Sudan's warring leaders secretly arrive to Saudi Arabia: Reports
The conflicted parties are expected to start a new round of negotiations mediated by Riyadh.
The head of the Transitional Sovereignty Council and chief of Sudan's Armed Forces, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and the leader of the Rapid Support Forces RSF, Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo (Hemedti), secretly arrived in Saudi Arabia late last night, signaling that a new round of negotiations is set to begin, Al Arab newspaper reported on Wednesday citing Sudanese sources.
This visit signifies a new attempt by Riyadh to facilitate a truce between the warring parties. Hence, the negotiations are expected to include a ceasefire agreement and a political roadmap between the two parties.
The renewed efforts followed a series of failed truce deals mediated by Saudi Arabia and the US. Previous talks held in Jeddah resulted in a shortly-lived ceasefire between the two parties, that quickly collapsed due to mutual shelling and accusations of violations.
Read more: Sudan: A borderless conflict
Both leaders hadn't met directly since the armed conflict began on April 15th last year, neither in Sudan nor elsewhere, delegating representatives to undergo the negotiation on their behalf.
However, It's unclear if the generals and former partners in the transitional government will engage in direct talks sponsored by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, or if the negotiations will remain indirect.
In any case, their arrival in Saudi Arabia signals a positive move that might lead to outcomes beneficial to the suffering Sudanese citizens.
These developments come as Saudi Arabia aims to play a balanced regional and international diplomatic role in resolving near and global conflicts.
Riyadh had previously offered to mediate between Russia and Ukraine to end the war that has been ongoing for about two years. In its most recent attempts to establish this role, it had invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to attend the Arab Summit in Riyadh. However, this initiative collapsed as Russia was not invited to participate in the meeting.
Prospects of successful negotiations might be slim in case both sides decide to grasp onto their pre-set conditions. But reports suggest that Bin Salman is working to bridge differences to reach common ground.
Al-Burhan announced on Monday conditional readiness to negotiate with Heidti, meanwhile, he also expressed confidence in victory in the war.
Following his speech at the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week, al-Burhan stated in an interview with the British broadcaster BBC, that he would sit down with the leader of RSF, as long as he commits to protecting civilians.
"We are prepared to engage in negotiations," he told the news outlet.
Moreover, the two parties have already pledged to protect Sudan's citizens from military activities, but this was not reflected on the battlefield.
Read more: Sudan war to consume entire country, UN says
"If the leadership of these rebel forces wishes to return to reason, withdraw forces from residential areas, and return to barracks, we will sit down with any of them," al-Burhan added, emphasizing that "Sudan will remain unified," ruling out the country's fate resembling that of Somalia.
Additionally, Dagalo expressed his readiness for negotiations on several occasions, also stressing the necessity of the army returning to its barracks. He had previously presented a roadmap to end the war.
He previously proposed an initiative to halt the ongoing fighting, which has persisted for several months, by forming a communication committee with political parties and figures, societal groups, and armed groups "to reach a comprehensive political solution" to the crisis in the country.
This initiative coincided with the return of the Sudanese conflicted parties to the negotiation table in Jeddah in May.
In early June, Saudi Arabia and the United States suspended their mediation for talks between the Sudanese parties in Jeddah due to multiple ceasefire violations. However, both countries reaffirmed their commitment to working towards ending the conflict.