A U.S. decision to remove Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism came into effect on Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, eliminating a burden that had weighed on Sudan’s economy since 1993 and restricted its ability to receive aid.
The move is a boost for the transitional authorities who took over after president Omar al-Bashir was overthrown last year, and are grappling with a deep economic crisis.
President Donald Trump said in October that he would rehabilitate Sudan, days before announcing that Israel and Sudan intended to normalise relations. A 45-day Congressional review period has now elapsed.
“This achievement was made possible by the efforts of Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government to chart a bold new course away from the legacy of the Bashir regime and, in particular, to meet the statutory and policy criteria for rescission,” Pompeo said in a statement issued in Washington.
Sudan had been engaged in talks with the United States for months, and paid a negotiated US$335M settlement to victims of al-Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998 who had been awarded much higher damages by U.S. courts.
A process to release the settlement money and restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity is currently stalled in Congress, however.
“We have been liberated from the global blockade which we were forced into by the behavior of the ousted regime,” Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said in a statement.
“This achievement … contributes to economic reforms, attracting investments and remittances through official channels, creating new job opportunities for young people, and many other positives.”
The United States listed Sudan in 1993 on grounds that Bashir’s regime was harboring militant groups including al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah. It cut Sudan off from financial assistance and investment, and from the global banking system.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Washington would now help Khartoum to seek financing from international lenders and negotiate relief on US$60B in foreign debt.
Sudan also hopes to gain access to equipment and software for healthcare, energy, transport, education and infrastructure, Hamdok’s office said.
“This decision has given us hope that our circumstances could improve,” said Mohamed Hassan, a 58-year-old private sector employee in Khartoum.