Sudanese warring parties dig in as Jeddah talks falter again By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People fleeing the violence in West Darfur, cross the border into Adre, Chad, August 4, 2023. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

By Khalid Abdelaziz and Nafisa Eltahir

DUBAI (Reuters) – Saudi and U.S.-brokered talks aimed at halting fighting between Sudan’s warring parties have faltered again, and the country’s army and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces have pressed on with military campaigns that have caused a major humanitarian crisis.

The lack of progress at the talks in Jeddah dashed hopes for resolution of a conflict that has displaced more than 6.5 million inside and outside Sudan, decimated the economy, and triggered ethnically driven massacres in Darfur.

Sudan’s army has escalated its rhetoric and residents say it has intensified air strikes in the capital Khartoum, while its rival, the paramilitary RSF, has secured advances in the Darfur and Kordofan regions.

“They are firing artillery aggressively, and it often lands in civilian homes,” said Ahmed Abdallah, a 51-year-old in Omdurman, a city that adjoins Khartoum where the rivals are battling over army bases.

The RSF and army worked together to oust former ruler Omar al-Bashir in 2019 and stage a coup in 2021, but conflict erupted between them in April over a plan for a new transition.

Talks in Jeddah were first suspended in June and resumed in October. They were adjourned this week with no new agreement, Sudanese sources at the talks said, after commitments to calm rhetoric, capture Bashir cronies, and facilitate humanitarian assistance went unfulfilled.

Representatives for the two sides, who were not meeting face to face, remained at odds over the RSF’s occupation of much of Khartoum, the sources said.

The army has demanded that the RSF withdraw to specific bases, and rejected an RSF counter-proposal that it leave civilian homes and set up checkpoints around the city, they said.

A U.S. State Department spokesman said mediators remained ready for additional talks but “the parties need to demonstrate that they can implement their commitments”.

On Monday, the U.S. sanctioned three Bashir-era intelligence officials over their alleged roles in fuelling the conflict on both sides.

On Saturday, army head General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said in a speech to soldiers that the war “would not end until every inch of this country soiled by the rebellion is free”.

The RSF has re-opened markets and hospitals and deployed police in Darfur, consolidating recent gains. It has also continued its expansion into the Kordofan region, which lies between Khartoum and Darfur, attacking villages and towns surrounding state capitals.

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