Sudan: No Longer a Terror State?

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Sudanese soldiers in Yemen. (Photo: Saleh Al-Obeidi./AFP/Getty Images)

The United States is removing Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan has been on the list since 1993.

So why was Sudan on the list in the first place? Why is it being removed now?

Here are five facts you need to know:

  1. Khartoum is cooperating with the U.S. to get removed from the list
    U.S. intelligence reports Sudan is abiding by a number of conditions set by Washington to secure removal from the list. Those conditions reportedly include combating terrorism and ending warfare in certain areas. The U.S. required Sudanese authorities submit a report on progress in these areas by July 12 affirming commitment to the conditions.
  2. Sudan was included in Trump’s travel ban list earlier this year
    Sudanese citizens were included in the executive order issued by U.S. President Donald Trump in January restricting access to the United States for citizens of specific named countries. A Sudanese Foreign Ministry statement read: “It is truly regrettable that the ban coincided with the two countries’ achievement of an important historic step in lifting the economic and trade sanctions on Sudan, and while working to develop their investment and commercial projects for the benefit of the people of both countries.”
  3. They Harbored bin Laden
    Osama Bin Laden lived in Sudan during the early 1990s and was expelled following U.S. pressure in 1996. Yet the al-Qaeda presence did not end then. In 1998, the U.S. bombed targets in Sudan believed to be al-Qaeda facilities.
  4. They Were Closely linked to Iran, But Later Switched to Support Saudi Arabia
    Sudan was close to Iranian-supported groups, most notably Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Sudan was used to funnel weapons to those groups from Iran to wage terrorist attacks against Israel. However, in January 2016, Sudan severed relations with Iran. In March 2015, it joined the Saudi coalition fighting in Yemen. Experts say that Saudi financial investment in Iran was behind the switch.
  5. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is Wanted for War Crimes In 2003, rebels in Darfur in the west of the country revolted and launched an insurgency campaign. The government responded with a brutal crackdown which was labeled genocide by the United States Congress in 2004. Government supported “Janjaweed militias” were allowed to fight with little to no oversight or rules of engagement, with horrific consequences. Although there was a peace agreement in 2005, violence rumbled on. In 2009, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

    South Sudan gained independence in 2011.

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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.

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