Three weeks after resuming negotiations in Saudi Arabia, the Sudanese armed forces and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have signed an agreement. The talks were mediated by Saudi Arabia and the United States.
The two sides, who have been at war since April, have made commitments to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, as well as the movement and work of aid organizations. The warring parties have also agreed to participate in a joint forum led by the United Nations on this issue. This is a modest step forward in a conflict that has claimed over 9,000 lives and displaced 6 million people.
The mediators themselves, the United States, Saudi Arabia, the African Union, and the regional organization IGAD, acknowledge the modesty of the agreement.
According to them, the compromise could “alleviate the suffering of the populations.” Nevertheless, they describe the negotiations as having “narrow objectives” and “regret that the parties were unable to agree on a ceasefire.” Previous mediation attempts have failed, and all agreements reached have been quickly violated.
Nicholas Coghlan describes it as an “extremely limited” progress. According to the former Canadian ambassador to Sudan, “both parties still believe they can win militarily, neighboring countries are not motivated to change the situation, and the United States has other priorities.”
The head of the UN agency OCHA in Sudan, Clementine Nkweta-Salami, prefers to hold the warring parties accountable. For Clementine Nkweta-Salami, this agreement “marks a moment of truth.” “Promises must be kept” and “immediately followed by concrete actions,” she insists.
However, the situation does not lend itself to optimism. As the agreement was being concluded, the paramilitaries accused the army of bombing the country’s largest refinery in El Jelli, north of Khartoum. The RSF accuses the army of wanting to “sabotage essential infrastructure.” The armed forces, on the other hand, claim that an RSF tanker truck caught fire and caused a blaze.
At the same time, the US Embassy in Sudan denounced “disgusting acts” committed by the RSF in Ardamata, Darfur, where the paramilitaries are suspected of massacring Sudanese of the Massalit ethnicity. This is further evidence of the ethnic dimension of the conflict.