Two months ago, violence broke out across Sudan between the country’s armed forces, led by General Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and the paramilitary “Rapid Support Forces” (RSF) led by Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo. Although the conflict began in Khartoum as a struggle for control over government buildings and military bases, it has since spread across the country, leading to a dramatic escalation of violence and thousands of civilian deaths. According to the United Nations, 500,000 Sudanese have fled the country and 1.6 million have been internally displaced. In the last three weeks, the conflict in Darfur—a region still healing from the horrific campaign of ethnic cleansing by the “Janjaweed” militia, the RSF’s predecessor organization—has intensified, with the kidnapping and murder of a provincial governor, attacks on civilians, sexual violence against women and girls, and the renewed specter of crimes against humanity.
To de-escalate the conflict, the international community has arranged peace talks in Jeddah, where representatives from both the SAF and the RSF have met for negotiations. These negotiations have been widely supported in the international community and have featured mediation from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Israel, Ethiopia, South Sudan, the United States, the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations, and other international organizations and regional stakeholders. However, these talks have made limited to no progress, due in part to the conflicting interests of the peacemakers within the country. The Gulf states in particular have sought to increase their influence in Khartoum since the overthrow of longtime Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, while the rivalry between Burhan and Hemedti has given Russia, Israel, Egypt, and the GCC a reason for greater involvement in Sudan’s affairs.
How can the Gulf states constructively contribute to the end of the crisis in Sudan? What responsibility, if any, do the GCC states hold for the conflict? Why have the Jeddah talks failed to bring about a lasting ceasefire? What is the role of regional and international powers outside the Gulf in supporting the different groups? How do Russian, Israeli, Egyptian, and American interests intersect with interests of the Gulf states?
Featured speakers: Anas Alqaed, Dr. Khalid Mustafa Medani, Niemat Ahmadi, Mohamed Abu Bakr, and Umer Karim.
Anas Alqaed (moderator)
Director of Programs, Gulf International Forum
Anas Alqaed is the Director of Programs at Gulf International Forum. In addition to his role, he has conducted extensive research on political and social changes in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, and the power and influence of paramilitary groups throughout the Middle East. Before joining the Gulf International Forum, Anas worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for 10 years in Syria IDP Operation, Iraq Refugee Operation, Libya Refugee Operation, and refugees portfolio of Sudan and Somalia. At UNHCR, he specialized in refugee community resilience, project management, capacity-building for governmental and non-governmental organizations, and community mobilization. Anas holds Master’s in International Public Policy with Middle East concentration from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
Dr. Khalid Mustafa Medani
Associate Professor of Political Science and Islamic Studies, and Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies and Chair of the African Studies Program, McGill University
Dr. Khalid Mustafa Medani is Associate Professor of Political Science and Islamic Studies where he is also the Director of the Institute of Islamic Studies and Chair of the African Studies Program at McGill. He has also taught at Oberlin College and Stanford University. Dr. Medani received a B.A. with Honors in Development Studies from Brown University, an M.A. in Development Studies from the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on globalization, and the political economy of Islamist and Ethnic Politics in Africa and the Middle East with a special focus on Sudan, Egypt, and Somalia. Dr. Medani is the author of Black Markets and Militants: Informal Networks in the Middle East and Africa (Cambridge University Press, 2021; Open Access) which received an award from the American Political Science Association for the Best Book in the Field of Middle East and North Africa Politics by a Senior Scholar in 2022.
Founder and President, Darfur Women Action Group
A native of North Darfur, Sudan, Ms. Ahmadi is the Founder and President of Darfur Women Action Group and the Founder and CEO of Unique22 LLC Strategies. Ms. Ahmadi is a veteran human rights and genocide prevention activist and a seasoned strategic planning & management professional. Ms. Ahmadi previously worked as the Director of Global Partnerships for United to End Genocide and at the Save Darfur Coalition. She served as a gender advisor at the 7th round of Inter-Sudanese peace talks on Darfur in Abuja, Nigeria. She is currently a member of the Strategic Planning Association and the Excellence in Government team member. Ms. Ahmadi previously worked with international non-governmental organizations in various fields of emergency, development, and policy advocacy in Sudan, including Oxfam Great Britain, Intermediate Technology Development Group (now known as Practical Action), and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
Ms. Ahmadi possesses a great deal of knowledge and expertise in North-South Policy Advocacy, Sudan and South Sudan, the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa, as well as genocide prevention and women’s rights, and gender equality in general. Ms. Ahmadi survived the Darfur genocide and was forced to flee because of her outspoken nature against the government’s genocidal attacks. She received a fellowship at Columbia University from Ford Motor Company International Fellowship of 2007, after which she received asylum and eventually became a US citizen. Since then, Ms. Ahmadi has been a global voice for the people of Darfur and Sudan (including in regard to women’s issues), advocating for genocide prevention and accountability for the most serious international crimes – genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity with emphasis on crimes against women worldwide.
In 2008, Ms. Ahmadi was recognized by President George W. Bush as one of eight global human rights fighters of the year. Ms. Ahmadi earned her Master of Science in Sustainable Development and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Ahfad University for Women in Sudan. Ms. Ahmadi has traveled across the globe and the United States, speaking at hundreds of international conferences and providing experts testimonies to high-level policy forums such as the United Nations Security Council, United Nations Human Rights Council, Assembly of the States Parties to the International Criminal Court, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and the International Criminal Court among many others providing a voice for the Darfur survivors on a global stage.
Darfur Women Action Group (DWAG) is a women-led anti-atrocities nonprofit organization founded in 2009. DWAG seeks to amplify and empower the voices of the communities impacted by genocide in Darfur and to provide a platform for the international community to hear directly from those impacted the most by the ongoing violence in Sudan (particularly the most historically marginalized Sudanese). Learn more at: www.darfurwomenaction.org.
President, African Middle Eastern Leadership Project (AMEL)
Mohamed Abubakr is a Sudanese human rights activist and peacemaker with a decade and a half of civil society experience. Since high school, he has founded and led organizations and initiatives focused on humanitarian, human rights, youth empowerment and peace programs across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) including in Darfur, South Sudan, Sudan, Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and beyond. Mohamed has also documented, reported and mobilized against human rights abuses across MEA, and since arriving in the United States has become a sought after voice at the State Department and in Congress concerning policy and human rights issues in the region.
Associate Fellow, King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies
Umar Karim is an Associate Fellow at the King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies. He is also a doctoral researcher in the Department of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Birmingham. Previously, Umar was a visiting fellow at Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) London. His academic research focuses on Saudi foreign policy and politics, in particular the Saudi regional policy outlook and the broader geopolitics of the Middle East. Karim’s work has appeared in academic journals and mainstream news sources alike.