Sudanese government reaches settlement deal with USS Cole victims

Experts examine the damaged hull of the USS Cole at the Yemeni port of Aden after an Al-Qaeda attack that killed 17 sailors in this Oct. 15, 2000 file photo. (AP)
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Updated 13 February 2020

Sudanese government reaches settlement deal with USS Cole victims

  • The settlement is the latest step from Khartoum to end its international pariah status
  • In the USS Cole attack, two men in a boat detonated explosives alongside the US destroyer as it was refueling in Aden

CAIRO: Sudan’s transitional government said Thursday it has reached a settlement with families of the victims of the 2000 attack on USS Cole in Yemen, in a bid to have the African country taken off the US terrorism list and improve relations with the West.
The settlement is the latest step from Khartoum to end its international pariah status. Earlier this week, Sudan’s provisional rulers said they had agreed to hand over longtime autocrat Omar Al-Bashir to the International Criminal Court to face trial on charges of war crimes and genocide during the fighting in the western Darfur region.
At the time of the Oct. 12, 2000 attack in the Yemeni port of Aden that killed 17 sailors and wounded more than three dozen others, Sudan was accused of providing support to Al-Qaeda, which claimed responsibility for the attack.
Today, Sudan’s interim authorities are desperate to have its listing by the US as a state sponsor of terror lifted, in order to receive an injection of badly needed funds from international lending institutions. Sudan’s justice ministry said that the agreement was signed with the victims’ families last Friday in Washington but its statement gave no details of the settlement.
There was no immediate comment from Washington.
Sudan’s information minister and interim government spokesman, Faisal Saleh, told The Associated Press over the phone from Khartoum that Justice Minister Nasr-Eddin Abdul-Bari had traveled last week to Washington to sign the deal, which included compensations for both those wounded and the families of those killed in the attack.
He said the figures could not be disclosed because the Sudanese government is still in negotiations to reach a similar settlement with families of victims of the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. More than 200 people were killed in the attacks and more than 1,000 were wounded.
Saleh said, however, that the American side is free to disclose the amount if it wishes to do so.
The initial figures on the table had been in the billions, he added, but Sudan’s interim government had “inherited an empty treasury.” He said he hoped the international community would be sympathetic to the country’s situation.
“We expect the United States and the world to understand and to be supportive instead of imposing more obstacles,” he said.
For Sudan, being removed from the US terror list will end the country’s economic isolation and allow it to attract much-need loans from international financial institutions in order to rebuild the economy after the popular uprising last year that toppled Al-Bashir and installed the joint civilian-military sovereign council.
The new Sudanese rulers say they were not responsible for the attack on USS Cole and that they had negotiated the deal out of their “keenness to resolve old terror claims inherited from the ousted regime” of Al-Bashir.
In the USS Cole attack, two men in a boat detonated explosives alongside the US destroyer as it was refueling in Aden. The victims’ families, along with the wounded sailors, had sued the Sudanese government in US courts demanding compensations.
In 2012, a federal judge issued a judgment of nearly $315 million against Sudan but last March, the US Supreme Court overturned that ruling on the grounds that Sudan had not been properly notified of the lawsuit.


Dubai government employees to start returning to work on Sunday

Dubai's Sheikh Zayed Road deserted during the coronavirus curfew imposed by authorities. (AFP)
Updated 27 May 2020

Dubai government employees to start returning to work on Sunday

  • Emirate is ‘heading in the right direction’ as it gradually reopens following success in handling pandemic

DUBAI: Half of Dubai’s government employees can return to their offices on Sunday, and the rest will be able to go back on June 14, the emirate’s government announced Wednesday.

The return to work will, however, be made with “intensified precautionary measures,” to protect workers, Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed said. 

“Our investments in the future paid off sooner than expected,” he also said on Twitter. “It is reassuring to know we’re heading in the right direction.”

Many businesses across retail, entertainment, sports and fitness industries have already been allowed to reopen. On Monday, Dubai announced it would be easing restrictions on movement, allowing people to move freely between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. from Wednesday. 

Sheikh Hamdan also hailed the Dubai government’s handling of the crisis, saying no “vital services were affected despite the precautionary measures and movement restrictions imposed.”

The UAE reported 31,086 coronavirus cases as of Tuesday; with more than half of those infected having recovered. The country’s death toll currently stands at 253.