US, Saudi Arabia suspend Sudan mediation over 'unserious' parties

Sudan Peace Talks in Jeddah

A handout picture provided by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) on May 21, 2023, shows Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan (centre), flanked by representatives of the Sudanese army and the rival Paramilitary Rapid Support forces, posing for a photograph after the signing of a ceasefire agreement in Jeddah.

Photo credit: Courtesy | AFP

Saudi Arabia and the United States say they have suspended the Jeddah talks that sought to stop fighting in Sudan, after warring parties violated the latest ceasefire extension.

Mediators expressed concern over serious violations of the ceasefire and the Jeddah Declaration of Commitment to Protect Civilians of Sudan, a key document that sought to create special corridors for humanitarian supplies and civilian evacuation.

Instead, the commitment was disregarded, as fighting continued in Khartoum. Representatives of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) which is led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and those of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which is under Mohammed Daglo Hemedti, had been in Jeddah where they agreed on the commitment. But back home, an open violation seemed to suggest a rise in mistrust between the sides.

On Thursday, Burhan’s side said it was no longer going to take part in Jeddah talks, accusing the RSF of violating every ceasefire.

And on Friday, in a joint statement, the US and Saudi Arabia pointed out that the violations harmed civilians and the Sudanese people, and hindered the delivery of humanitarian aid and the return of basic services.

“Once the parties are actually serious about compliance with the ceasefire, Saudi Arabia and the United States are ready to resume pending discussions to find a negotiated solution to the conflict, the statement said.

The move came after the US announced three specific actions to promote accountability for actions committed by the two military powers, including imposing visa restrictions, imposing economic sanctions, and updating US business advisory to Sudan.

“As directed by US  President in the Executive Order of May 4, today we are imposing sanctions on the Sudanese Armed Forces, the Rapid Support Forces, and entities under their control for actions that threaten the peace, security, and stability of Sudan”  a Statement by US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said.

Besides violating Jeddah commitments, fighters have also looted, occupied or attacked civilian housing and infrastructure including use of aerial bombardment and artillery, prohibited attacks and movements, and the obstruction of humanitarian aid and basic services to restore.

The United States imposed visa restrictions on a range of individuals in Sudan, including officials from the SAF,RSF and leaders of the former Omar al-Bashir regime, for their responsibility or conspiracy to undermine Sudan's democratic transition.

“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,” said US Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen.

““The United States stands on the side of civilians against those who perpetuate violence towards the people of Sudan.”

She named RSF mining firm Al Junaid Multi Activities Co Ltd is controlled by RSF Commander Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and his brother, RSF Deputy Commander Abdul Rahim Dagalo, and its procurement firm based in Dubai, Tradive General Trading L.L.C. for fueling the war.

SAF’s Defence Industries System, an arms maker and the Sudan Master Technology (SMT), a firm with a stake in the Defence Industries, were also sanctioned. 

“We stand ready to take further measures, while continuing to engage deeply with the parties to work towards unhindered humanitarian assistance, silencing the guns and restoring peace, security and stability in Sudan,” the statement said.