Interview: ‘Bullets and shells are flying everywhere’ in Sudan | Conflict News
This question and answer session was originally published on Reddit and has been edited for length and clarity
Am hiba morgan and I have been on the ground in the capital of Sudan since fighting broke out between two rival Sudanese generals on April 15.
I have been a reporter for Al Jazeera for over eight years and have been covering Sudan since 2009. My reporting comes from the war zone milieu; a city so dangerous that the United States is having trouble evacuating Americans. Ask me anything:
Lost_Fun7095: As a reporter for Al Jazeera, is the conflict a symbol of deeper fault lines and an inability among African nations to unite for a common good?
hiba morgan: Conflict is the result of a lack of checks and balances in an institution like the military. The Rapid Support Forces (RSF) were born out of the janjaweed (government-backed militia), who murdered and terrorized (people) in Darfur during the war years. There was no question as to how they were recruited, how they carried out their operations, or why they were doing the army’s job. It is also the result of Western policies when it comes to migration. The West was so focused and determined to keep people out that it didn’t care who they sent their money to, even if it was a group accused of serious human rights violations like the RSF.
ControversialBender: How do we make the international community care?
morgan: The international community needs to see people fleeing the same way they saw Ukrainian refugees. Open safe routes for them, provide humanitarian assistance. And their biggest concern is the refugees who come to their shores. This fight is already creating refugees that will not stop in neighboring countries. If that doesn’t make them care, I don’t know what will.
UnlikelyBike1: Are people safe at the airport? People waiting to travel home.
morgan: There are no people at the airport at the moment, at least not at the main international airport. The airport through which people are evacuating is in the east, 800 km (1,500 miles) from the capital, where the fighting is concentrated. But there are thousands still trapped in Khartoum.
Feck5: Is there any reason to suspect that the current ceasefire will hold? Are you holding up now?
morgan: The ceasefires have been described as unstable. I would say they have been in the right places at the right time to get foreign nationals out. But the fight never stopped. A hospital was attacked on Tuesday when there was supposed to be a ceasefire. Today there were air raids. So no, the ceasefire on the ground and for people who have had their water and electricity cut off and are unable to leave their homes to meet their basic needs, the ceasefire has not held.
9Wind: Countries seem to want to avoid anything to do with the conflict other than a ceasefire to evacuate. Why is this?
morgan: The reason countries push for a ceasefire instead of immediate negotiations is because neither side has shown willingness to negotiate. The army and paramilitary commanders were supposed to come together to prevent military confrontation before it happened, but then it all went downhill. There are so many versions circulating as to who started the first shots, but getting the two sides to sit down and talk has been impossible, so the focus has been on a ceasefire as the first step.
StudioTwilldee: Is there any social, ideological or ethnic component to this conflict, or is it entirely a power struggle?
morgan: In Khartoum, it’s a struggle for power and resources. In Darfur, it is becoming ethnic. The Arabs have been armed to fight the tribes in Darfur for two decades and most of the RSF are from Arab tribes in Darfur. Recent clashes that have spread there have included the burning of houses belonging to the Darfuri ethnic group, the robbery of markets and their subsequent burning. These are all reminders of the Darfur war, which was largely an ethnic war.
scheduled toprona: How are the common people? Is everyone taking sides or are they just waiting for the fighting to end so that life can resume without war?
morgan: The people in Sudan have made it clear that it is not their war. It is a power struggle that will end their dreams of a democratic transition no matter who wins. They will have to start demanding justice and democracy from scratch after it took months to end the 30-year rule of Omar al-Bashir. Yes, they want this to end, but they don’t want their dreams of a different Sudan to end.
IAstrikeforce: How is the food and water situation for the people of Khartoum?
morgan: The situation is bad, there is no other way to say it. People have been without running water and electricity for almost two weeks. They have been unable to access banks, market prices are increasing day by day, and basic commodities are running out. Hospitals have been bombed. Access to healthcare has been so hard to come by that patients with kidney failure or diabetes are dying.
m64: Is this just a power struggle between the generals, or is there some deeper ideological conflict behind it? What do you think would be the best ending for this situation?
morgan: It is an internal conflict fueled by regional and international interests. Both sides want to control the resources of Sudan and there are countries that now have access to these resources. There is no clear evidence that they are directly involved, but they have been supporting and funding both sides in different capacities prior to the conflict. When the conflict started, both sides were ready with weapons and soldiers.
piggywonkle: Was the generals’ rivalry in any way evident before the conflict broke out this month? Are there other major factions involved, or has the whole world mostly rallied around one or the other?
morgan: Yes, the warning signs that the conflict was brewing were there. The movement of troops on the side of the RSF, the walls built around the general command of the army and the statements of both sides that contradicted each other. The two teamed up to overthrow a civilian government, but it didn’t go as planned because they couldn’t form a new government to replace it, and the international community cut donor money. It was just a question of when, not if, this would happen.