At least 47 civilians in Sudan have been killed and some 400 others injured, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, in an attempted coup d’etat by the so-called Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary force in a battle over a proposed transition to civilian rule, Reuters reported Saturday.
The current government has been led by Sudanese army generals in a “Sovereign Council” since an October 2021 coup that ended a two-year period in which the military shared power with civilian leaders.
Army units loyal to de facto leader General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, have been battling to defend the presidential palace in Khartoum, and attacking the bases of the RSF, which is commanded by Sudan’s deputy leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as “Hemedti.”
Burhan heads the Sovereign Council, and Hemedti serves as its vice president.
The RSF was to be integrated into the national army, but there has been a disagreement on how long that process should take. The national army set a two-year timetable, but the RSF wanted a 10-year delay.
In addition to the clashes in the capital, battles were also reported in the Darfur region, and at Khartoum’s international airport.
Saudi airline Saudia reported that one of its Airbuses came under fire. Both Saudia Airlines and EgyptAir have suspended flights to Khartoum.
Bridges and roads have been shut down; schools were placed in lockdown as well, the BBC reported.
Chad has closed its border with Sudan.
The United States, European Union, United Kingdom, Russia, United Nations, African Union Commission, Arab League and Qatar have all called for a ceasefire. US Ambassador to Sudan John Godfrey wrote in a tweet that he was “sheltering in place with embassy staff” in Khartoum.
غودفري: إنّ تصعيد التوترات العسكرية والانتقال إلى القتال المباشر أمر خطير للغاية. أدعو بشكل عاجل كبار القادة العسكريين إلى وقف القتال. (2/2)
— U.S. Embassy Khartoum (@USEmbassyKRT) April 15, 2023
“I arrived late last night in Khartoum and was awakened by the very disturbing sounds of gunfire and fighting. I am currently taking shelter with the embassy staff, as Sudanese are doing all over Khartoum and elsewhere,” he wrote. “The escalation of military tensions and the transition to direct combat is very dangerous. I urgently call on the top military leaders to stop the fighting.”
What Will Happen to Sudan-Israel Ties?
Early in February 2023, Israel’s foreign ministry announced the Jewish State and Sudan had finalized a deal to normalize relations, with a signing ceremony expected to follow the transfer of power from the military to a civilian government in Khartoum.
According to Sudan’s foreign ministry, the agreement was made during a visit by Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen to “move forward towards normalizing relations between the two countries.”
Cohen’s visit to Khartoum was the first by an Israeli official acknowledged by Sudanese authorities, though there have been exchanges between officials on both sides for several years.
“During the visit, which was made with the consent of the United States, the parties finalized the text of the agreement,” according to Israel’s foreign ministry.
It’s not yet clear how the current conflict will impact those plans. Israel’s foreign ministry had no comment on the current situation when contacted by JewishPress.com on Saturday night.
Sudan pledged in 2020 to take steps towards diplomatic ties with Israel as part of a deal brokered by the administration of then-US President Donald Trump along with the historic 2020 Abraham Accords agreements signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.