The Wars of Sudan: From the Egyptian Conquest to the Present

The Wars of Sudan: From the Egyptian Conquest to the Present

Sudan Flag



Egyptian Conquest of the Sudan (1820-1839)-- Led by Ali's son Hussein, Egyptian forces conquered the Sudan, extending Egyptian control along the Red Sea coast, and as far south along the Nile as modern Uganda, then known as Gondokoro.

Egyptian-Ethiopian War (1875-1877)--Ethiopia retaliated against Egyptian forces attempting to colonize the Red Sea coast. Egypt gave up its attempt to colonize that area. Sudan is involved due to Egyptian control over Sudan

Sudanese War (1881-1885)--The Sudanese "Mahdi", a religious leader, began a rebellion against Egyptian control of the Sudan. At this time, Egypt was effectively a protectorate of the British, who sent forces to aid the Egyptians. By 1885, after suffering several bloody defeats, the Anglo-Egyptian forces withdrew from the Sudan.

Sudanese War (1896-1899)--Following their defeat in the previous Sudan War, Anglo-Egyptian forces returned to the Sudan and defeated the forces of the Mahdi's successor, known as the Khalifa.

The Second World War (1940-1943)-While Egyptian and British controlled Sudan did not actually engage in combat in this war, the British launched the campaign to liberate neighboring Ethiopia from Sudanese territory.

First Sudanese Civil War (1955-1972)--War between the Arab and Muslim dominated North, and the Black and non-Muslim South. The Northern government kept the South from breaking away.

Sudanese Military Coup (1958)--

Sudanese Military Coup (1969)--

Second Sudan Civil War (1983-2005)--Continued fighting between the Arab and Muslim dominated North, and the Black and non-Muslim South. This second civil war ended with a truce in 2005, (not always observed by both sides), but that truce did result in a historic referendum in which the South voted to break away from the North and become an independent state. That vote took place in January, 2011.

Sudanese Military Coup (1985)--

Sudanese Military Coup (1989)--Coup which put Omar al-Bashir in power.

U.S. Missile Strike (1998)-Following the al-Qaida attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the United States responded with missile attacks on suspected al-Qaida facilities in both Afghanistan and Sudan.

Darfur War ( 2003-2010)--Bloody war in western Sudan between Darfuri rebels and the government and the government-backed Janjaweed militia. This war also involved border clashes with neighboring Chad.

Invasion of Anjouan (2008)-Sudan sent troops (as did Tanzania and Senegal, with logistical aid from Libya and France), to aid the government of the Comoros regain control of the island of Anjouan from rebels.

Post Referendum Clashes in South Sudan (2011-2012)--After the January, 2011 independence referendum, one major fear was that the North and the Sudan military would not cooperate as South Sudan proclaimed independence. In early February, 2011, clashes broke out between the Sudan military and Southerners.

South Kordofan War (also known as the Third Sudanese Civil War (2011-Present)-Rebellion in the South Kordofan and Blue Nile regions of Sudan. The rebels, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), also formed a loose alliance with Darfuri rebels.

NOTE: South Sudan became independent from Sudan on July 9, 2011, per a referendum in early 2011.

Sudan-South Sudan Border War (also known as The Heglig Crisis) (March 26, 2012 –September 26, 2012)-A short border war fought between Sudan and newly independent South Sudan in 2012 over oil-rich land along South Sudan's Unity and Sudan's South Kordofan states. South Sudan invaded and briefly occupied the small border town of Heglig before being pushed back by the Sudanese army. Small-scale battles continued until an agreement on borders and natural resources was signed on September 26, 2012. Tensions remain high between these two rival nations.

Air Strike on Yarmouk Arms Factory in Khartoum (October 25, 2012)-An unknown force blew up an arms factory in Khartoum. The munitions plant was believed to be ties to Iran and to Iran's efforts to supply Hamas and other groups in Gaza with weapons. The most likely attacker was Israel.

Intervention in Yemen Civil War (2015-Present)-Sudan sent warplanes and troops to Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition fighting against the pro-Iranian Houthi forces in Yemen.

Civil Unrest and anti-government Protests (December 19, 2018-Present)-Large protests broke out in reaction to the poor Sudanese economy, in particular the high cost of bread, but then morphed into an anti-government activism, (against President Bashir's rule in particular).The government tried to discredit the protests by claiming foreign interference (blaming Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE). Protests continued despite occassional fire from security forces and many arrests. Then, following the ousting of the long-time ruler of Algeria due to massive protests in that country, on April 6, protest leaders called for massive demonstrations to try to force out Bashir. Over a million people took part in a huge demonstration in Khartoum. Rifts between security forces and the military became public, as soldiers sided with protesters to prevent violence from secret police forces, leading to an armed confrontation between the two forces at army headquarters.


Military Coup (April 11, 2019)--The Sudanese military overthrew President Omar al-Bashir, ending his 30-year rule. Vice-President and Defense Minister Ahmed Awad Ibn Auf, declared himself Head of State, and suspended Sudan's constitution. Ibn Auf also imposed a nighttime curfew, which, if obeyed would the ongoing protests. The coup leaders declared a two-year transition to civilian rule, but leading protest groups demanded an immediate end to military rule, stating that the new rulers were part of the same old regime they protested against in the first place. It should be noted that Ibn Auf is under U.S. sanctions due to his role in the Darfur War's human rights abuses. His tenure as head of Sudan's military intelligence organization is tied to what is considered a genocide in Darfur, in which an estimated 300,000 people died and millions became refugees. The day after the coup, Ibn Auf resigned from the military junta, and Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan Abdelrahman took over as the new leader of the ruling military council.


1. Kohn, George C. Dictionary of Wars. New York: Facts On File Publications. 1999.

2. Dupuy, R. Ernest and Trevor N. Dupey. The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History: From 3500 B.C. to the Present New York, New York: Harper & Row. 1993.

Clashes in Sudan as southerners in army refuse to withdraw to north--Washington Post, Feb. 6, 2011

 West slumbers while Sudan prepares for civil war's renewal--Post and Courier, Dec. 11, 2010

Voting Is Peaceful in South Sudan Despite Border Clashes--NY Times, Jan. 10, 2011

Related History Pages:

Wars of Egypt

Wars of Libya

History of Yemen: Wars and Politics

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