Washington's decision to remove Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism comes into effect on Monday, the US Embassy in Khartoum has said.

US President Donald Trump listens with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security adviser Robert O'Brien as White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks at the White House in Washington, US, October 23, 2020.
US President Donald Trump listens with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security adviser Robert O'Brien as White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks at the White House in Washington, US, October 23, 2020. (Reuters)

US President Donald Trump's administration has removed Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism, a move that could help the African country get international loans to revive its battered economy and end its pariah status.

The US Embassy in Khartoum said in a Facebook post that the removal of Sudan was effective as of Monday and that a notification to that effect, signed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, would be published in the Federal Register. 

The designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism dates back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and other wanted militants. Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinians in Gaza.

Delisting Sudan is also a key incentive for the government in Khartoum to normalize relations with Israel. The two countries have agreed to have full diplomatic ties, following the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

The move opens the way for aid, debt relief and investment to a country going through a rocky political transition and struggling under a severe economic crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Compensation for al Qaeda attacks on US embassies

As part of a deal, Sudan agreed to pay $335 million 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 militant group on the USS Cole off Yemen's coast.

Those attacks were carried out after Omar al Bashir gave Bin Laden sanctuary.

Bashir was deposed by the military in April 2019, following four months of street protests against his iron-fisted rule and 30 years after a coup had brought him to power.

Protesters stayed on the streets for months after Bashir's removal from office, demanding a military council that seized power hand over to a civilian government, before a precarious power-sharing administration was agreed in August last year.

READ MORE: Sudan's move to normalise relations with Israel condemned

Cracks in transition government

The Sudanese transitional government's pledge to normalise ties came amid a concerted campaign by the Trump administration to persuade Arab nations to recognise the Jewish state, and it has been widely perceived as a quid pro quo for Washington removing Sudan from its terror blacklist.

But unlike the UAE and Bahrain, Sudan has yet to agree to a formal deal with Israel, amid wrangling within the fractious transitional power structure over the move.

In late November, a spokesman for Sudan's Sovereign Council, the country's highest executive authority, comprised of military and civilian figures, confirmed that an Israeli delegation had visited Khartoum earlier in the month.

Seeking to downplay the visit, council spokesperson Mohamed al Faki Suleiman had said, "We did not announce it at the time because it was not a major visit or of a political nature".

Sudan's transition has lately displayed major signs of internal strain, with army chief General Abdel Fattah al Burhan, who doubles as the head of the Sovereign Council, last week blasting the power-sharing institutions.

"The transitional council has failed to respond to the aspirations of the people and of the revolution," he charged, while also lauding the integrity of the military.

The first major evidence of engagement between Sudan's interim authorities and Israel came in February, when Burhan met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda.

Trump sent his notice to remove Sudan from the terror blacklist to Congress on October 26 and, under US law, a country exits the list after 45 days unless Congress objects, which it has not.

Families of victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks had called on lawmakers to reject the State Department's proposal, saying they want to pursue legal action against Sudan.

READ MORE: Sudan-Israel normalisation deal could hinge on $3B in US aid to Khartoum

Source: TRTWorld and agencies