Minister’s ouster unlikely to slow Sudan’s push to get off US ‘terror’ list

Sudanese president Omar Al-Bashir fired his Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour late on April 19, 2018, state media reported. (AFP)
Updated 20 April 2018
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Minister’s ouster unlikely to slow Sudan’s push to get off US ‘terror’ list

  • Ghandour was fired a day after he said in parliament that Sudanese diplomats abroad had not been paid in months.
  • Analysts say his sacking is not expected to derail ties between Khartoum and Washington.

Khartoum: President Omar Al-Bashir’s dismissal of Sudan’s foreign minister, Khartoum’s top negotiator with Washington, is unlikely to affect efforts to have Khartoum removed from a US “terrorism” blacklist, experts say.
On Thursday, Bashir sacked Ibrahim Ghandour, who headed negotiations with Washington that in October helped lift a decades-old US trade embargo on Khartoum.
His dismissal comes amid an economic crisis in the African country and his replacement, who has yet to be named, is set to inherit a complicated case load.
Ghandour, the first official to publicly raise concerns over Sudan’s economic crisis, was fired a day after he said in parliament that Sudanese diplomats abroad had not been paid in months.
But analysts say his sacking is not expected to derail ties between Khartoum and Washington, which have warmed since the sanctions were lifted.
“Ghandour’s loss will be felt, but his going won’t change Khartoum’s policy direction,” Magnus Taylor, Sudan analyst at the International Crisis Group, told AFP.
By dismissing Ghandour, Khartoum is not changing its “moderate” policy toward Washington, he said.
“Generally, Sudanese are focused on getting themselves out of the SSTL,” Taylor said, referring to Washington’s State Sponsors of Terrorism List.
Although Washington lifted sanctions imposed in 1997 over Khartoum’s alleged support of militant groups, it has kept Sudan on the blacklist along with Iran, Syria and North Korea.
Officials say the US terror tag prevents international banks from doing business with Khartoum, in turn hampering Sudan’s economic revival.
Ghandour had been pushing for Khartoum’s removal from the blacklist in a bid to obtain much needed foreign loans.
“He was useful for negotiations with the US because people thought they can deal with him as he was reasonable, eloquent and intelligent,” Taylor said.
“But Sudan will bring someone else who can do that kind of job.”


US diplomat briefs Iraqi cardinal on aid after critique

Updated 7 min 37 sec ago
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US diplomat briefs Iraqi cardinal on aid after critique

  • Mark Green was in Rome to tell Vatican officials about on-the-ground results from US development assistance to Iraq’s religious minorities
  • Cardinal Sako had accused the US of failing to help rebuild Christian villages devastated by Daesh in Iraq

ROME: A senior American diplomat briefed the leader of Iraq’s Chaldean Catholics on US development aid after the cardinal accused the US of failing to help rebuild Christian villages devastated by Daesh.

Mark Green, administrator of the State Department’s USAID development agency, said he disagreed with Cardinal Luis Sako’s claims at a Vatican news conference on Tuesday that promised US aid for Iraq’s religious minorities had not materialized.

But Green said Sako’s complaints were “a reminder that it is not only important to execute and deliver results, it is (important) to be able to constantly stay in touch and make people aware of what we’re doing and involve them in guiding it.”

Green was in Rome to tell Vatican officials about on-the-ground results from US development assistance to Iraq’s religious minorities and about the near-doubling of aid to about $300 million since last year.

The funds are being used to help rebuild water and electricity systems, provide security for schools and other projects meant to help Christians and other religious minorities who fled during the conflict with Daesh’s return to Iraq and build a viable future.

Green declined to speculate why Sako seemed unaware of how the US aid was used. 

He said he viewed their meeting, scheduled before the cardinal’s comments, as “an opportunity to show him some of the work that we’re doing, both directly in his constituency (and) throughout the region in northern Iraq.”

Sako had strongly criticized US policy in the region, suggesting the US invasion of Iraq, which gave way to years of instability that facilitated the birth of Daesh, was responsible for the exodus of Christians from communities that have existed since the time of Jesus.

Asked about US aid aimed at encouraging them to return, Sako said it had not materialized.

“There are promises, but the reality is that there’s been nothing up to now,” Sako said after a Vatican briefing Tuesday.