July 21, 2024

African Officials Call Jeddah Agreement Dead, Express Skepticism Over US Sanctions on Sudanese Officials and Warn that Sanctions Could Drive Sudanese Forces Closer to Russia

President Joe Biden disembarks Air Force One at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio Wednesday, July 6, 2022, and is greeted by U.S. Rep. Shontel Brown, D-Ohio. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

African officials have responded with skepticism to the sanctions imposed by the United States on Sudanese officials on Thursday. They argue that these measures will have little impact on the ongoing conflict and express concern that the sanctions may push Sudanese forces closer to Russia. The officials contend that the Jeddah agreement, aimed at resolving the conflict, is now dead, as both sides are unlikely to engage in further talks.

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced on Thursday the designation of four companies, accusing them of generating revenue and contributing to the conflict in Sudan. The targeted entities are linked to the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF), the two opposing forces in the conflict.

“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. The United States stands on the side of civilians against those who perpetrate violence towards the people of Sudan,” Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen said in a statement.

In a follow-up background call, a senior US administration official reiterated that the sanctions are meant to bring about peace and stability by depriving those fueling the conflict of resources needed to pay soldiers, rearm, resupply, and wage war in Sudan.

However, several African officials, who spoke with Today News Africa on condition of anonymity because they were not cleared to discuss sensitive matters, believe that the sanctions will not effectively achieve their intended goals. They argue that the RSF and SAF will find alternative ways to fund their operations, potentially seeking support from Russia. The RSF, in particular, has been accused of collaborating with a Russian company in gold mining activities, further fueling concerns about increased Russian involvement.

Moreover, African officials criticize the U.S. approach for neglecting the African perspective in negotiations. They argue that African voices should be central in peace processes and that African regional organizations, such as IGAD and ECOWAS, should be given more authority to address conflicts on the continent. They express frustration that the U.S. disregards their advice and fails to engage with key African stakeholders in finding solutions.

The officials emphasize that the conflict in Sudan has taken on a racial dimension, pitting the Arab-dominated government against African tribes from the western regions. They caution that the conflict could escalate into a broader North-South division, with implications for regional stability.

The imposition of sanctions has led to a pessimistic outlook for the Jeddah agreement. African officials believe that the parties involved are unlikely to return to the negotiating table, viewing the process as effectively terminated. They argue that the U.S. sanctions have undermined the chances of a peaceful resolution and may contribute to further polarization and violence.

The skepticism expressed by African officials highlights the need for a more inclusive and collaborative approach to resolving the Sudanese conflict. Engaging with African stakeholders and considering their perspectives is crucial for a sustainable and peaceful resolution.

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