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Civilians demand a key role as US-Saudi mediation falters

Riyadh's and Washington's peace efforts are ignoring the politics at the centre of this devastating war

Ceasefire talks between Sudan's warring generals sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia, are set to resume in this week, Al Arabiya TV reported on Tuesday (6 June). This follows an escalation of the war in the wake of General Abdel Fattah al Burhan's withdrawal from the peace talks in Jeddah citing serial violations by his adversaries, last week (AC Vol 64 No 11, A ceasefire with monitors this time).

Shunting aside other interlocutors such as the UN, the African Union and the European Union, Saudi Arabia and the United States had brokered talks between Sudan Armed Forces commander Gen Burhan and leader of the Rapid Support Forces, Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti', that had led to a partially respected ceasefire that was also meant to speed the supply of humanitarian aid. Some those excluded groups are questioning Riyadh's and Washington's influence over the protagonists in a war that is starting to seep across regional borders.

After the talks stalled last week, the United States issued its first round of sanctions against four companies linked to the violence – two of which were connected to Burhan and two to Hemeti. Neither Burhan nor Hemeti have yet been sanctioned as individuals.

As reports proliferate about the United Arab Emirates' support for Hemeti, many of whose businesses are based in Dubai, Gen Burhan has been soliciting political and military support from Egypt.

President Abdel Fattah el Sisi, a contemporary with Burhan at Cairo's military academy, is chary of openly backing Sudan's army while Riyadh and Washington are trying to mediate.

Burhan has been telling officials in Cairo that should Sudan's army collapse, that could trigger an exodus across the border to Egypt. And should the current military stalemate between the two sides continue, that would also threaten Egypt's national security.

For diplomatic reasons, El Sisi declines to promise military support public but reports have been circulating about Egyptians air and ground support for Burhan's forces since the war started in mid-April.

This military stalemate leaves some space for civic activists, such as the Resistance Committees, who are calling on third parties and would-be mediators to back a return to unarmed political forces having primacy in th transition to civil rule.

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