A delegation from the US Congress arrived in Sudan on Tuesday as part of a three-day visit to Khartoum and North Darfur.
The delegation, whose first destination was the North Darfur capital of El Fasher, includes members of the US Congress headed by Norma Torres, along with Sarah Jacobs, accompanied by the US delegation to the United Nations, United States Mission to the United Nations Ambassador Christopher Lu, and Minister Counsellor Jake Sherman, Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Sudan Lucy Tamlyn, and representatives of the UNITAMS mission under the auspices of the United Nations Foundation.
Congresswoman Torres said that the visit of the American delegation came within the framework of knowing the humanitarian and development situation in Darfur and knowing the extent to which the community benefited from the programmes provided by America.
She stressed that the partnership between the USA and Sudan will continue in many programmes, most notably peace building and upgrading the social fabric, development programmes and services.
In Khartoum, the delegation will meet with the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission Sudan (UNlTAMS) as well as a wide range of actors from political parties, non-governmental organisations, and civil society, “to gain a belier understanding of the UN’s work in Sudan, including its support for the political process and humanitarian assistance, as well as how the United States and the United Nations work in tandem to support the Sudanese people,” according to a statement via social media by the US Embassy in Khartoum.
While in Darfur, the delegation will meet with state-level authorities and examine the UN’s work in the field. They will meet UN agencies working in Darfur to discuss challenges of peace implementation, the intersection of food and security, and protection of civilians, the US statement concludes.
US Assistant Secretary of State
US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Molly Phee, travelled to Sudan in June, to meet with a wide range of Sudanese stakeholders and political actors. The stated reason for her visit was “in support of the Sudanese-led process, facilitated by the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS), African Union (AU), and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Trilateral Mechanism, to resolve the crisis following the military coup d’état of October 25 last year.
After a distinct thaw in US-Sudan relations following the overthrow of the Al Bashir regime and a movement toward democratic transition, relations between Washington and Khartoum have been strained following the subsequent the military coup d’état of October 25 last year.
The USA suspended all aid to Sudan following the coup, saying that “the United States is pausing assistance from the $700 million in emergency assistance appropriations of Economic Support Funds for Sudan. Those funds were intended to support the country’s democratic transition as we evaluate the next step for Sudan programming.”
On May 11, the US Senate passed a draft resolution ”to condemn the military coup in Sudan and support the Sudanese people,” and the House of Commons also unanimously passed the non-binding resolution with a quick vote without any objections.
On March 23, the US Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee unanimously approved a draft resolution condemning the military coup in Sudan and calling on the US administration to impose sanctions on those responsible for the coup.
The draft resolution came two days after the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the paramilitary Central Reserve Forces (popularly called Abu Teira) that stand under the command of the police, in accordance with the Global Magnitsky Act* on serious violations of human rights.
The Treasury listed the excessively violent repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests by the security forces as the main reason.
There have been wide calls for targeted US sanctions on the Chairman of Sudan’s Sovereignty Council Gen Abdelfattah El Burhan and deputy Chairman Mohamed ‘Hemeti’ Dagalo for their involvement in serious human rights abuses following the coup.
In March, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions on the Sudan Central Reserve Police (CRP, popularly known as Abu Tira) for serious human rights abuse yesterday. The Treasury listed the excessively violent repression of peaceful pro-democracy protests by the security forces as the main reason.
In May, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against ‘Sudan companies with links to Hamas‘, with one financier, Hisham Younis Yahia Qafisheh, allegedly “operating and managing at least two Sudan-based companies, Agrogate Holding and Al Rowad Real Estate Development, in order to generate revenue for the Palestinian group.”
In November 2020, Sudan and the US signed a bilateral claims settlement to resolve “default judgements and claims based on allegations that Sudan’s prior regime supported acts of terrorism”. According to the agreement, Sudan had to pay $335 million, on top of approximately $72 million already paid, for distribution to victims of terrorism.
Sudan’s removal from the SST list, decreed in the dying days of the Donald Trump administration, was conditional on a bilateral claims settlement signed in November 2020 to resolve “default judgements and claims based on allegations that Sudan’s prior regime supported acts of terrorism”. Sudan had to pay $335 million, on top of approximately $72 million already paid, for distribution to victims of terrorism.
In exchange, after payment of compensation to the families of the victims of the bombing of the destroyer USS Cole in Yemen in 2000, and the 1998 bombing of the US embassies in Dar El Salaam in Tanzania and Nairobi in Kenya, the default judgments and claims against Sudan in US courts would be dismissed, and Sudan’s sovereign immunities under US law would be restored to those enjoyed by countries that have never been designated by the US as a State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST).
*The Global Magnitsky Act of 2016 authorises the US government to sanction foreign government officials worldwide who are deemed to be human rights offenders. Sanctions can include freezing their assets and banning them from entering the USA.