Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Bush Imposes Sanctions on Sudan

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Watch Bush's address.

Bush Toughens Sanctions Against Sudan Over Darfur

Brendan Murray and Kevin Carmichael Tue May 29, 12:27 PM ET

May 29 (Bloomberg) --
President George W. Bush imposed economic sanctions against Sudan in a bid to curb the violence in Darfur and called on the United Nations to step up financial pressure on a leader who hasn't stopped what the U.S. describes as genocide in the African country.

``The people of Darfur are crying out for help,'' Bush said at the White House. ``I promise this to the people of Darfur: The United States will not avert our eyes from a crisis that challenges the conscience of the world.''

Bush said the U.S. Treasury has blocked two Sudanese government officials and one rebel leader from the U.S. financial system; frozen the assets of 30 companies owned or controlled by the Sudanese government; and sanctioned one other company, Azza Air Transport Co., for violating an arms embargo.

The penalties against the oil-producing country follow a warning Bush gave April 18 in a speech at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. He said then that the world has a moral obligation to halt genocide in Darfur, a region in western Sudan.

``One day after I spoke, the military bombed a meeting of rebel commanders designed to discuss a possible peace deal with the government,'' Bush said today. ``The result is that the dire security situation on the ground in Darfur has not changed.''

New UN Resolution

Bush said he instructed Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice to consult with the U.K. and other allies to draft a new UN Security Council resolution that would apply additional punitive measures on Sudan. France will support the U.S. push for a resolution, Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere said today.

Bush's envoy to Sudan, Andrew Natsios, told CNN that ideas floated privately by the new French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, lead the U.S. to believe France may get more involved in the Darfur issue.

Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte told reporters in Washington that the U.S. will seek from the UN Security Council a ``binding ban on military flights over Darfur.'' Natsios, who joined Negroponte at the briefing, declined to say how such a prohibition against Sudan's military would be enforced.

More than 200,000 people have died in Darfur in the past four years in a campaign of violence directed at rebels seeking a greater share of oil revenue and political power from the central government in Khartoum. The fighting has spread to include violent clashes among rival tribes in the region and has spilled over into neighboring Chad, where a dozen major refugee camps house thousands of Darfur refugees.

``The world has a responsibility to help put an end to it,'' Bush said.

Sudan's `Obstruction'

Bush said the Sudanese government failed to honor pledges to stop the violence. Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir's ``actions over the past few weeks follow a long pattern of promising cooperation, while finding new methods for obstruction,'' Bush said.

``I call on President Bashir to stop his obstruction and to allow the peacekeepers in, and to end the campaign of violence that continues to target innocent men, women and children,'' Bush said.

Sudan's envoy at the UN criticized Bush for the sanctions steps. Bush is ``polluting'' progress toward a new peace agreement in Darfur and efforts by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon to persuade the government in Khartoum to accept UN peacekeepers, Sudanese Ambassador Abdalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad said in an interview.

AU, UN Troops

The African Union has about 7,000 peacekeepers in Darfur who aren't able to provide full protection to civilians in the region, which is as big as France. Sudan to date has approved the deployment of 2,500 UN troops to support the AU force and has rejected a much larger UN-led force.

The Treasury Department said three Sudanese officials will be sanctioned for their roles in fomenting the violence:

Ahmad Muhammed Harun, Sudan's state minister for humanitarian affairs, who already is accused of war crimes by the International Criminal Court, and Awad Ibn Auf, the head of military intelligence and security, both acted as liaisons between the Sudanese government and the Janjaweed militias that have attacked Darfur residents, the Treasury said.

Khalil Ibrahim, leader of the Justice and Equality Movement, was also cut off from the U.S. financial system. The JEM refused to sign a peace agreement, and Ibrahim is ``personally'' responsible for rebel activity aimed at destabilizing the situation, the Treasury said.

Arms Exporter Targeted

Among the 30 companies targeted by the Treasury are GIAD Industrial City, which supplied armored vehicles to the government for military operations in Darfur; Sudatel, the national telecommunications company; and five companies in the petrochemical industry, including Advanced Petroleum Co., RAM Energy Co., Bashaier, Hi-Tech Petroleum Group and Hi-Tech Chemicals, according to the department's release.

Humanitarian groups and experts on Africa said the sanctions may have little effect on the government or its victims.

``Unilateral sanctions on a couple mid-level officials and expanding unilateral sanctions for which the Sudanese were fully prepared will have no impact on the regime's calculations,'' John Prendergast, an Africa analyst at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said today in an e-mailed response to questions. ``This appears to be posturing for domestic constituencies on Washington's part.''

``For many people in Darfur, these sanctions mean very little,'' said Ted Dagne, a specialist in African affairs at the Congressional Research Service in Washington.

``For the 450,000 people who were killed over the past four years and for the millions who are still in the displaced camps, the sanctioning of Sudanese companies will not end the suffering,'' Dagne said. ``The issue in Darfur is protection of the helpless and ending the suffering.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Brendan Murray in Washington at bmurray@bloomberg.net


Anonymous said...

We should seriously consider the hardship that sanctions put on the people and even the cost in lives. Surely there are better ways to address this.

Swerl said...

400,000 people and counting getting killed in a genocidal condition, modern slavery and living in a desert in Chad is also a "hardship".

Killing NGOs so aid workers do not feel safe trying to save the lives of displaced children is also a "hardship". The US unilaterally attempting to divest, especially with China in the wings to pick up the slack, pales in comparison.

Thanks for your comment, though.