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Erdoğan receives Sudan’s army chief in Ankara

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President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received Sudan’s army chief in Ankara as part of an official visit Wednesday as fighting between the African nation’s factions nears its sixth month.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan shake hands at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Sept. 13, 2023. (DHA Photo)
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan shake hands
at the Presidential Complex in Ankara, Sept. 13, 2023. (DHA Photo)

He and Gen. Abdel-Fattah al-Burhan, who has been de facto head of state since 2021, are set to hold talks on bilateral relations and ways to strengthen them, the Sudanese Sovereign Council said in a statement.

Burhan is accompanied by a high-level delegation composed of Foreign Minister Ali al-Sadiq, intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim Mufaddal and Director General of the Defense Industries Corporation Lt. Gen. Mirghani Idris Suleiman.

Until late last month, Burhan had been holed up under siege in army headquarters in Khartoum ever since fighting erupted on April 15 between his loyalists and fighters of the paramilitary Rapid Military Support Forces (RSF) led by his former deputy Mohamed Hamdan Daglo.

From his new base in the Red Sea coastal city of Port Sudan, he has since visited Egypt, South Sudan, Qatar and Eritrea in what analysts say is a diplomatic push to burnish his credentials in the event of negotiations to end the conflict.

The fighting, which has already killed nearly 7,500 people, according to a conservative estimate from the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project, showed no sign of letup Wednesday, particularly in the key battlegrounds of Khartoum and the Darfur region.

“Airstrikes, which hit two markets in (the South Darfur state capital) Nyala, caused civilian casualties,” a witness told Agence France-Presse (AFP) by telephone.

Burhan’s regular army is the only party to the conflict with an air force.

On Tuesday, shelling by RSF fighters killed at least 17 civilians in North Khartoum, across the Blue Nile from the capital, witnesses said.

The war has uprooted over 5 million people, including 1 million who fled across borders, according to United Nations figures.

The violence has derailed the launch of a transition toward civilian rule four years after a popular uprising ousted President Omar al-Bashir in August 2019.

The army and the RSF, which together staged a coup in 2021, fell out over the chain of command and military restructuring plans under transition.

Since the conflict broke out, Ankara has reached out to the Sudanese military several times, expressing “concern and sadness” over increasing casualties in the “fratricidal fight” and calling for “restraint and cease-fire.”

Erdoğan repeatedly offered to mediate peace in phone calls with al-Burhan as his government mobilized all diplomatic means and sent its deputy foreign minister to partake in neighboring Ethiopia’s efforts to achieve a peaceful solution and prevent further bloodshed in Sudan.

Türkiye also helped evacuate its own citizens and nationals of other countries, conducting charter flights and swiftly pulling people out via Ethiopia.

In late April, the Sudanese army and the RSF traded accusations over the shooting of a Turkish evacuation plane as it was landing in Khartoum. None of the crew was wounded, the Turkish ministry assured. The RSF denied firing at the aircraft.

Days later, an official vehicle carrying the Turkish ambassador to Sudan was hit by gunfire in the capital. No casualties were reported. The source of the gunfire was not clear but the army and the RSF blamed each other for the attack.