New report highlights escalating propaganda campaigns in Sudan

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In addition to physical dangers posed by bullets and shells, Sudanese are being bombarded with propaganda by the warring parties, making it increasingly challenging to get an idea of the situation on the ground. The latest Sudan Conflict Monitor report sheds light on the escalating propaganda campaigns in the ongoing conflict in the country.

The report, published by the Sudan Transparency and Policy Tracker yesterday, draws attention to the increasing use of propaganda, consisting of a mixture of disinformation and misinformation, by both sides of the ongoing conflict in Sudan as well as by Islamists loyal to former President Omar Al Bashir. The primary tool for disseminating these messages is social media, which is being used to polarise the Sudanese people and draw them to one side or the other.

The report notes that both the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) are active on social media, with 1.4 million and 988,000 followers respectively. Islamist groups aligned with the SAF and the now dissolved National Congress Party (NCP) are also allegedly using social media platforms to spread propaganda.

The SAF and the RSF are both attempting to present themselves as guarantors of stability and defenders of democracy and civilian rule. The RSF depict themselves as fighting against an Islamist clique that allegedly ‘hijacked the SAF command’. The militia also claims to be more reliable by filming its forces in locations they claim to control, and sometimes even featuring live streaming of battles.

In addition, Islamists aligned with the ousted president, the Muslim Brotherhood, jihadist organisations, and some radical imams have also stepped up their propaganda efforts. They are said to be using a coordinated social media script to incite hatred and sow divisions.

According to the report, some of these groups claim that the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) requested the RSF to attack the army and allege that the RSF initiated the war to allow civilians to seize power. They urge the military to let jihadist groups join the fight and vehemently oppose the army’s talks with the RSF, arguing that more bloodshed is needed to reform the state.

Some Islamist figures, such as Abdelhay Yousif, have even issued death threats, calling for the leaders of the RSF to be killed. Yousif is said to be accused of issuing a fatwa during the 2018-2019 mass protests, allowing the Al Bashir regime to kill up to one-third of the nation to preserve the other two-thirds under their rule.

The report highlights that these messages raise the stakes for ordinary people by warning them that not taking a side makes them even more vulnerable.

Overall, the Sudan Conflict Monitor report paints a grim picture of the situation on the ground, where urban warfare and lawlessness have become the new norm in Khartoum, forcing residents to rely on one another for assistance.

The report also highlights the spiralling violence in West Darfur and the recruitment from ethnic communities in Darfur by both the RSF and the SAF.

You can read the full report here.