By Janet Ekstract
ISTANBUL- Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Turkiye was in talks with both sides in Sudan to broker a ceasefire which began on Thursday. Four days ago at a conference in Antalya, Cavusoglu said: “Both sides are our brothers in Sudan. Why should we take sides here? We are negotiating with both sides. We are negotiating to stop the conflict.” Though the ceasefire appeared to be in force, violence resumed on Saturday. Also, on Saturday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry issued the following statement: “We invite all segments in Sudan to remain committed to the achievements of the transition process to calmness and dialogue.” The ministry added: “A lasting solution to Sudan’s problems can only be found through national reconciliation.” Further stating: “Turkiye will continue to stand by the friendly and brotherly Sudan and its people as it has always done.”
Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) called for an “immediate” halt to fighting on both sides. In a statement, the mission chief Volker Perthes said he “strongly condemns the eruption of fighting.” In a statement from the mission, it said: “Perthes has reached out to both parties asking them for an immediate cessation of fighting to ensure the safety of the Sudanese people and to spare the country from further violence.” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also called for an immediate halt to fighting to “avoid further escalation or troop mobilizations and continue talks to resolve outstanding issues.”
The fighting is between the Sudanese Army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in Khartoum and surrounding areas. A disagreement between the two military groups related to military and security reform turned into conflict over the last two months. A major point of contention is the view that the RSF should fully participate in the army. The conflict is made worse because Russia’s Wagner Group got involved in the fighting and both groups are accusing the other in a conflict that has already totally destroyed Sudan’s airports.
In addition, on Saturday, a number of ministries and governments called for an immediate halt to the fighting including European Union Foreign Policy Chief Joseph Borrell, the Russian Foreign Ministry, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The British Embassy in Khartoum in a statement said they were “closely monitoring the situation” while calling on all British nationals in Sudan “to remain indoors.”The UAE Embassy in Khartoum was following “with great concern the developments in Sudan and has reaffirmed the UAE’s position on the importance of de-escalation, and working towards finding a peaceful solution to the crisis between the concerned parties.”
Sudan’s Health Ministry reports that at least 279 civilians are dead and that around 2,600 were injured, as many were caught in the crossfire. A major concern now is evacuating foreign nationals from a number of countries which is proving extremely challenging since the ceasefire was violated. European Union Envoy to the Horn of Africa Annette Weber speaking to Al-Jazeera in Nairobi said: “Both sides have a responsibility to cease fire.” Weber added: “We have more than 1,500 European citizens in Sudan, and our priority is that they have safe passage out. We, as an international community, have a message to urge both sides to stop fighting.”
Cavusoglu said four days ago that Turkish citizens who want to return to Turkiye would be evacuated when the airspace opened on Thursday. He also said that many countries including European nations did request assistance from Turkiye in evacuating their citizens from Sudan. Türkiye with the UN and the U.S. as well as other international organizations expressed major concern about clashes between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
Sudan has been without any viable government since October 2021 when the military dismissed Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok’s transitional government and declared a state of emergency in a move decred by political forces as a “coup.”
Sudan’s transitional period, which started in August 2019, was scheduled to end with elections in early 2024.