Ethiopia Says It Demands 'African Solution' for GERD Crisis, Rejects Outside Mediation

Renaissance Dam (Ethiopian News Agency)
Renaissance Dam (Ethiopian News Agency)
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Ethiopia Says It Demands 'African Solution' for GERD Crisis, Rejects Outside Mediation

Renaissance Dam (Ethiopian News Agency)
Renaissance Dam (Ethiopian News Agency)

Ethiopia said it strongly demands an "African solution" to its dispute with Egypt and Sudan over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which it is building along a tributary of the Nile River, raising tensions with the two downstream countries.

MP and Advisor to the Minister of Water and Energy Mohammed Al-Arousi rejected mediation by outside parties.

This came days after Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced the successful completion of the GERD's 3rd filling and launching power production from the second turbine.

African Union-sponsored talks in this regard remain deadlocked since April 2021.

In an interview with ENA, Arousi said that his country believes that "each African problem, has an African solution." Arousi stressed that Ethiopia is generally opposed to mediation by outside parties, saying it was a strategy to exert pressure on his country.

A well-informed Egyptian source said that the UAE seeks to playing an effective role in pushing forward the negotiations and finding a solution to the conflict that has been ongoing for 11 years.

The UAE has been presenting itself as an indirect mediator, the source added.

The Ethiopian official said that politicizing the Renaissance Dam issue has affected Ethiopia internationally but did not impact its insistence on developing its natural resources.

Arousi encouraged opening a new chapter that focuses on real concerns, stressing that talks must be centered on cooperation factors and ways to reinforce them in a way that serves the three states’ interests.



Libya’s Eastern Govt Delays Derna Reconstruction Meeting

 A view shows the destruction, in the aftermath of the floods in Derna, Libya September 30, 2023. (Reuters)
A view shows the destruction, in the aftermath of the floods in Derna, Libya September 30, 2023. (Reuters)
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Libya’s Eastern Govt Delays Derna Reconstruction Meeting

 A view shows the destruction, in the aftermath of the floods in Derna, Libya September 30, 2023. (Reuters)
A view shows the destruction, in the aftermath of the floods in Derna, Libya September 30, 2023. (Reuters)

Libya's eastern authorities said Sunday they had postponed a reconstruction conference for the flood-hit city of Derna that had been planned for October 10.

The event was put off until November 1-2 to "offer time for the submission of effective studies and projects" for the reconstruction effort, the committee charged with planning the meeting said in a statement.

The divided country's eastern administration last month invited the "international community" to attend the conference in Derna, the coastal city where a September 10-11 flash flood devastated large areas and killed thousands.

The authorities later said the conference would draw in international companies. On Sunday, the committee said the postponed event would be held in both Derna and the eastern city of Benghazi.

According to Saqr al-Jibani, head of the organizing committee, the decision to hold off on the event followed requests by mayors of affected communities as well as business representatives who had expressed interest in attending.

The North African country has been wracked by years of fighting and chaos since a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed veteran ruler Moammar al-Gaddafi in 2011.

Libya is now split between Tripoli-based Government of National Unity in the west, and the one in the disaster-stricken east.

'Predictable setback'

The United States on Friday called on Libyans to set aside their political differences and agree on a framework to channel aid to eastern towns.

"We urge Libyan authorities now to form such unified structures -- rather than launching separate efforts -- that represent the Libyan people without delay," US special envoy Richard Norland said in a statement.

Despite a wave of nationwide solidarity since the flood, there has been no show of support for the proposed conference from the GNU of Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibah.

Jalel Harchaoui, a Libya specialist at the Royal United Services Institute, on Sunday said the eastern authorities were facing a "largely predictable setback", adding that "they will have no choice but to somehow work with the Tripoli authorities".

The speaker of the eastern-based parliament, Aguila Saleh, welcomed on Saturday officials from Libya's west and south and reiterated a call for a unified government and nationwide presidential elections, according to a video published by his spokesman Abdallah Bliheg.

On Wednesday, the eastern authorities had announced the creation of a fund for the reconstruction of Derna and other areas affected by the flooding.

They did not indicate how the new fund would be financed, but the parliament has already allocated 10 billion dinars ($2 billion) for reconstruction.

The GNU announced on Sunday it had allocated 92 million dinars for the maintenance of 117 schools and educational institutions damaged by the flood.

It said classes had resumed in 15 affected municipalities in the east.

According to the latest toll announced by the eastern authorities on Tuesday, at least 3,893 people died in the disaster.

International aid groups have said 10,000 or more people may be missing.


Sudan’s Burhan: Army Rejects Dictates from Any Party

Sudanese army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan at the Flamingo Marine Base in Port Sudan in August. (AFP)
Sudanese army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan at the Flamingo Marine Base in Port Sudan in August. (AFP)
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Sudan’s Burhan: Army Rejects Dictates from Any Party

Sudanese army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan at the Flamingo Marine Base in Port Sudan in August. (AFP)
Sudanese army chief Gen Abdel Fattah al-Burhan at the Flamingo Marine Base in Port Sudan in August. (AFP)

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the Sudanese ruling Sovereign Council and army commander, said on Saturday that his military is independent and not subject to any dictates from any party.

His comments came two days after the United States imposed sanctions on Ali Karti, the foreign minister under ousted leader Omar al-Bashir, who became head of the Sudanese Islamic Movement after Bashir was toppled in 2019.

On Friday, Burhan visited the Atbara artillery base, north of Khartoum in the River Nile state, where he met with local officers. This is his second visit to the base since his withdrawal from the army command compound in the Sudanese capital on August 25.

Burhan expressed his determination to end the war in Sudan, but said he aims to remove "the cancer that has infected the body of the state," reported the Arab World news agency.

The Sovereignty Council quoted Burhan as saying that the war was "imposed on us," warning about the presence of a group that wants to "swallow" Sudan.

On April 15, heavy fighting erupted between Sudan's army and the paramilitary Rapid Response Forces (RSF) in Khartoum after weeks of tensions building between the two sides.

"We are confident of victory in the battle of dignity thanks to the people's support. This army is the army of the fatherland and there is no side or party that has power over it," Burhan stressed.

He added that the war in Sudan is being waged by two brothers who only care about their own interests, referring to RSF commander, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemedti, and his brother and deputy Abdul Rahim.

Last Thursday, the United States imposed sanctions on two companies, including one based in Russia, in addition to Karti, accusing them of deepening instability in Sudan.

"(Karti) and other hardline Sudanese Islamists are actively obstructing efforts to reach a ceasefire to end the current war between the Army and RSF and opposing Sudanese civilians, efforts to restore Sudan's democratic transition," the US Treasury said.

Also hit with sanctions was GSK Advance Company, a Sudan-based company the Treasury said has been used as a procurement channel for the RSF.

Meanwhile at least two people were killed and 20 others injured, including six children, during an airstrike on the Mayo neighborhood near a public hospital south of Khartoum, the South Belt Emergency Committee announced on Saturday.

The Sudanese rights group Emergency Lawyers announced that five civilians, including four members of the same family, were killed in artillery attacks by the RSF forces on the Omdurman region.

 

Armed clashes between the Sudanese army and the RSF had resumed on Saturday in several areas of Khartoum.


Growing Western Engagement with Sweida Protests, Damascus Remains Indifferent

Sheikh Hikmat al-Hajri among the protesters in Sweida, Syria. (Suwayda24)
Sheikh Hikmat al-Hajri among the protesters in Sweida, Syria. (Suwayda24)
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Growing Western Engagement with Sweida Protests, Damascus Remains Indifferent

Sheikh Hikmat al-Hajri among the protesters in Sweida, Syria. (Suwayda24)
Sheikh Hikmat al-Hajri among the protesters in Sweida, Syria. (Suwayda24)

At a time when US and European officials continue to closely monitor the popular protests in Syria’s province of Sweida, Damascus remains officially indifferent to them.

In an interview with China’s CCTV television, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad chose to reaffirm the Syrian people’s support for him.

Meanwhile, Druze spiritual leader in Sweida Sheikh Hikmat al-Hajri received a telephone call from the UK envoy to Syria, Ann Snow, to declare her country’s commitment to implementing UN resolution 2254.

Snow and al-Hajri engaged in a lengthy discussion that revolved around the peaceful protests that have been taking place in Sweida for over 40 days.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, sources who requested anonymity, expressed concern over Snow’s communication with al-Hajri.

Theye explained that Snow speaking to al-Hajri complicates matters by representing international recognition for the latter’s leadership in Sweida.

Furthermore, they suggest that since the protests began, the regime has resorted to employing its “long-standing intelligence tools” to undermine al-Hajri’s authority.

This has been achieved by tarnishing his image, diminishing his stature, and casting doubt on his national stance through campaigns launched by pro-government activists on social media.

However, the popular support and unity of the protesters, including secular and leftist groups rallying around al-Hajri have made the situation increasingly challenging for Damascus. Despite this, Damascus continues to display indifference to the movement.

Sources also indicate that Damascus will spare no effort in attempting to dismantle the protests from within, as an alternative to using force, which still appears to be excluded from the list of options at this stage.

They also ruled out Damascus negotiating with demonstrators.

Snow’s communication with al-Hajri came two days after he had received a call from US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Ethan Goldrich, who underscored his support for “freedom of expression” for Syrians, including the peaceful protest in Sweida.

Goldrich called for a “fair and unified Syria” and a political solution in line with resolution 2254.


Egypt’s Sisi Highlights Achievements Two Months Ahead of Elections

A supporter carries a pro-Sisi banner during Prophet’s Birthday celebration in Al-Azhar District, Cairo. (Reuters)
A supporter carries a pro-Sisi banner during Prophet’s Birthday celebration in Al-Azhar District, Cairo. (Reuters)
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Egypt’s Sisi Highlights Achievements Two Months Ahead of Elections

A supporter carries a pro-Sisi banner during Prophet’s Birthday celebration in Al-Azhar District, Cairo. (Reuters)
A supporter carries a pro-Sisi banner during Prophet’s Birthday celebration in Al-Azhar District, Cairo. (Reuters)

Two months ahead of the presidential elections, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reviewed “achievements” that have been realized since he assumed office in 2014.

He emphasized that “the state's goal is to overcome the challenging circumstances it has faced since the 1980s and to envision Egypt in the place it deserves.”

Sisi spoke during the Story of Homeland Conference, which kicked off Saturday at Egypt’s New Administrative Capital. The event is meant to highlight the state’s efforts over the past decade.

"That is what has been attained and you still have a chance for change during the upcoming presidential election,” he stressed.

Sisi pointed to the fulfillment of the New Suez Canal project in spite of malicious rumors about the project, in addition to combating terrorists.

Moreover, he reaffirmed that a significant portion of the work he has undertaken aimed at “restoring confidence among Egyptians, a matter that saboteurs are currently attempting to undermine.”

Sisi, 68, has not officially announced his candidacy for the upcoming presidential elections slated for December 10.

The elections will span three consecutive days. However, several political parties, holding a parliamentary majority, have declared their support for Sisi’s candidacy for a new term.

Sisi is eligible to run for a third term, following a constitutional amendment in 2019 that extended the presidential term from four years to six years. This paves the way for him to remain in office until at least 2030.

Egyptians are grappling with a decline in their purchasing power due to a surge in inflation, which reached a new record in August, reaching approximately 40%.

Moreover, the country has witnessed a sharp depreciation of the Egyptian pound in recent months, losing nearly 50% of its value against foreign currencies.

The Suez Canal stands as a primary source of foreign exchange for Egypt.

According to Sisi, the income from the canal stood at approximately $4.5 billion, but according to experts, the plan is for the canal’s revenues to reach around $12 billion during the years 2024-25.

The president pointed out that the current income from the canal, following the completion of the New Suez Canal project, is now approximately $10 billion, and it is expected to rise to around $10.5 billion by the end of 2023.


Yemen's National Airline Suspends Flights from, to Sanaa

Sanaa International Airport (Facebook)
Sanaa International Airport (Facebook)
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Yemen's National Airline Suspends Flights from, to Sanaa

Sanaa International Airport (Facebook)
Sanaa International Airport (Facebook)

Yemen's national airline, Yemenia, has suspended its entire flights from and to Yemen's capital Sanaa for the whole month of October in response to the Houthi administration blocking the carrier from withdrawing its funds in Sanaa banks for the six last months, Yemeni sources working in the traveling sector told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Yemenia halted the flights after negotiations with the Houthis failed to secure the release of airline funds, which executives at the carrier said amounted to $80 million.

Normally, the Yemeni airline schedules its flights to and from Sanaa Airport in the second half of September.

The sources explained that travel offices had been waiting for two weeks to receive the new flight schedule before they were informed on Friday that the company had suspended all its flights.

Yemenia said in a statement that it had been unable to withdraw its funds in Sanaa banks for several months. It called on the Houthi authorities to lift restrictions “illegally” imposed on its assets.

The company added that it was aware of the latest political developments in the country and the recent and important changes. The war that has been going on for seven years had and continues to affect the company’s activity as the only national carrier, which acted objectively facing the country’s tensions, it said.

Also, Yemenia had proposed the Houthi administration take 70 percent of the funds while the remaining 30 percent would go to the internationally recognized government, it said.

The Houthi administration rejected the offer which was when the airline decided to suspend flights to Jordan, the company added.

In the past months, Yemenia had also tried to rely on its other internal resources and added three additional flights between Amman and Sanaa airports as a goodwill move.

“We again received a request to operate from Sanaa airport without being allowed to withdraw from the company’s assets, which causes us additional and significant harm,” it added.

The company has reiterated the need to remain neutral in any political conflict so that it can properly carry out its functions, noting that its funds in the Sanaa banks have exceeded $80 million.


Interior Minister: Syrian Refugees Are a Threat to Lebanon’s Demographics, Identity

Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi. (AP)
Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi. (AP)
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Interior Minister: Syrian Refugees Are a Threat to Lebanon’s Demographics, Identity

Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi. (AP)
Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi. (AP)

Lebanon’s caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi warned on Saturday that Syrian refugees “have become a threat to Lebanon’s demographics and identity.”

It is no longer acceptable for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to continue to handle this file in total disregard of the Lebanese state and laws, he declared during a conference in Beirut.

The Syrian refugee crisis “has become unbearable,” he added, saying his ministry and the government were carrying out their duties towards them.

However, the UNHCR “can no longer continue with its approach in this file,” he remarked.

He criticized the agency for not coordinating its work with the state and for failing to hand over data related to the refugees to the General Security directorate.

“How do you expect us to protect the refugees if we don’t have data on them?” wondered Mawlawi.

“This is unacceptable and we, along with the government, will no longer tolerate this,” he stated.

The government has been demanding data on the displaced so that it can drop the refugee status of anyone who returns to Syria.

Mawlawi praised several municipalities, specifically those in Beirut, Tripoli, Sin al-Fil, al-Ghobeiry and al-Dekwaneh, for taking preemptive steps in controlling the number of Syrian refugees and holding them accountable before the law.

“The refugee problem is major, and we must approach it according to our keenness on Lebanon’s existence, interests and laws,” he demanded.

“The law must be applied equally on the Syrians and the Lebanese people,” he urged, while calling on the international community to come up with a clear plan that would ensure their return home.


Iraqi PM: Security Reforms Top Government Priorities

Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed Shia al-Sudani addresses the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US, September 22, 2023. (Reuters)
Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed Shia al-Sudani addresses the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US, September 22, 2023. (Reuters)
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Iraqi PM: Security Reforms Top Government Priorities

Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed Shia al-Sudani addresses the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US, September 22, 2023. (Reuters)
Prime Minister of Iraq Mohammed Shia al-Sudani addresses the 78th Session of the UN General Assembly in New York City, US, September 22, 2023. (Reuters)

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani stressed on Saturday that reforms at the security institution were his government’s top priority.

He spoke of restructuring and modernizing the institution and the training of its members and of combating corruption.

The government has worked on rehabilitating 34,000 members of the security forces, he told a graduation ceremony at the Higher Institute for Security and Administrative Development.

Tens of thousands of new members have been recruited “to pump new blood into the institution,” he added.

On corruption, the PM called on the security forces to be on constant alert and readiness.

Their plans must be based on intelligence information, he added, while also urging the need to constantly modernize these plans to benefit from the latest developments in the security field.

Sudani spoke of combating drugs, which he said were no less dangerous than ISIS terrorism.

They are a threat to social security, he warned, calling for intensifying border security to combat smuggling.

He also stressed the need for cooperation and coordination with regional and international organizations in the fight against drugs.


Italy, Libya Resume Commercial Flights after 10-year Hiatus, Officials Say

An aircraft departs from Tripoli heading to Rome on September 30, 2023, after the Italian government lifted its 10-year-old air ban on Libyan civil aviation. (Photo by Mahmud Turkia / AFP)
An aircraft departs from Tripoli heading to Rome on September 30, 2023, after the Italian government lifted its 10-year-old air ban on Libyan civil aviation. (Photo by Mahmud Turkia / AFP)
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Italy, Libya Resume Commercial Flights after 10-year Hiatus, Officials Say

An aircraft departs from Tripoli heading to Rome on September 30, 2023, after the Italian government lifted its 10-year-old air ban on Libyan civil aviation. (Photo by Mahmud Turkia / AFP)
An aircraft departs from Tripoli heading to Rome on September 30, 2023, after the Italian government lifted its 10-year-old air ban on Libyan civil aviation. (Photo by Mahmud Turkia / AFP)

Italy and Libya on Saturday resumed commercial flights for the first time in a decade, authorities in the Libyan capital said.

Flight MT522, operated by the Libyan carrier Medsky Airways, departed Mitiga International Airport in Tripoli for Rome's Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport, according to Libyan airport authorities.

A return flight was scheduled to land in Tripoli on Saturday afternoon, according to Mitiga International Airport. Going forward, there will be one round-trip flight between the Libyan and Italian capitals on both Saturdays and Wednesdays, according to the Mitiga airport announcement.

The government of Prime Minister Abdul-Hamid Dbeibah in Tripoli lauded the resumed flights, posting photos on social media that showed passengers boarding the flight and officials celebrating.

Italy and other western nations banned flights from Libya as the oil-rich nation in North Africa plunged into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising toppled and killed longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Amid the chaos, Libya has had direct flights to limited destinations, including cities in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, and other Middle Eastern countries, such as Jordan.

The government of Premier Giorgia Meloni in July lifted Italy's 10-year ban on civil aviation in Libya. Italian and Libyan authorities agreed that one airline company from each country would operate flights between the two capitals.

Dbeibah subsequently returned from attending a conference on migration in Rome on a chartered flight with a commercial airline.


Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinian Man in West Bank

Jewish worshippers walk alongside Israeli border police officers during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in Jerusalem's Old City, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Jewish worshippers walk alongside Israeli border police officers during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in Jerusalem's Old City, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
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Israeli Soldiers Kill Palestinian Man in West Bank

Jewish worshippers walk alongside Israeli border police officers during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in Jerusalem's Old City, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Jewish worshippers walk alongside Israeli border police officers during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, in Jerusalem's Old City, Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Israeli soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian man in the West Bank late Friday, Palestinian health officials said, the latest death in a monthslong surge of violence in the occupied territory.

The Israeli military said that soldiers had shot two Palestinians who hurled Molotov cocktails at an army post near the West Bank city of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian authority.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said the soldiers killed Muhammad Rumaneh from the hardscrabble Amari refugee camp in Ramallah. It did not identify his age, saying that Israeli authorities were withholding his body, The AP reported.

Israeli officials have suggested in the past that holding onto the bodies of Palestinians slain in security incidents can deter attacks and prevent the exaltation of assailants at funerals that often draw giant crowds of protesters.

In lieu of a funeral, residents of Ramallah called for a general strike Saturday to pay tribute to Rumaneh. Student groups at the prominent Birzeit University near Ramallah called off Sunday classes.

The incident was the latest in a spiral of violence that has gripped the occupied territory for more than 1 1/2 year. The Israeli military has mounted near-nightly raids into Palestinian towns, often prompting deadly clashes with residents. Militancy has surged among young Palestinians who have lost hope in their leadership and in the prospect of a political resolution to the conflict.

Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire so far this year in the West Bank, according to a tally by The AP— the highest death toll in years. Israel says most of those killed have been militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting incursions as well as innocent bystanders have also been killed.

Palestinian attacks against Israelis have killed more than 30 people since the start of 2023.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war.


Renewed Accusations against Islamic Movement of Fueling War in Sudan

 A circulating archive photo of the leader of the “Freedom and Change” coalition, Khaled Omar Youssef
A circulating archive photo of the leader of the “Freedom and Change” coalition, Khaled Omar Youssef
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Renewed Accusations against Islamic Movement of Fueling War in Sudan

 A circulating archive photo of the leader of the “Freedom and Change” coalition, Khaled Omar Youssef
A circulating archive photo of the leader of the “Freedom and Change” coalition, Khaled Omar Youssef

Following the imposition of US sanctions against former Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karti, civilian leaders and officials in the Forces of Freedom and Change called for designating the Islamic Movement, especially its extremist wing, a “terrorist group,” pointing to its role in igniting the war in the country.

The leader of the Forces of Freedom and Change, Khaled Omar Youssef, said that the sanctions confirmed the involvement of the “third party” in the war, which has been going on for 6 months between the army and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Omar, who served as minister of the Council of Ministers in the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok, said on X that the sanctions included, for the first time, a “third party” other than the two warring sides, which is the Islamic Movement, represented by its current leader, Ali Ahmed Karti.

Omar explained that the continuation of the current war was not in the interest of any party in Sudan, except elements of the former regime.

On Thursday, the United States announced individual sanctions against Ali Karti, the Secretary-General of the Sudanese Islamic Movement, and two companies associated with the Rapid Support Forces (RSF).

Shihab Ibrahim, leader of the Forces of Freedom and Change, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the sanctions confirmed the role of the Islamic Movement, led by Karti, in igniting the war and its determination to return to power or to remain influential on the political scene.

He also called for designating the movement as a “terrorist group.”

Meanwhile, the Sudanese Islamic Movement described the US Treasury Department’s decision as a source of “honor”.

“The decision of the US Treasury Department is akin to a badge of honor for the Secretary-General of our movement. He has steadfastly dedicated himself and his resources as a jihadist in the name of God and the nation,” the movement said in a statement.

It also emphasized that it “comes as no surprise that the United States is making unjust decisions and positioning itself on the wrong side during a pivotal era in Sudan’s history.”