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Sudan latest: US sanctions, suspended talks, continued fighting

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Sudan latest: US sanctions, suspended talks, continued fighting

Sudan’s conflict has continued for a seventh continuous week, where fighting has propelled the nation into an all-out war since fighting between duelling generals from the Sudanese army and its rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) broke out on April 15.

The country has plunged into a humanitarian crisis, with more than 1,800 people killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project, and at least 1.6 million displaced within the country or across its borders, the United Nations has said, with many fleeing to Egypt, Chad and South Sudan.

On the ground, multiple ceasefires have been violated by both parties and Saudi and United States-brokered peace negotiations have now been suspended.

Here’s the latest on the conflict:

US imposes sanctions

On Thursday, the US imposed the first sanctions related to the conflict in Sudan, warning that it will “hold accountable” all those undermining peace in the northeast African country.

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The sanctions targeted firms associated with the conflict’s actors, including those controlled by RSF chief Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo in the United Arab Emirates and the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, as well as two defence firms linked to the Sudanese Armed Forces, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan.

The White House also said it was imposing visa restrictions “against actors who are perpetuating the violence”, but did not identify them.

The sanctions are targeted to affect those companies in a way that would make the warring parties have less ammunition to fight and force them back to the negotiating table, according to Al Jazeera’s Hiba Morgan, who was reporting from Sudan.

Fragile ceasefire and suspended talks

The US and Saudi Arabia suspended ceasefire talks late on Thursday due to repeated violations of multiple ceasefires, the countries said in a joint statement.

The Sudanese army backed out of the talks a day earlier, saying the RSF is not implementing parts of an agreement that had been signed days prior.

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The Biden administration has said that it is still coordinating with its mediator counterpart Saudi Arabia, as well as the African Union and other actors in the region, to urge the warring sides to end the conflict.

Fighting continues

In a pattern marking continued violations of ceasefires, residents said heavy artillery fire could be heard in cities in Khartoum state on Thursday, including in northern Omdurman and Khartoum North.

The firing occurred despite a ceasefire that was meant to run until Saturday evening.

“Fighting has […] increased or intensified since the Sudanese army suspended its participation two days ago from the talks,” said Al Jazeera’s Morgan.

More artillery shelling took place in the southern part of the capital, Khartoum, on Thursday, Morgan added, with the Sudanese army trying to take control of a military base there that belongs to the RSF.

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Outside Khartoum, the region of Darfur continues to be a hotbed of violence. A regional rights group said this past week alone at least 50 people have been killed in the westernmost city of el-Geneina, which has been experiencing a communications blackout for more than 10 days.

 

Humanitarian situation

The UN refugee agency said on Thursday that more than 100,000 people have fled violence in Sudan to neighbouring Chad, with that number possibly doubling in the next three months.

Chad, one of the poorest countries in the world, was already hosting about 600,000 refugees before the conflict.

Additionally, aid groups face continued troubles, with the World Food Programme reporting that nearly 17,000 tons (15,400 tonnes) of food aid have been looted since the start of the conflict.

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Additionally, a curfew was placed this week on the city of Port Sudan, a key evacuation point, which has also become a base for the UN, aid groups and diplomats.

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Residents say buses have been stopped from entering the city.

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Philippine mayor accused of acting as Chinese asset amid investigation, tensions

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Philippine mayor accused of acting as Chinese asset amid investigation, tensions

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A Philippine mayor faces accusations of acting as a Chinese asset amid a growing territorial dispute between the two countries. 

“No one knows her. We wonder where she came from. That’s why we are investigating this, together with the Bureau of Immigration, because of the questions about her citizenship,” Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos told reporters this week. 

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Alice Guo, the 35-year-old mayor of Bamban, has found herself in the middle of a potential scandal over her origins and allegiances. She claimed to have grown up on a pig farm and had raised no concerns prior to a strange discovery made in her town this month, the BBC reported. 

Law enforcement discovered that an online casino by the name of Philippine Offshore Gambling Operator (Pogo) in Bamban actually served as a front for a “scam center,” which had close to 700 workers — including over 200 Chinese nationals — who were posing as “online lovers.”

CHINA’S MILITARY MONITORS ROUTE TAKEN BY FILIPINO ACTIVISTS SAILING TOWARD DISPUTED SHOAL

Bamban Mayor Alice Guo speaking with local law enforcement in a photo posted on her official Facebook page earlier this week.  (Facebook)

The raid on the site in March rescued all of those workers, who claimed they were forced to work for the owners. The center tried to con victims with a “pig butchering” scam, in which a scammer adopted a fake identity to gain trust and then offered a romantic relationship to manipulate and steal from the victim. 

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Guo found herself entangled in the incident when it came to light that she owned half the land where Pogo was located.

LAWMAKERS BRAWL AS TAIWAN’S PARLIAMENT DESCENDS INTO CHAOS

The nation’s Senate brought her into a hearing to testify, and she claimed she had sold the land before she ran for mayor two years earlier, along with assets that included a helicopter and a Ford Expedition, both registered under her name but allegedly sold off before her campaign, the South China Morning Press reported. 

Other irregularities raised concerns about her status. She only registered with the Commission on Elections to vote in Bamban one year before she ran and won as mayor. 

Mayor Chinese asset

Alice Guo (far right) attends an event for Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos. (Facebook)

She also admitted she only registered her birth certificate with local authorities at the age of 17 and gave few details about her background other than she was born in a house and home-schooled in a family compound where they raised pigs. 

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Senators accused Guo of providing “opaque” answers to their questions about her background, leading one senator to ask if Guo was a Chinese asset. She fired back that she was “not a coddler, not a protector of Pogos.”

AFTER DOZENS DIE IN FLOODS, INDONESIA SEEDS CLOUDS TO BLOCK RAINFALL

China and the Philippines have found themselves in renewed territorial disputes as Beijing tries to enforce control over waters around the Philippines, leading to clashes between Chinese Coast Guards and Filipino fishermen. 

Chinese boat

A Chinese coast guard boat moves near the Philippine resupply vessel Unaizah May 4 (in green) after it was hit by a water cannon blast, causing injuries to multiple crew members as they tried to enter the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, in the disputed South China Sea March 5, 2024.  (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Last year saw a series of near clashes between the two coast guards near the Second Thomas Shoal. The Philippine authorities protested China’s use of a water cannon and military-grade lasers. 

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China established a claim to the Scarborough Shoal in 2012, after which the Philippines formally launched a protest that went before a United Nations-backed tribunal. A 2016 ruling went against China, rejecting Beijing’s claims on “historical grounds,” but Beijing rejected the arbitration and its outcome. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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Sanchez: “I will recognise the Palestinian state next Wednesday”.

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Sanchez: “I will recognise the Palestinian state next Wednesday”.
This article was originally published in Spanish

Spain’s prime minister said during a rally in Catalonia that he is going to propose the parliament’s official recognition of Palestine as a state on Wednesday, 22 May.

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Sanchez defended the decision “out of moral conviction”, considering it “a just cause” and the “only way” to achieve peace and security in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Ireland, Malta and Slovenia are expected to follow suit, and have already agreed to take the first steps in that direction.

In a phone call on Saturday, Taoiseach Simon Harris and Norwegian Prime Minister, Jonas Gahr Store agreed to remain in close consultation in the days ahead. Norway’s parliament adopted a government proposal in November for the country to be prepared to recognise an independent Palestinian state.

Harris and Store said that the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Gaza underscored the need for an immediate ceasefire and for unhindered access for aid.

Earlier this week, Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said his country would recognise Palestine’s statehood by mid-June.

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Sanchez meanwhile criticised the Popular Party for refusing to recognise the Palestinian state and responded to former President Jose Maria Aznar by stating that “Spain will recognise it”.

The prime minister also acknowledged his party’s positive result in the Catalan elections of 12 May and said that Salvador Illa would make a good President of the Generalitat.

Spain would be the 10th European country to recognise the Palestinian State

There are already nine countries in the EU that have recognised Palestine as a state and Spain would be the tenth. On the list are: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Sweden and Slovakia.

Sanchez confirmed on Friday that Spain’s recognition will not be made at Tuesday’s Council of Ministers, as had been suggested.

The prime minister said that his position on the Israel-Hamas conflict is much like his country’s support for Ukraine following Russia’s invasion more than two years ago.

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He stressed that Spain demanded ”respect for international law from Russia, and from Israel, for the violence to end, the recognition of two states, and for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza”.

Sanchez added his voice to a chorus of other European leaders and government officials who have said that they could support a two-state solution in the Middle East, as international frustration grows with Israel’s military actions in the Palestinian territories.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that it’s not ”taboo” for France to recognise a Palestinian state. British Foreign Minister David Cameron said that the United Kingdom could officially recognise a Palestinian state after a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.

Five months after Hamas militants attacked Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage, the Israeli military has responded with air and ground assaults that have killed more than 35,386 Palestinians, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Why does Spain support recognition of Palestine as a sovereign state?

Spain has been historically close to the Arab world and, as such, the nation is actively trying to push a line more favourable to Palestinian aspirations within the European Union.

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In a speech made shortly after his re-election last year, Sanchez promised that his new government’s “first commitment” on foreign policy would be to “work in Europe and Spain to recognise the Palestinian state”.

At the same time, he said he was “on the side of Israel” in the face of “the terrorist attack” of 7 October, but also called on the Jewish state to put an end to the “indiscriminate killing of Palestinians”.

The stance comes at a time when many Western countries are facing criticism in the Arab world for being seemingly too favourable towards Israel.

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In 2014, under a conservative government, the Spanish Parliament adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of the Palestinian state, supported by all political parties.

The vote, though, was non-binding and not followed by any action.

In Europe, several countries have taken this step in a more effective way.

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They include Sweden, Hungary, Malta and Romania – but none of the main EU member states have done so, meaning that Spain could become a pioneer.

A brief history of Spanish-Arab relations

Geographically close to the Maghreb region of North Africa, Spain turned to Arab countries during the Franco dictatorship which ran from 1939 to 1975 in order to circumvent its isolation in the West.

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It was not until 1986, however, that the nation established official relations with Israel.

The relatively late date was a consequence of tensions born from Israel’s opposition to Spain’s entry into the UN at the end of the Second World War, due to its proximity to Nazi Germany.

In 1993, they played a role in the Oslo Accords, through which Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization mutually recognised each other as part of the peace process.

Overall, though, Spain remains perceived by many as a pro-Arab country.

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At the end of October, a mini-diplomatic crisis even broke out with the Israeli embassy after controversial statements by a far-left Spanish minister who spoke of a “planned genocide” in Gaza.

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With much of Europe firmly pro-Israel, Isaias Barrenada, a professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, said it will be an uphill battle for Sanchez.

”It is difficult to imagine that Spain has the capacity to reorient the European position,” Barrenada told AFP, but “it can contribute to showing that there are sensitivities within the EU.”

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John Stamos Shares Full House Reunion Photo With Olsen Twins in Honor of Bob Saget’s Birthday

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John Stamos Shares Full House Reunion Photo With Olsen Twins in Honor of Bob Saget’s Birthday


Full House Cast Reunion With Mary-Kate, Ashley Olsen — Bob Saget Tribute



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