World in View: Sudan: warring generals versus 46 million citizens

November 24, 2023

by Eugene Walker

When they (the Rapid Support Forces) took Ardamata (in West Darfur) they made an announcement that all boys should come out. When they did, they started shooting them all. They want to destroy all the Indigenous people. The youth have the power and ability to fight. They don’t want them to stay alive.

Adam Mousa Obama, from the group Darfur Victim Support

We keep saying that the situation is horrific and grim. But, frankly, we are running out of words to describe the horror of what is happening in Sudan.

—Clementine Nkweta-Salami, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Sudan

Sudan’s seven months of war began on April 13. More than 10,000 have been killed and 5.6 million or more displaced, in a country of 46 million. Two warring generals are fighting: Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo—who heads the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a primarily Arab militia force that grew out of the Janjaweed militias that rampaged against Darfur’s indigenous population earlier this century—and General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).

Both were military henchmen during Sudan dictator Omar al-Bashir’s rule. However, when a mass revolutionary process was close to overthrowing his rule, they, together with other military figures, abandoned al-Bashir, and moved to usurp and then destroy the revolution. Finally, Generals al-Burhan and Hamdan staged a military coup to take power. Shortly thereafter, they split apart, as each wanted to be the new ruler of Sudan. Ever since, they’ve been warring—not just against each other, but crucially, against the Sudanese masses.

Let’s briefly look at two regions of the country—the Darfur region, where the Masalit ethnic group live, and the region of Sudan’s capital Khartoum—to see what the war has wrought.


A new report by the Global Center for the Responsibility to Protect described how Hamdan’s RSF went door to door in the town of Ardamata in west Darfur, rounded up and killed people from the Masalit ethnic group. Men were singled out in order to take their land and wipe them out as an Indigenous group. Women too were savaged, including rape, partly because they were crucial participants in the revolution that toppled al-Bashir, and threatened the military over politics and economy. Neimat Ahmadi, the president of the Darfur Women Action Group, notes: “Because of that, they are targeted.” To survive, almost half a million Sudanese crossed into Chad.

Sulima Ishaq, head of the country’s Combating Violence against Women and Children unit, documented some of the sexual violence. In a recent case, a teenage mother was raped by seven fighters while she fetched firewood in the western Darfur region. Rape has now become systematic. With her team, Ishaq has verified 124 rapes and fears violence against women will increase. According to Ishaq, these cases are just the tip of the iceberg, with the true number almost certainly running into the thousands.

Rape is also used as a weapon of war in Khartoum, the capital. Recently, a woman was gang-raped at her home in Khartoum, in front of her siblings.


Fire in a building in Khartoum, September 2023. Photo: Uhna727ua, CC BY-SA 4.0

An end of summer report by the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project documented the war in Khartoum under the headline “The Battle for Khartoum Batters Civilians.”  The present moment continues this war on the citizens of Khartoum. The conflict between the SAF and RSF has led to a concentration of hostilities around strategic locations. The New York Times reports: “Battles have spread across the city, with fighters firing from rooftops and torching buildings as warplanes pass overhead. Electricity is spotty, food is in drastically short supply, and there are reports of rape, looting and robberies.”

Most of Khartoum State with its three cities is being controlled by the RSF as is much of Darfur. The SAF occupies much of the rest of the country.

Importantly, the reality of Sudan is by no means limited to the warring generals and their war on the Sudanese masses. What is at stake is the future of the revolutionary process in Sudan. It is that which both generals aim to crush. It is the revolution that all the governments of the surrounding countries as well as the U.S. wish to keep within bourgeois limits. Yes, most want to negotiate an end to the generals’ war in Sudan. But that is a far cry from allowing a revolution in Sudan to continue to fully develop. Only that can create the possibility of self-determination for Sudan’s people.

2 thoughts on “World in View: Sudan: warring generals versus 46 million citizens

  1. Unlike mainstream media, this article traces the history of a near-revolution in Sudan. It explains why there is such pressure to end the conflict so that the revolution can be thwarted. They want someone–anyone– to control the young men and women who want a new humane society.

  2. Global capitalists and state capitalists might be perfectly happy with long-running despotic rulers like al-Bashir, since it gives them investment stability. The people want to be self-determining. Hopefully they can survive the war between the generals without succumbing to the idea that maybe things would be better if they had never overthrown al-Bashir in the first place. That sentiment might be just what the capitalists are hoping for.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *