Past documentation by arms experts that Sudan has supplied weapons to South Sudan’s rebels are a concern as the Trump administration considers permanently lifting sanctions on Sudan in October. The sanctions have been in place for decades because of grave human-rights concerns.
WADAKONA, South Sudan — As the United States considers lifting sanctions on Sudan, one of the most sensitive issues is on display in these tense borderlands: weapons. South Sudan’s government accuses its neighbor of supplying arms to rebels fighting its bloody civil war.
On a visit last month, The Associated Press spoke with opposition fighters who recently defected to the South Sudan government side. They described how weapons flow in from Sudan — and how rebels flee there to find safe harbor.
Past documentation by arms experts that Sudan has supplied weapons to South Sudan’s rebels are a concern as the Trump administration considers permanently lifting sanctions on Sudan in October. The sanctions have been in place for two decades because of grave human-rights concerns.
Sudan’s government has denied arming the rebels. Human-rights groups disagree and say Sudan’s actions should weigh heavily against lifting sanctions.
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“If Sudan can’t restrain itself from destabilizing its southern neighbor when it has too much to gain from the United States by not doing so, imagine the damage Sudan will do once sanctions are lifted and the U.S. no longer has leverage on Sudan to temper its worst instincts,” the founding director of the Enough Project, John Prendergast, told the AP.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in South Sudan’s four-year civil war and millions have fled the country. Multiple efforts at peace deals have failed and no end to the conflict is in sight.
Between 2011 and 2015, the independent organization Conflict Armament Research documented Sudanese support to opposition forces in South Sudan. It found that Sudanese military equipment had been “captured from non-state armed groups” there. It also found that Sudan often repackaged ammunition or masked shipping information to conceal its origins, especially with large quantities of Chinese ammunition.
However, experts say that since 2015 there have been no new findings to support the claims of Sudan arming South Sudan’s rebels, adding that proving any recent transfer is extremely…