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Trump pressured Sudan to normalize relations with Israel before announcing his intention to remove it from the terror list

US President Donald Trump announced on Monday that his country would remove Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism, and Foreign Policy magazine considered that the announcement opens the way for this East African country to join the global financial system after nearly 3 decades of being considered an “international pariah” country. And it paves the way for Khartoum to normalize its relations with Israel.

The magazine quoted former and current officials and Congressional staff with knowledge of the matter as saying that the announcement came after months of negotiations that took place behind the scenes from which the Office of African Affairs at the US State Department was largely excluded.

The officials added that Trump will announce the removal of Sudan from the terrorism list, following a final agreement that coincided with the president’s statements on Monday.

The magazine indicated in its report that the United States had already agreed in principle to remove Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism after Khartoum complied with paying hundreds of millions of dollars to the families of the victims of the “terrorist” attacks on the Washington embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the targeting of the US destroyer Cole. During its docking in the port of Aden in Yemen in 2000.

But President Trump’s administration abruptly backed away from the agreement in recent weeks, refusing to announce it unless Sudan first agrees to recognize Israel, so that his administration could record a new “diplomatic victory” ahead of the presidential elections on November 3.

On the other hand, it is expected – according to the magazine’s report – that the transitional government in Sudan will announce the initiation of measures to normalize relations with Israel in the coming weeks, in addition to paying more than $ 300 million in compensation for the victims of “terrorist” operations.

Foreign Policy considered this a top priority for the Trump administration after it laid the necessary basis for the resumption of both the UAE and Bahrain their official diplomatic relations with Israel at an earlier time.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (left) during a previous visit to Khartoum (Anatolia)

Charged negotiations

Officials familiar with the file described the negotiations between Washington and Khartoum as “fraught and tense” due to the pressure exerted by the Trump administration on the Sudanese side to recognize Israel, which the magazine considered a “politically sensitive step” in Sudan, where the post-revolution government suffers from “political and economic fragility.” On the verge of collapse. “

To make the deal more acceptable – according to current and former government officials with whom Ilhem Foreign Policy spoke – the United States secretly offered Sudan a set of economic and political incentives.

These incentives include providing additional humanitarian aid, holding a US trade and investment conference, as well as organizing a high-level trade delegation visit to Sudan led by the US Development Finance Corporation.

The United States will also pledge to speed up discussions with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to provide economic aid to Sudan in desperate need, in addition to Washington’s help to Khartoum to ease its debt burden.

The US State Department placed Sudan on the list of state sponsors of terrorism in 1993, along with North Korea, Syria and Iran.

In 2019, a popular revolution overthrew the rule of President Omar al-Bashir, which spanned nearly three decades, as his regime was accused of supporting terrorist groups, widespread human rights violations, crimes against humanity and massacres in the Darfur region in the west of the country.

The Foreign Policy report quotes Cameron Hudson, an expert on East African issues at the former Atlantic and Diplomatic Council, as saying that the “symbolic connotation” of the American move is a “sure end” of the Bashir era, and restores the relationship with the United States, whose path was marked by a very hostile nature in most periods of government the previous.

In practical terms – according to Hudson – the recent development is a tremendous political victory for the transitional government, and opens new financing and economic support channels for Sudan that are in dire need of it.

Compensation and procedures

Monday’s announcement marks the start of a process that begins with Sudan depositing $ 335 million in an escrow account for families of victims of terrorist attacks in which the former regime is believed to have played a role.

The US President will notify Congress of his intention to remove Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism, in preparation for moving forward with the lifting procedures, unless Congress expresses its refusal to do so.

But Foreign Policy magazine says in its report that the aforementioned Trump announcement may not mean an end to Sudan’s problems or allow Khartoum to access global financial markets.

Sudan – as stated in the report – is still facing legal cases pending from the families of victims of terrorism, including the families of victims of the attacks of 11 September 2001.

The Congress has been working for months on introducing legislation that would grant Sudan a “peace based on law” and exempt it from facing further legal cases in US courts, as it is a sovereign state.

Some families of the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks had launched a campaign to persuade members of Congress to oppose such a move under the pretext that they wanted to file cases before the courts to determine whether Sudan bears any responsibility for these attacks.

Some American officials secretly question whether the former regime in Sudan played any role in those attacks, as Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had left Sudan to reside in Afghanistan at that time.

Without establishing a “law-based peace,” lawyers representing families of victims of the attacks could disrupt business dealings between the United States and Sudan by pursuing Sudanese assets in America, according to the magazine’s report.

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