CATF Reports Oct. 4, 2016, 10:44am

Turkish state-run press agency Anadolu Agency reported yesterday that Sudanese Finance Minister Badr El-Din Mahmoud publicly informed reporters in Khartoum of the U.S.’s decision to lift selected banking restrictions that will authorize some non-commercial bank transactions with Sudan. In 1993 the U.S. Department of State designated Sudan as a “State sponsor of terrorism” over concerns about the state’s support to terrorist groups including Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, and Hamas, concerns eventually corroborated by evidence showing Sudan’s role as a “meeting place, safe haven, and training hub” for al-Qaeda. Based on the new provision, commercial transactions, individual remittances, and humanitarian aid deliveries are now exempt from the 1997 sanctions program that prohibited all economic, trade, and financial interactions between the U.S. and Sudan.

Both in the most recent Country Report on Terrorism and in a recent press statement, the U.S. Department of State has acknowledged and praised Sudan’s cooperative efforts to counter “al-Qa’ida and ISIL-linked terrorist groups remained active in Sudan in 2015” as well as to increase security in the broader sub-Saharan region. Sudanese authorities welcomed the U.S. initiative as highly beneficial for the country’s hostile business environment and acute humanitarian crisis. However, the announcement came two days after a report by Amnesty International called attention to the atrocious treatments – “scorched earth tactics,” as the NGO labelled them – inflicted for years by Sudanese troops upon populations in the Jebel Marra area of Darfur held by the Sudan Liberation Army and now possibly including the use of chemical weapons.

The U.S.’s partial lifting of the sanctions may help address Sudan’s dire need for humanitarian support. Nonetheless, releasing international pressure on Sudan’s banking and financial infrastructure without implementing greater scrutiny over commercial transactions and individual remittances may expose Sudan to the inestimable risk of a new, unrestrained cash flow from abroad to Sudan-based terrorists and extremists.  

From Anadolu Agency:

The move, Mahmoud said, would serve to benefit Sudan’s humanitarian situation and business environment, both of which have been hard-hit by two decades of economic sanctions imposed by Washington.

"This decision will turn a new page… and facilitate humanitarian and individual bank transactions," the minister said.

"It will also allow implementation of the commercial transactions permitted by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control," he added.”

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