On 15 April 2023, violence and chaos broke out in Khartoum, the capital city of Sudan. What began as a fierce battle between the Sudanese army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) has now transformed into a national crisis which has resulted in approximately 100 civilian casualties. It’s also likely that the figure is much higher.
The ongoing conflict is not only politically complex, but is also the result of rising tensions which date back over a decade. To try and better understand the situation, we’ve broken the state of affairs down into a few major categories which should bring some clarity to the events unfolding.
In October 2021, the Sudan military dissolved the country’s power-sharing government and effectively took full control. Led by senior general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the coup was strongly condemned by international leaders.
Since then, Sudan has been led by al-Burhan and his second-in-command, leader of the RSF, Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo. According to the BBC, the RSF is a paramilitary group which, after forming in 2013, has gone on to amass great power in the country, has intervened in conflicts in Yemen and Libya, and has also developed economic interests in Sudan, including controlling some of the country’s gold mines.
The RSF has also been accused of multiple human rights violations, including the massacre of more than 120 protesters in June 2019.
One of the reasons why there have been mounting tensions in Sudan is due to the fact that the 2021 military coup disrupted the nation’s civilian attempts at democratic rule. The country had been governed for almost 30 years by President Omar al-Bashir—a man who’s been accused of organising war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity, as reported by the BBC.
When the Sudanese people successfully ousted al-Bashir in 2019 and established a joint military-civilian government, it was believed that the country would finally be able to work towards a future of peace and democracy. However, that all changed when the military took full control in 2021.
While al-Burhan and Dagalo have previously presented a united front, conflicted interests have now arisen. According to Al Jazeera, the army has demanded that the RSF fully integrate into the nation’s official military—something that would inevitably result in the paramilitary group losing power.
Moreover, further tensions have arisen between al-Burhan and Dagalo as the two remain at odds over who should be the civilian head of state. As with all tyrannical leaders, it’s unsurprising that these power-hungry dynamics have led to serious internal chaos.
While both parties previously made clear their intentions to keep the country running until an elected government could be put in place, it seems as though it’s now become a brutal race to the top, with both al-Burhan and Dagalo set on securing the prime position.
While it’s not known exactly which side initiated the violence on Saturday, it’s clear that things have escalated to extreme levels. Heavy fighting has continued now for three days and civilians are getting caught in the crossfire.
As emphasised by The Guardian, Sudan is situated in a volatile region. Several of the country’s neighbours, including Ethiopia, Chad and South Sudan, have been affected by political upheavals and conflict of their own, and Sudan’s relationship with Ethiopia, in particular, has been strained over issues including disputed farmland along their border.
It’s unclear when or how the fighting will be resolved. Currently, there are still ongoing air strikes, heavy gunfire and explosions occurring in Sudan. And while the majority of the violence has been concentrated in the capital, the conflict has since spread across the entirety of the nation and is showing no signs of slowing down or ceasing.
On 26 March 2023, tens of thousands of citizens poured into the streets of Israel, demanding action be taken after controversial Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fired his defence minister Yoav Gallant. While most internal government sackings don’t usually result in such a fiery societal response, Gallant’s dismissal is particularly significant as it came after the minister spoke out against Netanyahu’s highly divisive plans to overhaul the nation’s justice system.
From Netanyahu’s political legacy to the controversial proposed judicial reforms, here’s everything you need to know about the mass civilian unrest currently taking place in Israel.
According to the BBC, Netanyahu’s reforms are geared directly towards tightening his grip on Israel’s judicial capabilities. The new law will give the government decisive control over the committee which appoints judges, and would also make it harder for courts to remove a leader deemed unfit for office. While, on the surface, these reforms are immediately frightening, they become that bit more concerning when one considers the political reputation and legacy of Netanyahu.
First elected in 1996, the politician has served as premier of Israel for six terms, spanning across a time period of 29 years, with only a nine year gap from 2000 to 2009. Netanyahu has led some of the most far-right governments in Europe and as he moved into his most recent term—which began in November 2023—political publications made it known that he had brought in the most religious and hardline parties in Israel’s history.
Netanyahu’s recent meeting with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was also met with serious upset and suspicion. Massive demonstrations were held outside and around Downing Street as citizens protested the Israeli leader’s visit. An opinion piece published in The Guardian detailed the ways in which Netanyahu’s meeting with Sunak was not only inherently offensive to British Palestinians, but has also made the UK to appear weak in regard to human rights violations.
On top of this, Netanyahu is also currently facing an ongoing corruption trial in Israel. The politician is accused of fraud and breach of trust, as reported by Sky News. What’s evident is that he is facing a serious political upheaval at home and away—one that’s been built upon over two decades of unlawfulness and self-serving policies.
Since the protests began on Sunday, police have deployed water canons and force against those who’ve taken to the streets, an immediate general strike has been called for by the head of Israel’s largest trade union group, departures from Tel Aviv’s main airport have been suspended, the nation’s two primary sea ports have stopped working and international bodies are beginning to denounce the disruption—calling upon the Israeli government to find a solution and stop the chaos.
The US government has released a statement urging Israeli leaders to find a compromise as soon as possible, while Israeli President Isaac Herzog tweeted: “For the sake of the unity of the people of Israel, for the sake of responsibility, I call on you to stop the legislative process immediately.”
Regardless of this, it’s unclear as to whether Netanyahu would consider dismissing the reform plans, particularly as it appears he’d face serious backlash from a number of his far-right ministers and party members.
In an interview with the BBC, Professor Yuval Shany, senior research fellow from the Israel Democracy Institute, explained how the current situation is now simply about “political survival” for Netanyahu. “He has really no choice politically but to stop, or at least pause, the legislation,” Shany concluded.
Protestors have also begun to gather outside of the Prime Minister’s home, urging him to make a statement regarding the justice reforms, however the leader has not yet made any official comments. Although it should be important to note that, whatever his statement might be, political protests and societal unrest will certainly continue to spread.