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Sudan Conflict

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    28th Apr, 2023

Context

India launched 'Operation Kaveri' to return its people from Sudan, which has been witnessing fierce fighting as a result of a power struggle between the regular army and a paramilitary team. 

Where is Sudan?

  • Sudan is in north-east Africa and is one of the largest countries on the continent, covering 1.9 million square kilometres.
  • It is also one the poorest countries in the world, with its 46 million people living on an average annual income of $750 (£606) a head.
  • The population of Sudan is predominantly Muslim and the country's official languages are Arabic and English.
  • Sudan borders the Red Sea, the Sahel region and the Horn of Africa.
  • Its strategic location and agricultural wealth have attracted regional power plays, complicating the chancesof a successful transition.

Who is fighting who in Sudan?

  • What’s happening? In Sudan, powerful rival military factions are battling for control.
  • Who is fighting? The fight is between the army and the powerful paramilitary group, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
    • Both groups were allies. Together, they seized power in a 2021 coup.
    • But tensions increased over the proposed integration of the RSFinto the military.
    • The key question is who is in control and who would be the military’s commander-in-chief during an integration period.
  • Main players on the ground: Since the 2021 coup, Sudan has been run by a council of generals, led by the two military men at the centre of this dispute:
    • Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the head of the armed forces and in effect the country's president
    • And his deputy and leader of the RSF, Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti.
  • They have disagreed on the direction the country is going in and the proposed move towards civilian rule.
  • The main sticking points are plans to include the 100,000-strong RSF into the army, and who would then lead the new force.

Rapid Support Forces

  • The RSF was formed in 2013 and has its origins in the notorious Janjaweed militia that brutally fought rebels in Darfur, where they were accused of ethnic cleansing.
  • Since then, Gen Dagalo has built a powerful force that has intervened in conflicts in Yemen and Libya. He has also developed economic interests including controlling some of Sudan's gold mines.
  • The RSF has been accused of human rights abuses, including the massacre of more than 120 protesters in June 2019.
  • Such a strong force outside the army has been seen as a source of instability in the country.

What is at stake?

  • No end to conflict: The popular uprising had raised hopes that Sudan and its population of 46 million could emerge from decades of autocracy, internal conflict and economic isolation under Bashir. The current fighting could not only destroy those hopes.
  • Destabilisation of region: It could destabilise a volatile region bordering the Sahel, the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa.
  • Increasing competition among strong powers: It could also play into competition for influence in the region between Russia and the United States, and between regional powerswho have courted different actors in Sudan.

The name game

  • This mission is named on the same lines as that the PM chose to name the operation in Ukraine as Operation Ganga.
  • Rivers reach their destination irrespective of barriers. It's like a mother who will ensure she will bring her children back to safety.
  • The Kaveri is one of the major Indian rivers flowing through the southern states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
  • The river is sacred to the people of the region and is worshipped as the Goddess Kaveriamma (mother Kaveri).

Major evacuation operations

  • Operation Ganga: In a mission to evacuate stranded Indians from war-torn Ukraine, the Indian government kicked off Operation Ganga in February 2022
  • Operation Devi Shakti: An evacuation operation by the Indian Armed Forces (IAF) was kicked off in August 2021 to safely bring back Indian nationals from Afghanistan after the collapse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the fall of Kabul, the capital city of the Taliban.
  • Vande Bharat Mission: Special flights were operated across to globe in this mission to bring back the nationals who were left stranded in foreign countries due to the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Wuhan Airlift: In one of the most difficult evacuation flights, India airlifted its citizens safe from China’s coronavirus-hit city Wuhan in January 2020.
  • Operation Maitri: The government of India carried out this mission to safely bring the nationals from Nepal after the deadly earthquake in 2015.
  • Operation Raahat: Hundreds of Indians and other nationals were rescued under this operation during the unrest at Yemen's capital Sana’a after the complete takeover by Houthi rebel fighters in January 2015
  • Operation Amnesty Airlift: The mission was carried out in September 1996 to bring back the Indian nationals who did not have valid permits from the United Arab Emirates. 
  • Kuwait Airlift: In one of the massive operations in Indian history, the Indian Air Force joined hands with Air India in airlifting stranded Indian nationals in Kuwait in August 1990. 
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