Sudan’s de facto leader, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, embarked on a diplomatic tour, rekindling hopes for a potential peace agreement in the war-torn nation. General al-Burhan, who effectively rules Sudan, recently visited Egypt and South Sudan before arriving in Qatar to discuss the ongoing crisis that began on April 15, pitting the Sudanese military against the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
In late August, General al-Burhan made his first official trip since the conflict began, meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo. Egypt has been a key ally for al-Burhan since the coup that brought him to power.
As international mediation efforts, including those by Saudi Arabia and the United States, failed to yield results, Egypt offered to facilitate talks between Sudanese factions. In July, Egypt established a group consisting of Sudan’s neighbouring countries and six others to find solutions to the violent conflict. After receiving Cairo’s support, General al-Burhan travelled to South Sudan on September 4, where he held discussions with President Salva Kiir in Juba.
General al-Burhan’s third diplomatic meeting took place in Doha, Qatar, with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani. The Sudanese Sovereignty Council stated that General al-Burhan intended to discuss “issues of common interest and the situation in Sudan” during his visit.
Politically, these trips allowed General al-Burhan to assert his authority as the chairman of the Sovereign Council, even as his Khartoum headquarters remained under siege by the RSF for nearly five months.
Muhammad Khalifa al-Siddiq, a professor of political science at the International University of Africa in Khartoum, remarked, “By visiting Egypt and South Sudan, albeit briefly, Burhan is showing that he is willing to seek a rapid political solution at a time when several international initiatives are on the table.” He emphasized that if al-Burhan believed he could resolve the conflict through military means alone, he would have stayed home.
Before departing for Egypt, General al-Burhan downplayed expectations, urging his soldiers to focus on the war rather than discussions. However, Siddiq believes that this speech aimed to boost troop morale.
South Sudan understands Sudan’s complex issues, and it was instrumental in brokering the historic peace agreement between Sudanese authorities and several rebel groups in August 2020.
Burhan’s attendance at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September could be a significant step forward if he signals his intention to halt the war. He is expected to meet with the UN Secretary-General and leaders of influential nations and institutions. This could potentially lead to resolutions on humanitarian and political issues, as each day of conflict brings more suffering and violations.
The ongoing conflict between the two generals has already resulted in at least 5,000 casualties, according to estimates by the NGO Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project. The UN reports that the fighting has displaced 5.1 million people within and outside Sudan.
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