US ‘confident’ of influence to bring down violence in Sudan
White House spokesperson tells Al Jazeera the US is working with regional partners to stop the violence as primary goal.
Washington, DC – The United States is confident it can exert influence in Sudan to push the warring parties there to reduce their fighting, a White House spokesperson has said, as the conflict in Africa’s third-largest nation continues into its second week.
In an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said Washington will remain involved in finding a resolution to the crisis and continue to work with regional partners.
“We’re pretty confident that we can have an influence here,” Kirby said, noting that the US helped broker a 72-hour ceasefire on Monday.
“We’ve got a stake here; we’ve got an interest at the table; and we’re going to continue to use that and the United States’s convening power to try to get these two sides together to get the violence down.”
The violence began on April 15, as two top generals and their forces clashed for power and control over Sudan’s resources.
They include the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), which are loyal to General Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo. The fighting has since killed hundreds and wounded thousands more, trapping many residents in their homes.
Kirby said on Tuesday that the immediate US goal is to bring the violence down, and the second step would be to get the warring sides to the negotiation table to discuss a transition to civilian rule.
“We don’t believe that a military solution is achievable here in this particular case, and that’s why we’re staying in near-daily contact with both military leaders,” Kirby told Al Jazeera.
The SAF and RSF had agreed to a three-day truce last week to mark the Eid al-Fitr Muslim holiday, but residents in the capital Khartoum reported continued fighting. Late on Monday, a new ceasefire was announced by the US Department of State.
Kirby said the current ceasefire “appears to be working” despite some sporadic fighting.
“Certainly, the violence is now down,” he said. “What we want is for the violence to stop altogether — of course — so that no more Sudanese lives are put at risk, and humanitarian assistance can get to the people who need it.”
President Joe Biden announced on Saturday that US embassy personnel in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, were extracted in a military operation.
But Kirby said the US has maintained its diplomatic relations and work with Sudan despite the evacuation. “Our diplomats will simply be working remotely. That’s not unusual,” he said.
After years of animosity, ties between Khartoum and Washington had been warming since the Sudanese military removed longtime President Omar al-Bashir from power in 2019 following months of anti-government protests.
The two countries re-established diplomatic ties in 2020. Sudan also agreed to normalise relations with Israel and was removed from the US’s list of “state sponsors of terrorism”.
The Sudanese military staged a coup against the civilian government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok in October 2021, leading to his resignation early in 2022.
Earlier this month, before the recent violence erupted, Sudan’s leaders were set to sign a deal to return the country to its democratic transition, but the accord was delayed because of outstanding disagreements.
On Tuesday, Kirby said Washington is backing the Sudanese people’s aspirations for peace and stability as well as their aspirations to return to “civilian authority”.