US asks Sudan to normalize ties with Israel in return for coming off terror list
The United States is pressing Sudan to establish diplomatic relations with the regime of Israel in return for removal of the Northeast African country from a US list of states that sponsor terrorism.
Three Sudanese government officials familiar with the matter, however, told Reuters news agency on Thursday that Khartoum is resisting the linkage of the two issues.
“Sudan has completed all the necessary conditions” an official said on condition of anonymity. “We expect to be removed from the list soon.”
Back in 1993, the US designated Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, cutting it off from financial markets and strangling its economy over allegations that the government of former longtime leader Omar al-Bashir was supporting “terrorism.”
Sudan’s interim government took power last year after Bashir was overthrown by the army following mass popular protests. It is set to remain in office until elections in 2022.
Sudanese officials argue that their country’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism is now undeserved as Bashir's regime has been toppled, and Sudan has cooperated with the US on counter-terrorism ever since.
Earlier this week, US officials indicated during talks with Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, that they want Khartoum to follow the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain in establishment of ties with the Tel Aviv regime.
“Sudan made clear to the American side that there is no relationship between removing Sudan from the terror list and exploring relations with Israel,” another Sudanese government source stated.
Even if a normalization deal is struck between Sudan and Israel, the US Congress must still pass a necessary legislation to restore Sudan's sovereign immunity.
Sudan wants the legislation passed before it reaches a $335 million financial settlement with victims of al-Qaeda terror attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
Sudan's lawyers in the United States said it had already paid an additional $72 million to victims of the families of 17 US sailors, who were killed during an attack on the USS Cole while it was docked in Yemen’s Aden Port in 2000. The attack was apparently sponsored by slain al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden who was living in Sudan prior to the attack.