The US evacuated its embassy in Khartoum overnight, and other countries are following its lead, with France also saying it has launched an evacuation. Turkey and others are discussing similar evacuations and other countries such as Egypt have pulled out their personnel and evacuated people.
All of this is a symbol of how the conflict in Sudan, where there had been a brief ceasefire, is now believed to be getting worse. The evacuations come after numerous incidents of diplomats and foreigners have been attacked and targeted.
Journalist Jim LaPorta was the first to break the news that the US Embassy was being evacuated. He noted overnight in a tweet that the “US Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan has been evacuated by American special operations, sources tell me.”
US President Joe Biden noted later that he had ordered the operation. The operation to evacuate the Americans appears to have been very well planned and executed with the best forces available.
According to France24, “just over 100 US special operations troops took part in the rescue to extract fewer than 100 people, which saw three Chinook helicopters fly from Djibouti, staying on the ground in Khartoum for less than an hour.” France's foreign ministry said Sunday a "rapid evacuation operation" had begun and that Europeans and others were also being assisted.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavasoglu also called his Sudanese counterpart to discuss helping Turkish citizens leave Sudan.
“The issue of ensuring that our citizens in Sudan can safely leave the country and return to their homeland was brought to the agenda by our President and Minister, in their contacts with their Sudanese counterparts and in meetings with some third countries,” the Turkish ministry said. “The necessary preparations were carried out in coordination by our Khartoum Embassy and our Ministry.”
Key Western countries are concerned fighting may get worse
It is now clear that key countries linked to the West are all concerned that fighting may grow worse and access to basic things such as medical services and even clean water may be an issue for those who remain. This is not good news after regional countries tried to broker a ceasefire at the end of Ramadan.
It appears that major countries like the US feel they are unable to play a role so far in brokering some kind of agreement. With many Western states focused on Ukraine, Sudan is simply not seen as a priority. Instead, the priority is to get citizens out of the country as well as diplomatic staff and other personnel.
There are thousands of citizens of Western countries in Sudan. Once the embassies are evacuated, it’s not clear how the rest of the citizens will be able to leave. This means Sudan appears to be slowly abandoned.
The abandonment of Sudan is important because this was a country that was one of many trying to transition to democracy. Protests in 2019 overthrew the Bashir regime, but two years later, the army and local paramilitaries launched a coup. Now the army and paramilitaries are fighting each other, and it appears that the people have been completely silenced and pushed aside.
With embassies now empty, it’s unclear if any countries will prioritize helping Sudan end the crisis, or even how they would do that without anyone on the ground. Considering the price the US paid in Benghazi when a US ambassador was killed, and also the chaotic evacuation of Kabul in 2021, it may be no surprise that the US prefers to leave quickly at night than try to stay on.