Washington has justified its decision to impose sanctions on several Sudanese entities with the intent to pressure both sides of the ongoing conflict to cease hostilities. However, Sudanese experts anticipate that these sanctions could lead to an escalation of skirmishes, violations, and a further deterioration of the country’s living conditions.
On June 1, the United States imposed economic sanctions and visa restrictions “against parties engaging in violence” with the objective to freeze funding sources for both sides of the conflict – the military and the Rapid Support Forces – according to US officials.
The Sudanese military suspended its participation in the peace talks brokered by Washington and Riyadh to halt the fighting on May 31. The military accused the Rapid Support Forces of non-compliance, while the latter expressed unqualified support for the Saudi-American initiative.
Sudanese strategic expert Brigadier Sati Sorcti described the United States as a “non-neutral party” equating the military and the Rapid Support Forces. In an interview with “Sky News Arabia”, he stated that “Sudan is accustomed to American sanctions for decades”, implying there is “nothing new” in Washington’s sanction announcement.
Contrarily, Sudanese political writer and analyst, Hamour Ziada, predicts that the sanctions will have a “quick impact” on both sides of the conflict. He suggests that these measures are “smart and not rushed”, targeting specific sectors rather than the entire country, making it difficult to predict the precise effects at this time.
The US sanctions target companies in the industrial, defense, and armament sectors, including the “Sudan Master Technology” company that supports the military. For the Rapid Support Forces, the sanctions hit Al-Junaid mines, a company managing gold mines in Darfur region and funding the aforementioned forces. Notably, these sanctions do not directly target the army commander, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, or the Rapid Support Forces commander, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo.
Since the beginning of the fighting on April 15, the Sudanese army and Rapid Support Forces have agreed to 12 truces, all of which were immediately violated, with the latest ceasefire lasting one week mediated by the US and Saudi Arabia.
Ziada notes that the army’s suspension of participation in talks “will ignite clashes and fighting again”, pointing out that Sudan is heading towards a broadening of military operations in the capital Khartoum and several cities. He suggests that this will exacerbate the humanitarian situation in the country already facing an expanding food crisis, a collapsed healthcare system, and depleting citizens’ savings.
Military and strategic expert, Major General Amin Majzoub, assigns the Rapid Support Forces responsibility for “truce breaches”, arguing that the army was “forced” to respond. He adds that the army is currently working on “clearing” citizen houses and hospitals from these forces, which “occupy” 29 hospitals in Khartoum.
In his assessment, “it’s clear that mediators have failed to pressure the Rapid Support Forces to comply with commitments, vacate hospitals and citizen homes, and stop looting operations on the roads, whether of vehicles or funds inside banks and markets”.
According to UNICEF, more than 13.6 million children in Sudan need humanitarian assistance, including “620,000 suffering from severe malnutrition”. Over one million people have fled to safer places within the country or abroad, including 350,000 to neighboring countries, half of them to Egypt and others to Chad, South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Ethiopia