Ceasefire: situation in Sudan remains tense

According to the US, the warring factions in Sudan have agreed to a new ceasefire. The army of de facto President Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) of his deputy Mohammed Hamdan Daglo, nicknamed Hemeti, have agreed to pause fighting for three days. Europe's press is dismayed by the situation.

Open/close all quotes
taz, die tageszeitung (DE) /

The people need protection

Unlike for people from Ukraine, the taz laments, there are no safe escape routes for the Sudanese:

“Yet both peoples are being killed with the same Russian weapons. According to the UNHCR, a paltry 40 percent of Sudanese asylum seekers receive asylum in Germany and France - while in the UK, the most important receiving country in Europe, it's 95 percent - which means things can be done differently. Opening the doors to threatened people from Sudan and finally securing the status of the many Sudanese who are already here - that would be the right step now. Even if you can't do anything for peace in Sudan, you can always do something for people.”

The Times (GB) /

London leaving its citizens in the lurch

The Times is incensed to see that the British forces have evacuated diplomats but not the 4,000 or so British citizens living in Sudan:

“Why couldn't Britain evacuate at least some civilians with its diplomats? Why didn't troops remain to protect the stay-behinds, organise safe assembly areas? Why is there no up-to-date list of British expatriates? ... Foreign Office mandarins argue that they have a duty of care towards Britain's diplomats, an obligation to get them out of harm's way. But there is a broader responsibility to Britain's citizens abroad and it is clearly being neglected.”

TSF (PT) /

Egos and greed guarantee escalation

Both sides want to capitalise on the conflict, writes political scientist Raul M. Braga Pires in TSF:

“Already two three-hour ceasefires which were merely about 'sweeping the streets' have not been fully respected by the Rapid Support Forces paramilitaries, and the conflict has spread (according to the well-known logic of civil war) to residential areas that are of no military or strategic interest. ... The egos of General Burhan and the 'semi-general' Hemeti are also a guarantee for escalation and the exploitation of international aid so they can capitalise regionally and internationally on the conflict that is emerging against the backdrop of a 'triple bipolarity' (the West versus Russia and China).”

France Inter (FR) /

A proxy war brewing

France Inter is concerned that outside forces will soon get involved:

“Every general has backup and international networks, which means there is a very real danger that this war will develop into a proxy war. Egypt on one side, the United Arab Emirates or the Libyan General Haftar on the other, and then the Russian Wagner mercenaries, who are never far away when a strategic vacuum appears on the African continent. In the current world disorder, in which the UN is not able to fulfill its duties, troublemakers have free rein. ”

La Repubblica (IT) /

The Kremlin's role in the crisis

The Russian mercenary Wagner Group is extending its influence in African states. The Washington Post cites American secret service documents that reveal details of this involvement. Wagner was already active in Sudan before the fighting broke out. La Repubblica regards Russia as a driver of crises in the region:

“In the past the Russians exploited power vacuums and snuck into places where there were civil wars and jihadi terrorists. But now they are the ones who are 'provoking instability, organising coups and revolutions.' Their objective is the same as before: to seize raw materials and build up a front of nations who are hostile to the West, a proper 'federation' with close ties to the Kremlin.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Time for diplomats to tread the warpath

EU, African Union and Arab states must seize the initiative and jointly push for a ceasefire, De Morgen demands:

“We have to make it very clear to the warlords that their acts of war will be monitored very closely by the International Criminal Court and all their foreign assets blocked. A message like this makes the biggest impression when negotiators can look both sides directly in the eye. Diplomats with no experience of war have been evacuated, and rightly so, but now it may be time to send in experienced mediators in tailored suits with bulletproof vests and armed escorts. A diplomat sometimes has to tread the warpath too. ... If we don't take this risk, then Moscow and Beijing will send in their people.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Conflict with domino-effect potential

Le Monde warns of a domino effect in the region:

“The destabilisation and threat of partition of Africa's third largest country have raised fears of weapons and militias spreading across the region. Strategically located on the Red Sea, a major hub of world trade, Sudan borders on seven countries. In several of them (Libya, the Central African Republic, South Sudan) the situation is already tense. And Chad, the pivot of French influence in the region, has often seen its regime threatened by rebels coming from Sudan.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

The West wooed the wrong side

In the Frankfurter Rundschau, Africa correspondent Johannes Dieterich blames Western diplomacy's policy of cosying up to the Sudanese military:

“The Sudanese officers could have faced all kinds of sanctions and been left out in the cold. The exact opposite happened. They were implored to resume talks, no sanctions were imposed, the [opposition] street committees, whose members risked their lives with weekly protests, felt betrayed. Now the West is calling once more for sanctions - as if that can do any good at this stage.”

De Standaard (BE) /

All about resources and greed

The same story keeps being repeated in Sudan, De Standaard laments:

“Soil, oil and gold: control over mineral resources is the blood-red thread running through decades of civil war and violence in Sudan. The 50 years of fighting between the Catholic south and the Islamist north began, among other things, as a result of land conflicts between nomadic pastoralists and land farmers. The discovery of large oil fields in northern South Sudan in the late 1970s poured fuel on the fire. ... Al-Burhan and Daglo are new players in the same old drama, with the same victims - warlords who appropriate assets from which the entire population should benefit.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Civil war without civilians

The Tages-Anzeiger is dumbfounded:

“It's happened in many countries that one faction of the armed forces rebels against another. But for two armies to start attacking each other as is now the case in Sudan is almost without precedent. We even lack the words to describe it, it's a civil war without civilians, a coup within a coup. ... Both sides thought they stood to be weakened. They only care for themselves and couldn't care less about the people. ... The brutality with which they are fighting each other looks very much like an 'all or nothing' conflict. In the end, one of the two could emerge as the winner, in which case they would have even less interest in sharing power. In any case, the country will come out as the loser.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Threat of a new Libya looms

Naftemporiki comments:

“As in the case of Libya, larger and smaller forces are trying to exploit the instability to advance their regional interests. ... Al-Burhan is supported by Egypt, which controls most of the military-industrial complex in Sudan, while Daglo is backed by the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Daglo controls gold exports and has close ties to Russia, with the Russian mercenary organisation Wagner Group also being active in Sudan and the neighbouring Central African Republic. For Europe, the threat of a 'new Libya' looms, and Sudan's strategic location on the Red Sea and at the entrance to the Suez Canal prompts concerns about oil supply problems and a new wave of refugees.”

Dagens Nyheter (SE) /

The West must not look away

Dagens Nyheter sees little hope of an agreement between the warring parties:

“They have neither the will nor the ability to deal with the Sudanese economy: growth has collapsed, inflation has reached the triple digits, a third of the population has too little to eat. Instead, al-Burhan and Hamdan are fighting for influence in view of a planned merger of the security forces. It was this struggle that exploded on the weekend. ... The West has its eyes on Ukraine and China, but ignoring the Horn of Africa cannot be an option. For strategic as well as moral reasons.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Confrontation between former accomplices

A reckoning between criminals in uniform is what La Stampa sees:

“Between dirty kleptocrats who adorn themselves with usurped medals. General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the military junta that machine-gunned a fragile attempt to establish democratic hope in 2021, and [his deputy] Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as 'Hemetti', head of the death squads that perpetrated the Darfur genocide. ... Two ex-accomplices fighting over the spoils: namely Sudan. ... After the coup, the paramilitary militias were incorporated into the army as Rapid Support Forces, or RSF. They were also entrusted with the lcurative control of borders and migrants, with financial support from the European Union.”

Frankfurter Rundschau (DE) /

Civilian population needs a chance

Neither side is worthy of victory, the Frankfurter Rundschau comments:

“The best outcome would be if they weakened themselves to such an extent that the civilian population finally gets its chance to have a say. For years, it has steadfastly maintained its demands. If there were a Nobel Prize for civil resistance, the Sudanese would deserve it. Unfortunately history is rarely fair. There's an old African proverb that goes: when two elephants fight it is the grass under them that suffers. When two devils fight, things get even worse.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Russia destabilising Africa

Russia's President Putin is also partly to blame for the new wave of violence in Sudan, The Daily Telegraph writes:

“His failed invasion of Ukraine has empowered the Wagner Group, which uses that clout to plunder African nations and stir up trouble. ... Indeed, Sudan may be just the first African nation to implode under Russian influence. In the Central African Republic, Mozambique, Libya and Mali, Russian mercenaries have worked to reinforce existing conflicts, prop up despotic regimes, suppress efforts towards democracy, loot natural resources, secure strategic advantage for Moscow.”