Sudan one step - and $2 billion - away from Sponsors of Terrorism list removal

Sudan one step - and $2 billion - away from Sponsors of Terrorism list removal
4 min read
09 December, 2019
Sudan was placed on the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list in 1993 as the country played host to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Sudan is expected to pay more than $2 billion in compensation [Anadolu]
Sudan has just one more requirement to fulfill before it can be removed from the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok announced on Sunday.

Khartoum must take responsibility and pay compensation for the Al-Qaeda bombings of the Navy destroyer USS Cole in 2000 and of US embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1998, Hamdok said.

Sudan is required to pay more than $2 billion in order to leave the list - $2.1 billion in damages to the families of victims of the embassy bombings and more than $300 million to the victims of the attack on the US Navy vessel, The Sudan Tribune reported.

While the Sudanese government was not directly involved in the attacks, the US has issued several court rulings against Khartoum for supporting the bombings.

Sudan hosted Osama bin Laden during the early and mid-1990s.

The Al-Qaeda leader developed a number of lucrative agricultural and infrastructure businesses while in the country, where he also ran training camps for Al-Qaeda militants who carried out a botched assassination on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Extremist militants from the group later went on to carry out the 1998 embassy bombings and the 2000 attack on the USS Cole.

Since assuming office in August, Hamdok has made Sudan's removal from the US State Sponsors of Terrorism list his top priority.

For the civilian leader, Khartoum's removal from the list is crucial to turning the tide of an economic crisis that has wracked Sudan over the past decade.

Sudan is subject to strict US sanctions while on the list, which also prohibits economic assistance and arms exports and requires Washington to oppose World Bank and International Monetary Foundation (IMF) aid.

While the UAE and Saudi Arabia have pledged $3 billion in aid to Sudan this year, debt-laden Khartoum is keen to attract funding from the World Bank, IMF and Western states.

Hamdok has previously said the country requires at least $8 billion in foreign aid.

Shortly after the ousting of former dictator Omar Al-Bashir in April, the US made clear it would only remove Sudan from the list in the event of its democratic transition.

The military and civilian leaders have since signed a power-sharing accord and appointed a transitional government, consisting of a joint military-civilian transitional council and a civilian-led government chaired by Hamdok.

Hamdok's government has made progress in restoring friendly relations with the US. Earlier this month, Washington declared it would nominate an ambassador to Khartoum for the first time in 23 years.

Khartoum was praised for breaking "with the policies and practices of the previous regime" - progress that has enabled Sudan to fulfill five of the requirements necessary for it to be removed from the list.

Launching peace talks with rebels in the country's three conflict zones, allowing humanitarian access to civilians in those zones and committing to religious freedom are among the issues Hamdok discussed with US officials on a recent visit.

Sudan has also committed to working with the US on combatting terrorism, the prime minister said, leaving only one requirement - compensation for the USS Cole and embassy attacks - on the table.

He added that the figure required for compensation was negotiated down from $11 billion due to Sudan's poor economic status. 

"During the meetings with the various interlocutors, we mentioned that we are also victims of the former, but ultimately the issue remains a state responsibility that we must adhere to [international law]," Hamdok said.

Al-Shifa controversy

Some Sudanese have criticised Hamdok for his willingness to take responsibility for the Al-Qaeda attacks.

Social media activists have compared the compensation requirement to the US bombing of a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.

The Al-Shifa factory bombing came in the wake of the 1998 embassy bombings. US officials initially claimed the factory was used to manufacture a deadly nerve agent and was linked to Al-Qaeda.

It later emerged that there was no evidence the factory was linked to the extremist group or the production of nerve agents.

The bombing killed one employee and knocked out the country's primary supplier of anti-malaria drugs, which some claim caused thousands of deaths.

Human Rights Watch has also alleged the bombing disrupted relief efforts in the famine-hit nation, as US aid personnel and organisations were evacuated from the country in fear of retaliation for the bombing.

The US has never apologised for the incident.

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