin Demirci/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Historical background  of Conflict: 

  • In 1956: The government that came to power in 1956 emphasized an Arab and Islamic identity based on Mahdist principles. It was not representative of diverse communities and demanded compliance, leading to widespread resistance.
  • In 1989: In 1989, a new government seized control under the National Islamic Front, an alliance between army officers and the Muslim Brotherhood. Omar al-Bashir came to power, supported by Islamist leader Hassan al-Turabi, aiming to establish an Islamic state.
  • In 1991: The government set up an internal security apparatus, arresting and torturing dissenters. It introduced a new penal code in 1991 to impose an Islamization agenda.
  • In 2003: The al-Bashir (in 2003) regime enlisted Janjaweed militias to quell an insurgency in Darfur. These militias were later designated as the Rapid Support Forces in 2013.
  • In 2018-19: After protests in 2018 and al-Bashir’s removal in 2019, a transitional military government was established. Despite challenges and a failed coup attempt, a power-sharing agreement was reached, but another coup led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan derailed the democratic transition.

Causes of the present conflict in Sudan:

  • Deep-rooted Crisis in Governance: The conflict reflects a longstanding crisis within Sudan’s governing structure since gaining independence in 1956, characterized by power struggles and frequent coups.
  • Identity Crisis and Rebellion: Sudan has experienced numerous rebellions fueled by an identity crisis, with marginalized populations seeking autonomy and fair representation within the state.
  • Ethnic and Regional Disparities: Sudan comprises of 19 major ethnic groups and about 597 ethnic sub-groups. Since independence, the Sudanese have experienced 35 coups and attempted coups, more than any other African country.
  • Religious and Political Ideologies: Shifts in government ideologies, such as the establishment of an Islamic state in 1989, have exacerbated tensions and led to further marginalization of certain groups.
  • Role of Militias: The emergence of paramilitary forces, such as the Rapid Support Forces, has complicated the conflict dynamics, with militias vying for power and control over resources.
  • Other country’s involvement: External influences, including support from foreign entities like Russia, have played a role in shaping the conflict landscape, particularly in resource-rich regions like Darfur.
  • Economic Interests: Economic factors, such as control over lucrative industries like gold mining, have contributed to the entrenchment of certain groups in power and fueled conflict dynamics.

Way Forward:

  • Establish a Civilian-Led Government: Sudan needs to prioritize the establishment of a transparent, civilian-led government that represents the diverse Sudanese populace. This government should ensure inclusivity and participation in decision-making processes.
  • Disarm and Demobilize Militias: Urgent action is needed to disarm and demobilize militias like the Rapid Support Forces. This will prevent militia dominance over the state and reduce the risk of armed confrontations and conflicts.
  • International Support for Reconstruction: Sudan requires collaborative efforts from the international community to aid in post-conflict reconstruction. This support can include financial assistance, capacity-building programs, and technical expertise to rebuild infrastructure, institutions, and communities affected by conflict.

Mains PYQ 

Q Africa was chopped into states artificially created by accident of European competition. Analyse. (UPSC IAS/2013)

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