US lifts sanctions on ex-IDF general accused of arms sales to South Sudan

Israel Ziv was targeted by Washington over alleged weapons and ammunition deals with both the government and the opposition in war-torn country

Major General (Res.) Israel Ziv in Tel Aviv, December 06, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
Major General (Res.) Israel Ziv in Tel Aviv, December 06, 2015. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The US Treasury on Wednesday lifted its sanctions on a former Israeli general who allegedly supplied weapons and ammunition to both the government and the opposition in South Sudan.

Israel Ziv, a retired IDF major general and owner of security consulting group Global CST, has been slapped with US sanctions since December 2018.

Ziv used an agricultural company “as a cover for the sale of approximately $150 million worth of weapons to the government, including rifles, grenade launchers and shoulder-fired rockets,” the Treasury Department said in a statement announcing the penalties.

The statement said Ziv also “planned to organize attacks by mercenaries on South Sudanese oil fields and infrastructure, in an effort to create a problem that only his company and affiliates could solve.”

Under the sanctions, the US said it would seize assets in the United States and ban any US-based financial transactions.

Ziv and Global CST’s removal from the list Wednesday was not accompanied by an explanation.

In 2018, the government of South Sudan denied purchasing weapons from Ziv, saying the US decision to impose sanctions against him and two others was based on false information. Ziv as well denied that his firm ever dealt in the illegal arms trade.

In this file photo taken on April 25, 2016, rebel troops of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in Opposition (SPLA-IO) unload their weapons at their military site in Juba. (Albert Gonzalez Farran / AFP)

A spokesman from the president’s office in Juba told the local Radio Tamazuj in 2018 that South Sudan has “never bought weapons and ammunition from the retired Israeli general because he [was] working in the agricultural sector here.”

Ziv categorically rejected the US allegations in 2018, telling Israel’s Army Radio in an interview that Global CST never engaged in illegal arms dealing, and said he welcomed an investigation into his firm. He called the charges against him “ludicrous, baseless and completely divorced from reality,” and said many communities in South Sudan were dependent on CST’s agricultural initiative.

“Tens of thousands of people are employed through this project and it feeds the South Sudan market,” he said. “So anyone who claims this project is a cover should come see it.”

The Trump administration was “welcome to come, to check and investigate. We will open up everything for them,” Ziv said.

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