Rift Between Washington and Juba Widens As South Sudan War Drags On

Rift Between Washington and Juba Widens As South Sudan War Drags On
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and army chief of staff Lt. Gen. James Ajongo Mawut attend a ceremony, Juba, South Sudan, May 18, 2017 (AP photo by Bullen Chol).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, WPR Associate Editor Robbie Corey-Boulet curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent.

On his first overseas trip since becoming administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, Mark Green’s most confrontational interaction occurred when he sat down with South Sudanese President Salva Kiir. Giving voice to Washington’s frustration with the country’s four-year-old civil war, particularly the dangers facing humanitarian aid workers and reports of atrocities, Green told Kiir the Trump administration would be conducting “a complete review” of its policy toward the world’s youngest nation. Kiir, however, countered that Green’s view of the situation on the ground was inaccurate. “He disagreed with our assessment that there are problems with humanitarian access,” Green told reporters. “I wanted him to understand that we’re serious about a review.”

An indication of just how serious came on Wednesday, when the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on three of Kiir’s close associates: Gen. Malek Reuben Riak Rengu, deputy chief of staff of the military; Information Minister Michael Makuei Lueth; and Paul Malong Awan, former military chief of staff. The sanctions were triggered by the men’s alleged roles in fomenting violence and “enriching themselves at the expense of the South Sudanese people.” As The Washington Post reported, “The timing of the sanctions so soon after Green’s visit suggests that while the measures were already in the works, they could have been averted if Kiir had acknowledged the lawlessness and government corruption and agreed to improve the situation.”

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