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confidentially speaking

The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 11th May 2023

Can Saudi Arabia mediate peace in Sudan?

Blue Lines

Reports that the negotiations between representatives of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Jeddah are in the final stages of reaching agreement to allow humanitarian aid to reach Khartoum and cities in Darfur offer a shard of hope to the Sudanese. Yet few think the rival generals see a ceasefire as a logical endpoint after realising that neither can win quickly.

On the evidence that fighting has intensified over the past week, it is hard to believe that the secretive Jeddah talks have moved the dial much towards peace. By 10 May, there were reports that the Saudi Arabia-United States mediated talks might yield some declaration of principles and a pact, albeit temporary, to allow a corridor through which to transport the food, medicine and fuel needed by aid agencies.

The failed negotiations between Ethiopia's federal government under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) showed the limited value of joint declarations without missions on the ground to ensure implementation. A rush to secure a ceasefire without planning what should follow and the actors to be involved in the next negotiations could simply entrench the positions of Generals Burhan and Hemeti.

A catastrophe is looming in states neighbouring Sudan. Close to a million people have fled to these countries, many of them taking weapons and grievances with them.