U.S. forces are preparing for an eventual evacuation of the embassy in Sudan.

U.S. forces are preparing for an eventual evacuation of the embassy in Sudan.

U.S. forces are preparing for an eventual evacuation of the embassy in Sudan. U.S. soldiers are being trained in Djibouti for a possible mission to remove U.S. Embassy workers from Khartoum, according to two sources with knowledge of the military’s intentions.

Over the past week, violence between two opposing generals, Sudan’s Defense Minister General Abdel-Fattah Burhan and Rapid Support Forces leader General Mohammed Hamdan Dalago, has wreaked havoc on the country’s capital. Many individuals in the metropolis of 5 million have been stuck due to the severe fighting, including embassy workers who have taken refuge in the facility eight miles from the international airport.

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One of the people familiar with the issue has said that on Wednesday, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman told senators in private that troops would be deployed to Djibouti, home to Camp Lemmonier, to provide the administration with an option to begin an evacuation operation. The source and others who spoke for this article were provided anonymity to discuss critical military planning and internal deliberations. The mission, Sherman emphasized, would transport only embassy personnel to safety; there would be no military-led mass evacuation of American citizens.

A representative for the Department of Defense confirmed that the United States was prepositioning troops but did not confirm that they were headed to Djibouti.

“The Department of Defense, through U.S. Africa Command, is keeping a close eye on the situation in Sudan and carefully preparing for various potential outcomes. “We are deploying additional capabilities in the region for contingency purposes related to securing and potentially facilitating the departure of U.S. Embassy personnel from Sudan,” said Department of Defense spokesperson Lt. Col. Garron Garn.

There are those in the administration who want to prevent a repeat of the chaos that accompanied the 2001 departure of Kabul, Afghanistan. The sight of thousands of people crammed into a bus begging to be let out of the city as the Taliban took over became symbolic of the United States exit.

Meanwhile, legislators are concerned for the security of American citizens working in Khartoum.

Virginia Democrat Sen. Tim Kaine said Thursday that concerned senators detoured to a Capitol meeting on the document leaks to inquire about the security of American employees in Khartoum. Kaine said there was a plan to deal with them, but he would not disclose details due to the sensitive nature of the situation.

Everything is taken care of. He assured us that everyone was safe within the building and that they were in touch with us. The entire administration is working out how to guarantee their continued security. We have everything under control.

Republican Utah senator Mitt Romney said on the committee, “I, of course, have concerns about our personnel there.” He wouldn’t go into detail about his plans.

Every hour brings more evidence that the military will evacuate.

The central Khartoum airport is closed and would be useless even if reopened, as it has been severely damaged by bombing and warfare. There is no way for the 70 or so Americans working at the embassy to leave Sudan without putting themselves in grave danger. According to a State Department official, most American diplomats in Sudan do so without their families since the post is so difficult.

U.S. Embassy in Khartoum issues an advisory Thursday saying, “Due to the uncertain security situation in Khartoum and closure of the airport, it is not currently safe to undertake a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of private U.S. citizens.”

The top State Department official for African affairs, Molly Phee, reportedly told congressional staffers on Wednesday that it was too late to order a mission departure due to the worsening security situation, which has already resulted in approximately 300 deaths and about 3,000 injuries.

According to another American official who knew the preparations, the State Department had already begun drafting documents for an evacuation order. The individual also mentioned that on Thursday morning, the State Department’s leadership contacted embassy personnel to discuss the situation and possible solutions, including a ground evacuation. According to the authority, though, driving is currently riskier than flying.

Transportation to Wadi Seidna Air Base for a helicopter rescue is another possibility. This week, dozens of Egyptian troops abducted by the paramilitary group Rapid Support Forces and held at a camp 14 miles north of Khartoum were released and allowed to return home by plane.

Another U.S. official said the United States has communicated with other countries with embassies in the Sudanese capital to discuss evacuation arrangements.

A request for comment sent to the State Department went unanswered for some time.

Since the tumultuous departure from Kabul, the Biden administration has often faced parallel crises.

The State Department urged Americans to leave Ethiopia as the situation worsened during a significant crisis and prepared U.S. military and diplomats for a potential complete embassy shutdown that was avoided. (Non-emergency embassy staff has been directed to reduce their numbers partly.)

In the days leading up to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Trump administration closed the U.S. embassy in Kyiv. The embassy was reopened, albeit with reduced personnel, within months.

In both situations, the Biden administration pledged that there would be no further Kabul-style evacuations involving anyone other than U.S. government personnel. To that purpose, it sent a series of alerts urging Americans to leave Ethiopia and Ukraine over several weeks.

The State Department has warned Americans against visiting Sudan for years due to the country’s unstable political climate. In South Sudan, where a similar conflict between two senior leaders occurred recently, 400,000 people died.

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