Members of the Massalit and Arab communities have fought since Saturday in and around the state capital El Geneina, trading gun and heavy weapons fire.
Sudan’s government has declared a state of emergency in the region.
“According to medical reports, the number of dead is now 132,” Mohamed Abdallah Douma, the governor of the region bordering Chad, told a press conference in Khartoum.
“The situation is now relatively stable,” he said, adding that there was “looting” but “no more fighting”.
Douma blamed the fighting on militia militants but the UN had said the conflict was between Sudan’s Massalit and the Arab communities, the latest in a string of clashes since January, which has forced over 100,000 people to flee their homes, according to AFP.
Sudan is in the midst of a rocky transition following the toppling of long-time president Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, following mass protests against his rule.
The transitional government has pushed to build peace with rebel groups in Sudan’s main conflict zones, including Darfur, where UN peacekeepers were recently withdrawn.
Thousands have fled the latest outbreak of violence, some escaping into Chad, according to the United Nations.
The clashes have seen a power station destroyed, an ambulance attacked and a rocket-propelled grenade hitting the key Sultan Tajeldin Hospital.
The vast Darfur region was previously ravaged by a civil war that erupted in 2003, leaving around 300,000 people dead and 2.5 million displaced, according to the UN.
It flared when ethnic minority rebels rose up against Bashir’s Arab-dominated government.
Khartoum responded by unleashing a notorious Arab-dominated militia known as the Janjaweed, recruited from among the region’s nomadic tribes.
The conflict has subsided over the years, and the latest in a string of peace deals was agreed in October.
But after years of conflict, the region is awash with automatic weapons and clashes still erupt, often over land and access to water.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide during the Darfur conflict.
Relations between Sudan and Qatar appear to be warming since the end of the Gulf blockade earlier this year.
has agreed to reactivate dozens of bilateral agreements with Qatar after the countries’ leaders met for the first time since the 2019 ousting of former dictator Omar al-Bashir. “We have more than 36 agreements and protocols signed between both countries… We agreed to activate these agreements next week or the week after the Qatari delegation will visit Sudan,” General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the leader of Sudan’s transitional sovereign council, was quoted as saying by Al-Jazeera.
Burhan travelled to the Qatari capital Doha on Wednesday for meetings with Emir Sheikh Tamim bin
Hamad Al Thani and Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al Thani.
The visit was the first by a Sudanese leader to the Gulf state since the Sudanese military toppled Bashir in April 2019 following months of popular protests.
Previously warm relations between Doha and Khartoum have been in uncertain waters since then.
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, key backers of the Sudanese transitional regime, led a punishing economic and diplomatic blockade of Qatar until an agreement earlier this year.
Sudanese officials shunned talks with Qatar until late January, when the Qatari emir met with Mohammad Hamdan Dagalo. Widely known as Hemedti, Dagalo is a senior member of the Sudanese sovereign council and leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces.
There is now a larger appetite for strengthening ties in both countries. Sudan hopes to expand Qatar’s $3.8 billion worth of investments in the country, according to Al-Jazeera.
The two leaders also disccused Khartoum’s burgeoning ties with Israel, forged as part of a Trump administration push last year. Doha does not have ties with Israel.
Burhan reportedly described the normalisation controversy as an “internal issue” he would not discuss with Qatar.
Chairman of Sudan’s ruling Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, arrived in Doha on Wednesday for talks with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. Al-Burhan’s two-day visit comes upon an invitation from the Qatari ruler, the Sovereign Council said in a statement.
Al-Burhan is accompanied by a high-profile delegation, including Foreign Minister Mariam Sadiq al-Mahdi, Defense Minister Yassin Ibrahim Yassin and Finance and Economic Planning Minister Gibril Ibrahim.
Wednesday’s visit is the first by al-Burhan to the Gulf state since former Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was ousted by the military in April 2019 after mass protests against his rule.
Qatar’s investments in Sudan are estimated at $3.8 billion, according to the Sudanese Ministry of Investment.
Consumers and traders in South Sudan’s Yei town are complaining about rising market prices following weeks of insecurity and attacks on major highways.
Drivers and traders who import consumable and non-consumable goods from either bordering Uganda or Juba town are on a go-slow as they fear for their lives and property after some drivers were killed and trucks torched on the major roads last week.
Agnes Sunday, a resident of Yei town said with the sudden sharp increase in prices, they are cannot afford basic food commodities.
“Life is getting worse in Yei town currently because of the high prices in the market and we cannot afford our basic needs due to insecurity in the surrounding villages and highways. I am urging the government to ensure stable security so that traders can supply goods before things goes out of control,” she added.
Kiden Doreen a local retailer at Yei’s Dar-el-salam market attributed the rising cost of prices in the market to a lack of supply for goods caused by a suspension of movement and transport due to insecurity.
She said consumers are forced to buy at the current prices to meet their basic pressing family needs.
“Regarding the rising prices in the market, it is because of the rampant insecurity and blockage of roads since most of the goods coming for sale into Yei markets are imported from Uganda. For instance, a kilogram of posho (maize flour) that used to sell at 300 SSP is now sold at 500 and 600 SSP in the market,” she adds. ( between $3-$4) *
Poru Yata another consumer in Yei town too complained about the abnormal market prices as compared to the past month.
“We are getting a lot of challenges when it comes to buying goods in the market and to make matters worse, people are charging different market prices. For example, a bucket of cassava flour that used to be at 1,500 SSP, is now 2,500 SSP, and a bag of rice that used to cost us 8,000 SSP is now 12,500 SSP, and five-liter of cooking oil that used to be at 2,500 SSP is now sold at 6,000 SSP and we are suffering in Yei nowadays,” he lamented.
The traders and consumers have called on warring parties to respect the cessation of hostilities agreement to end the suffering of poor South Sudanese in the urban and rural areas.
Edward Luba, the chairperson for Yei chamber of commerce said insecurity along the major roads has prevented traders from supplying goods to Yei.
“The Yei-Kaya road and Juba-Yei are not safe for movement for the last few weeks and those traders having stocks decided to raise market prices. I went to the market and I can confirm that prices are rising high and we are calling on the government to listen to security challenges facing traders on the highways,” he said.
Luba warned traders against unnecessary and abnormal hiking of market prices in the town saying those found charging abnormal prices will be questioned and fined according to business regulations.
Daughter of the late politician and former Sudanese prime minister Al Sadiq Al Mahdi, Dr Al Mahdi served as vice president of the Sudanese National Umma Party and a spokeswoman for the Council of Partners for the Transitional Period.
The National Umma party was founded by Dr Al Mahdi’s father, after he was overthrown by the Islamist government led by Omar Al Bashir in 1989.
Both father and daughter were key opposition leaders against dictator Mr Al Bashir, who was removed from power by his generals in April 2019 after months of street protests against his 29-year rule.
Dr Al Mahdi is the second woman to hold the position of foreign affairs minister in the history of Sudan.
Asma Muhammad Abdullah was appointed as the foreign minister in late 2019, as part of Sudan’s 18-member transitory council.
In his speech on Monday, Mr Hamdok said the new Sudanese government aimed to seek balanced foreign relations. He said the new Cabinet was chosen based on the competency and abilities of its members.
Opposition parties were weakened greatly under Al Bashir’s three-decade regime, and are jostling for power with the military during Sudan’s transition, making the Umma Party’s continued unity crucial to maintaining the balance of power.
Dr Al Mahdi accumulated almost three decades of political experience, working to free her country from the role of the Muslim Brotherhood, through her many positions in the National Umma Party.
At the same time, she studied to obtain her first degree in general medicine and surgery from the University of Jordan in 1991, followed by degree in tropical paediatric medicine from Liverpool Schools of Tropical Medicine in 1995.
She only practised medicine as a general practitioner in Sudan’s children hospitals for six years in the mid-1990s.
Dr Al Mahdi furthered her studies, and received a higher diploma in development and gender issues from Ahfad University for Girls in Omdurman in 2006, and a Bachelor of Law from Neelain University in Sudan in 2013.
With the start of protests in Sudan to overthrow Omar Al Basher in late 2018, Dr Al Mahdi supported an end to Bashir’s three-decade rule.
Due to her active role in public life, Dr Al Mahdi was detained several times by security forces, last of which was in January 2019 as anti-government protests spread to Khartoum university.
According to Amnesty international’s website, Dr Al Mahdi was also was arrested and detained on August 11, 2014 without charge and an in unknown location as she arrived at Khartoum Airport.
Once approved, the move could further open economic ties with Israel.
April 7, 2021
Sudan’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved a proposal to do away with a decades-old law boycotting Israel in the latest step toward diplomatic normalization between the countries.
Since 1958, the law has forbidden Sudanese entities from doing business with Israelis and barred diplomatic ties with the Jewish state. Its repeal could open the door further for official visits and expanding bilateral trade ties.
Before taking effect, the bill requires joint approval by the interim government’s Sovereign Council and the Cabinet.
The move is the most recent sign that Sudan’s transitional government is moving forward with the United States’ request to establish ties with Israel following the popular ouster of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019.
Still, Sudan’s government reiterated its “firm position on the establishment of a Palestinian state within the framework of a two-state solution,” the Cabinet said in a statement Tuesday.
Officials in Khartoum, in particular Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, have treaded carefully with the US request to normalize ties with Israel presented by the Donald Trump administration last year in exchange for Sudan’s removal from the US state sponsors of terrorism list.
The prospect of formal ties with Israel has raised some popular outcry in Sudan, which was home to a landmark 1967 Arab League resolution against negotiating, making peace with and recognizing the Jewish State for its continued occupation of Palestinian territory.
Sudan’s interim leaders expressed openness to establishing ties with Israel in talks with the Trump administration, but Khartoum’s unelected government has said it would leave the final decision to the transitional parliament, an official legislative body that has not yet been formed.
So far, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco have agreed to establish ties with Israel in a Trump administration initiative dubbed the Abraham Accords.
US President Joe Biden has said his administration will aim to build upon the agreements, but questions remain how and whether current officials will fulfill offers made by their predecessors.
The Biden administration has frozen a last-minute sale of highly advanced F-35 strike aircraft and armed drones by the Trump administration to the United Arab Emirates as part of the Abraham Accords negotiations.
The previous administration also promised significant wheat and medical aid to Sudan by 2022 and reversed decades of US policy by recognizing Morocco’s unilateral claim over Western Sahara, despite international opposition.
Despite the Trump administration’s transactional methods, the breakthroughs in US-Sudanese relations over the past year have been “a huge success,” said Tibor Nagy, the US State Department’s former top official on Africa policy who now is at Texas Tech University.
“There’s incredible potential [for Sudan]” with the lifting of US sanctions and economic reforms, Nagy told Al-Monitor, adding, “It’s just a phenomenal opportunity.”
El Geneina — A convoy from Khartoum arrived in El Geneina, West Darfur, yesterday. It carried food and non-food items for the displaced and others affected by the recent events as the city currently experiences severe shortages in essential goods, including food and drinking water.
The convoy was received by activists, the resistance committees, and local authorities.
Displaced people in El Geneina and surrounding camps have complained about the terrible deterioration of the security and humanitarian situations.
Activists told Radio Dabanga that thousands of families living in 10 camps around El Geneina are severely suffering from food shortages. They also explained that the value of the materials provided by humanitarian organisations does not exceed one dollar per family per month.
They also pointed to the terrible deterioration in health services and the great difficulties people experience in obtaining drinking water because most of the wells are defunct due to technical malfunctions. Displaced people also experience a lack of fuel, covers, and tarpaulins or tents.
El Geneina recently witnessed a surge in violence. Most significantly the El Geneina Massacre in January when large groups of armed men from Arab herding communities attacked El Geneina and the two Kerending camps, killing at least 163 people and leaving more than 123,000 people displaced.
In February, a committee of victims from the Kerending camps warned about the impending humanitarian and health disaster in the shelters of El Geneina. They indicated that there was a lack of toilets and medical support, and that food was scarce.
Khartoum / El Fasher / Port Sudan — Face masks, disinfection, and social distancing are to become mandatory in Sudan’s state institutions, schools, public transport, and all gathering places subject to overcrowding, the Supreme Committee for Health Emergencies has said. The committee says it will activate a law to enforce this decision. A similar regulation has been in force for employees public and private institutions since last week.
In a statement following the committee’s meeting in Khartoum on Tuesday, Sudan’s Minister of Health Dr Omar El Najeeb noted that “there has been a steady increase in the number of injuries and deaths due to corona, especially in the states of Khartoum and El Gezira”.
The minister stressed that the situation in Khartoum state is a cause for concern due to the increase in cases, especially among school children and teachers. He added that “the issue is complicated by the capacity of healthcare institutions in terms of the capabilities to receive cases, a severe shortage of absorptive capacity, as well as the problem of the lack of oxygen, medicines, and other aids”.
The minister explained that the meeting also decided to form a committee from the Ministries of Health, Finance, and Energy to provide the necessary equipment for the health sector, accelerate the vaccination process, and increase the target groups for vaccination to include health professionals, seniors aged over 60 to higher, those with chronic conditions, and workers in vital sectors.
North Darfur state announced the suspension of studies in basic and secondary schools for a week, starting on Thursday. The decision issued by the Wali, Mohamed Arabi after a positive case was recorded among the students, excludes students in the eight grade.
The Health Emergency Committee in North Darfur state announced that eight deaths were recorded in the second wave of the Corona pandemic, while the number of cases during the past week reached 16, including three cases that were recorded on Monday.
Arabi announced his approval of the recommendations issued by the joint meeting of the State Security Committee and the Emergency Health Committee on Tuesday. The recommendations included strictly prohibiting gatherings and imposing penalties on those violating the precautionary measures.
In eastern Sudan, Red Sea state announced a third wave of the Corona pandemic, indicating that positive cases are still being recorded. The state epidemiological report revealed 149 new cases, including 11 cases, on Monday.
Dr Taha Badawi, reporter of the Supreme Chamber of Corona Crisis Management in Red Sea state, told Radio Dabanga that the state has issued a decision to postpone the diving festival in Muhammad Qul locality for a week until the situation was assessed.
Positive cases since the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic in November 2020, cumulatively, amounted to 464, of which Port Sudan recorded 407, and cases received from transit travellers from other states was 46.
CAIRO — In a bid to confront unilateral Ethiopian policies on the Blue Nile, Cairo and Khartoum intensified their cooperation for joint action and cooperation on the diplomatic and information levels.
Meanwhile, Ethiopia is trying to place pressure on Sudan by supporting the Sudanese opposition and trying to forge a countercoalition with Eritrea, South Sudan and Somalia.
The Egyptian-Sudanese coordination has not been limited to official visits exchanged between the two countries, most notably President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s visit to Khartoum on March 7 and the March 13 visit to Cairo by Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok.
There now seems to be an unprecedented strategic partnership between the two countries amid cooperation at all levels aimed at confronting regional threats. Chief among these is the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).
Egypt and Sudan have recently launched an international diplomatic campaign to warn against the unilateral Ethiopian policies aimed at completing the filling of the dam’s reservoir without reaching a comprehensive agreement with the two downstream countries regarding the rules of filling and operating the dam.
A government source in the know on the Sudanese dossier told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Joint understandings have been concluded with the aim of addressing all kinds of threats facing the Egyptian and Sudanese national security, especially Ethiopia’s attempts to impose a fait accompli in the eastern Nile Basin, where a joint team has been formed to deal with the GERD dossier at all levels.”
He said, “There has been an agreement that each country plays its role and takes joint action at the regional and international levels to confront Ethiopia’s decision to complete the second filling phase of the GERD. They also denounced the ongoing Ethiopian encroachment [occupation and attacks] upon Sudanese territory since the outbreak of the border conflict in east Sudan.”
The source added, “There is an exchange of information between Cairo and Khartoum regarding threats that could affect national security amid ongoing talks about ways to deal with potential risks.”
The Egyptian-Sudanese convergence has not been limited to the formal side alone, as a series of community dialogues has taken place at the level of research centers, writers and media professionals to discuss thorny issues, such as the Halayeb and Shalateen Triangle, which were previously a source of tensions between the two countries.
At a meeting held with writers and thinkers from Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies during his visit to Cairo March 13, Hamdok stressed “the need to start a dialogue that would tackle issues kept in the dark, all the while changing the rampant stereotypes and resolving outstanding issues between the two countries.”
On March 7, SUNA, the official Sudan News Agency, announced that the Ethiopian government provided logistical support, including weapons, ammunition and combat equipment, to rebel forces in the Blue Nile state of Sudan. Ethiopia was accused of trying to use rebels in Sudan to hinder the Sudanese army efforts on the eastern front, where a dispute over al-Fashqa region in the Sudanese state of al-Qadarif is taking place.
As Sisi visited Sudan March 6, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali, accompanied by Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki, paid a visit to South Sudan. Details on said visit are yet to be revealed.
Observers of the African developments said that this is an attempt on Ethiopia’s part to forge alliances to counter the Egyptian-Sudanese alliance.
Amid Ethiopian attempts to win over neighboring African countries, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry intensified diplomatic moves with countries neighboring Ethiopia. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received March 22 Somalia’s ministers of foreign affairs and presidential affairs to discuss political developments in the African region and ways to strengthen stability, peace and security.
Meanwhile, Sherif Issa, assistant minister for African affairs, led a large Egyptian delegation from various ministries, companies and businessmen during his visit to Djibouti March 18 for talks on ways to diversify cooperation in economy, trade and investments, in addition to political consultations.
Asked about the Ethiopian moves against Sudan, Sabah Moussa, a journalist focusing on Sudanese and African affairs who writes for Al-You Al-Tali, a Sudanese daily, told Al-Monitor, “Addis Ababa rushed to use pressure cards against Khartoum and chose to support rebel forces despite the fact that these forces were a party to the peace agreement signed between the Sudanese government and rebel forces in Sudan on Oct. 3, 2020. But it is clear that these moves are an attempt to respond to the Egyptian-Sudanese harmony and show that it has a lot of pressure cards it can resort to — be it through the Sudanese armed opposition or a coalition with Eritrea.”
He said, “Sudan still has a card it can use against Ethiopia if it were to reciprocate. It can support the Ethiopian opposition, namely the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which escaped to Sudan after the Ethiopian federal military forces waged a war against them in the Tigray region [late last year]. However, despite Ethiopian provocations, the regime in Sudan is seemingly trying to practice self-restraint to protect both the country and the region from the consequences of a war that will be devastating.”
Ali Jaafar, a Sudanese researcher focusing on African affairs at the University of Khartoum, told Al-Monitor, “The Egyptian-Sudanese position is now stronger in the face of Ethiopia’s unilateral GERD policy, and this coordination is expected to be translated into urgent movements such as filing a formal complaint against Ethiopia before the UN Security Council after its policy threatened [stability] in the Horn of Africa.”
He noted, “I do not think that Cairo and Khartoum will take more severe positions and go so far as to take military action against Addis Ababa, especially considering that the two countries are keen to support stability policies in the Horn of Africa.”
Jaafar added, “The Ethiopian claims that the GERD is a symbol of African development that will liberate [the continent] of colonialism must be confronted. Egypt’s and Sudan’s ability to change the African positions on the GERD will put pressure on Ethiopia and force it to change its hard-line positions. The harmony between the Egyptian and Sudanese rhetoric has frightened Ethiopia. The more powerful this coordination is felt at the Arab, regional and international levels, the more Ethiopia will tend to change its positions.”
He said, “The international community now has several questions to answer concerning the possibility of a conflict erupting and having serious dimensions in a region overlooking significant waterways.”
Cairo and Khartoum continue to condemn the hard-line Ethiopian stances and the insistence on the unilateral completion of the dam’s filling.
Commenting on the speech of the Ethiopian foreign and water ministers on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the inauguration of the GERD, the spokesman of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Hafez, said in a statement March 18, “Ethiopia’s intention to impose a fait accompli on the downstream countries pose a threat to the interests of the Egyptian and Sudanese peoples and affect security and investment in the region.”
The Egyptian and Sudanese attempts to bring the Ethiopian policies to a halt depend on clear regional and international positions capable of protecting these two countries’ interests in the Nile waters, as these interests are guaranteed by several watertreaties, including the Convention on the Law of Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses.