Sanctions Round-Up: June 2021
On 28th June, a Nigerien individual – Ousmane Illiassou Djibo (also known as Aboubacar “Petit” Chapori, alternatively spelled Chafori or Djafori) – was sanctioned by the United States’ Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT). The US claims that he is the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara’s (IS-GS) leader in the Ménaka Region of Mali.
The State Department accuses him of “directing subordinate [IS-GS] members to develop a network to kidnap or attack [Westerners] in Niger”. It says he “has also taken part in numerous assaults on local forces”, including the July 2019 attack on Nigerien troops in the Tillaberi Region.
Mr Djibo, a former Fulani militia member, joined the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA) in 2012, before remaining part of its successor groups. He was previously detained for illegally possessing weapons but was reportedly released by the Nigerien government during secret negotiations for the release of a Western hostage in December 2014.
IS-GS was previously designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) and an SDGT by the US in May 2018. The group emerged after splitting from al-Qaida and pledging allegiance to IS in May 2015.
Somalia & Gabon
In June, the US Treasury acted against a “smuggling network” alleged to be funding Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC-QF) and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Included in this network were a Somali national – Jami’ ‘Ali Muhammad – and a vessel sailing under the flag of Gabon, the Triple Success. Both of these targets have been added to OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN) as SDGTs.
Mr Muhammad – who also holds an Omani passport – is a Somali businessman and, according to the US Treasury, a “Houthi and IRGC-QF associate”. It added that he has “assisted [the network’s] efforts to procure vessels, facilitate shipments of Iranian fuel, and transfer funds for the benefits of the Houthis”. Meanwhile, the Triple Success has allegedly been used by Sa’id al-Jamal – the supposed ringleader of the network – to “smuggle Iranian petroleum products out of Iran”.
Speaking about the US’s action, which took place on 10th June, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the administration “will continue to apply pressure to the Houthis, including through targeted sanctions”.
On 15th June, the US State Department publicly designated two former Namibian government officials – Bernhardt Esau and Sacky Shanghala – “due to their involvement in significant corruption”. Mr Esau is the former Minister of Fisheries and Marine Resources, while Mr Shanghala is the former Minister of Justice. Both are now ineligible for entry into the US, as are Mr Esau’s wife, Swamma, and his son, Philippus.
The former ministers are accused by the US of “using their political influence and official power for their personal benefit”. In November 2019, they were implicated in the Fishrot Files scandals, after WikiLeaks published documents exposing Icelandic fishing giant Samherji’s business practices in Namibia. A whistle-blower also alleged that the pair received bribes in return for granting “preferential access” to the Namibian fishing market.
The US State Department imposed visa restrictions on unnamed individuals who it believes are responsible for or complicit in “undermining the peaceful resolution of the crisis in the Anglophone regions of Cameroon”. Announcing this measure on 8th June, Secretary Blinken called on both the government and separatist armed groups to “end the violence and engage in a dialogue without preconditions”.
The Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon erupted in 2017, following months of protests in the “Southern Cameroons” area of the country, where citizens complained of marginalisation by the Francophone majority. After these protests were suppressed by the government in Yaoundé, separatists launched a guerrilla campaign in support of independence for the region, as the Federal Republic of Ambazonia.
On 7th June, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) granted a humanitarian travel exemption concerning three individuals: Muammar Gaddafi’s widow, Safia Farkash; his daughter, Aisha Gaddafi; and his son, Muhammad Gaddafi. The trio are able to undertake “unlimited travel for humanitarian purposes” until 30th November 2021. This authorisation is an extension of the same measure that was in place between 1st December 2020 and 31st May 2021.
Separately, the UNSC extended for another year its authorisation to inspect vessels suspected of violating the arms embargo on Libya. The measure was first agreed in 2016 and last renewed in June 2020.
Elsewhere, the Council of the European Union extended the mandate of the European Integrated Border Management Mission in Libya (EUBAM Libya) by two years. Effective from 18th June, the mandate is now set to expire on 30th June 2023. The mission is intended to assist Libyan authorities in “[disrupting] organised criminal networks”, particularly those involved in people smuggling. The council launched the mission in May 2013 to help Libya secure its borders.
Additionally, on 21st June, the council amended its criteria for the imposition of restrictive measures regarding Libya. Targets may now be considered on the basis of “obstructing or undermining” the planned general election in the country, currently scheduled for 24th December 2021.
Following the May 2021 coup d’état that took place in Mali, France suspended military cooperation with the country’s authorities in the Sahel on 3rd June. Describing the measure as temporary, a French official compelled the junta to comply with regional demands to restore civilian rule.
In a related development, President Emmanuel Macron announced on 10th June that France will draw down Operation Barkhane, its mission in the Sahel. It should be noted that this mission, which is headquartered in Chad, is not the same as the joint military operations with Malian forces, despite the similar circumstances.
Elsewhere, on 4th June, the World Bank, which is currently financing projects in Mali worth USD 1.5bn, “temporarily” suspended payments to the country. Days later, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) reported back on its mediation mission to Bamako. It does not appear that Mali’s suspension from the body has been lifted.
On 18th June, the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland found a Liberian national – Alieu Kosiah – guilty of war crimes committed during the First Liberian Civil War. Having subsequently fled to Switzerland, he was arrested in 2014 and has now been sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment.
Mr Kosiah was a rebel commander in the United Liberation Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO) between 1993 and 1995. During this period, mass atrocities were committed by the group under his command in Liberia’s north-western Lofa County.
The UNSC renewed its restrictive measures on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 29th June. Consequently, its sanctions regime has been extended until 1st July 2022 and the mandate of its committee’s group of experts will now expire on 1st August 2022. The measures have been in place since 2003, in response to prolonged conflict in Ituri and North and South Kivu.