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25.11.2019 Opinion

Sudan’s P.M. Visit To Washington: Sudan Truly Needs Support Not Sanctions

By Mubarak Mahgoub Musa
Sudan’s P.M. Visit To Washington: Sudan Truly Needs Support Not Sanctions

President Trump's support for the Sudanese revolution, albeit belatedly, was thankfully followed by his appeal to his allies in the region, especially in the Gulf region to follow suit.

The said position in turn, naturally raised hopes and increased speculation that the long-awaited decision to delist Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism SST is just around the corner.

Goodness could only be rewarded with good, world leaders raced to express their jubilation for the manifested will, determination and peacefulness of the Sudanese revolution, which succeeded in ousting the regime whose policies, caused the said sanctions to be enacted in the first place.

Consequentially, it was prima facie compelling on the part of Washington, to revisit the very validity and legitimacy of the remnant sanctions on the post-revolution Sudan, simply premised on the fact that the regime, the U.S. had counteracted for so long and held responsibly has evidently become part of history.

Speaking in front of the green marble podium of the United Nations General Assembly’s 74th session, French President Macron has praised the courage of the Sudanese youth in their relentless resistance to the former regime.

Again, during his joint press conference with Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok in Paris in November this year, and calling upon the U.S. to delist Sudan - at least ingratitude - of the SST. Macron has described Sudan’s revolution as a victory of the Sudanese will and peacefulness, adding that the December Revolution shall remain a source of inspiration for the whole world. Not surprisingly, many nations in different corners of the earth, followed suit and rushed to the streets and pick up the gauntlet.

This request was echoed the same day by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, who on his part, has encouraged the international community to support Sudan, and added his voice to calls to remove Sudan from the US list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.

According to Mr. Guterres, “ Sudan is a matter of great hope for us. I believe that what was possible in the dialogue in Sudan, demonstrates that all political conflicts can be solved by dialogue when there is political will for that, and this should be a lesson for everywhere else in the world’’.

Likewise and according to Andrew Gilmore, Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights council “The Sudanese revolution will go down in history as one of the greatest non-violence mass movements of our generation.”

In retrospect, the decision made early this month by President Trump to extend the US state of emergency on Sudan, albeit being a routine decision since the year 1997, has sent a very confusing message to Sudanese people and caused the majority of them to languish in confusion and rather a muffled anger and frustration. The decision in timing and substance shows that the U.S. continues to manifest regards or heedlessness, to the consecutive regional and international appeals, to cease punishing the helpless population in Sudan, for acts committed by the previous regime.

In fact the decision poured cold water on the otherwise, growing speculation in Sudan, that the U.S suiting actions to words; shoulders its responsibility with the rest of the international community, in lending a helping hand to Sudan’s uphill task of economic and political recovery. As a matter of fact, a prosperous and stable Sudan should be the ultimate objective for all international stakeholders.

Against the backdrop of the above, it is necessary to illuminate the fact that Khartoum is still battling spiraling economic crisis or hardship – fueled of course by years of grand corruption and gross economic mismanagement. Alarmingly, this is almost the same economic hardships that animated and fueled the grassroots protests which ultimately led to Bashir’s downfall.

With exacerbating living conditions, and the scarcity of basic commodities, the public is becoming increasingly impatient to see tangible dividends the political change sooner rather than later. There is a growing tendency particularly amongst the Sudanese elites, that the very U.S. reticence to delist Sudan off the SST, is becoming the major stumbling block per se, that not only, tend to frustrate their legitimate quest for Economic recovery, but also, could derail eventually the sound transformation towards democracy.

In other words, it remains a double edged strategy; by the time the U.S. is ready to re-engage with Sudan, it may turn to be – God forbids- too late.

the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock, who just ended a two-day mission to Sudan, the first of its kind since the formation of a transitional government, warned of the deteriorating humanitarian situation for millions of people, particularly in the central and eastern regions, as the country strives to address the effects of erratic weather, multiple disease outbreaks and an economic crisis.

Mr Lowcock further warned that “It is a crucial time for Sudan and we must make sure that people have their most basic needs met. The international community needs urgently to step up its support”

By the same token, and with reference to the worsening economic conditions and the scarcity of foreign currency nowadays, and their direct impact on life-saving commodities, Khartoum daily newspapers reported and featured today, the desperate acknowledgement made by the Federal Ministry of Health in Khartoum, of its inability to bridge the widening gap, in the importation of life-saving drugs, launching an urgent appeal to the Sovereign Council to that effect to intervene. The ministry warns at the same time, that the spectre of death is increasingly threatening the lives of many patients.

Forging ahead with courageous initiatives and overtures, any fair observer should l acknowledge that the Khartoum since its inception, has never flinched in engaging the American (shifting) benchmarks, whether ending persecution of Christians and repression of civil society groups, creating accountability for stolen public funds, or securing peace agreements to end decades of internal conflict in the peripheries of the country, to name (but) a few.

However, there should be no mistake, the trajectory of handling such thorny files, is likewise a process not an event, if we may borrow the same words of Ambassador Tibor Nagy. It is a process in which Sudan desperately needs the support and solidarity of the international community. The U.S. role in this hard way, should commence (not conclude) with putting an end to its designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism.

On the other hand, trying to critically and objectively examine one of the recent articles of John Prendergast, namely ‘’Don't Remove Sudan From the Terrorism List”, one could easily come to a conclusion that all the key drivers Mr. Predergast has enumerated to incriminate the former regime, to validate his call for the continuation of U.S. sanctions. They collectively fail the litmus test, when applied on the current regime in Khartoum. Hence, why for God’s sake, should these sanctions allowed to continue in the first place? It should be noted here that John Prendergast remains one of the most prominent US activists and advocates of the continuation of US sanctions on the former regime.

Sudan remains one of the world’s richest countries, in terms of diversified and untapped natural economic resources, hence, removing fetters of sanctions, would allow the mobilization of these huge resources, that would affect real and fast change on the well being and prosperity of Sudan’s economy. Sudan shall immediately cease to be an economic burden on others; quite to the contrary, Sudan shall be in a position to make substantial contributions to regional and world economy.

Taking full advantage of these untapped riches and opportunities cannot be attained without -amongst others - foreign direct investment (FDI). Unfortunately FDI in Sudan shall continue to be a pie in the sky, as long as the current designation is in place. On the other hand, the enforcement of the third party liability on breaking OFAC sanctions has added insult to injury; without thinking, foreign capital and investors are forced to flee to safer destinations. As Thomas Friedman rightly put it “capital is a coward, not loyal and not patriotic.”

Khartoum believes that delisting is necessary to address urgent and deep economic problems, primarily resulting from international isolation and mismanagement. Having said that, continuing to deny Khartoum the access to finance and investment, the U.S. is feared to be putting the cart before the horse; which could inadvertently work, in one way or another, against the very outcome it seeks; an accountable government that is both more democratic and able to fight terrorism.

Worst still, it open the odds for Sudan, to disintegrate and becoming yet another failed State in region, which is by far, the least scenario Washington or the rest of the international community would prefer to see.

Equally important, the different manifestations of U.S. reticence vis-à-vis the delisting, reinforces nourishes an old perception, that U.S. Administration still adheres to the policies of changing goal post and shifting agenda; in other words, that U.S. policy – contrary to rhetoric - does ostensibly target Sudan as a nation.

Worse still it may act as a reminiscence of how the first democratic government in the aftermath of April 1985 uprising, which toppled the military regime of General Jaafar Nimeiri, was ironically rewarded, by declaring the Sudan at that time, ineligible to receive international loans and funds. They have every right to ask now , is history repeating itself?

The statement of Tibor Nagy that his country is no longer has an adversarial relationship with the Sudanese government is both timely and encouraging, however, it holds the United States morally responsible to follow words with actions; helping the Sudan to meet its outstanding challenges.

It remains a solid contention that any prompt and resounding success on the part of Khartoum requires creating congenial environment, in forefront of which comes the delisting of Sudan off the SST, as it would preferably cut short and facilitate Khartoum’s efforts to achieve the desired goals and not necessarily the other way round.

Personally, I felt that these concerns tacitly embedded in the tone of the question raised by Congresswoman Karen Bass to US Assistant Secretary of State Tibor Nagy, lamenting in a way or another the delay in delisting Sudan off the SST, referring to the sacrifices made to that end.

Last but not least, the people of Sudan do set great hopes on the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister Hamdok, in his the first official visit to Washington, where he would hopefully conclude some understandings, with the American Administration, to ways and time frame to accelerate the process of delisting the country from the SST. Taking into account, the size and dimensions of uphill challenges, Sudan is poised to face, in terms of security, stability and territorial integrity and as has been explicitly stated by the UN’s Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

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