Obama eases Sudan sanctions

Obama's executive order would allow United States citizens to conduct business with people or entities in Sudan.

The eased sanctions will enable trade and investment transactions to resume with Sudan, a US -designated terrorism sponsor whose leader has been indicted on war crimes charges.

In today's executive order, Obama is revoking in its entirety an earlier executive order from October 2006 by George W. Bush, which says that "all transactions by United States persons relating to the petroleum or petrochemical industries in Sudan, including, but not limited to, oilfield services and oil or gas pipelines, are prohibited".

Friday's move, in the last days of the Obama administration, comes in the wake of what the White House said was the African nation's cooperation in fighting Islamic State and other groups.

In that time there had been "a marked reduction in offensive military activity, culminating in a pledge to maintain a cessation of hostilities in conflict areas in Sudan", he said.

The State Department first designated Sudan a state sponsor of terrorism in 1993.

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Trump's transition team had been briefed on the move, the official said, adding that the measures do not affect Sudan's label as a state sponsor of terrorism nor does it impact sanctions tied to Khartoum's role in the Darfur conflict.

ERIC REEVES: The regime has done nothing really to deserve this, but we've seen increasing repression in Khartoum and elsewhere with many arrests, many, many newspaper seizures unprecedented in the two decades I've been working on Sudan.

On Sept. 20, the State Department welcomed efforts by Sudan to increase counter-terrorism cooperation with the United States. Sudan is one of only three countries still identified as such after Cuba was removed from the list in 2015.

"We are taking these actions in recognition of positive steps the government of Sudan has taken", the second official said. The decision grew out of months of negotiations, as the USA ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, explained to reporters in NY. The United Nations says 300,000 people have died in the conflict and 2.7 million have fled their homes.

The announcement will surely draw criticism from human rights groups because of ongoing allegations of rights abuses, notably in Darfur, and Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir's indictment by the International Criminal Court for related atrocities.

  • Megan Austin