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SUDANESE PARAMILITARY FORCES ANNOUNCE READINESS TO OPEN SAFE PASSAGES OUT OF EL-FASHER AND CONGOLESE ARMY THWARTS COUP ATTEMPT IN KINSHASA

May 16-22, 2024 | Issue 20 - CENTCOM/AFRICOM

Eamon Kobel, Giorgia Cito, Flavie Curinier, Meaghan Mackey

Jessica Wilson, Editor; Brantley Williams, Radhika Ramalinga Venkatachalam, Senior Editor


Sudanese Town of Wadi Halfa[1]


Date: May 17, 2024

Location: El-Fasher, Darfur, Sudan

Parties involved: Sudanese government; military forces of the Republic of Sudan; de facto ruler of Sudan and the SAF, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan; Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF); Sudanese paramilitary forces, Rapid Support Forces (RSF); RSF leader, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo; Sudanese civilians; internally displaced persons (IDPs); humanitarian organizations in Sudan; UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA); Chad; Cameroon; Egypt; international community

The eventThe RSF announced its readiness to open safe passages out of El-Fasher as it has been the site of fighting between the SAF and the RSF in recent weeks. The RSF affirmed its willingness to protect Sudanese civilians and help them flee the war-afflicted areas of the state capital of North Darfur. El-Fasher has been a critical base for humanitarian aid, where civilians sought shelter before the RSF began fighting for control. Al-Burhan’s SAF and Dagalo’s RSF have been at war for more than a year, killing more than 10,000 and displacing millions.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The RSF’s decision to open passages out of El-Fasher will very likely increase the number of IDPs in the Darfur region and throughout Sudan, very likely exacerbating the humanitarian crisis in the country. Increasing Sudanese IDPs will likely strain already short supplies of food, water, medicines, and fuel, likely expanding humanitarian aid demands throughout the country. IDPs will likely attempt to go to neighboring countries such as Chad, Cameroon, and Egypt, likely worsening the refugee camps’ situation in these countries. IDPs traveling within the country will very likely constrain the Sudanese railway system in areas such as the key transit point in Wadi Halfa that connects Sudan to Egypt.  

  • The US and Saudi Arabia will likely utilize the RSF's willingness to protect Sudanese civilians within peace talks and ceasefire deals between the SAF and RSF. There is a roughly even chance that the RSF will agree to a temporary ceasefire deal in the Darfur region, likely to mitigate the worsening humanitarian crisis. Long-term peace initiatives will very unlikely be successful, likely due to the RSF’s military advantage and the refusal by both parties to engage with each other.

  • The RSF will likely utilize the safe passage to relieve its forces of logistical strains, such as obtaining medical supplies and ammunition, very likely affecting Sudanese perception of the RSF.  Sudanese civilians will likely perceive this opening of the passage as disingenuous, almost certainly due to the widespread harm committed by the RSF against civilians. Sudanese civilians will very likely perceive the RSF’s decision as a strategic maneuver rather than a humanitarian gesture, likely leading to mistrust among international partners and complicating future negotiations for peace.


Date: May 19, 2024

Location: Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Parties involved: DRC president, Felix Tshisekedi; former chief of staff, Vital Kamerhe; accomplices to the attempted coup in the DRC; opposition movement, New Zaire Movement; self-exiled political figure and New Zaire Movement leader, Christian Malanga; Congolese Revolutionary Army, March 23 Movement (M23); Land Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (LFDRC); Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC); Congolese citizens; US; UK

The event: Armed men attacked Kamerhe’s house, killing two guards and occupying Tshisekedi’s office. The LFDRC thwarted the attempted coup d’état, killing one of the assailants, Malanga, and arresting 50 suspects, including three Americans and a naturalized British citizen. The killing of Malanga after resisting arrest by the LFDRC suggests the coup's affiliation with the New Zaire Movement leader since Malanga has threatened Tshisekedi in the past.[3] Tshisekedi was reelected president in December amid protests from the opposition regarding a lack of transparency.[4] In February, Congolese citizens expressed negative sentiment toward the US and Western powers through protests due to their policy toward Rwanda and the current conflict in eastern DRC.[5]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The attempted coup in the DRC likely underscores the political and security challenges that likely impact Tshisekedi’s leadership. Public confidence in Tshisekedi’s presidency will likely erode due to the contested elections and persistent violence, likely fueling support for opposition movements such as the New Zaire Movement. There is a roughly even chance that the opposition's response will become more aggressive, likely intensifying political instability and leading to potential unrest.

  • The involvement of Americans in the attempted coup will likely increase negative sentiment toward the US within the DRC. Congolese civilians will likely overlook US cooperation in holding Americans involved accountable, likely emphasizing how Malanga was allowed to operate within the US, the involvement of three Americans, and the display of an American flag on the body armor of Malanga's son. The increased negative sentiment will likely pressure Tshisekedi's government to distance itself from partnering with the US on economic, social, and security issues.

  • The failure of the coup by the New Zaire Movement will likely prompt other opposition groups, such as M23, to increase violence throughout the Kivu region, while Tshisekedi will likely increase government control. Tshisekedi will likely prevent further security challenges and consolidate his power throughout the country. There is a roughly even chance that Tshisekedi will implement martial law, increase security protocols, and limit civilian freedoms likely to control the growing opposition violence.


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[1] Sudan paramilitary, generated by a third party database

[2] Sudan Paramilitaries Say Will Open 'Safe Passages' Out Of Key Darfur City, Barron’s, May 2024, https://www.barrons.com/news/sudan-paramilitaries-say-will-open-safe-passages-out-of-key-darfur-city-c252e3ff

[3] DR Congo army says it has thwarted attempted coup, BBC, May 2024, https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cxeeydypv32o

[4] Congolese army says it has foiled a coup attempt. Self-exiled opposition figure threatens president, AP, May 2024, https://apnews.com/article/congo-kinshasa-gunfire-1a148e35f0cbbae14b2101413f788708

[5] Congo protesters burn US and Belgian flags, target Western embassies, Reuters, February 2024

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