‘Last redoubt’ – North Darfur capital braces for RSF onslaught

The North Darfur capital El Fasher, the last major city in the region that is still under combined control of the Sudan Armed Forces, and the amalgamated Joint Force of Armed Struggle Movements, is bracing to resist any onslaught by the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

As previously reported by Radio Dabanga, the Sudan Liberation Movement under leadership of Minni Arko Minawi (SLM-MM), and the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) led by Jibril Ibrahim, have announced their renunciation of the neutrality pledged in the September 2020 Juba Peace Agreement, and their preparedness “to participate in military operations on all fronts without hesitation”.

The assistant to the head of the Sudan Liberation Movement and the governor of the Darfur region, General Yahya Idris El Nur, told Radio Dabanga that the city of El Fasher is the main city where the parties to the peace process and the institutions brought by the Juba peace agreement are located, which made it a focus of interest for armed struggle movements, in addition to its symbolism as the capital of the region.

He stated that the movements since signing the peace agreement began to spread in the region in accordance with the agreement and formed a force to protect civilians and established its presidency in the city of El Fasher, and took a position of neutrality in the war between the army and the RSF, and then began to deploy in the rest of the states of Darfur, reaching the city of Nyala days before its fall into the hands of the RSF, and added: We were planning to deploy our forces in Zalingei, El Geneina and other parts of Darfur, but the RSF step to seize the cities of Darfur was surprising. For us, it’s not a sound move, he said. “There is no need for RSF to take the war from Khartoum to Darfur.”

In response to Radio Dabanga’s question about the existence of any communication with the RSF about the situation in El Fasher, the assistant head of the Minawi movement denied any communication with the RSF, and added: There is no dialogue or communication between us, and if they insist on entering El Fasher, let them try.

The political and military positions of the armed struggle movements varied with regard to the issue of war in Sudan, while the leaders of the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Arko Minawi explicitly announced their joining the fight in the ranks of the Sudanese army against the RSF, the leaders of the Sudan Liberation Rally (SLM) Tahar Hajar and the Transitional Council Hadi Idris chose to remain in the previously declared position of neutrality, but the advisor to the Sudan Liberation Movement Yahya al-Nour said that the force that is now mobilising in the city of El Fasher to defend The city of El Fasher is ordered by the joint force that includes the signatory movements of the Juba Peace Agreement, namely the Sudan Liberation Movement led by Minni Arko Minawi, the Justice and Equality Movement led by Jibril Ibrahim, the Sudan Liberation Forces Gathering led by Tahar Hajar, and the Sudan Liberation Council led by Hadi Idris, in addition to a small force of the Sudanese coalition led by General Ahmed Qarnouf.

The city of El Fasher is one of the strategic cities, as it connects its borders with the countries of Libya and Chad and the western cities of the Darfur region, in addition to the fact that the city of El Fasher is currently sheltering thousands of displaced people who fled to it from other cities of Darfur due to the war that the country witnessed recently, according to the journalist in the city of El Fasher, Malik Dahab.

Dahab pointed out – in his speech to Dabanga – that the RSF appointed the city of El Fasher and at the same time the armed struggle movements consider the city the last card in its hand, so it is difficult to allow the RSF to invade the city, and added: The armed movements overloaded – before – in Nyala, El Geneina and a number of cities in Darfur and cannot overload the city of El Fasher.

Dahab believes that the RSF and the armed movements do not want to have a battle between them because it will be the end of one of them – he said – but pointed out that there are parties “the army and those who support it” want the conflict between the movements and the RSF to flare up in any way.

He hinted that the armed movements are now between two things, considering that El Fasher is the last card for them, if they lose them, they will fade away, and if they defend them as well, they will have lost the people of other states that have afflicted the region, and agreed with Dahab, one of Dabanga’s sources – preferred to withhold his name – when he said that the movements look at the city of El Fasher as the only shelter in which they exist as movements that signed a peace agreement, and if the RSF controls it, it means that it does not exist on the ground.

The source said that the attempt to invade the RSF to the city of El Fasher would ignite strife between the Arab tribes supporting the RSF and the Zaghawa tribe, which consists of most of the elements of the armed movements, in addition to that the majority of the capital of the Zaghawa tribe was transferred from “Omdurman” and the rest of the cities of Sudan to the city of El Fasher, and revealed contacts made by leaders of the Zaghawa tribe with Chadian President Mohamed Idriss Deby and asked him to intervene to convince the RSF not to enter the El Fasher City.

The assistant to the head of the Sudanese Liberation Movement accused the RSF of trying to drag the movements into the war since they entered the areas of Kutum, Kabakabiya and Amori, in which the forces of the movements are present, but they preferred wisdom to miss the opportunity on them, and in the context the head of the movement, “Minni Arko Minawi,” said in his accounts on social networking sites that the RSF killed one of the movement’s leaders, Major “Babiker Musa,” while performing his duty to protect civilians east of the city of El Fasher.

On the other hand, according to the follow-ups of Dabanga that the RSF turned a blind eye to the city of El Fasher and that they will not venture into confrontations with the movements for the sake of their desire to control the entire Darfur region, and sources close to the RSF said that the leadership of the forces decided to bypass the city of El Fasher, and now began assembling its forces in eastern North Darfur state, where it mobilised more than 620 armed cars in preparation for moving towards the city of El Obeid.

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