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US Sanctions Ex-Israeli General, 2 Others over South Sudan War

US Sanctions Ex-Israeli General, 2 Others over South Sudan War

Friday, 14 December, 2018 - 19:30
The US sanctions three individuals for their role during the South Sudan civil war. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Three people were sanctioned by the United States on Friday for their roles in South Sudan’s five-year civil war.

A Treasury statement named the three as retired Israeli military official Israel Ziv and South Sudanese businessman Obac William Olawo, for leading entities whose actions have extended the conflict, and South Sudanese official Gregory Vasili, "for actions that have undermined peace, stability, and security."

Washington said it will continue to target those who "profit off the misery and suffering of the South Sudanese people."

The US also designated six entities owned or controlled by Ziv and Olawo.

The US statement said Ziv, a retired Israeli Defense Forces major general, supplied arms and ammunition to both sides in the civil war. It said he used an agricultural company as a front to sell "approximately $150 million worth of weapons to the government, including rifles, grenade launchers, and shoulder-fired rockets."

"While Ziv maintained the loyalty of senior Government of South Sudan officials through bribery and promises of security support, he has also reportedly planned to organize attacks by mercenaries on South Sudanese oil fields and infrastructure, in an effort to create a problem that only his company and affiliates could solve," it said.

Vasili who -- while governor of Gogrial State in South Sudan in 2017 -- "oversaw an explosion of intra-clan ethnic violence that resulted in scores of civilians being killed and thousands displaced from their homes."

"Separate from his aggravation of local conflict, Vasili has been involved in various illicit activities, including involvement in a major food procurement scandal and winning gas contracts from the South Sudanese military while he was still serving in it," it said.

Olawo, the US said, "routinely imported standard and armored vehicles for the government of South Sudan, and as of mid-2018 was engaged in the trade and shipment of arms."

Watchdog group The Sentry quickly praised the US move. "Today's sanctions clearly show the intersection between corruption and armed conflict in South Sudan," said Joshua White, the group's director of policy and analysis, in a statement.

"We need more of these designations to chip away at the violent kleptocracy."

There was no immediate response from South Sudan's government, which has bristled at rising US criticism and pressure, including the threat to withdraw aid. The US is reviewing its assistance to the country, National Security Adviser John Bolton said Thursday.

The statement said the US is targeting people who have "provided soldiers, armored vehicles, and weapons used to fuel the conflict."

Washington has expressed growing exasperation over South Sudan and those it says are blocking the path to peace. It led efforts in the United Nations Security Council to impose an arms embargo on the country earlier this year.

The civil war has killed nearly 400,000 people. The sanctions were announced a day before the devastated East African nation marks the fifth anniversary of the start of the fighting. The warring sides signed a new peace deal in September, though fighting and abuses continue in some areas.

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