For the first time in nearly a decade, the US government is seriously and publicly considering the removal of embassy personnel including military troops. In efforts to make extraction from the pressure cooker that currently is in Sudan easier, extra troops and equipment have arrived in Djibouti. While they await orders the people in Sudan are torn apart by the rival factions.
Since the 2019 removal of veteran autocrat Omar al-Bashir, the country has been in turmoil. As the country reeled from his removal, they agreed to institute a rotating government as they prepared to adopt democracy. This gave the people of Sudan a shot for each party in their government to rule in theory. In 2021 that all changed with a military coup that saw General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan remain in charge.
Now, the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as led by General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, aka Hemedti has been trying to rise from his previous position as a deputy in Abdel’s leadership. With reports of a fighting size above 100,000, he is in a crucial position to be able to challenge for leadership in the country.
While Sudan has been a war-torn nation for years, their ability to rebound and efforts to rebuild the nation has been tremendous but are also being undercut by the location of the violence. Centered in the population capital of Khartoum, one of the densest areas of Africa is being destroyed. Dafur is also being wrapped up in the conflict despite the years they’ve spent recovering from a brutal battle that came to an end just three years ago.
The sudden outbreak of violence also saw an American diplomatic convoy getting caught in the gunfire back on April 17th. Given the recent resumption of fighting between these two leaders, they’ve made it readily apparent that they aren’t going to go easy but rather that they want to have a proper battle.
Given the country’s decision to try and adopt democracy, they are having a difficult time with handing over control, and many in the region are becoming increasingly concerned in very short order. As of April 20th, the State Department was reporting all members of the Khartoum embassy were safe and accounted for. Unfortunately, given the unpredictable, separatist, and brutal nature of the violence around them, there is no chance for an evacuation of any Americans.
Currently, the embassy is reporting 16,000 American citizens inside the country, but that number is likely inaccurate given their ability to report conditions on the ground. The embassy has cautioned all Americans to remain sheltered in place and to avoid any travel on the streets. It’s going to be a long wait for them too.
Commonly referred to as the Quad, a collection of four countries- the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia has led international efforts to bring about peace inside Sudan. The United Nations, the African Union, the African trade bloc, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development all support the effort in less direct roles. As it is tens of thousands of Sudanese people have fled the violence to neighboring countries. Neighboring Chad has taken in a large swath of women and children as a result of the conflicts.
In a statement on April 20th, the State Department said “We are deploying additional capabilities nearby in the region for contingency purposes related to securing and potentially facilitating the departure of US embassy personnel from Sudan if circumstances require it.”
Preloading at the $63m a year base in the tiny nation of Djibouti is where the US secured a 10 year-lease in 2014. Since then, the country has been making even more use of it than it did back in the early 2000s when the special ops community trained there for missions. For now, it makes a perfect point for extraction from Sudan in quick order if needed. With a lack of a proper airport in Sudan, their options are already limited as it is.