Sudan’s premier on long walk to lift US sanctions
KHARTOUM: A recent visit by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to Washington that failed to remove Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism has left many Sudanese desperate. “The economic situation is bad and we need a quick support from the world but the US sanctions are blocking that,” Amir Ahmed, 35, a trader in Khartoum, told Anadolu Agency.
“We are supposed to wait for a long process for [removing US sanctions], which is very frustrating for us.” Ahmed Osman, 50, a railway employee, said Washington is using the sanctions to pile pressure on the transitional government in Sudan. “The US has no reason this time to believe that Sudan is still sponsoring terrorism after the uprising has ousted [President Omar] al-Bashir,” he said. Last week, Hamdok paid a five-day visit to the US for talks aimed at getting Sudan off the US terrorism list.
He, however, returned to Khartoum with little in hand and some pledges, waiting for a long process to end the US sanctions. The only tangible progress was the upgrading of diplomatic relations between the US and Sudan by appointing ambassadors for the first time in 23 years. Sudan was placed on the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism in 1993 on accusations of supporting terrorist groups. In 1997, Washington imposed economic sanctions on Sudan and tightened them a year later after attacks against US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
In 2007, the US imposed further sanctions after the outbreak of conflict in the western Darfur province. In October 2017, the administration of former President Barack Obama lifted some of the economic sanctions on Sudan, but left the Darfur Peace and Accountability Act (DPAA) and the terrorism list designation. Hamdok said some progress has been made during his visit to the US, but he admitted that the process of removing Sudan from the US terrorism list could take a long time.
He said Sudan had met five of the seven conditions set by the Trump administration for Congress to clear the country’s name. “The two points still under discussion are the cooperation of Sudan regarding the war on terrorism and compensations to US victims of the terrorist attacks against US embassies,” he said. Former US diplomat Cameron Hudson thinks that sanctions regarding terrorism may be lifted in 2020, while those regarding Darfur may need some time.
“There are the terrorism sanctions, which I believe could be lifted in the next year if Sudan settles the lawsuits with the victims in US courts and if they deepen intelligence cooperation with the US and take steps to ensure there is no support to bad actors coming from any part of the Sudanese government, especially the intelligence and military or militias, which the prime minister does not control,” he said. “[The lifting of] other sanctions related to Darfur require a peace deal with those armed groups, the initiation of a justice process for victims there, and some kind of effort to disband or integrate the former Janjaweed forces that committed those crimes. This could also take some time.”
Hudson, who was the director of African affairs on the National Security Council in the George W. Bush administration, said Hamdok’s government still needs to utilize more steps in order to convince Washington, especially in terms of the security reformation and prioritization of the democratic transformation. “It wants to see the civilian leaders continue to enact reforms and for the military to continue to accept them as they did with the removal of the public order law,” he said. “As long as those forces continue to demonstrate, in word and deed, that they support the transition to civilian rule and democracy, the US will gain confidence in moving forward with further improved ties.” (AA)