US expected to end sanctions on Sudan Trump administration
Oct. 5. 2017 -
US president Donald Trump is expected to revoke longstanding sanctions on Sudan ahead of an October 12 deadline after the north African country ended ties with North Korea, according to people briefed on the matter.
The Trump administration had delayed a decision in July over whether to lift sanctions permanently on Sudan amid a dearth of Africa appointments in key US departments and fears of a public backlash over going soft on the country, whose president is accused of genocide. But senior officials from Sudan and the US have ironed out their differences in a series of bilateral meetings, including over cutting support for North Korea, according to three people briefed on the matter.
The state department’s expected recommendation to permanently remove sanctions is opposed by various human rights groups, whose efforts to unite against the move may cause the administration to bring the decision forward. “We expect good news,” Ibrahim Ghandour, Sudan foreign minister, told the Financial Times.
He said a five-track plan initiated under the Obama administration, which temporarily suspended sanctions that prohibit transactions between US entities and Sudan, had been fulfilled.
“Both sides agreed that the delivery of the plan was excellent and so this is why we expect a positive outcome,” Mr Ghandour said. The plan covered issues including counterterrorism co-operation, ending domestic hostilities and improving humanitarian access. But chief among US concerns of late was suspected Sudanese support for North Korea.
The US is pushing to limit foreign engagement with North Korea as it attempts to starve Pyongyang of hard currency in a bid to curtail its nuclear ambitions and force it into negotiations. “There were concerns over the North Koreans but now the administration is quite convinced that we don’t have any relations with North Korea whatsoever,” said Mr Ghandour.
Sudan submitted a letter to the US showing that it had informed Pyongyang it was cutting ties. It also passed on information about bank accounts held by North Korean fronts, including names and amounts, according to a person briefed on the letter.
“The Sudanese have been pulling out the stops and they were very co-operative,” the person said. John Sullivan, deputy secretary of state who is leading the drive to shut down North Korea’s overseas operations, met Mr Ghandour in Washington and New York last month.
Last week, the US dropped Sudan from its list of seven countries subject to travel restrictions due to terror concerns. Members of the Central Intelligence Agency also attended a continent-wide intelligence conference in the capital Khartoum last week.
Sudan’s intelligence agency, NISS, has worked closely on counterterrorism initiatives with the CIA for years. In March, newly appointed CIA chief Mike Pompeo invited Sudan’s intelligence chief, Mohamed Atta, to the US on his first official visit.
Sudan, a largely Arab country ruled by an authoritarian Islamist regime, was first labelled a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993, a designation it still shares with Iran and Syria. At the time, it hosted Osama bin Laden in Khartoum.
Sudan expelled bin Laden at America’s request in 1996, but remained subject to sanctions. More recently it has worked with the US to stem the extremist threat in Libya. “Libya and what is going on there has been the source of many evils and spillover from extremism can affect all the Sahel to the coast of west Africa,” said Mr Ghandour. “Sudan has been working hard to prevent such spillovers and side-effects of what is going on in Libya.
” Sudan’s president Omar al-Bashir, an army colonel who took power during a 1989 Islamist coup, is separately accused of genocide and other crimes in his own country. He has evaded arrest and trial at the International Criminal Court for seven years. Campaigners warn that Sudan still pursues marginalised groups.
Omer Ismail, senior adviser at the Enough Project, a campaign group, said Sudan’s compliance with the five tracks is only “superficial” and called for negotiations to lead to a permanent ceasefire among warring groups in Sudan. The US state department and National Security Council declined to comment.
China’s ties with Sudan offer promising new model
Oct. 5. 2017 - It is not difficult to find China’s legacy in Sudan. From landmark buildings – such as the Friendship Hall in Khartoum, built with Chinese assistance – to vital infrastructure like the Merowe Dam, known as Sudan’s “Three Gorges,” Chinese influence in Sudan is visible. While Western media outlets hype up the theory of China’s neocolonialism in Africa and warn against China’s increasing influence in the continent, officials, social elites and ordinary people in Sudan have overwhelmingly come to see China’s engagement in the resource-rich country in a more positive light.
This is not only because the relationship between China and African countries cannot be portrayed with one broad brush stroke. China’s relations with Sudan, which have a long and deep-rooted history, are different from those with other African countries. This is partly because China has been offering a unique “China plan” and a new development model to help industrialize Sudan amid the decades-long US sanctions as well as alienation by other Western powers. Apart from “no-strings attached” investment in infrastructure such as the country’s much-needed railways, roads and bridges, China has been working with Sudan to build an integrated value chain for the country’s cornerstone industries to allow the country to develop its own capacity for long-term economic sustainability.
Speaking of Sudan, the topic of China’s engagement in the country’s oil industry is unavoidable. It is an issue that has been used for accusing China of exploiting resources in African countries for its own gains. However, the fact that Chinese investment has not only helped Sudan extract oil from fields in which Western companies tried and failed, but has also helped expand oil facilities to upgrade the industrial value chain offers clear evidence that China is rewriting the history of human development with a new model, which not only deserves the respect of local people but also careful study in the West.
With the help of a Chinese investor – CNPC – Khartoum Refinery Company (KRC) has become a source of Sudanese pride. While many resource-rich African countries still rely on selling crude oil to gain foreign currency revenue and have long been placed at the bottom of the global value chain, susceptible to price sensitivity, Sudan has built its own refinery through the partnership with CNPC. With an annual refining capacity of more than 4.5 million tons, the refinery not only can fully meet domestic demand but also can export finished oil products to neighboring countries. CNPC not only worked with its Sudan partner to help the country develop three oil fields with annual output of crude oil reaching 26 million tons, turning the country from an oil importer to oil exporter – it also built a complete modern industrial oil system that integrates the upstream and downstream industries, creating jobs. During the process, CNPC also helped Sudan train technicians and managers in the oil sector and create a modern corporate management system. Additionally, a range of supporting services and manufacturing businesses have derived from the integrated industrial oil chain, generating new jobs.
Today, KRC has become Sudan’s name card for showcasing its success in building the country’s own modern oil industry. It has drawn the interest of state leaders and government delegations in other oil-rich African countries who have visited KRC, keen to learn from the refinery’s experience. The success of the refinery has boosted the international influence of CNPC and also built a new image for Chinese investment in African countries.
The uniqueness of China’s development model in Sudan also lies in the fact that Chinese investment is not confined to the oil sector but ventures into a diverse range of industries to help the country reduce its overreliance on the oil sector and create a virtuous cycle for sustainable cooperation.
This is particularly evident following the independence of South Sudan in 2011, which saw Sudan suffer the loss of more than 70 percent of its oil revenue. The government of Sudan is also seeking to reduce its dependence on the oil industry by developing other industries such as agriculture, mining and auto manufacturing to mitigate the loss of oil revenue.
Despite the difficulty in securing bank loans due to US economic sanctions, Chinese investors have chosen to stick with Sudan because of its long-term potential and to participate in what some Chinese companies call “a new wave of entrepreneurship” in the country.
The benefits of China’s development model in Sudan are significant because it not only brings an economic boost but also contributes to social and political stability in the country by creating local jobs for a large pool of the country’s young work force and helping the country to diversify its economy for more sustainable growth. That explains the continuing popularity of Chinese investment in Sudan.