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Effect of US sanctions relief on Sudan ‘weak without reform’: Analyst

September 20 - 2017 KHARTOUM
File photo
File photo

A leading Sudanese economic analyst predicts that the US administration will decide to lift sanctions on Sudan in October, while retaining sanctions on terrorism and the Darfur Peace Act. However the economic impact on Sudan in the event of the lifting of sanctions will be ‘limited’ unless accompanied by a package of reforms.

In an interview on Monday, economic analyst Hafiz Ismail told Radio Dabanga from Khartoum that he expects the lifting of sanctions to be in the interests of the US administration and the Sudanese government in the fight against terrorism and illegal immigration, this as well encouraging the government to make more concessions.

He explained that the decision to lift the sanctions is linked to considerations related to internal US policy “that has nothing to do with the developments in the situation in Sudan”.

He downplayed the expected economic impact on Sudan in the event of lifting the US sanctions, saying that the effect will me “weak if not accompanied by a package of reforms of Sudan’s economy”.

Ismail asserts that the crisis in the Sudanese economy is related to internal problems, pointing to the weak infrastructure, as the main economic activities have been destroyed during the last period.

He explained that the sectors most affected by sanctions are banking transactions and the importation of technology and that “Sudan does not have sufficient resources or economic capacity for banking and investment in technology”.

He stressed that the government will not be able receive credit assistance and debt relief until Sudan is removed from the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism.


Dozens of Sudanese nationals demonstrated in American cities on Thursday, urging the USA not to lift sanctions on the Khartoum government. Activist members of political and civil society organisations in Washington DC, Philadelphia, and New York took to the streets in demonstrations organised with the visit of Sudan’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ibrahim Ghandour.

The demonstrators denounced the Sudanese government's “continued violations of human rights”.

They raised a memorandum to US officials in the National Congress and the White House pointing to the injustice of lifting the trade sanctions against a regime they described as “repressive and corrupt”.

The US government will decide on 12 October if it will definitely cancel the economic sanctions it imposed on Khartoum in the 1990s.


The USA imposed the sanctions in November 1997 after Sudan was accused of being a “state sponsor of terrorism”. The order blocked all Sudanese government assets in the USA and barred all trade transactions involving certain persons in Sudan.

At the end of 2016, the administration of former President Barak Obama began working on the criteria for partially lifting the sanctions for a period of six months (though Sudan remains branded a sponsor of terrorism), after which it would decide on a permanent lifting.

The five criteria under assessment include the ceasing of offensive military activities and providing more access to humanitarian organisations in Sudan, and it does not include the improvement of the human rights situation; a benchmark which dozens of US Congressmenhuman rights watchdogs, and activists find lacking.

On 12 July, Washington postponed the decision for another three months. A press statement issued by the US State Department that day explained that “The President’s EO (Executive Order) extends the review period for an additional three months and provides for the revocation of those sanctions if the Government of Sudan sustains the positive actions that gave rise to EO 13761, including maintaining a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan; improving humanitarian access throughout Sudan; and maintaining its cooperation with the United States on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism.”

The statement said that Washington will revoke the sanctions if the Sudanese government is assessed, by the new date of 12 October, to have sustained progress in these areas at the end of the extended review period.

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