Even with another cease-fire in Sudan, prospects for peace aren't bright
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
After almost three weeks of fighting, Sudan's two warring factions agreed to a week-long cease-fire. But this morning, there are still reports of heavy fighting in and near the capital, Khartoum. The warring generals are Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads Sudan's armed forces, and Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemetti, who commands the paramilitary rapid support forces. As part of that cease-fire deal, they agreed to name new representatives for negotiations. But each side still appears to be battling for control of neighborhoods around the presidential palace and army headquarters. Their fight has so far killed hundreds of civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.
Cameron Hudson is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He's also a former chief of staff to successive U.S. special envoys for Sudan and joins us now. Good morning.
CAMERON HUDSON: Good morning.
FADEL: So as we speak, people are dying. People are fleeing if they can. People are running out of water and food. Is there any prospect for peace? Do you have faith in these negotiations?
HUDSON: Well, I think it's too early to put much faith in the negotiations. What we have seen from both of these generals over time is willingness to agree to cease-fires...
HUDSON: ...A willingness now to agree to peace talks, but really nothing on the ground to suggest that they're in any way serious about those cease-fires or those talks. I think both sides see this threat as existential. They don't see a political future for themselves in the country as long as the other continues to exist. And so with that kind of bipolarity in thinking, it's hard to find a middle ground where you might find some negotiated settlement at this point.
FADEL: But if the fighting doesn't stop - and as you point out, cease-fires keep getting called. The fighting keeps - continues. And people are being killed. And the capital is being destroyed and other parts of the country. I mean, what is a path to possible peace, especially if these two men are fighting for supremacy over Sudan?
HUDSON: Well, I think one thing that the international community is going to have to do if it wants to be serious about Sudan's future is to draw its own red lines. And I know that's a loaded term now. But we have to declare that neither of these two people can have a political future in the country. There has to be an exit plan for both of these people. We have tried multiple times to establish civilian rule in Sudan after the fall of longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir.
But by giving either of these gentlemen and the institutions that they represent a foothold in the power structure of the country, they have been able to claw back all of the power that was lost when that former regime was deposed. And so I just don't think that we can - any opportunity for them to reclaim that hold on power by undermining civilian rule. So whenever these talks begin, whatever format they take, we're going to have to have a very disciplined and unified international approach to not allow these forces to come back into power, even though we need them in the short term to lay down their weapons and agree to these talks.
FADEL: But how are both possible?
HUDSON: Well, that's the art of diplomacy, right? I think we're going to have to see the United States and other actors using more of the tools that have been in the toolkit but have been underutilized so far. By that I mean sanctions on these two generals and the institutions that they represent. They're fabulously wealthy from a whole host of corporate entities controlled by their institutions. They have personal wealth and power. And so really beginning to target the networks that allow them to hold onto power, to sustain a patronage network, to recruit new forces, putting a stranglehold on that, while at the same time trying to cut off any international support that might be flowing to either side from outside of the country, I think, are going to be the two big factors to try to both arrest the conflict where it is right now, prevent it from growing any further and then putting a kind of penalty on both of these actors for their actions into the future.
FADEL: Cameron Hudson is a senior associate in the African program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Thank you so much for joining us.
HUDSON: Thank you.
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