Renewed Sudan-IGAD Tension…Will War Logic Prevail?

Al-Nour Ahmed Al-Nour

Khartoum – Renewed tension between Sudan and the Intergovernmental Authority for the Development (IGAD) after the Sudanese Foreign Ministry rejected major points contained in the final communiqué of the emergency IGAD leaders’ summit which was devoted to discussing the Sudanese crisis, and approved steps to stop the war, that has been raging in the country since mid-April, unabated, according to analysts.
On Sunday, the Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced reservations and observations about the final communiqué of the IGAD leaders and heads of government summit, convened on Saturday in Djibouti, saying a priori the draft communiqué landed later than what was initially agreed upon.
The President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan, approved the implementation of a permanent ceasefire in the country, and the departure of the Rapid Support Forces from Khartoum before meeting with its commander, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti), the Sudanese Foreign Ministry underlined in its statement.
Tensions erupted between Sudan and IGAD last July when the Sudanese delegation withdrew from the summit of leaders of countries in the region that was held in the Ethiopian capital in protest against Kenyan President William Ruto chairing the Quartet set to work on how to resolve the Sudanese crisis. It charged Ruto was not neutral. Sudan threatened to suspend its membership within the African organization, of which he was a leading founder in 1996.
Last November, the President of the Sovereign Council, Abdul Fattah Al-Burhan, visited most of IGAD states, his tour included Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. The tension was resolved, and Al-Burhan demanded that a summit meeting be convened for the leaders of the countries of the region to adopt steps that would lead to ending the war in his country.
The summit, hosted by Djibouti, recommended holding a face to face meeting between Al-Burhan and the commander of the Rapid Support Forces, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo “Hemedti,” within 15 days after the implementation of a ceasefire. It also approved an expanded umbrella of 22 countries and regional and international organizations concerned with the Sudan dossier, and a mechanism from “IGAD” and the African Union and the United Nations to address the crisis and initiate a political process that brings together the Sudanese parties.

External fingers
The Sudanese Acting Foreign Minister, Ali Al-Sadiq, reveals that the intervention of external parties and pressure from African and regional parties on “IGAD” resulted in negligence of the ministry’s observations on the draft communiqué that was sent a day after the summit was concluded, and it was issued in a defective manner that does not express the summit, nor the pre-conditions that Al-Burhan set for holding a meeting with Hemedti.
He stated in an interview broadcast on the official Sudan TV, Monday, that Al-Burhan set as a prerequisite eviction of (RSF) from citizens’ homes and utilities, and that the RSF troops be gathered in areas outside the cities, and a comprehensive ceasefire be observed prior to his meeting with Hemedti. But the IGAD communiqué stated that there was an agreement to meet, but failed to mention the preconditions demanded by Burhan.
He said the communique mentioned that the Kenyan President made a phone call with Hemedti, and that some leaders of the IGAD countries conferred with the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and leaders of the RSF after the summit. The ministry said these were activities held outside the summit and that therefore should not figure in the final communiqué of the summit.
Ali Al-Sadiq argued that he received a phone call from his Djiboutian counterpart the day before the summit, conveying to him the desire of President Ismail Omar Guelleh to invite leaders from the (RSF) to attend the summit, but “we informed him of our refusal to presence of any militia or rebels, given that the summit is only concerned with the leaders of the countries of the region.” But what happened later was seen as a conspiracy against the Sudan.
Hemedti sets a precondition
On the other hand, the RSF welcomed the results of the extraordinary IGAD summit and said that they had received an official invitation to attend the summit, which they accepted on the condition that the representative of the other party attend in his capacity as a representative of the armed forces only.
A statement by the RSF said, “It became clear that Al-Burhan attended in his capacity as head of the Sovereign Council, and he does not have constitutional or legal legitimacy, nor legitimacy on the ground that qualifies him for the position. Therefore, our delegation refrained from attending the official session, despite its presence at the summit venue.”
He said, “The RSF delegation held a meeting with the leaders participating in the summit, and Hemedti also spoke to them by phone,” stressing the RSF’s desire to achieve a ceasefire and move forward with a political process provided that it leads to addressing the roots causes of the crisis in Sudan.
According to the Communiqué, the attendees asked Hemedti to hold an official meeting with Al-Burhan, and he agreed provided that that he comes to the proposed meeting in his capacity as army commander, and not as President of the Sovereign Council.
Breakdown of trust
The researcher in African affairs, Abbas Mohammed Salih, believes that Sudan deals in misplaced good faith with regional organizations such as IGAD, which are not guided by strict loyalty to the institution, adherence to the principles of consensus, and respect for the positions of member states.
In an interview with Al Jazeera Net, the researcher considers Sudan’s objection to the final communiqué of the African Summit a dangerous precedent that raises questions about the extent of the organization’s ability to realize the role of a neutral mediator free from external influences, despite the great international support for African institutions as stakeholders and partners in peace and security.
Salih believes that Sudan’s reservations are related to fundamental issues that can only be overcome by including them in a new communiqué, and this is not possible, or that Sudan will ignore the outcomes of the summit and abstain from dealing with them and thus they will remain unresolved.
He explains that Al-Burhan fell into a carefully set trap, as his understandings with the Kenyan and Djiboutian presidents and the Ethiopian prime minister that paved the way for the summit went unheeded, destroying the bridges of trust with these parties.
He adds that the tension between Sudan and the African Organization will disrupt the role of IGAD and the African Union and create a vacuum, which will encourage “financial cheque diplomacy” within regional institutions, leading to competition between actors in the organization at the expense of resolving the Sudanese crisis.
The researcher believes that there are indications that the Jeddah platform, sponsored by the United States and Saudi Arabia, has been bypassed, as it has failed to stop the war, in light of Africans’ complaints of marginalization. However, the tension raised by the IGAD communiqué lost an opportunity for the emergence of a new African-led mediation, and also puts African institutions in doubt and challenges their ability to mediate to resolve the Sudan crisis and end any other conflicts plaguing the African continent.
No Prospect for a solution
For his part, journalist and political analyst Khalid Al-Tijani believes that IGAD does not have sufficient capabilities to play a role in the region’s issues, and is being used by external parties, and the recurrence of its crisis with Sudan indicates that it is intentional and not a coincidence.
Al-Tijani told Al-Jazeera Net, “Issuing a communiqué from the summit not agreed upon does not give reassurance towards an honest mediator”. He believes that the decision to have recourse to IGAD did not take into account its previous negative experiences in Sudan.”
Regarding the chances of success of the African Organization’s efforts, Al-Tajjani explains that there is a lack of trust, and there is no appropriate atmosphere for negotiations between the warring parties, which will lead to a prolongation of the war.
He believes that there is no external solution to the Sudanese crisis, because foreign parties have conflicting agendas, and there is no national will to stop the war.
Regarding the outcome of the situation in Sudan, Al-Tijani believes that the longer foreign interventions continue, the more complicated the crisis will become, and there is no political solution in the horizon, which makes the logic of war and guns prevail during the next stage.
Source: Al Jazeera

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