SUDAN’S diplomacy is on a roll: the international criminal court has decided not to pursue South Africa for allowing indicted Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to visit, and the size of the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur (a watchdog for Khartoum’s abusive counter-insurgency) is being slashed.
Next, the country’s leadership hopes US economic sanctions against it will be dropped. In January, then-president Barack Obama announced a six-month suspension of certain US sanctions on Sudan – some dating back to 1997.
The executive order allowed US businesses to transact with individuals and entities in Sudan, and unblocked the Khartoum government’s property frozen by the United States. The order argued that Sudan had improved on several fronts, including improved humanitarian access, and that merited recognition.
On July 13, the US will announce if the measures will be reimposed or lifted. Conflict analyst International Crisis Group is in favour of lifting sanctions, pointing out that Washington would still retain targeted sanctions on individuals associated with the Darfur conflict and Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.
Opponents say Sudan’s human rights record remains dismal, and the move rewards an abusive regime. Sudan is the fifth most fragile country in the world, according to the Fund for Peace, scoring a perfectly negative 10 out of 10 on the “group grievance” indicator. It pays $40,000 a month to Washington DC lobbyist Squire Patton Boggs mainly to help make the case against sanctions.