Endless war in Sudan is not the only option

There is an alternative that can put Sudan on the path to peace. This requires bold leadership and a forward-focused vision.

Endless war in Sudan is not the only option

The war in Sudan has entered its second year, and the path towards peace remains elusive. Three possible scenarios are that either the army will win the war, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) will win, or the country will be divided into two de facto states, each under the control of its respective factions.

An army victory is looking increasingly unlikely as the RSF is in control of four out of five of Darfur's states and the Al-Jazira state. It also has a strong presence in Khartoum and Kordofan and continues to receive regional and international support, including weapons, equipment, and political, diplomatic, and media backing. This support enables it to sustain the war and shield its leaders from accountability for the crimes and human rights abuses committed by its soldiers.

But for all this support, it is unlikely that the RSF will be able to pull off an all-out victory and take control of the whole country. It has suffered a series of setbacks in Khartoum, and public resistance to the militia is growing due to its well-documented human rights abuses that have garnered global condemnation. These crimes include: occupying homes, looting, sectarian-based killings, genocide, rape, and kidnapping.

And no amount of political backing for the RSF can whitewash these crimes. Meanwhile, propaganda efforts to cover up its abuses have badly backfired and have only fuelled more public outrage.

A divided Sudan

Having said all this, the third scenario seems increasingly likely to materialise. In this scenario, Sudan would be effectively divided into two territories, similar to what happened in Libya.

It seems increasingly likely that Sudan is heading toward a scenario in which it would be effectively divided into two territories, similar to what happened in Libya.

The army controls the north and east of Sudan, and the RSF controls most of Darfur and is expanding its control there. It is waging war in El Fasher, where the militia has the Sixth Division of the Sudanese army under siege. Fighting is also ongoing in the Kordofan region, including a prolonged siege at El Obeid.

However, regardless of the balance of forces, the RSF has not demonstrated any capacity to provide state services or institutional governance. A steady stream of civilians has been fleeing from RSF-controlled areas to territory held by the regular army despite the equally tough challenges of sustaining a normal life anywhere in the country.

Conditions in RSF-dominated areas are chaotic. Gangs and militias are rampant, worsening the situation. The extent of the problem was laid bare in early May when Doctors Without Borders stopped operating at Wad Madani Hospital in Al-Jazira State's capital, under RSF control, due to the untenable security situation.

Complete RSF control in Sudan would be disastrous. But also an army victory rooted in military triumph could lead to yet another totalitarian regime that would quash aspirations for a transformation into civil democracy and further the cycle of political and social instability that has engulfed the country since its independence.

Sudan has had 55 years of tumult within its 68-year history as an independent nation. The army's fundamental role is to protect the country and uphold the law, not to govern. Its mission should be protection, not stewardship.

There is an alternative that can put Sudan on the path to peace. This requires bold leadership and a forward-focused vision. 

But if the RSF were to take national control of Sudan, it could signify the onset of fascism. The militia's history of racism and criminality against the Sudanese people since its inception implies that life under RSF rule would be a relentless nightmare.

A better way forward

However, there is an alternative that can put the war-torn country on the path to peace. This will require bold leadership and a forward-focused vision. 

The country can do better. To do so, it must overcome its deeply ingrained biases. That means all stakeholders within Sudan's civil political community must refrain from pursuing narrow political gains through war.

This includes those who have openly declared their allegiances and those who masquerade behind a facade of neutrality while manipulating the situation to advance their own agendas at the cost of Sudanese lives and ongoing suffering.

First and foremost, a sustainable ceasefire must be reached. Then, leaders need to put their politics aside to allow a political process to be formed. Finally, every party involved needs to be held accountable for the crimes it has committed. Only then can the Sudanese people start building a future that promises a better tomorrow.

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