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U.S. should impose modernized sanctions on Sudan: group

April 17, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - A new report by the United States-based Enough Project has proposed that the U.S. administration should deploy new targeted financial pressures on the Sudanese regime to support a peace deal in the country.

US president Barack Obama (Photo: Getty Images)

Washington imposed economic and trade sanctions on Sudan in 1997 in response to its alleged connection to terror networks and human rights abuses. In 2007 it strengthened the embargo, citing abuses in Darfur which it labelled as genocide.

The report titled “Modernized Sanctions for Sudan: Unfinished Business for the Obama Administration” demands Washington to increase pressure on the Sudanese regime by adopting a strategy “based in part on an approach that was effective over time in bringing Iran to the negotiating table”.

“While the economic and political contexts of Iran and Sudan are quite different, as are the underlying U.S. national security and foreign policy interests and exigencies, the fact is that both governments have become severely compromised due to isolation from the global financial system,” read the report.

The report underscored that the policies and actions of the Sudanese government justify enhanced and modernized U.S. sanctions; saying the latter doesn’t “deserve sanctions relief or debt relief so long as it undermines inclusive peace in Sudan and diverts public financial and military resources to attacking the Sudanese people and enriching itself”.

It demanded the U.S. administration to deploy a new wave of modernized sanctions tools that can more effectively target top regime officials and their commercial interests.

According to the report those tools include the imposition of sanctions on foreign banks dealing with the regime, targeting the conflict gold and weapons sectors, increasing enforcement of existing sanctions besides introducing anti-corruption sanctions and increasing designations of companies owned by Sudan’s National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS) and key regime elites.

On the other hand, the report pointed that the U.S. government should take steps to alleviate the negative impact of the existing sanctions on service providers that support the Sudanese public, saying however the administration should not succumb to diversionary tactics and a manipulation of the humanitarian imperative from the Sudanese government.

It is noteworthy that a number of organizations operating in Sudan have mentioned the challenges they face due to the sanctions. Also, Sudanese officials continued to point to the negative impact of the economic sanctions on ordinary citizens.

Last December, the country’s justice minister Awad al-Hassan al-Nur called for indemnities "for the victims of coercive unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S and other international powers on the Sudan".

The report added that the goal of this combination of tightened and eased sanctions measures is to bring Sudanese regime “to a more inclusive, single, unified peace process that aims for a negotiated political transition in Sudan”.

According to the report, previous non-inclusive peace processes separating the parties and conflicts in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and the political opposition have failed to achieve lasting peace in the country.

It pointed that the Sudanese government has “undermined every peace process aimed at addressing Sudan’s internal conflicts since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which ended the North-South war in 2005”, saying it effectively uses these peace talks “as a means to divide opposition and undermine progress toward an end to conflict”.

“The Obama administration—backed by a bipartisan group of congressmen and congresswomen—can use enhanced financial leverage to press the Sudanese government to unify the three currently disaggregated and ineffective negotiations forums (Darfur, the Two Areas, and the National Dialogue) and ensure that the root causes of conflict are addressed inclusively and comprehensively”, read the report.

The Sudanese army has been fighting Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) rebels in Blue Nile and South Kordofan since 2011 and a group of armed movements in Darfur since 2003.

Last December, negotiations between Khartoum the SPLM-N stalled after the government delegation insisted that the objective of talks is to settle the conflict in the Two Areas, while the SPLM-N team has called for a holistic approach to resolve ongoing conflicts across Sudan.

Also, Sudanese government and four of the “Sudan Call” opposition groups held a strategic consultative meeting in Addis Ababa between 19 to 21 March under the auspices of the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP) which brokers Sudan’s peace process.

At the end of the meeting, the Sudanese government signed a Roadmap Agreement calling to stop war in Blue Nile, Darfur, and South Kordofan and to engage in the national dialogue process. However the opposition groups refused to sign the agreement saying it would lead to reproduce the regime.