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Sudan closing Hamas, Hezbollah offices to rebuild US ties

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok holds a press conference at Khartoum International Airport in Khartoum, Sudan on December 08, 2019 [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency]
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok holds a press conference at Khartoum International Airport in Khartoum, Sudan on December 08, 2019 [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency]

In an attempt to re-establish ties with the US and to lift sanctions imposed on it, Sudan is set to shut the offices of the Hamas and Hezbollah resistance movements in the country, both defined as terrorist organisations by America, according to a source cited by Middle East Eye (MEE).

The decision follows Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok’s visit to Washington earlier in the month. Hamdok became the first leader of Sudan to visit America since 1985 and he held talks aimed at bridging the relationship between the two states after years of sanctions and international isolation, especially with Sudan being placed on the US list of states sponsors of terrorism after hosting former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in the nineties.

Post-revolutionary Sudan witnessed the ousting of long-term President Omar Al-Bashir who is currently serving a two-year sentence on charges of corruption, and the inauguration of the country’s first civilian prime minister in three decades. Hamdok has argued for the necessity of Sudan being removed from the US’ blacklist citing the need to improve the economic situation, which is edging towards hyperinflation leaving Sudan among the countries with the highest inflation in the world. The economic crisis is primarily what brought protestors out onto the streets last year. Addressing the UN General Assembly in September, Hamdok said that the revolution aimed at ending Sudan’s pariah status, reiterating that Sudan inherited international sanctions and that “it was the former regime that supported terrorism”, not Sudan’s people.

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The Sudanese source who spoke to MEE said: “The government will close the offices of Hamas and Hezbollah and any other Islamic groups designated as terrorist groups that has presence in Sudan, because Sudan has nothing actually to do with these groups and the interests of Sudan are above everything.”

However, the office closures are likely symbolic in nature, said Cameron Hudson, senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Africa Centre, given that operations of both organisations have been dormant in the country for years. “The announcement that they are formally closing the offices suggests to me that they were essentially dormant, although not formally closed,” he said.

Nevertheless, the move is interpreted by some as a gradual alignment of Khartoum with the interests of the US and its regional allies. In 2016 Sudan ended diplomatic ties with Iran in the wake of the attacks by protestors on the Saudi embassy in Tehran which was in response to the execution of the Saudi Shia cleric and activist Sheikh Nimr Al-Nimr. Two months prior to the severing of ties with Tehran, Sudan reportedly received $2.2 billion for taking part in the Saudi and UAE-led coalition in Yemen, although Sudan is now scaling back its military involvement in the conflict.

Israel for its part had accused Sudan of channelling arms from Iran to Hamas in the Gaza Strip via Egypt’s Sinai desert and is alleged to have bombed Sudanese munitions warehouses and factories in the past.

Sudan has also sought Qatar’s support in its efforts to be removed from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, which it expressed at a reception hosted by Qatar’s Ambassador to Khartoum, ahead of Qatar’s National Day.

READ: Al-Burhan forms committee to dissociate Al-Bashir’s regime in Sudan

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AfricaAsia & AmericasIranIsraelLebanonMiddle EastNewsPalestineSudanUS
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