Saudi Arabia Works to Establish Ceasefire and Restore Civilian Rule in Sudan

A Saudi navy sailor carries a child as evacuees from Sudan arrive at King Faisal navy base in Jeddah on Wednesday. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

According to the Saudi ambassador to the UK, Khalid bin Bandar, Saudi Arabia is using diplomatic means to establish a ceasefire and reinstate a civilian-led transition in Sudan. The country has been accused of backing Sudanese armed forces, who are loyal to Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan. Clashes have occurred between these forces and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), who follow Gen Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti. The RSF has previously been opposed to the integration of forces, which is crucial for a successful transition to civilian rule, following the overthrow of former dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2019.

Bandar’s comments indicate that Saudi Arabia may be recognizing the need to exert greater pressure on the military to back civilian rule, should the fighting become manageable. External actors have come under scrutiny, with the country being accused of supporting Burhan’s armed forces. Saudi Arabia has invested $3 billion in the country, and as a member of the Quad, including the UK, US, and the United Arab Emirates, it has significant diplomatic influence in Sudan.

Bandar has stated that Saudi Arabia is engaging in diplomatic efforts for a permanent cessation of hostilities, political dialogue, and the eventual establishment of a civilian government. The ambassador has highlighted the importance of engaging with all parties, saying that this allows trust to be built, which is necessary for conflict resolution. Bandar also stressed the need to include everyone in power-sharing arrangements and acknowledged that the path to democracy is a progression of events.

Saudi Arabia has invested in fertile land irrigated by the Nile River, and alongside other Arab states, it has been importing agricultural products and livestock via the Red Sea. The country has said that it has extracted nearly 3,000 individuals, including 119 Saudis and 2,872 people from 80 other nationalities, in an attempt to reduce the harm inflicted by the forces it has supported. The Saudi navy’s ship Makkah has arrived in Jeddah carrying 195 people from 16 different countries, including the US, UK, Australia, Iraq, and Egypt. Bandar has said that the evacuation operation will continue for as long as it remains safe.