Saudi Arabia and the United States of America have announced a temporary ceasefire agreement between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) to facilitate the delivery of crucial humanitarian aid to those affected by the ongoing conflict and to create an environment conducive to the resumption of peace talks in Jeddah.
The ceasefire is scheduled to commence on Saturday, June 10th, at 6:00 a.m. local time and is expected to remain in effect for 24 hours.
The temporary ceasefire comes a day after the Saudi Arabia embassy in Khartoum, Sudan, was attacked by unidentified assailants, raising concerns about the safety of foreign missions in the war-torn northeastern African nation.
Armed individuals stormed the embassy premises, causing significant damage and vandalizing property and homes belonging to Saudi employees.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack in a Thursday statement expressing disapproval of violence against diplomatic missions. They stressed the need to confront the perpetrators and restore security and stability to Sudan.
The incident came a day after Bahrain said on Wednesday that its embassy in Khartoum was also attacked by gunmen.
The latest attacks occurred amid an ongoing conflict between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which has resulted in numerous civilian casualties and injuries.
The Saudi embassy in Khartoum has a history of previous attacks. One notable incident occurred on March 1, 1973, when eight terrorists from the Black September Organization (BSO) seized the embassy during a diplomatic reception.
The reception honored the departing United States Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM). During the attack, the terrorists inflicted minor injuries on the United States Ambassador and the Belgian Charge d’Affaires.
They then took these officials, the United States DCM, the Saudi Arabian Ambassador, and the Jordanian Charge d’Affaires, as hostages. The captors demanded the release of several individuals, primarily Palestinian guerrillas, who were imprisoned in Jordan, Israel, and the United States, in exchange for the freedom of the hostages.
But why are Embassies Being Attacked in Sudan?
African officials on June 1 responded with skepticism to the sanctions imposed by the United States on Sudanese officials last week. They argued that these measures will have little impact on the ongoing conflict and expressed concern that the sanctions may push Sudanese forces closer to Russia. The officials contended that the Jeddah agreement, aimed at resolving the conflict, is now dead, as both sides are unlikely to engage in further talks.
The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on June 1 the designation of four companies, accusing them of generating revenue and contributing to the conflict in Sudan. The targeted entities are linked to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), the two opposing forces in the conflict.
“Through sanctions, we are cutting off key financial flows to both the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces, depriving them of resources needed to pay soldiers, rearm, resupply, and wage war in Sudan. The United States stands on the side of civilians against those who perpetrate violence towards the people of Sudan,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen said in a statement.
In a follow-up background call, a senior US administration official reiterated that the sanctions are meant to bring about peace and stability by depriving those fueling the conflict of resources needed to pay soldiers, rearm, resupply, and wage war in Sudan.
However, several African officials, who spoke with Today News Africa on condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to discuss sensitive matters, said the sanctions will not effectively achieve their intended goals. They argued that the RSF and SAF will find alternative ways to fund their operations, potentially seeking support from Russia. The RSF, in particular, has been accused of collaborating with a Russian company in gold mining activities, further fueling concerns about increased Russian involvement.
Moreover, African officials criticized the U.S. approach for neglecting the African perspective in negotiations. They argued that African voices should be central in peace processes and that African regional organizations, such as IGAD and ECOWAS, should be given more authority to address conflicts on the continent. They expressed frustration that the U.S. disregards their advice and fails to engage with key African stakeholders in finding solutions.
The officials emphasized that the conflict in Sudan has taken on a racial dimension, pitting the Arab-dominated government against African tribes from the western regions. They cautioned that the conflict could escalate into a broader North-South division, with implications for regional stability.
The imposition of sanctions has led to a pessimistic outlook for the Jeddah agreement. African officials believe that the parties involved are unlikely to return to the negotiating table, viewing the process as effectively terminated. They argue that the U.S. sanctions have undermined the chances of a peaceful resolution and may contribute to further polarization and violence.
The skepticism expressed by African officials highlights the need for a more inclusive and collaborative approach to resolving the Sudanese conflict. Engaging with African stakeholders and considering their perspectives is crucial for a sustainable and peaceful resolution.
United Nations Speaks On War In Sudan:
Meanwhile, on June 2, the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the military clashes between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF). They expressed deep concern over the continued violence and called for an immediate end to hostilities. The recent clashes between SAF and RSF have been ongoing since April 15.
The Security Council expressed concern about attacks on the civilian population, United Nations personnel, humanitarian actors, and civilian objects. They called for safe and unhindered access to humanitarian aid throughout Sudan based on international law and humanitarian principles. The looting of humanitarian supplies was also highlighted.
The Council emphasized the urgent need for all parties to cease hostilities, facilitate humanitarian access, and establish a permanent ceasefire. They stressed the importance of resuming the process toward a lasting, inclusive, and democratic political settlement in Sudan.
The Council reaffirmed its support for the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and urged continued engagement with the principles of national ownership.
Additionally, the Council emphasized the need for strengthened international coordination and collaboration. They welcomed the African Union (AU) Roadmap for resolving the Conflict in Sudan. They commended the ongoing efforts of the United Nations, AU, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and the League of Arab States to secure a viable peace process in Sudan.
The Security Council also commended the Jeddah Declaration signed on May 11, 2023, by the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces, which acknowledges their responsibilities and commitments under international humanitarian and human rights law.
Concerns were expressed regarding the impact of the conflict on neighboring countries, and the Council called for a swift response from international and regional organizations and UN member states to address emerging humanitarian needs in Sudan and its neighboring countries.
The Security Council emphasized the binding nature of the Juba Peace Agreement (JPA), signed on October 3, 2020. It encouraged international support for its full implementation, particularly its provisions for a permanent ceasefire in Darfur.
The Council also reiterated its strong commitment to the Republic of Sudan’s sovereignty, unity, independence, and territorial integrity, as outlined in the Charter of the United Nations and the principle of good neighborliness, non-interference, and regional cooperation.