US President Barack Obama eases sanctions against Sudan

January 13, 2017 8:00 pm

speaks to supporters during his farewell speech at McCormick Place on January 10, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by AFP)

Outgoing President Barack Obama has eased some of the economic sanctions imposed against Sudan, aiming to improve relations with the Islamic country.
Obama signed an executive order on Friday to ease but not eliminate some trade and investment sanctions against Khartoum, arguing that the East African country has shown “a marked reduction in offensive military activity, culminating in a pledge to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas.”
The outgoing president expressed determination that the situation which led the US to impose and continue the 20-year-old sanctions had changed in light of Sudan’s “positive actions” over the last six months.
“These actions include a marked reduction in offensive military activity, culminating in a pledge to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan, and steps toward the improvement of humanitarian access throughout Sudan, as well as cooperation with the on addressing regional conflicts and the threat of terrorism,” Obama said.
However, the White House noted that Friday’s move did not impact Sudan’s label as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The decision was made less than three months after Washington had extended sanctions against Khartoum for one more year, claiming that the Islamic country’s policies were still an “extraordinary threat” to America’s national security.
Sudan has been under US sanctions since 1997. Washington accuses Khartoum of supporting terrorist groups, and it has blacklisted the country as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993.
The US has accused Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir of war crimes related to the conflict-torn Darfur region.
Violence broke out in Darfur in 2003 when ethnic minority rebels rose against the long-time ruler, accusing Bashir’s Arab-dominated government of marginalizing the region.
There has also been tribal fighting in the region.
Some 2.5 million people have been displaced in Darfur, according to the latest UN figures, which also show that over 300,000 people have died there since violence began.
The United Nations African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was launched in 2007 in a bid to protect civilians and restore stability to the restive region.

Sudanese refugees gather to receive food aid as part of an assistance project implemented by the World Food Program at a UN refugee camp in the city of Nyala, in South Darfur, on January 9, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Sudan insists that the conflict in Darfur has ended, and that it wants UN peacekeepers, who have been deployed to the region since 2007, to leave.
Darfur was a united region since its incorporation into Sudan in 1916 until 1994, when Bashir divided it into three states, adding two more in 2012.
Sudan welcomes easing of US sanctions        
In response to the move on Friday, Sudan welcomed Obama’s decision to lift some economic sanctions against Khartoum, saying it was a “positive and important” development in relations with Washington.
“The Sudanese ministry of foreign affairs welcomes the decision taken by President Barack Obama,” Gharib Allah Khidir, the foreign ministry spokesman, said in a statement.

A member of peacekeeper troops stands guard at a UN refugee camp in the city of Nyala, in South Darfur, on January 9, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

“This step represents a positive and important development for the course of bilateral relations between of America and Sudan, and is the natural result of joint efforts and long and frank discussions,” he added.
Khidir noted that Khartoum was “determined to pursue its cooperation with the United States until Sudan is removed from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism.”
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