The fighting in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and elsewhere is the direct outcome of a brutal power struggle inside the country’s military leadership. The clashes are between the regular army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary organization.

Where is Sudan?

Sudan is located in north-east Africa and is one of the continent’s largest countries, comprising 1.9 million square kilometers.It is also one of the poorest countries in the world, with an average yearly income of $750 (£606) per person. Sudan’s population is mostly Muslim, and the official languages are Arabic and English.

Who is fighting who in Sudan?

Sudan has been run by a council of generals since the 2021 coup, led by the two military men at the heart of this dispute: Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the armed forces and effectively the country’s president, and his deputy and RSF leader, Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti.


Why did the fighting in Sudan start?

The shooting began on 15 April, after days of tension as RSF personnel were redeployed across the country, which the army perceived as a danger. There was some hope that talks would address the matter, but they never took place. It is unclear who fired the first shot, but combat quickly erupted in several sections of the country, with more than 400 civilians killed, according to the World Health Organisation.

Why have civilians got caught up?

Even though the conflict appears to revolve around control of key installations, much of it is taking place in urban areas, with civilians becoming unwitting victims. It is unclear where the RSF bases are, but their fighters appear to have moved into highly populated regions. The Sudanese air force conducted air strikes in the capital, a city of over six million people, which are likely to have resulted in civilian casualties. Several ceasefires have been declared in order to allow people to flee the fighting, but they have not been enforced.

What are the Rapid Support Forces?

The RSF was founded in 2013 and arose from the legendary Janjaweed militia, which violently fought rebels in Darfur and was accused of ethnic cleansing. Gen Dagalo has since established a formidable force that has intervened in crises in Yemen and Libya. He has also developed economic interests, such as ownership of some of Sudan’s gold mines. The RSF has been accused of human rights violations, notably the June 2019 massacre of more than 120 demonstrators.Outside of the army, such a powerful force has been viewed as a source of instability in the country.


Why is the military in charge of Sudan?

This clash is the latest in a series of scuffles that have erupted after the 2019 ouster of long-serving President Omar al-Bashir, who came to power in a 1989 coup. There were massive street rallies calling for the end of his nearly three-decade dictatorship, and the army staged a coup to depose him.

Civilians, on the other hand, continued to push for the establishment of democracy. After that, a joint military-civilian government was formed, but it was deposed in another coup in October 2021, when Gen Burhan took command. Since then, the antagonism between Gen Burhan and Gen Dagalo has grown more intense.A framework agreement to return power to citizens was reached in December, but talks to finalize the details fell down.

What do the two sides want?

In a series of tweets, Gen Dagalo stated that Gen Burhan’s government were “radical Islamists” and that he and the RSF were “fighting for the people of Sudan to ensure the democratic progress that they have long yearned for.” Given the violent track record of RSF, many people find this message difficult to accept. General Burhan has stated that he favors the notion of reverting to civilian authority, but only to an elected administration. Some believe he has ties to ex-President Bashir and his allies, which the army denies. There are suspicions that both generals want to keep their positions of power because they are afraid of losing the wealth and influence that come with them.

What are other countries doing?

Fears are being expressed that the fighting may further split the country, exacerbate political volatility, and draw in neighboring states. Diplomats, who have played an important role in urging a return to civilian government, have been attempting to find a way to bring the two generals together. Soon after the conflict began, a regional alliance agreed to send three presidents to Khartoum, from Kenya, South Sudan, and Djibouti, but the mission never took place. The United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union have all called for a cease-fire and discussions to end the crisis, and several countries are now focusing on evacuating their residents.