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Escalating the war in Darfur as they negotiate in Jeddah

Sparse results from the latest round of talks between the rival factions

None of the mediators and external parties – Saudi Arabia, United States, the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the African Union – was able to exert significant pressure on Sudan's warring factions at the latest round of talks in Jeddah.

The US State Department said that the talks were narrowly focused on setting up ceasefires and humanitarian corridors but would not attempt to cover 'broader political issues'. These are the subject of a separate negotiation between civilian 'anti-war' groupings in Ethiopia.

Instead, reports are emerging of intensifying fighting in Darfur between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) under General Abdel Fattah al Burhan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) under the command of Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo 'Hemeti' (AC Vol 64 No 22, Amid regional chaos, a glimmer of hope in Jeddah and Addis). Médécins Sans Frontières says that most of the 7,000 people who have fled across the border to Chad from Darfur in the last three days are women and children.

Perhaps in a bid to increase its leverage in the talks, Hemeti's RSF on 6 November announced the capture of El Geneina, the third town it claims to have taken in the Darfur region from the Sudan Armed Forces in recent weeks. But neither side has scored a decisive military win in more than six months of fighting.

But the RSF and its allied militias are seen as the most ruthless. They have been widely accused of running a genocidal campaign against the Massalit from West Darfur.

On 6 November, South Sudan's President Salva Kiir held talks on a peace initiative in Sudan with Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el Sisi in Cairo. The war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza was also on the agenda, according to the foreign affairs ministry in Juba.

In parallel to the Jeddah talks, Addis Ababa hosted a broader discussion on a political settlement in Sudan began in late October between civilian groups, civil society, trade unions and anti-war political parties.

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