Sudanese greet soldiers loyal to army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in the Red Sea city of Port Sudan on April 16, 2023 [AFP]

This op-ed war originally publish at Aljazeera English

The eruption of fighting in the Sudanese capital on Saturday brought to Khartoum's seven million people the realities of Sudan's multiple conflicts. Many of its residents are themselves displaced by war and perhaps had hoped they had left those nightmares behind in the states they hail from.

The packed metropolis is on the verge of a colossal humanitarian disaster, especially as its already weakened health system is coming to a standstill, water and electricity are cut ,and food is increasingly hard to come by.

This crisis is the culmination of a process of state disintegration that intensified in the last years of former President Omar al-Bashir's regime and worsened during the chaos that followed his 2019 ouster.

Since independence, Sudan has faced a series of rebellions and civil wars, during which the state and society began to disintegrate. Conflicts escalated tribal and ethnic tensions as political leaders took the road of least resistance, projecting political differences into tribal polarisation, militarising competition over resources, and awakening old feuds and rivalries.

Meanwhile, militias allied with Khartoum proliferated. This anomaly in the state's military affairs culminated in the creation of a monster in the shape of the so-called Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a predatory "family business" that has become a major player in national and even regional politics.

The RSF's roots go back to 2003 when its current leader, Mohamed Hamdan "Hemedti" Dagalo, was recruited by his kinsman Musa Hilal as a commander in a tribal militia enlisted by al-Bashir's regime to fight the rebellion in Darfur.

He distinguished himself as a ruthless commander and became a rival to his benefactor, Hilal. When the latter broke up with the regime in 2013, al-Bashir issued a decree, forming the RSF from the tribal militias that fought in Darfur and appointing Hemedti as its leader....