The U.S. is set to announce arms embargo against South Sudan in a move aimed at stepping up pressure against President Salva Kiir to end the country’s civil war and humanitarian crisis facing the world’s youngest nation.
Through the State Department, US will make the announcement signaling a unilateral move that the Trump administration has lost patience with South Sudan’s warring sides after ceasefires have been repeatedly violated.
In December 2016, the Obama administration had attempted to convince the UN to back an arms embargo against South Sudan.
Already U.S. has sanctioned some of top officials close to President Kiir. Among the sanctioned is the once powerful army chief Paul Malong, who was later fired and forced into exile when he quarreled with the president.
While there is no U.S. weapons trade to South Sudan, arms continue to flow into the country through neighboring states from countries in Eastern Europe, according to one U.S. source.
U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told the U.N. Security Council last Wednesday it was time to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan saying it wasn’t a punishment but a move aimed to putting pressure onto the leaders of the warring factions. Haley visited South Sudan in late October and met with Kiir.
“I urge my fellow Council members to support an arms embargo. This isn’t punishment. Nor is it a meaningless gesture.
“It is something we can do to actually help the people of South Sudan – to slow the violence, slow the flow of arms and ammunition, and protect innocent lives,” she told the council last Wednesday.
The oil-rich South Sudan has been wrecked by civil war since 2013, when troops loyal to Kiir clashed with troops loyal to then-Vice President Riek Machar.