Photographer: Isaac Kasamani/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Should Lift Sanctions on Sudan, Urge Reform, Group Says

Updated on
  • Trump administration due to rule on a permanent repeal in July
  • Removing sanctions ‘better of two imperfect options,’ ICG says

The U.S. should permanently lift trade sanctions on Sudan to boost Washington’s leverage to push for political reforms, even if the African country has only made limited progress in improving aid access and ceasing hostilities against rebels, the International Crisis Group said.

Under an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in January, the temporary easing of some sanctions will become permanent if Sudan’s government sustains progress in key areas, including helping the U.S. in the fight against terror and stopping internal conflict. President Donald Trump’s administration is due to decide on the next step by July 12.

“To lift sanctions would reward a regime that must do much more to improve governance and end its wars; not to do so could lead to a reversal of advances made and discourage further cooperation,” the Brussels-based ICG said. “Lifting sanctions is the better of two imperfect options, particularly if coupled with clear signals that far more is needed for the government to escape” the restrictions that remain.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, four years after listing the country ruled by President Umar al-Bashir as a state sponsor of terrorism. Permanently lifting the sanctions could help revive the economy of the oil-producing nation, which lost three quarters of its crude reserves with South Sudan’s secession in 2011.

Sudan Ramps Up D.C. Lobbying Bid as Sanctions Deadline Looms

The U.S. “should also make clear that it stands ready to impose new targeted financial sanctions should Khartoum renege on its commitments,” the ICG said in a briefing note on Thursday.

The January decision lifted restrictions on petroleum and petrochemical industries, including oilfield services and oil and gas pipeline transactions by Americans. It also allowed Americans to process transactions involving individuals in Sudan, import and export goods between the nations and conduct transactions of property in which Sudan has stakes.

Sudan has been cooperating with the U.S. on combating terror and sharing intelligence information, Sudan’s ambassador to the U.S., Maowia Osman Khalid, said by phone from Washington. The head of the country’s National Intelligence and Security Service, Mohammed Atta al-Mawla, visited Washington in March and met Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo, he said.

“That’s a clear testimony that cooperation between Sudan and the U.S. is in top and high gear,” Khalid said. “When the sanctions are lifted on July 12, it will be like heaven.”

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