CAIRO (AP) — The United States imposed sanctions Thursday on a former Sudanese government minister and two companies tied to the African country's paramilitary force that is locked in monthslong fighting with the Sudanese army.
The sanctions imposed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury will block all property in the U.S. and entities owned by Sudan's former Foreign Minister Ali Karti, Sudan-based information company GSK Advance Company Ltd, and the Russia-based military company Aviatrade LLC.
Sudan plunged into chaos in mid-April when long-simmering tensions between the military, led by Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, and the Rapid Support Force paramilitary, or RSF, commanded by Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, escalated into open warfare.
The Treasury said both sanctioned companies have been supporting the RSF in its fight against the military. It said the two have worked together to procure parts and supplies, as well as training for unmanned aerial vehicles and monitoring equipment for the paramilitary force following the outbreak of the conflict.
From 2010 to 2015, Karti was foreign minister under the country's former Islamist autocrat Omar al-Bashir who was ousted in a popular uprising in April 2019.
“He and other hard-line Sudanese Islamists are actively obstructing efforts to reach a cease-fire to end the current war ... and opposing Sudanese civilians’ efforts to restore Sudan’s democratic transition,” the Treasury said.
The Rapid Support Force has accused the Sudanese army of harboring hard-line Islamists, something the military has denied.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a separate statement on Thursday that Karti had led “efforts to undermine the former civilian-led transitional government and derail” the roadmap to transition to democracy following al-Bashir's ouster.
Sudan's democratic transition began in July 2019 but was derailed in October 2021 when the Sudanese army and RSF together mounted a coup that removed a Western-supported, power-sharing administration.
Numerous attempts to restart the transition failed as the army and RSF failed to find common ground on key issues.
Thursday's sanctions are the latest the U.S has imposed on Sudan's leaders and companies. Earlier this month it blocked all U.S. property and entities owned by commander Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo, the brother of the paramilitary force's leader. It also imposed visa restrictions on fellow RSF commander, Abdul Rahman Juma, barring him from entering the U.S.
Blinken has accused both Abdelrahim Hamdan Dagalo and Juma of human rights abuses, and said Juma's forces were likely responsible for kidnapping and murder of the former governor of West Darfur province in June.
Khamis Abdalla Abkar, the ex-governor, was killed hours after he spoke in a phone interview with Saudi-owned television station Al-Hadath and accused the paramilitary and allied militias of attacking local communities in West Darfur’s capital of Geneina.
In June, Washington also imposed sanctions against four key companies that are either linked to or owned by the army and the paramilitary. It also placed visa restrictions on officials from both warring factions in Sudan, and also on former officials in al-Bashir's government, but did not specify who was affected.
Last month, Amnesty International said both sides have committed extensive war crimes in the ongoing conflict.
The fighting has reduced the capital, Khartoum, to an unban warzone. In Khartoum and the surrounding areas of the Sudanese capital, RSF troops have commandeered civilian homes and turned them into operational bases, while the military has responded by bombing residential areas, rights groups and activists say.
In Sudan's western Darfur region, the conflict has morphed into ethnic violence, with the RSF and allied Arab militias attacking ethnic African groups, according to rights groups and the United Nations.
At least 5,000 people have been killed and more than 12,000 have been wounded since the fighting erupted in spring, the U.N. says. However, doctors' groups and activists say the true number is likely far higher.