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US reinstates Sudan's sovereign immunity after normalization with Israel

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) greets Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok (R) of Sudan, which wants US legislation to grant legal immunity for past attacks, on August 25, 2020. (Photo by AFP)

The United States has reinstated Sudan's sovereign immunity following removal of Khartoum from Washington's blacklist of state sponsors of terrorism.

The US Congress passed legislation formalizing the move, which came in the wake of Sudan’s normalization talks with Israel.

The state sponsor of terror designation, which was in place for almost three decades, had battered Sudan's economy and restricted its ability to receive aid. The reinstating of Sudan's sovereign immunity - protection against being sued in American courts - has now removed another layer of financial risk.

The move will facilitate the receipt of aid, debt relief and investment to an African country going through a rocky political transition and struggling under a severe economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sudan had been engaged in talks with the United States for months, and paid a negotiated $335 million settlement to compensate survivors and victims' families from the twin 1998 al-Qaeda attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and a 2000 attack by the terrorist group on the USS Cole off Yemen's coast.

Those attacks were carried out after dictator Omar al-Bashir had allowed then al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden sanctuary in Sudan.

US President Donald Trump has been pushing to remove any issues that could put in doubt Khartoum's historic pledge to normalize relations with Israel.

According to the bill, Washington will be authorizing $111 million to pay off part of Sudan's bilateral debt, and $120 to help pay off its debt to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) while making another $700 million available until September 2022 for assistance to the country.

A US source said, now with the reinstatement of sovereign immunity and the financial aid, Khartoum will now be "on the hook," to normalize ties with Israel, a move it has agreed to under US pressure.

Sudan recently warned that delays in the US Congress regarding its immunity could slow the application of the Israel deal.

The normalization would make Sudan one of the four Arab countries along with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco, over the past months, to establish relations with Israel in deals brokered by Washington.


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