The Trump administration on Tuesday announced it was taking Sudan off a list of countries that sponsor terrorism, a move expected to allow the East African nation’s government to seek international financial aid.
The development will pave the way for the country to normalise its relations with Israel, paving the way for Trump to secure election gains next month.
The US President Donald Trump announced his decision on Twitter on Tuesday, saying, “GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to U.S. terror victims and families. 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 is being seen as Trump trying to get Sudan to recognise Israel, after getting UAE and Bahrain to normalise their relations with the country. The decision also faced criticism from the American public who said it was immoral to ‘blackmail’ a poor African country by asking it to pay millions at a time when a pandemic was ravaging people’s lives.
The decision has been formally discussed between the United States and Sudan since 2018, after months of prolonged discussions by the White House. According to the New York Times, “Removing Sudan from the terrorism list was a necessary precursor to it becoming the latest Arab state to broker an official détente with Israel.”
And the paper quoted at least two US officials saying that Sudan and Israel could normalise relations in days, once details of the removal from the terrorism list were completed. “The carefully choreographed sequence was intended to soften likely criticism of the Israel deal inside Sudan,” it said.
The deal has been brokered with the condition on Sudan agreeing to pay $335 million in compensation to the victims of Qaeda attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the Navy destroyer Cole in 2000.
Sudan was put on the list in 1993, when the US government charged the country’s leader at the time, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, of giving shelter to Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups that the United States considers terrorists.
The move is also expected to generate immense anger among the local Sudanese population, who have always been opposed to any relations with the US or Israel. Although the urge to take the country out of economic distress caused by decades of sanctions prevailed over populism, paving the way for the country to seek international financial aid.
The country’s faltering economy could use the opportunity to seek loans and enhance trade ties with a number of countries. However, there could be political instability in the country, resulting in widespread violence.