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White House announces sanctions in Sudan as warring sides fail to abide by ceasefire deal

In this photo released by the Sudanese Army on May 30, 2023, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan visits troops in Khartoum, Sudan. (Sudanese Army via AP) In this photo released by the Sudanese Army on May 30, 2023, Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan visits troops in Khartoum, Sudan. (Sudanese Army via AP)

The White House announced Thursday that it will levy sanctions against key defense companies and people "perpetuating the violence" in Sudan as warring sides fail to abide by a ceasefire agreement.

The United States is imposing visa restrictions on specific people in Sudan, including officials from the warring Sudanese Armed Forces and the Rapid Support Forces and leaders from the former Omar al-Bashir regime, who are "responsible for, or complicit in, undermining Sudan's democratic transition," according to the State Department.

U.S. President Joe Biden on May 4 laid the groundwork for the sanctions when he issued an executive order that expanded U.S. authorities to respond to the violence and help bring an end to the conflict.

"These measures are intended to hold accountable those responsible for undermining the peace, security, and stability of Sudan," White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement.

The Treasury Department said in a statement that four companies are being designated: Al Junaid Multi Activities Co. Ltd., which is controlled by RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and his brother RSF Deputy Commander Abdul Rahim Dagalo; Tradive General Trading LLC, a front company controlled by RSF Major Algoney Hamdan Dagalo, who also is a brother of the RSF commander; Sudan's largest defense company, Defense Industries System; and the arms company Sudan Master Technology, which is linked to the SAF.

"Through sanctions, we are cutting off key financial flows to both the Rapid Support Forces and the Sudanese Armed Forces, depriving them of resources needed to pay soldiers, rearm, resupply, and wage war in Sudan," Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. "The United States stands on the side of civilians against those who perpetuate violence towards the people of Sudan."

It remains unclear how the sanctions will impact either force's financing or the trajectory of the conflict, now entering its seventh week. The Biden administration says it's coordinating with the African Union, Saudi Arabia and other stakeholders in the region as they try to press both parties to end the conflict.

A senior Biden administration official, who briefed reporters on the sanctions on the condition of anonymity, insisted the sanctions on the companies were "far from symbolic" and were designed to have a "chilling effect" on other countries that do business with the warring parties.

Kholood Khair, the founder and director of Confluence Advisory, a think tank in Khartoum, said the sanctions could be impactful but will need the support of other regional stakeholders.

"The U.S. was likely motivated to act because repeat violations are undermining its clout, globally," Khair said.

The United States urged Sudan's warring sides on Thursday to return to ceasefire talks and make a concerted effort to abide by a lasting truce after peace efforts collapsed yet again.

The appeal from the U.S. State Department came after Sudan's military on Wednesday suspended its participation in the talks, hosted in Saudi Arabia, with a rival paramilitary force.

The fighting between the Sudanese military, led by Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Forces, commanded by Dagalo, broke out in mid-April. The violence has killed at least 866 civilians, according to a Sudanese doctors group, though the actual toll is likely much higher.

On Wednesday, heavy shelling near a market in a neighborhood in the south of the Sudanese capital of Khartoum killed at least 17 civilians, the Sudan Doctor's Syndicate said.

"The scope and scale of the bloodshed in Khartoum and Darfur, in particular, is appalling," Sullivan said. "And, the failure of the Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces to abide by the ceasefire only further deepens our concern that the people of Sudan will once again face a protracted conflict and widespread suffering at the hands of the security forces."

The Sudanese military's withdrawal from the talks is a setback for Washington and Riyadh, which have been mediating between the two sides.

"Once the forces make clear by their actions that they are serious about complying with the ceasefire, the United States and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are prepared to resume facilitation of the suspended discussions," the State Department said.

Washington and Riyadh brokered a ceasefire on May 21, to allow for the delivery of humanitarian assistance and restoration of vital services. There have been seven declared ceasefires since the conflict broke out and all have been violated.

Later Thursday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters at a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Oslo, Norway, that both sides were continuing to violate the ceasefire agreement that was renewed last Monday.

"We will continue to be engaged. At the same time, we're also looking at steps that we can take to make clear our views," Blinken said.

In late May, Blinken threatened Sudan's warring generals with possible sanctions in the event of ceasefire violations.

Last week, Riyadh and Washington accused the military of continuing to carry out airstrikes, while condemning the RSF for occupying people's homes and seizing property. Theft was occurring in areas controlled by both forces, it added.

The nearly seven weeks of fighting has reduced the Sudanese capital of Khartoum to an urban battlefield, with many districts without electricity and running water. The conflict has also stoked ethnic violence in the western Darfur region, killing hundreds there.


Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Oslo. Jefferey reported from Cairo, and Madhani reported from Washington Top Stories

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