Jumah Boukleb

The Scourge of War and Sudan’s Fate

Few in Sudan could be considered lucky so far. The luckiest are the foreign passport holders who managed to arrive safely at Wadi Seidna Airfield (40 km north of the capital Khartoum) and were shipped off to European capitals in massive military cargo planes. The images of huge planes carrying human cargo at Wadi Seidna Airfield are nothing but a painful re-enactment of the heart-wrenching scenes that followed the US withdrawal from Kabul when we saw thousands of Afghans desperately jostling for a spot on the plane to flee the country where they knew they could well die.

In second place, we have those who are also lucky to be European passport holders but were not lucky enough to make it to this deserted airfield in Wadi Seidna. They had to traverse around 400 kilometers to reach Port Sudan before Saudi warships shipped them off to Jeddah.

In third place are those who went a long way by car and on foot to cross the Sudanese border and reach a neighboring country. The list of the fortunate ends here. There is no fourth category of people in Sudan who can count themselves lucky.

The rest of the Sudanese population (46 million people), the unlucky who do not possess foreign passports, were left to their own devices and fated to live with the fear of death. They are stuck in a country embroiled in a bone-breaking war between two generals that they have absolutely no interest in.

I do not think that anyone can imagine the horror of the Sudanese in the capital, Khartoum (6 million people). Warplanes are dropping their bombs over the city’s streets and homes, and the roar of tanks, cannons, and RPGs is deafening. It is not only the foundations of the houses and buildings in which they have taken refuge that are shaking; the entire country and the future of its people are wobbling.

Arab and foreign news broadcasts continuously update us on the developments in the battles for the capital, Khartoum, and other Sudanese cities. They read out the latest statements released by the belligerents or their threats to one another and constantly report on the updated casualty numbers. Images are broadcast of citizens fleeing death, running in the streets, and searching for safe havens where they can escape the shelling coming at them from all sides.

Those who managed to survive and make it to European capitals or Jeddah have told us horror stories. They told about hastily erected gates where they were extorted and threatened by guards before being allowed to cross over to the other side.

Behind the scenes, Washington and Riyadh are working to compel the two generals to agree to a ceasefire and initiate negotiations. Capitals across the Western and Muslim worlds continue to demand that the two generals put an end to the bloodshed and destruction. Meanwhile, the flames of war are becoming increasingly vicious by the day, and more and more lives are being lost.

Sudanese streets and roads have quickly turned into battlefields. Through our experiences with civil conflict over the past decade and beyond, we know that the path to dialogue was bombarded and wrecked on the first day of the war.

The avenues that remain are nothing but traps that lead to more death and destruction. Indeed, the eruption of violence affirms that Sudan has been forced into the dark tunnel of a deadly power struggle. There is no way out, and the Sudanese and their neighbors must now pay the multifaceted costs of war.

It is possible that if God forbid, international efforts to ensure peace fail, we could see Sudan divided like Libya. We could soon witness the arrival of mercenaries from different countries. This scenario is not a figment of my imagination, nor is it hyperbolic. It is the scenario we should expect. This is objective analysis based on the experiences of the Arab countries that have slipped into civil conflicts that have not subsided so far.

Despite its size, Libya was not large enough to accommodate the disputes between the factions fighting for power. The same is true for Sudan. Unfortunately, the vast territory of the third largest country in Africa is not large enough to accommodate the two generals fighting for power.

All we hope for is the success of international, Arab and African efforts to end the war. We hope the two generals can be convinced that no one can win the war destroying Sudan. We hope that they listen to reason. It is necessary if their differences are to be resolved. Remarkably, however, the British media has reported that both generals believe they can win the battle on the ground and defeat the other side...