- Trump Moves to Lift Most Sudan Sanctions
President Donald Trump moved to lift an array of crippling sanctions imposed on Sudan two decades ago, potentially ushering in an economic revival for the North African country still reeling from decades of civil war and the loss of most of its oil after South Sudan’s secession in 2011.
The move, which takes effect on Oct. 12, will allow fresh investment into an oil-exporting nation that remains one of the world’s poorest. Along with Syria and Iran, Sudan will stay on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, though in a foreshadowing of the decision announced Friday, it was removed last month from a roster of counties whose citizens face travel restrictions to the U.S.
Sanctions targeting Sudanese officials involved in a bloody conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region will remain, according to Trump administration officials who briefed reporters Friday on condition of anonymity.
The U.S. imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, four years after listing the country ruled by President Umar al-Bashir as a sponsor of terrorism for sheltering al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The administration officials cited progress in five areas of concern, including fighting terrorism and allowing humanitarian groups to bring aid into conflict areas.
Anticipating the action announced Friday, two Republican committee chairmen said this week that sanctions shouldn’t be relaxed without a binding commitment from Sudan to resolve or settle judgments reached against it in U.S. courts in terrorism cases.
“Anything less would violate longstanding United States policy, undermine our nation’s counterterrorism and victim compensation laws, negate the efforts of the victims who have fought for justice in federal courts, and reward Sudan for its prior support of international terrorism,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said in a statement.
The administration will continue to press for Sudan to be held accountable in the courts, according to the officials.
Friday’s move lifts restrictions on Sudan’s petroleum and petrochemical industries, including oilfield services and oil- and gas-pipeline transactions by Americans. It also lets Americans process transactions involving individuals in Sudan, import and export goods between the nations and conduct transactions of property in which Sudan has stakes.
Under an executive order signed by President Barack Obama in January, a temporary easing of sanctions against Sudan was to be made permanent after six months if the government in Khartoum sustained progress in the five areas outlined by the U.S. Trump extended that review period by three months in July.
The decision follows an extensive lobbying push by the Sudanese government, which hired Washington law firm Squire Patton Boggs LLP at a cost of $40,000 a month to advocate on its behalf. Bashir continues to be sought by the International Criminal Court on allegations of war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity related to the conflict in the country’s Darfur region.