US imposes fresh round of sanctions over instability in Sudan

  • World
  • Friday, 29 Sep 2023

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, speaks with Sudanese refugees as they cross the border - marked by the unfinished bridge structure in the background - into Chad to flee the country's conflict, in Adre, Chad September 6, 2023. REUTERS/Michelle Nichols/ File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on two companies, including one based in Russia, and one person it accused of exacerbating instability in Sudan as fighting has killed thousands and displaced millions of civilians.

The action is the latest round of sanctions imposed by Washington after war between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out in April over plans for a political transition and the integration of the RSF into the army, four years after long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in a popular uprising.

"Today's action holds accountable those who have undercut efforts to find a peaceful, democratic solution in Sudan," the Treasury Department's Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement.

"We will continue to target actors perpetuating this conflict for personal gain."

The Treasury said it targeted Ali Karti, the foreign minister under Bashir, who became leader of the Sudanese Islamic Movement after Bashir was toppled in 2019.

He is a prominent figure among loyalists and veterans of Bashir's Islamist rule who have maneuvered to protect their interests and regained some leverage after a 2021 coup by the army and the RSF.

The Islamists have backed the army in its fight against the RSF, with some, including former intelligence operatives, joining the army's ranks.

"(Karti) and other hardline Sudanese Islamists are actively obstructing efforts to reach a ceasefire to end the current war between the SAF and RSF and opposing Sudanese civilians, efforts to restore Sudan's democratic transition," the Treasury said.

Also hit with sanctions was GSK Advance Company, a Sudan-based company the Treasury said has been used as a procurement channel for the RSF.

GSK worked with Russia-based military supply company Aviatrade, also targeted on Thursday, to arrange the procurement of parts and supplies, as well as training, for drones previously purchased by the RSF, the Treasury said.

The RSF has long cultivated its closest foreign ties with the United Arab Emirates and Russia.

An RSF advisor, Mostafa Mohamed Ibrahim, told Al Jazeera on Thursday that the force had no relation with the two sanctioned companies.

Karti's Sudanese Islamic Movement issued a statement saying it sought stability for Sudan and that sanctions imposed by the United States were a "badge of honour". Karti was in Sudan when the war broke out but his current whereabouts are unclear.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a separate statement said Washington had taken steps this week to impose visa restrictions on people believed to be part of efforts to undermine Sudan’s democratic transition, including Sudanese Islamists and former officials, as well as others suppressing human rights and involved in other actions.

Thursday's sanctions follow measures taken against the deputy leader of the RSF earlier this month and sanctions the U.S. imposed in June on companies it accused of fuelling the conflict.

The action freezes any U.S. assets of those targeted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them. Those that engage in certain transactions with them also risk being hit by sanctions.

(Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis in Washington and Aidan Lewis in London; Editing by Ros Russell, Daniel Wallis and Deepa Babington)

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