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Battle of Wad Madani

Battle of Wad Madani
Part of War in Sudan (2023)
DateRSF attack: 15–19 December 2023 (2023-12-15 – 2023-12-19), (4 days)
SAF offense: 4 April 2024; 16 days ago (2024-04-04)
Location
Result RSF victory[1]
Territorial
changes
RSF captures most of Gezira State[2]
Combatants
Sudanese Armed Forces Rapid Support Forces
Commanders and leaders
Ahmad al-Tayeb Surrendered[3] Abu Agla Keikel[4]
Units involved
1st Infantry Division Unknown

The Battle of Wad Madani was a battle in the War in Sudan over the control of Wad Madani, the capital of Gezira State in east-central Sudan, between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).[5] The battle ended in an RSF victory on 19 December 2023.

Background

Gezira and White Nile states were historically considered SAF strongholds.[6] In Gezira State alone, over 40,000 people were mobilized into the SAF.[7] De facto leader of Sudan Abdel Fattah al-Burhan regularly made visits to southern cities that served as training hubs for new SAF recruits, including Wad Madani.[8] Gezira is Sudan's most fertile state, producing much of the country's agricultural products, including half of its total wheat, making the state a major food source for the country.[9] As such, the state is referred to as Sudan's "breadbasket."[10]

For most of the war, the battle for Khartoum was in stalemate. However, on 11 November, the Shambat Bridge over the Nile was destroyed, denying the RSF a critical supply route to the western side of the river.[11] In need of a new crossing, the RSF assaulted the village of Jabal Awliya on the border with the southern states to capture the Jebel Aulia Dam. A week of fighting later, the RSF captured both.[12] Jabal Awliya's seizure gave the RSF access to the south. Afterward, the RSF had been sighted in the states of Gezira, White Nile[6] and later Al Qadarif for the first time.[13] On 14 December, the RSF carried out a raid on northern Gezira, capturing the town of Abu Guta without resistance, thereby gaining a foothold in the state.[14]

RSF attack

The battle began on 15 December with a flanking maneuver by the RSF that bypassed the northern city of Rufaa and threatened to cut off the SAF, forcing the latter to retreat to Wad Madani itself.[15] The RSF then swiftly entered the city's suburbs of Abu Haraz and Hantoob on the eastern side of the Blue Nile.[16]

Most of the fighting took place in Hantoob as the RSF focused on capturing the strategic Hantoob Bridge over the Blue Nile.[15] The SAF claimed that the first RSF assault on the city was repelled with heavy artillery and air strikes, prompting civilians to celebrate on the streets.[17] However, it was later known that these attacks failed to stem the RSF advance.[15] Fears of RSF "sleeper cells" spread throughout the city and people began to be arrested mainly on ethnic basis.[16] After three days of fighting, the RSF captured a military base that guarded the eastern side of the bridge.[18]

Taking the bridge, the RSF invaded the city proper and quickly advanced to its main market.[15] SAF defenses promptly collapsed as RSF control soon extended to major government buildings in the city, including the 1st Infantry Division's headquarters and the central police station.[4] The SAF abandoned their positions and fled to neighboring states, leaving the rest of the city to be taken mostly without a fight.[19] However, isolated SAF pockets continued to resist around the 1st Infantry Division headquarters until they were quelled[19] while airstrikes by the SAF persisted.[20]

Aftermath

The loss of Wad Madani was described as a "major turn" in the war by Al Jazeera.[21] It astonished Sudan and a feeling of anger swept Sudanese circles.[3] Some residents said they were losing faith that the SAF would protect them and stop the RSF.[21] The SAF's collapse allowed the RSF to subsequently conquer most of the state, push into White Nile, and reach Sennar State further south.[9]

The military faced criticism for its conduct in the city afterward. An expert warned that the loss of the city would dampen public opinion on Burhan and his government.[10] Calls grew for Burhan to step down and for the military to change its strategy.[22] Calls also grew for a coup d'etat to remove the current military leadership.[23] Analysts, however, warned such a move would likely fragment the SAF.[22] The SAF said it would conduct an investigation into why the military retreated from the city.[24] Burhan blamed "negligence" for the city's fall and pledged that those responsible would be held accountable.[25]

On January 7th, the SAF conducted airstrikes on Wad Madani killing at least 11 civilians.[26]

After a month of the fall of Wad Madani, Agar ordered the 4th Infantry Division in Blue Nile to move north toward Wad Madani.[27]

Analysis

The capture of Wad Madani gives the RSF free movement throughout Gezira State and access to other major cities in the fertile Butana region, including El-Gadarif, Kosti, and Sennar, making it difficult for the SAF to concentrate its forces.[23]

Hussein Rabah, a Sudanese military expert, described Wad Madani as the "lungs of Sudan", an important crossroads for the country. He said its capture effectively cut off the regions of Darfur and Kordofan, and the states of Khartoum and White Nile from the army.[7] Cameron Hudson, a former United States official and expert on the Horn of Africa, believed that Burhan would likely turn to Eritrea or Iran in the hopes of changing the tide back in the SAF's favor.[10]

SAF offense

On 4 April, the SAF launches an offensive to reclaim Gezira State. Sudan Tribune claimed to have retaken[clarification needed] the villages of Wad Faqisha and Hafira in Gezira State from the RSF without resistance.[28] The SAF has also claimed to have retaken the town of Al-Qalaa Al-Bayda, 30 kilometers east of Wad Madani, from the RSF.[29]

Displacement

Throughout Sudan, millions of people are internally displaced from war.[30] Before the battle started, Wad Madani was the most common area for displaced civilians to go and was generally considered a safe haven.[31] The United States urged the RSF to halt their advance in Gezira State and the attack on Wad Madani, saying it would put civilians at risk and hamper relief efforts.[32] By 18 December the International Organization for Migration estimated that between 250,000 and 300,000 people had fled the state since the start of hostilities.[33] Most aid groups had suspended work in the city after fighting began.[21]

References

  1. ^ Salih, Zeinab Mohammed (18 December 2023). "RSF paramilitary seizes control of Wad Madani, Sudan's second city". The Guardian.
  2. ^ "RSF seize another key town in central Sudan". Africanews. 21 December 2023.
  3. ^ a b "Wad Madani's fall to RSF without fight raises questions". Sudan Tribune. 18 December 2023. Retrieved 18 December 2023.
  4. ^ a b Nur, Muhammad (19 December 2023). "The Rapid Support Forces take control of Wad Madani, including the army headquarters, after the latter fled to Sennar and Damazin". Sudan War Monitor (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 19 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  5. ^ "Sudan: fighting spreads to Wad Madani, spared from violence until now". Africanews. 15 December 2023. Archived from the original on 18 December 2023. Retrieved 18 December 2023.
  6. ^ a b "A genocidal militia is winning the war in Sudan". The Economist. 16 November 2023. ISSN 0013-0613. Archived from the original on 20 November 2023. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  7. ^ a b Madibo, Abdel (19 December 2023). "Wad Madani: After the Rapid Support Forces took control of Sudan's lungs, will the army's breathing be cut off?". Radio Dabanga (in Arabic). Archived from the original on 19 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  8. ^ "Updates on military developments in Sudan as another round of peace talks fails". Sudan War Monitor. 5 December 2023. Archived from the original on 20 December 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  9. ^ a b "RSF consolidate control over Jezira and reach the gates of Sennar". Sudan War Monitor. 22 December 2023. Archived from the original on 22 December 2023. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  10. ^ a b c Houreld, Katharine (19 December 2023). "Paramilitary force takes city in heart of Sudan's breadbasket; 300,000 flee". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 27 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  11. ^ "Sudanese army accuses RSF of destroying strategic bridge in the capital". Sudan Tribune. 11 November 2023. Archived from the original on 11 November 2023. Retrieved 11 November 2023.
  12. ^ "Rapid collapse of Sudan army defenses in Jebel Aulia". Sudan War Monitor. 21 November 2023. Archived from the original on 20 November 2023. Retrieved 21 November 2023.
  13. ^ "RSF enter Gedaref State for the first time". Sudan War Monitor. Archived from the original on 9 December 2023. Retrieved 9 December 2023.
  14. ^ "Map: RSF raid Abu Guta in Jezira State". Sudan War Monitor. 14 December 2023. Archived from the original on 16 December 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  15. ^ a b c d "RSF seize bridge and storm into Wad Madani". Sudan War Monitor. 19 December 2023. Archived from the original on 18 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  16. ^ a b "Fighting nears the Wad Madani bridge". Sudan War Monitor. 16 December 2023. Archived from the original on 18 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  17. ^ SudanTribune (17 December 2023). "Wad Madani: RSF push back after intense clashes with Sudanese army". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 18 December 2023.
  18. ^ SudanTribune (18 December 2023). "SRF seize military base, escalate fighting near Wad Madani". Sudan Tribune. Retrieved 18 December 2023.
  19. ^ a b "Wad Madani's fall to RSF without fight raises questions". Sudan Tribune. 19 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  20. ^ "RSF takes control of Sudan army and police bases in Wad Madani". Radio Dabanga. 19 December 2023. Archived from the original on 19 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  21. ^ a b c Nashed, Mat (19 December 2023). "'Losing hope': Sudan civilians terrified as RSF attacks second-biggest city". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 19 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  22. ^ a b Nashed, Mat (20 December 2023). "'Remove him': Sudan's army chief al-Burhan faces backlash after RSF gains". Al Jazeera. Archived from the original on 20 December 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  23. ^ a b "Fall of Wad Madani fuels criticism of army". Sudan War Monitor. 20 December 2023. Archived from the original on 20 December 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  24. ^ Dahir, Abdi Latif (20 December 2023). "Sudan's Army Faces Scrutiny After Major City Falls to Rival Forces". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 20 December 2023. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  25. ^ Chibelushi, Wedaeli (22 December 2023). "Sudan war: General Burhan blames fall of Wad Madani on 'negligence'". BBC. Archived from the original on 22 December 2023. Retrieved 22 December 2023.
  26. ^ "At least 11 dead as airstrikes on Sudan capital and Wad Madani continue". Dabanga Radio TV Online. 7 January 2024.
  27. ^ Monitor, Sudan War. "4th Infantry to move north toward Wad Madani". sudanwarmonitor.com.
  28. ^ "Sudanese army launches multi-pronged offensive to reclaim Al-Jazirah state". Sudan Tribune. 5 April 2024. Retrieved 6 April 2024.
  29. ^ "Sudanese army advances in Al-Jazirah, RSF vows response". Sudan Tribune. 7 April 2024. Retrieved 8 April 2024.
  30. ^ "UN Says Sudan Conflict Has Displaced 6.6 Million; US Cites Ongoing War Crimes". The Media Line. 10 December 2023. Archived from the original on 11 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  31. ^ "Sudan: 300,000 flee as RSF advance on key city and aid hub – DW – 12/19/2023". Deutsche Welle. Archived from the original on 19 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  32. ^ "US urges Sudanese fighters to halt advance on aid hub". The Times of India. 17 December 2023. ISSN 0971-8257. Archived from the original on 18 December 2023. Retrieved 18 December 2023.
  33. ^ "At least 250,000 flee fighting in Sudan's El Gezira state, says International Organization for Migration". The Globe and Mail. 18 December 2023. Archived from the original on 18 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.

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Battle of Wad Madani
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