The United States on Thursday announced new sanctions against two Sudanese military factions and companies linked to both sides, which have fueled a war that has killed hundreds in Africa’s third-largest nation.
The Sudanese army, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has been battling paramilitary rapid support forces, led by Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan, since April 15 in a sprawling conflict that has devastated the capital, Khartoum, and displaced at least one million of people.
The sanctions came a day after the Sudanese military withdrew from peace talks in the Saudi city of Jeddah, led by US and Saudi diplomats, which aimed to halt the fighting and allow humanitarian access to a country where 25 million of the country’s 46 million people urgently need help, according to the United Nations.
The Biden administration has denied that the sanctions were a reaction to the failure of those talks. But the move seemed to signal growing international impatience with rival military parties, whose feuding has prompted Sudanese refugees to flock to neighboring countries and stoked fears of a wider regional conflict.
Sanctions include visa restrictions for Sudanese Armed Forces and Rapid Support Forces officials. US officials have not named the people facing the restrictions.
More crucially, the Treasury Department blacklisted two major arms companies affiliated with the Sudanese Armed Forces and General al-Burhan – Defense Industries System and Sudan Master Technology, preventing Americans from doing business with them. It also sanctioned Al Junaid, a gold-mining company controlled by General Hamdan’s family, and Tradive, a company controlled by the UAE-based Rapid Support Forces that the paramilitary group used to procure weapons.
A senior US official, who spoke on condition of anonymity on a conference call with reporters, said the Biden administration would work with the countries in which the four companies operate to ensure compliance with the sanctions.
The White House signaled sanctions were coming when President Biden last month issued an executive order expanding authority to respond to violence in Sudan.
The senior US official said US diplomacy on Sudan is focused on obtaining a ceasefire, but added that the ultimate goal is to put the country back on the path to civilian rule. The official said representatives of both sides continue to meet privately in Saudi Arabia, even as the military has formally withdrawn from the talks.
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, stressed the dire consequences of the continued fighting.
« Despite a ceasefire agreement, senseless violence continued across the country, hampering the delivery of humanitarian assistance and hurting those who need it most, » it said in a statement. « The scale and extent of the bloodshed in Khartoum and Darfur in particular is appalling. »
The State Department has also imposed visa restrictions on officials affiliated with former dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who was deposed in 2019 after three decades in power.
Before turning on each other in April, the two generals had joined forces 20 months ago and seized power in a coup, derailing a revolution that had seen Bashir ousted.
Following the October 2021 military coup, the United States froze $700 million in direct assistance to the government of Sudan and suspended debt relief. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund have frozen $6 billion in immediate assistance and plan to forgive $50 billion in debt. Other governments and institutions, including the African Development Bank, have taken similar steps.