President Joe Biden laid the groundwork for future sanctions targeted toward the current violence in Sudan that has left hundreds dead and sparked a humanitarian crisis that poses “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” according to the administration.
The executive order signed by Biden on Thursday authorizes future sanctions against individuals determined to be destabilizing the country and “undermining Sudan’s democratic transition,” as well as committing violence against civilians or perpetuating other human rights abuses.
“The Sudanese people suffered thirty years under an authoritarian regime – but they never gave up on their commitment to democracy or their hope for a better future. Their dedication brought down a dictator, only to endure a military takeover in October 2021, and now more violence among factions fighting for control,” Biden said in a written statement announcing the new sanctions authorities.
The administration has not yet imposed sanctions using the new executive order, US officials said.
Despite several attempted ceasefires, including earlier this week, violent clashes have continued between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) as thousands of people flee the conflict-ridden country.
“I join the peace-loving people of Sudan and leaders around the world in calling for a durable ceasefire between the belligerent parties. This violence, which has already stolen the lives of hundreds of civilians and began during the holy month of Ramadan, is unconscionable,” Biden said. “It must end.”
Since mid-April, the US has helped facilitate the evacuation over 1,300 American citizens from Sudan, and 2,000 people total, including local staff, US permanent residents, family members and citizens of American allies, according to the State Department.
John Kirby, a spokesperson for the US National Security Council, urged the two rival factions to come back to the negotiating table and stressed that the administration would not preview any potential future sanctions.
“The people of Sudan deserve better and if these two military factions, the leaders of them, really desire for peace and security, if they really have the Sudanese people at their heart, then they should stop fighting. They should put the arms down, abide by the ceasefire as they’ve committed to and start to get back to the table so we can see a transition to civilian authority,” he told reporters at the White House.
He added that the executive action issued by the president authorizes the US departments of Treasury and State to look at whether there are any “appropriate” future actions for the government to take.
Thursday’s announcement is targeted to the current crisis and does not restart the previous sanctions regime against Sudan that was lifted in 2017.