Sudan wants to decouple terror listing, normalisation

“We spoke with the US Secretary of State and told him ‘let us separate the two tracks,'” Prime Minister Hamdok said.
Saturday 03/10/2020
(L to R) Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sovereign Council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan attend the opening session of an economic conference in the capital Khartoum, September 26. (AFP)
(L to R) Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and Sovereign Council chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan attend the opening session of an economic conference in the capital Khartoum, September 26. (AFP)

KHARTOUM--Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok said that normalising ties with Israel was a “complicated” issue needing wide debate within society, media reported Sunday.

Earlier this month, Israel signed US-brokered deals to normalise ties with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The administration of US President Donald Trump is said to want Sudan to follow suit, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Khartoum in August to push a deal.

Sudan’s economy is in crisis, partly due to sanctions imposed because it is on a US blacklist as an alleged state sponsor of terrorism.

On Saturday, Hamdok was questioned by reporters on the two issues of lifting US sanctions and normalising ties with Washington’s ally Israel.

“We spoke with the US Secretary of State and told him ‘let us separate the two tracks,'” Hamdok said, speaking on the sidelines of an economic conference in Khartoum.

“We hope for success in this matter,” he added.

Sudan has been technically at war with Israel for decades.

Hamdok heads the transitional government, which came to power a year ago after Islamist president Omar al-Bashir was ousted, bringing together old rivals into a fragile coalition.

Removing Sudan from the US blacklist is a priority for the government, but while some leaders are in favour of a political deal with Israel, many oppose it.

Any deal with Israel potentially risks undermining Sudan’s fragile political unity, analysts say.

“This is an issue that has many other complications,” Hamdok said. “It requires a deep discussion within our society.”

During a video statement to the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, Hamdok said Sudan was actively cooperating with international and bilateral efforts to fight terrorism and terrorism financing.

“Sudan’s name should be removed from the list of countries that are sponsoring terrorism. Sudan has returned to the international fold after 30 years outside it. This must happen,” he said. “We hail the efforts of the U.S. government and the U.S. Congress to remove Sudan’s name from the list.”

Sudan has been on the US blacklist since 1993 because of Bashir’s support for Islamic extremists, including Osama bin Laden, who lived in the country for years in the 1990s before heading to Afghanistan.

General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, head of the transitional sovereign council, told Saturday’s conference there was an “opportunity” for change.

“We have the opportunity … to remove Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list, and achieve integration within the global community,” Burhan said.