First US envoy to Sudan in 25 years John Godfrey arrives in Khartoum

Friday August 26 2022
John Godfrey

John Godfrey is received upon landing in Khartoum on August 24, 2022. PHOTO | COURTESY | JOHN GODFREY | TWITTER


The first US ambassador to Sudan in nearly a quarter a century has arrived in Khartoum to take up his post.

John Godfrey landed in the Sudanese capital on Wednesday, the local US embassy said in a statement, marking the end of more than two decades of under-representation of Washington DC in the eastern Africa nation.

In 1993, the US listed Sudan as an official sponsor of terrorism, accusing Khartoum of supporting al-Qaeda, whose founder Osama bin Laden lived on its soil from 1992 to 1996.

Read: Sudan to pay 1998 Kenya, Tanzania bomb victims: PM Hamdok

In 1997, the US downgraded its diplomatic representation in Sudan from ambassador to the level of charge d’Affaires with limited authority, and imposed unilateral economic sanctions on Khartoum for supporting terror networks.

Khartoum spent decades attempting to thaw its relationship with Washington DC and under President Donald Trump, the US lifted the decades-old sanctions after Sudan compensated American terror victims of the August 1998 US embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.


Read: US promises 'new chapter' after Sudan compensates bombing victims

Also read: Sudan signs deal on normalising ties with Israel, agrees aid deal

In December 2019, Washington announced its intention to raise its diplomatic representation with Khartoum to the level of ambassador.

In May 2020, Sudan appointed Nureldin Satti as its first ambassador to the US in 23 years, with Washington removing Khartoum from the list of sponsors of terrorism in December the same year. 

Godfrey, an alumnus of the University of Michigan, is an experienced diplomat on Middle East issues, having served in the region before.

John Godfrey

John Godfrey is received upon landing in Khartoum on August 24, 2022. PHOTO | COURTESY | JOHN GODFREY | TWITTER

He was previously acting deputy chief of mission and political counsellor at the US Embassy in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and as chief of staff to the deputy secretary of state, besides other stints in Austria, Libya, Damascus, Iraq and Turkmenistan.

He has served as the Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Acting Special Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in the Office of Counterterrorism at the US Department of State, according to his bio.

He has also been deputy principal coordinator in the office of counterterrorism and prior to that, the deputy coordinator for regional and multilateral affairs of the parties.

Improved ties

His deployment could imply Washington is not going back on its improved ties with Khartoum.

He arrives at a time Sudan is facing a transition challenge, meant to ensure it resumes civilian leadership, rectifies its crippled economy and one which needs to convince armed groups to down their weapons.

The turmoil was precipitated by October 25, 2021 coup in which Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was deposed with his government.

Protesters have stayed in the streets since then, rejecting the military junta, as the international community paused the financial pledges they had made to Sudan.

The US has been among those calling for dialogue and an end to violence.

In a statement released after his arrival, the US embassy described Mr Godfrey as a “senior representative of the US Government”.

He “will work to strengthen relations between the American and Sudanese people and to support their aspirations to freedom, peace, justice, and the transition to democracy,” read the statement.

The diplomat “looks forward to advancing priorities related to peace and security, economic development, and food security.”

After his arrival in Khartoum, the ambassador said he would work to strengthen bilateral relations and support a democratic transition in Sudan.

“I look forward to deepening relations between Americans and Sudanese and to supporting the Sudanese people’s aspirations to freedom, peace, justice, and a transition to democracy,” he tweeted.