Negotiations are set to resume in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday between the delegations of General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s army and the paramilitary leader General Mohamad Hamdane Daglo, known as “Hemedti.” So far, various mediation attempts have faltered, resulting in only brief ceasefires.
These talks represent a renewed effort to find common ground between the army and paramilitary groups, mediated by the United States and Saudi Arabia. “We accept the invitation to Jeddah,” the army stated in a recent press release, clarifying that the resumption of negotiations does not mean an end to the conflict. On the other hand, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces responded positively only on Wednesday, expressing their intent to alleviate the suffering of the Sudanese people and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilians.
Neither of the two generals will be physically present at the talks, making it challenging to expect any diplomatic breakthrough, explains Magdi El Gizouli, a researcher at the Rift Valley Institute. The parties are expected to focus on a potential ceasefire and the establishment of humanitarian corridors. Lieutenant General Shams Eddin Kabachi, Deputy Commander of the Sudanese Armed Forces, indicated during a troop review in Port Sudan on Sunday that the pursuit of a political solution would only occur in the “final phase” of discussions.
On the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), the Sudanese army emphasized that “the resumption of negotiations does not mean the suspension of the national battle for dignity” and that “the destruction of the rebels remains the goal of the Sudanese people.” The Rapid Support Forces have not yet commented, but recent days have witnessed intensified fighting in Khartoum, as both sides seek to secure their positions before the talks commence.
Ceasefire Takes Precedence
Indeed, U.S. officials acknowledge that the discussions will not initially delve into purely political issues; the primary focus is on achieving a ceasefire. It is only in the longer term that Washington will encourage the formation of a civilian front to facilitate a democratic transition in Sudan. American sources, not expressing excessive optimism, suggest that the immediate goal is to secure unimpeded access to humanitarian aid and implement other “confidence-building” measures.
As was the case in May, these talks will be held behind closed doors. According to a diplomatic source in the region, they could last around ten days. The United States, highly active in the matter, has engaged in numerous diplomatic efforts to ensure the resumption of negotiations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken finalized the terms during a visit to Saudi Arabia last week.
Representatives from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), composed of Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, will join the discussions on behalf of the African Union.