Trump ready to delist Sudan as state sponsor of terror

Tuesday October 20 2020

US President Donald Trump. PHOTO | AFP


The US government on Monday indicated it will lift sanctions imposed on Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism soon, once Khartoum pays up the $335 million it agreed to settle with victims' families.

US President Donald Trump said he was waiting for Khartoum to meet up its part of the bargain to be freed from crippling sanctions that have seen it unable to compete in the global market for the last 27 years.

"GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to US terror victims and families," Trump tweeted.

"Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!"

The move, which had been in the grapevine for several months, with some sources indicating the UA would lift the sanctions after elections next month, means that Khartoum would be allowed back into the global economic system including purchasing American products or dealing with US companies.

Mr Trump had earlier lifted some economic sanctions imposed on Sudan, with respect to key officials and Sudanese firms involved in Darfur but retained the country as a state sponsor of terrorism, after Washington argued victims had sued Sudan for compensation.


Lifting of sanctions

But African leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta and South Africa's Cyril Ramaphosa had several times called for the lifting of sanctions to help the transitional government correct mistakes of the previous regime of Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan was fingered 27 years ago after it hosted and helped train al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and some his fighters.

The terror group would later mastermind attacks on US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in August 1998. The two car bombs killed 213 people in Nairobi, 11 in Dar es Salaam and injured more than 4,000.

In 2007, then President George W Bush had sanctioned Sudan more, blocking assets of Sudanese officials involved in violence in Darfur as well as state-owned firms seen to have fueled the violence. Those particular sanctions were lifted in 2017.

On Monday, Sudanese Premier Abdalla Hamdok said the US move would be the "strongest support to Sudan's transition to democracy and to the Sudanese people."

"As we're about to get rid of the heaviest legacy of Sudan's previous, defunct regime, I should reiterate that we are peace-loving people and have never supported terrorism," he wrote on Twitter.

"We very much look forward to your official notification to Congress rescinding the designation of Sudan as a state-sponsor of terrorism, which has cost Sudan too much."

The deal followed negotiations between Khartoum and victims' families who had sued the country. Despite criticism, Washington had often argued it would not lift sanctions as it had been fixed by a legal case of the victims and a court-ordered compensation was supposed to be settled first.

Democratic measures

Dr Suliman Baldo, Senior Advisor at The Sentry, the ant-graft watchdog in conflict situations founded by US Actor George Clooney said lifting sanctions could motivate Sudan to install more useful democratic measures.

"A democratic Sudan could be a bulwark of international peace and security in the region, and today the United States has taken a step toward being an ally of the Sudanese people's efforts toward that future," Baldo said in a statement on Monday.

But the US may need to pass legislation to restore Sudan's immunity and end its listing as a pariah state, argued John Prendergast, who helped co-found the Sentry.

"The United States can also help through direct assistance, the promotion of responsible investment, and the targeting of corrupt networks in Sudan that continue to exploit the international financial system."

Sudan, on their part will also need to develop their own plan to regulate money laundering and toughen transparency in banking systems, according to Hilary Mossberg, a Director of Illicit Finance Policy at the Sentry.