Sudan’s embattled SAF and RSF in Jeddah for ‘pre-negotiation talks’ on humanitarian truce

'The Battle of Khartoum' (Cartoon by Omar Dafallah / RD)


Representatives of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), whose bloody clashes across Sudan have ignited a humanitarian crisis, claimed hundreds of lives, and left thousands more wounded or displaced, today began ‘pre-negotiation talks’ in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia.

In a joint statement, the US Dept of State and the government of Saudi Arabia, who have co-brokered the talks, “urge both parties to take in consideration the interests of the Sudanese nation and its people and actively engage in the talks towards a cease fire and end to the conflict, which will spare the Sudanese people’s suffering and ensure the availability of humanitarian aid to affected areas.”

The statement also stresses “the efforts of the countries and organisations which supported these talks, including Quad countries (Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the USA), the League of Arab States, and partners from the Trilateral Mechanism (UNITAMS, the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development).

Co-brokers Saudi Arabia and the USA also urge “continued, coordinated international support for an expanded negotiation process that should include engagement with all Sudanese parties”.

In a press circular yesterday evening, the General Command of the SAF confirmed the departure of its delegation to Jeddah. The office of the official spokesperson for the SAF confirmed that “a delegation of the SAF left for Jeddah this [Friday] evening to discuss the details of the armistice, in order to secure and create conditions appropriate to deal with the humanitarian aspects of our citizens in light of the current conditions”.

Both the SAF and RSF have emphasised that the discussions will centre around negotiating a humanitarian truce, to allow civilian to find safety, and allow for medical and food aid to reach those most affected by the conflict.

Internal and local mediation efforts and negotiation initiatives to contain the crisis have faltered, as the warring parties refuse to communicate. International parties, including the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Djibouti, Canada, the USA, Israel, Turkey, and Ethiopia, have all proposed mediation initiatives.

‘Power politics’

However, the talks have attracted criticism from commentators. Cameron Hudson, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council‘s Africa Centre, and former chief of staff to the US special envoy to Sudan and as director of African affairs at the National Security Council, dismissed the talks as “pure power politics”.

In an uncharacteristically strongly worded Tweet, Hudson asserts: “They are talking about talking. Neither Saudi [Arabia] nor the US gives a [expletive deleted] about civilian rule or democracy in Sudan at this point. This is pure power politics.”

Humanitarian catastrophe

As reported by Radio Dabanga this week, in an open letter, a group of Sudanese first responders outline the growing humanitarian catastrophe in the country. The group laments that the country’s healthcare system is “just days from collapse”, highlights that the fighting that erupted across Sudan on April 15 has had a devastating impact on civilian lives and infrastructure.

“The worst impacted city is the capital Khartoum, where the UN has reported over 500 casualties and 4,000 wounded. The figures are mounting by the hour and probably a significant undercount given the number of victims it is not possible to count in the chaos,” the letter says.