GOLD-rich Sudan is the coup capital of Africa.
Once home to ancient kingdoms of pyramid-building pharaohs, the vast desert nation is now the world’s 15th largest gold producer and top food and oil exporter.
More than 2.5 million people have died in six coups, 11 attempted coups, two civil wars, partition and the genocide in Darfur since Sudan gained independence from Britain in 1956.
Only 12 of the previous 68 years has the country been at peace.
It’s bigger than Britain, France, Germany and Ukraine combined, but has a population of just 45 million.
Q: What happens?
A: On April 15, deadly clashes broke out between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) over plans to integrate their forces.
More than 400 people have died, thousands more have been injured and at least 20,000 have fled abroad.
Fighting is concentrated in the capital Khartoum and eastern Darfur.
Q: Who leads the factions?
A: The SAF is led by General Abdel-Fattah Burhan, a career soldier who came to power in a 2021 coup.
The RSF is led by warlord general Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, whose Janjaweed thugs have helped quell the Darfur uprising since 2003.
They joined forces in 2019 to overthrow former President Omar al-Bashir after months of protests.
Q: Why are they fighting?
A: Hemedti has long declined to be Burhan’s second-in-command.
Plans to integrate Hemedti’s forces risked diluting his hold on gold mines and farms.
Q: Who are your supporters?
A: Egypt supports Burhan while the US, UK, Germany and France have relied on his cooperation to evacuate their civilians.
The RSF is backed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar, who in turn is backed by Russia.
Russia’s murderous Wagnerian mercenaries are also known to be active in neighboring Central African Republic near Hemedti’s heartland.
Q: Why is it important?
A: Food, water and fuel are running out fast and the conflict could soon trigger a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe.
It could also reignite conflict in many of Sudan’s neighbors fighting insurgencies.