10 different reactions to the lifting of US-Sudan trade embargo

Sudanese and international officials, observers and activists have begun to react to the announcement of President Barack Obama’s decision to lift a decades-long US trade embargo against Sudan. The decision comes after Obama determined that Sudan had reduced its military offensive operations, opened up humanitarian aid access, and cooperated on counter-terrorism.

A sampling of some of the wide-ranging views on this watershed decision:

Ibrahim Ghandour, Foreign Minister of Sudan: “This is a step of progress in relations between Sudan and the United States. Sudan is keen to continue in dialogue with the new US administration in fields of international peace and security, counter-terrorism in all its forms, human trafficking, protection of wildlife and other areas of common interest for achieving removal of Sudan’s name from the list of terrorism-sponsoring countries and normalization of relations between the two countries.”

Tareg Afa Mohamed, Saudi Arabian journalist: “The United States is using a carrot and stick policy toward Sudan: it is true that the decision was issued now but the execution of the decree is actually not until after 180 days.”

Magnus Taylor, Sudan Analyst, International Crisis Group: “The lifting of sanctions is a surprise but not a shock. It comes before the change of administration and also the departure of Donald Booth as Special Envoy. [This step is] a recognition of Khartoum’s shift away from destabilisation in the region – most significantly in South Sudan.”

Wasil Ali, Former Deputy Editor of Sudan Tribune: “The lifting of sanctions present a HUGE opportunity for ordinary Sudanese in terms of employment when US companies start descending. Agriculture is also a HUGE winner from US sanctions relief. Agricultural technology has been a major issue for that sector.”

James Copnall, BBC World Service Africa Editor: “There are legitimate questions over whether Sudan has really passed the series of tests set by the Americans in areas such as stopping aerial bombardments, opening up the political arena to dissidents and improving humanitarian access to conflict areas. However, it is clear that the sanctions, which have been in place for so long, have not brought about political change in Sudan and have hurt the people more than the politicians, a point made by Sudanese campaigners in recent months.”

Muhammed Osman, former Sudanese journalist: “Dear Sudanese opposition, get used to a lifetime under Bashir, or get busy trying to change things without foreign help. Your choice now!”

John Prendergast, former Clinton Administration official: “We will certainly seek to work with the U.S. Congress to see some of these sanctions restored, modernized, and codified in the coming months.”

Luke Patey, author of The New Kings of Crude: “A critical part of the deal is Khartoum’s promise to cooperate with US intelligence agents… You may not like the Khartoum regime, but lifting of US-Sudan sanctions is a boon for agriculture, industry and many Sudanese.”

Leslie Lefkow, Deputy Director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa Division: “It’s impossible to match Sudan’s reality with the Obama administration’s claims of ‘sustained progress.’ Lifting most sanctions sends an appalling message to Sudan – and other repressive governments – that whatever crimes you commit, however many of your citizens you kill, rape, and torture, all will be forgiven as long as you cooperate on counterterrorism.”

Zach Vertin, Wilson Fellow and former US State Department official: “This is not appeasement of a bad government, but aimed to strengthen moderates, undermine hardliners, and promote change. Punishing an awful regime may be morally satisfying but the US must be guided by real results for the people of ‪Sudan.”