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Removing Sudan From the Terror List Is Welcome; Yes to Assistance No to Extortion

We should be celebrating the bold nonviolent revolution in Sudan, investing in their economic development, empowering them to become the shining light and a model for other countries in the region to follow.

Sudan is one of the world’s poorest countries and its people just last year ousted the first Islamist dictatorship to ever be defeated by nonviolent people power.  (Photo by Jean Marc MOJON / AFP) (Photo by JEAN MARC MOJON/AFP via Getty Images)

Sudan is one of the world’s poorest countries and its people just last year ousted the first Islamist dictatorship to ever be defeated by nonviolent people power. (Photo by JEAN MARC MOJON/AFP via Getty Images)

The brave nonviolent revolution in Sudan inspired us and deserves our active support. Instead the US government is blaming Sudan for the past actions of the very brutal regime they fought to remove from power. The US moral obligation is clear and in this instance lines up well with US strategic interests. The US should 1) grant Sudan its “legal peace” against any new terrorist claims through Congressional action 2) provide immediate financial assistance, 3) remove Sudan from the travel ban, and 4) lead an international effort to provide Sudan much needed humanitarian and development support.

To burden the Sudanese people with a $335 million payment when they do not even have enough money for basic food and medicine is both cruel and shortsighted.

The United States is releasing Sudan from its antiquated designation as a state sponsor of terror. This is to be commended. However the price for Sudanese is too high. On Monday October 19, Trump sent a tweet that announced that the Sudan government was paying $335 million in reparations for US citizens killed by Al Qaeda, while it was partially operating from Sudan. In return, the State Department has removed Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terror list.

The Sudanese government looks like it has been coerced to normalize relations with Israel and join the short list of Middle Eastern countries that are exchanging diplomatic ties with Israel. Sudan, like most Arab countries, has long expressed openness to recognize Israel as part of a comprehensive agreement which also included Israeli recognition of a viable independent Palestinian state, but had been reluctant to recognize Israel unilaterally. The apparently successful U.S. effort to force Sudan to do so hardly promotes peace nor helps resolve the long standing Palestinian issue. Not to mention their extreme deteriorating living conditions.

US policies are adding to a nightmare for the Sudanese people who have just suffered from the worst flooding in a century. While the US wasted a year to free Sudan from this terrorist designation, Sudan was unable to trade worldwide and obtain support from multilateral institutions to rebuild its economy and deal with covid19. The US is extorting the Sudanese people for the terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda on US citizens. However the Sudanese people and the present government are in no way responsible for those criminal acts. It was the government of the Sudanese dictator Al-Bashir that protected Al Qaeda during the early to mid-1990s, prior to the attacks against U.S. interests in Kenya and Tanzania. In 2019, the Sudanese people revolted in a nonviolent struggle and successfully ousted the dictator and his ruling party. The new government has succeeded in signing peace agreements ending three civil wars.

The victims of bombings deserve reparations. If reparations are to be paid, let the US and Saudi Arabia lead the way. The US and Saudi are not solely responsible for Al Qaeda but their policies greatly boosted its growth. Al Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden who used the Saudi supported Salafi theology to create a violent group opposing non-Sunnis and, ironically, later to the Saudi monarchy. Its success was attributed to the presence of US troops in Saudi Arabia and by the US support for Israel.

The US war and harmful policies in the region continue to impact people’s lives and cause suffering from Afghanistan to Somalia. 

The US war and harmful policies in the region continue to impact people’s lives and cause suffering from Afghanistan to Somalia. Rather than using its military might to resolve long standing conflicts in the region, the US would be much better served by using the billions of dollars to pay reparations for the victims of wars and for the US citizens killed by Al Qaeda. Saudi Arabia should be enjoined to contribute to the latter.

Sudan is one of the world’s poorest countries and its people just last year ousted the first Islamist dictatorship to ever be defeated by nonviolent people power. This is the kind of positive social change we should support, not hamstring. To burden the Sudanese people with a $335 million payment when they do not even have enough money for basic food and medicine is both cruel and shortsighted. Sudan is estimated to be about $65 billion in debt. Sudan has enormous potential to be a leader in the region to move to secular and democratic and economic success. We should be celebrating the bold nonviolent revolution in Sudan, investing in their economic development, empowering them to become the shining light and a model for other countries in the region to follow.

Michael Beer

Michael Beer

Michael Beer has been the Executive Director of Nonviolence International since 1998. Michael is a global activist for human rights, minority rights and argues against war and casino capitalism.  He has trained activists in many countries, including Myanmar, Kosovo, Tibet, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, India, Zimbabwe, and the United States. He is a frequent public speaker on nonviolence and has been broadcast on CSPAN, CNN,  and other major media outlets.

Mubarak Elamin

Mubarak Elamin, based in Seattle, Washington, is a member of Sudan US Policy Network.

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