Map of Sudan after 3 Months of War
An illustration of the territories controlled by SAF, RSF, and other armed groups
Today’s newsletter is a guest post by Thomas van Linge, a freelance journalist and researcher who previously mapped conflicts in Syria, Ethiopia, and Myanmar.
The current military developments in Sudan pose many challenges to conflict watchers to follow and map out the current territorial divides across the country. In the country’s capital region (Khartoum, Omdurman, Bahri), frontlines could be determined relatively accurately due to a large flow of amateur footage of troop movements both by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) through urban areas.
In the country’s periphery, determining the situation takes more effort due to a lack of footage, or information provided by social media users. In these areas, most information is provided by local, regional, and national media outlets.
In the east of the country (territory on the banks of the White Nile and east of it), firm SAF control is indisputable due to a rapid collapse of RSF presence in the region on the second day of the fighting.
In North Kordofan, information is largely provided by local radio stations and media outlets which are available online. Due to heavy fighting in this region, territorial divides were relatively easy to determine.
In the ‘Two Areas’ (South Kordofan, Blue Nile), a status quo which has been in place since 2011 was upended when Abdelaziz El-Hillu moved on SAF garrisons in the region. Determining military developments proved challenging since both regions are remote, which means there is a lack of accurate information. Another aspect is that since fighting with the RSF started the SAF has slowly reduced its presence in the Nuba Mountains of Kordofan, leading to security vacuums in certain areas.
Darfur has proven to be the “black hole” of the conflict. The situation in major cities such as Nyala, Zalingei and El Fasher can be determined due to the large number of residents who pass on information to the media and observers. But the Darfur countryside is extremely challenging to determine. Aside from media reports at hand the balance of power here was largely determined through literature studies on the Darfur war, ethnic and tribal dynamics, and the sharing of power, resources and territory in accordance with the 2020 Juba Peace Agreement.
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