On July 13, the UN Security Council approved the US draft resolution introducing an arms embargo against South Sudan and personal sanctions on two military officials.
Former military chief Paul Malong and former deputy chief of general staff for logistics Malek Reuben Riak were added to to the UN sanctions blacklist thus becoming a target of the global visa ban and assets freeze.
The move was initiated by the US delegation and was passed by the mandatory minimum of nine votes with six abstention.
The approved resolution expressed “deep concern at the failures of South Sudan’s leaders to bring an end to the hostilities”. The document imposes the arms embargo until May 2019.
Ethiopian Ambassador Tekeda Alemu criticized the arms embargo saying that the move could undermine diplomatic efforts to impose peace in the country.
“Without prudence and patience whatever human rights violations there are today, they could be even worse. Averting the worse is our objective,” Alemu told the UNSC.
Ethiopia and the African Union in general are actively involved in a negotiation process in order to restore peace efforts in the country.
Later, the Russian Foreign Ministry also criticized the move saying that “this decision is capable not only of undermining the negotiating process but also of doing considerable damage to the United Nations’ relations with the mediating regional organisations, which runs counter to our Western colleagues’ repeated claims concerning the importance of strengthening the partnership with them.”
“It is highly gratifying that the majority of African members of the UN Security Council did not succumb to gross pressure and blackmail that was being brought to bear on them and acted in a responsible way in keeping with the African positions, refusing to support the sanctions initiatives promoted by the United States and a number of Western countries,” the ministry added in its statement.
South Sudan got independence from Sudan in 2011 in a move, which was aimed at putting an end to a series of bloody conflicts in the region. However, the situation remained tense. In late 2013, South Sudan descended into civil war after President Salva Kiir Mayardit had accused former vice president Riek Machar of plotting a coup.
An idea of the South Sudan independence was actively backed by the US and Israel. Till now, the US has remained one of the biggest aid donor in the country. Since then, Tel Aviv and Washington as well as London have been one of the most influence foreign players in the country.
South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, its oil export relies on pipelines, refineries and facilities of Port Sudan in Sudan. Oil revenues constitute a large part of the government of South Sudan’s budget. With the growing need of establishing a kind of “strong state”, the South Sudanese government has started attempts to implement a bit more independent policy.
This caused a dissatisfaction among the “key sponsors” of the South Sudanese that are concerned over defending its interests: investements, export duties for and regulations of the US-, Israeli- and the UK-affilated business as well as a de-facto privilege of extraterritoriality for them.
So, while the July 13 move may undermine the peace process in Southern Sudan, it goes clearly in the framework of the US-Israeli-led neocolonial policy in the country. Washington and its allies are pressuring the Southern Sudanese government to pressure own interests.