Trump announces plans to remove Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list

Elias Hubbard
October 20, 2020

President Donald Trump on Monday said Sudan will be removed from the us list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that would open the door for the African country to get the global loans and aid that are essential for reviving its battered economy and rescue the country's transition to democracy.

The US President said on Twitter that once the $335 million that Sudan has agreed to pay as part of a settlement for victims of twin bombings against the US Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998, he will lift the designation. "Resisting the pressure of the Americans and Zionists... overcoming crises and ending American sanctions are based on mobilising people's power", it insisted in response to reports that Sudanese officials have said that Sudan is seeking to normalise ties with Israel in return for ending U.S. sanctions and overcoming the country's crises. Trump wrote on Twitter on Monday.

Sudan is one of four nations branded by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism, along with Iran, North Korea and Syria - severely impeding economic development, with few major foreign investors willing to run afoul of U.S. laws.

The designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism dates back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted bin Laden and other wanted militants.

Sudan is on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising a year ago led the military to overthrow autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir in April 2019.

Meanwhile, Sudan is to begin the process of normalizing relations with Israel, possibly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joining a congratulatory phone call between Trump and Hamdok.

Mr Hamdok said Sudan was looking forward to the official notification by the U.S. authorities. Such a move would present a foreign policy win to Trump just weeks ahead of the election.

After that, the Trump administration would notify Congress of its intent to remove Sudan from the list.

U.S. -Sudanese negotiations have focused on funds that Washington wants Khartoum to deposit in escrow for victims of al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, U.S. government sources said.

But removal from the list is also contingent on Sudan paying compensation for victims of the 1998 bombings of the USA embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attacks conducted by Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network while bin Laden was living in Sudan. Then President Bill Clinton responded with a still disputed missile strike on a pharmaceutical factory on Khartoum's outskirts.

A remaining obstacle is Congress must pass legislation restoring Sudan's sovereign immunity, a shield against future terrorism-related legal claims for past attacks once it pays the compensation it already owes.

The announcement, just two weeks ahead of the USA presidential election, also comes as the Trump administration works to get other Arab countries, such as Sudan, to join the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain's recent recognition of Israel.

The UAE and fellow Gulf state Bahrain in September became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to sign agreements to have formal ties with Israel, forged largely through shared fears of Iran.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed the issue in August on the first visit in 15 years by the top U.S. diplomat to Khartoum.

But Hamdok demurred on the controversial step, saying the transitional government did not have authority to normalize with Israel.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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