Relative calm in Khartoum, El Burhan leaves headquarters, visits Omdurman base

Lt Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan visits an army base in Atbara, August 24 (Photo: still from footage posted on SAF's Facebook page)

An unknown number of people were killed in fighting around the El Shajara military base in west Khartoum on Wednesday. Yesterday, sporadic bombing and fighting were reported from Khartoum North and Omdurman. Army commander Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan left the army headquarters in Khartoum for the first time the war erupted. After a visit to the Sedna military base in Omdurman, he travelled to Atbara.

Khartoum state yesterday witnessed a relative calm compared to the previous days of extremely fierce fighting in its three cities.

On Wednesday, RSF paramilitaries, among them minors, continued to shell the El Shajara Armoured Corps.

The resistance committees of El Shajara El Hamadab reported on Wednesday evening that three mosques in the neighbourhood were hit by missiles, killing and injuring an unknown number of people, among them musician Araki Abdelrahim, member of the popular Igd El Jallad band, who died by a shell in one of the mosques.

Yesterday, warplanes of the Sudanese air force bombed RSF targets in Sharg El Nil in eastern Khartoum Nort, a listener told Radio Dabanga.

Army soldiers deployed in Abrof, Beit El Mal and other neighbourhoods of old Omdurman yesterday began combing the area.

An activist and other sources reported that the RSF retreated to various places in Ombadda, west of old Omdurman. “Many RSF soldiers are now stationed around the Ombadda Hospital and the Shifa El Aleel Hospital.”

The resistance committees of El Mansoura in Ombadda, Omdurman, in a statement yesterday reported clashes in the neighbourhood, “in which all kinds of weapons were used”.

‘The evacuees have ran out of their food reserves and the inhabitants of the neighbourhoods they fled to are hungry themselves’ – Omdurman activist

More than two weeks ago, both the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the RSF declared old Omdurman, where the national Radio and TV corporation is located, an ‘operation area’, and forcibly evacuated the residents.

“Most of their houses and many other buildings in old Omdurman have been plundered,” the activist said. “The evacuees, in particular those without relatives in Omdurman, are now living in very difficult humanitarian conditions. They have ran out of their food reserves and the inhabitants of the neighbourhoods they fled to are hungry themselves.”

He further reported that the Sabrin Market in the north of El Sawra in Omdurman is operating well again. “After the plundering and burning of the Omdurman Grand Market and the Popular Market, many traders moved to the Sabrin Market. Transport is also possible again between Sabrin and the Libya Market.” 

Army commander appears

On Thursday morning, army chief Abdelfattah El Burhan visited the Wadi Sedna military base and airport in northern Omdurman. It was the first time in 130 days he was seen outside the SAF General Command in central Khartoum.

The SAF released videos showing El Burhan hailing army soldiers and sipping coffee from a hot beverages’ vendor in the presence of people wearing civilian clothes. 

Addressing the soldiers, the commander said that “the SAF are fighting for Sudan, not for any specific party, group, or people”. 

After the visit, El Burhan was flown to Atbara in River Nile state. It was reported that he then continued his journey to Port Sudan at the Red Sea coast, but this turned out to be false information.

Well-informed sources also said they expect the army commander to leave for Saudi Arabia or Egypt as part of a tour that includes several capitals in the region to discuss the ending of the war.

‘The Sudan Armed Forces are fighting for Sudan, not for any specific party, group, or people’ – El Burhan 

Adel Khalafallah, a spokesperson for the Arab Socialist Baath Party, told Radio Dabanga that El Burhan’s appearance at the Sedna base “dispelled the controversy over who is in control of the military compound and its airport.

“El Burhan’s appearance refutes the psychological warfare by the RSF media that has been declaring over and over that the Army Command is besieged, and the commanders are unable to leave the place,” he said. “In addition, his appearance means a morale boost to the army and a heavy blow to the morale of the RSF paramilitaries.” 

According to journalist and political analyst Hafez Kabeer, however, El Burhan could not have left the Army Command without the knowledge of RSF leaders.

“The calm in the vicinity of the central army command over the past days suggests preparations for El Burhan’s exit,” he explained and mentioned “unconfirmed information” that a certain country pressured the warring parties to seriously enter negotiations to cease hostilities.

“His exit from the General Command opens a wider space for dialogue and gives him more freedom to reposition the army’s stances in order to stop the war.”

Kabeer pointed to another reading: “The armoured corpses in Omdurman and Khartoum are about to fall, and if that happens, the General Command will fall automatically as well, and all trapped within will be killed or taken prisoner by the RSF”.  

Politician Orwa El Sadig tweeted yesterday that he expects El Burhan to visit the Jeddah platform and soon announce a new ceasefire agreement with the RSF.