WASHINGTON: The United States imposed sanctions on Friday on a retired Israeli major general for allegedly supplying weapons and ammunition to both the government and the opposition in South Sudan.
The Treasury Department also slapped sanctions on a former South Sudanese official and a wealthy South Sudanese businessman for their roles in fueling the conflict.
Israel Ziv, a retired Israeli major general and owner of security consulting group Global CST, used an agricultural company “as a cover for the sale of approximately $150 million worth of weapons to the government, including rifles, grenade launchers, and shoulder-fired rockets,” the Treasury Department said in a statement.
“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.
The Treasury Department said sanctions were being imposed on Gregory 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.
The Treasury Department said the other individual being sanctioned was South Sudanese businessman Obac William Olawo, who was accused of being “engaged in the trade and shipment of arms and armaments to South Sudan.”
“Treasury is targeting individuals who have provided soldiers, armored vehicles, and weapons used to fuel the conflict in South Sudan,” said Sigal Mandelker, under secretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.
“We are intent on holding accountable those who profit off the misery and suffering of the South Sudanese people and facilitate violence against civilians,” Mandelker said.
Under the sanctions, the United States will seize any assets of the three in the United States and ban any US-based financial transactions with them or companies controlled by them.
South Sudan has been embroiled in conflict since President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, Riek Machar, of plotting a coup five years ago.
Since then nearly 400,000 people have been killed and millions forced from their homes or to the brink of starvation. —AFP