Sudan army chief visits Egypt on first trip abroad since conflict broke out
Military cooperation and diplomacy are expected to be points of discussion between General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan and President el-Sisi.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi meets with Sudan’s Sovereign Council Chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan at the Ittihadiya presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt on September 25, 2022 [File: The Egyptian Presidency/Handout via Reuters]Published On 29 Aug 202329 Aug 2023
Sudan’s top military general has arrived in Egypt on his first trip abroad since the country plunged into a bitter conflict earlier this year, authorities said.
General Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the governing Sovereign Council, was received by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at the airport in the Mediterranean city of el-Alamein, according to the council.
The council said in an earlier statement the two leaders would discuss the latest developments in Sudan and the ties between the neighbouring countries.
War broke out in Sudan last April after simmering tensions between the military, led by al-Burhan, and the powerful paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, exploded into open fighting in the capital Khartoum and elsewhere.
The RSF controls vast swaths of the capital, which has become an enormous battleground. The military command, where al-Burhan has purportedly been stationed since April, has been one of the epicentres of the conflict.
However, al-Burhan was finally able to emerge out of the structure, which the RSF said they had surrounded, last week in an operation that he said involved the air force and the navy.
Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan said that al-Burhan’s trip abroad shows that he is focused more on the political and diplomatic aspects of the conflict and not just the military front.
“He wants to play a bigger role when it comes to these affairs, when it comes to issues of diplomacy, political relations, and issues to do with support for the military and current government that is fighting the RSF,” she said, speaking from Khartoum.
Al-Burhan was accompanied on his trip to Egypt by acting Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq and General Ahmed Ibrahim Mufadel, head of the General Intelligence Authority, and other military officers.
The head of Sudan’s defence industrial system, which has been manufacturing weapons for the Sudanese army, is also part of the delegation, Morgan said, adding that military cooperation will definitely be discussed.
Egypt has longstanding ties with the Sudanese army and its top generals. In July, el-Sisi hosted a meeting of Sudan’s neighbours and announced a plan for a ceasefire. A series of fragile truces, brokered by the United States and Saudi Arabia, have failed to hold.
The conflict has driven the country’s healthcare system nearly to collapse and has turned Khartoum and other urban areas into battlefields, where many residents live without water and electricity.
The sprawling region of Darfur has seen some of the worst bouts of violence in the conflict, and the fighting there has morphed into ethnic clashes with RSF and allied Arab militias targeting ethnic African communities.
Clashes also intensified earlier this month in the provinces of South Kordofan and West Kordofan.
The fighting is estimated to have killed at least 4,000 people, according to the United Nations human rights office, though activists and doctors on the ground say the death toll is likely far higher.
More than 4.6 million people have been displaced, according to the UN migration agency. Those include more than 3.6 million who fled to safer areas inside Sudan and more than one million others who crossed into neighbouring countries.