After US talks, Sudan sees path to lifting sanctions soon

Sudan’s former President Omar Bashir sits inside a cage at the courthouse where he is facing corruption charges in Khartoum on Saturday. (Reuters)
Updated 29 September 2019

After US talks, Sudan sees path to lifting sanctions soon

  • The Trump administration suspended talks on normalizing relations with Sudan and demanded that the military hand power to a civilian government

NEW YORK: Sudan’s prime minister said he had held useful talks with US officials while at the UN this week, and expressed hope Khartoum could reach an agreement to be removed from Washington’s state-sponsored terrorism list “very soon.”
Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, was appointed in August as leader of a transition government, vowing to stabilize the country and repair an economy battered by years of US sanctions and government mismanagement during Omar Al-Bashir’s 30-year rule.
But Sudan has so far been unable to tap the International Monetary Fund and World Bank for support because the US still lists the country as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“Coming to the (UN) General Assembly provided us with a huge opportunity to meet many leaders in the American administration,” Hamdok told reporters on Friday after a high-level event to drum up support for his country at the annual gathering of world leaders.
“We had a very useful discussion on the issue of state-sponsored terrorism. We hope as we move forward we will be able to conclude very soon an agreement that would allow Sudan to be delisted.”

FASTFACT

Abdalla Hamdok, an economist, was appointed in August as leader of a transition government, vowing to stabilize the country and repair an economy battered by years of US sanctions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed support at the Sudan event, held on the sidelines of the General Assembly, for Hamdok’s efforts. He called for the immediate removal of “Sudan’s designation as a terrorist-supporting state and lifting all economic sanctions and mobilizing massive financial support for development to make the current political gains durable.”
Shortages of bread, fuel and medicine coupled with hefty price rises sparked protests that led to the toppling of longtime ruler Bashir in April.
But the transitional government will need US support to address debt issues and attract investment. It will launch a nine-month economic rescue plan in October aimed at curbing rampant inflation while ensuring supplies of basic goods. It is also asking the World Bank for $2 billion.
“The new Sudan that is upholding governance and democracy is not a threat to any nation in the world,” Hamdok said.
A senior US official said in August that Washington would test the commitment of Sudan’s new transitional government to human rights, freedom of speech and humanitarian access before it agrees to remove the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
The US State Department was not immediately available for comment on Friday.
Sudan was designated a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993 under then-US President Bill Clinton, cutting it off from financial markets and strangling its economy, over allegations that Bashir’s Islamist government was supporting terrorism, notably attacks in Kenya and Tanzania.
Washington lifted a 20-year trade embargo against Sudan in 2017 and was in the process of discussions on removing it from the US list when the military stepped in on April 11 to depose Bashir.
The Trump administration suspended talks on normalizing relations with Sudan and demanded that the military hand power to a civilian government.
A senior European diplomat said the US government considered that the new government had to assume the responsibilities of the previous administration.
“I don’t think the Americans are ready yet. They still think that today’s Sudan must pay for the crimes of yesterday’s Sudan when it comes to legal cases out there related to the terrorist attacks in Nairobi or Dar es Salaam,” said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“It’s very hard on the Sudanese, so the key is finding a formula to resolve this,” the diplomat said. “If we can unlock that, then it will open the door for the whole (transitional) process.”


Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

Updated 1 min 3 sec ago

Arabs reject religion’s role in politics

  • Appeal of militant groups such as the Al Qaidam Daesh, Hezbollah, Muslim Brotherhood and Taliban are in decline, poll suggests
  • The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai

DUBAI: Militant groups in the Arab world face a gradual decline and most Arabs oppose the use of religion for political gain, a new survey suggests.

The appeal of extremists such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Daesh and the Taliban is likely to fade over the next 10 years, researchers found.

The survey indicates that most Arabs view corruption as the main problem in their home country and the leading cause of conflict in the Arab world.

 

Daesh (Islamic State) fighters march in Raqqa, Syria, at the height of their power in 2014. (AP file photo)

Researchers also found overwhelming approval for developments in female empowerment such as Saudi women driving and a new inheritance law in Tunisia, and most Arabs expect further progress in their own countries in the next 10 years.

The survey’s findings on political Islam were “good news” for the region, said political science professor Dr. Abdulkhaleq Abdulla. The Middle East had had enough of extremism and Arabs realized that political groups based on religion were “taking them nowhere,” Abdulla told Arab News.

“Indeed, we have seen the ugly face of it during the four to five years of Daesh’s control of large areas in Syria and Iraq. So it is natural to see there is a decline in the popularity of these parties. But much more important are the predictions that support for religious parties, whether moderate or extremist, is in sharp decline.

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“People are becoming aware that there has been some kind of abuse and overuse of people’s emotions for political gains by these religious movements. The foremost is the Muslim Brotherhood, which is going through its worst moment.”

The YouGov survey was commissioned by Arab News in partnership with the Arab Strategy Forum, which takes place today in Dubai. The 12th annual event will explore events and trends expected over the next 10 years, with 18 key speakers including former ministers, government officials, industry experts, international strategists, writers and media professionals.