Sudan officially taken off US terror list

By The Africa Report
Posted on Tuesday, 15 December 2020 09:31

Sudan US
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands with Sudanese Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling sovereign council, in Khartoum, Sudan in August 2020. (Sudanese Cabinet via AP, File)

On Monday, Washington announced that Khartoum would finally be taken off its list of state-sponsored terror after 27 years.

The announcement was made by the US Embassy in Khartoum.

The congressional notification period of 45 days has lapsed and the Secretary of State has signed a notification stating…

Posted by U.S. Embassy Khartoum on Sunday, 13 December 2020

It follows from outgoing US President Donald Trump’s declaration on 19 October that Sudan would finally be taken off the list, provided it agreed to certain conditions:

  • Compensation payment of $335m to the victims of the 1998 al-Qaida attacks in Kenya and Tanzania
  • Recognition of Israel

READ MORE Can Trump be trusted to remove Sudan from its terror list?

Since the ousting former longtime President Omar al-Bashir, the transitional government has been pushing for the US to take it off the list, and effectively put an end to the crippling sanctions it has incurred over the years.

Open for business?

While on the US list, Sudan has been the least appetising country for investors. Even after Trump’s declaration, many remained hesitant to commit to anything for fear that in a swift move, the decision would be revoked.

But Monday’s announcement means the real effects of the decision can finally start to trickle down and there are other factors that may continue to “deter some investors and foreign banks from reengaging in the country,” says Lauren Blanchard, a specialist in African Affairs with the Congressional Research Service (CRS).

Officially off the list now means the door is wide open to international banks and multinationals looking to do business in Sudan. It will boost local conglomerates such as Dal Group. The US government is already offering a wheat export deal to Khartoum; a significant point given it was the bread riots that sparked the protests agains Bashir in early 2019.

READ MORE Sudan weakened by US demands on compensation & ties with Israel

Sudan can now also initiate open talks with the IMF about settling its $1.3bn arrears (according to IMF Africa Director Abebe Selassie) with the idea to go on to some kind of debt restructuring process, with American support (even more likely with Biden’s presidency). In short, it will be first step to the wider restructuring of the nearly $80bn it has in debt.

Military benefit

Off the list will also see a positive return for both the military and civilian wings of government. For the military it removes the stigma of the Bashir era – Khartoum will now be able to buy arms from anyone and face no repercussions in doings so.

READ MORE Sudan declares an economic state of emergency

Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok’s civilian wing stands to benefit as it will strengthen the economy that is effectively on the brink of a meltdown, and improve the chances of a lasting transition until its planned elections in 2022. Critical  judicial, political and security reforms are also foreseen ahead of the polls.

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