VSFive months after the coup and the killing of at least 89 peaceful protesters, the US Treasury sanctioned the central reserve of the Sudanese police on March 21. The assets across the Atlantic of this section of the police are therefore frozen, and transfers of money passing through American banks prohibited. “Since the military takeover on October 25, Sudan’s central police reserve has used excessive force and violence to silence civilian activists and protesters,” said lawyer Brian Nelson, in charge of counterterrorism and financial intelligence at the US Treasury. Nicknamed “Abu Tayra”, this police unit was formed during the reign of Omar al-Bashir, the ousted dictator in April 2019. Since the putsch, these forces have been widely deployed to repress pro-democracy processions. That said, the Sudanese still show mixed feelings about the measures considered symbolic taken against this section, measures which could however precede individual sanctions.
A warning for the putschists
“It’s a positive sign. Indeed, since the October coup, the United States had so far done nothing except condemn the violence and suspend its financial aid. Which does not help us, because we need this money, provided that it is paid to civil organizations supporting democratic change and not to the government”, summarizes Mustafa Mohamed, at a time when inflation is soaring. Member of a resistance committee, he participated, on this Tuesday, March 22, in the blocking of the streets of the capital in order to show, once again, the disagreement of the revolutionaries in the face of the confiscation of power. Behind him, only a few rickshaws and motorcycles manage to squeeze through the barricades. “These sanctions constitute a warning for the leaders of the army, continues Mustafa Mohamed. It would in any case be more effective to freeze the assets of General Burhane, who heads the army, and especially of Hemeti, who controls with his brothers several companies, through which they sell gold from Sudan on the Dubai market. . The young man, a political science student, is referring here to the economic empire of General Mohamed Hamdan Dogolo, both vice-president of the Sovereignty Council and boss of the powerful paramilitary militia of the Rapid Support Forces.
Individual sanctions could fall
According to Bashir Elshariff Ahmed, professor of political science at the Islamic University of Omdurman, this decision by the US Treasury is indeed a first step. “The United States Congress is due to meet this Wednesday, March 23. Other sanctions could be imposed, this time directly targeting people supporting the coup d’etat,” the researcher points out. He believes that the main architects of the putsch, Generals Burhane and Hemeti, could in turn be targeted if they remain in power in the coming weeks. “It’s a warning to the regime,” confirms Kholood Khair of the think tank Strategy Insight Partners based in Khartoum. He targets Burhane, but especially Hemeti after his visit to Moscow. As proof, the United States made this announcement only after the latter’s trip to Russia, even though the coup took place five months ago. When the war broke out in Ukraine, this former Darfuri warlord who aspires to become president was indeed in the midst of fundraising with those close to Vladimir Putin, trying to save his country from economic collapse.
A call to get away from Moscow
“This issue is very sensitive for the United States, which will not hesitate to threaten Hemeti to break its ties with Russia,” insists Bashir Elshariff Ahmed. In any case, this professor considers the United States ready to turn the page on sanctions against Sudanese institutions. These measures had excluded the Sudanese from the global financial system under Bashir, before being lifted at the end of 2020. “These decisions affected the Sudanese population. A new type of sanctions targeting putschists should be introduced. It could be more effective, ”says the professor.
More mixed, Kholood Khair doubts the scope of such measures. “If they are applied against one of the generals, they are likely to benefit the other. And if they target both, they risk providing them with an additional reason to continue to resist the reforms and the democratic transition”, anticipates the analyst. While welcoming “a punitive symbolism that can comfort the victims”.
The American gendarme questioned
Among these victims, the families of the “martyrs”. The hundreds of wounded who will remain for some disabled. Or the dozens of political detainees. Ameera Osman, the president of the No to the Oppression of Women movement, was arrested at her home on the night of February 22 and imprisoned for two weeks. This communist activist nevertheless coldly welcomes the gesture of the American policeman: “What assets does this section of the Sudanese police have in the United States? Who manages ? How much are these assets? And do the police have the right to invest in another country? These are all questions that need to be answered. The US government should respect the people and their right to choose their model of governance. We reject these interferences under cover of solidarity which aim in reality to control the populations and their resources. »