October saw Sudan removed from the U.S.’s State Sponsor of Terrorism (SST) list. Sudan agreed to pay compensation to American victims of terror attacks, with the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen (2000) and the attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (1998) the most important. Sudan was on the SST list for 27 years. As October ended Sudan’s transitional government agreed to peaceful relations with Israel, though there’s a catch to that. Sudan’s decision to recognize Israel must be approved by the constitutionally mandated legislative council, but it does not exist, not yet. It will likely take another two years before parliamentary elections are held and a new parliament is seated. The cooling off period may be a good thing. Recognizing Israel is a divisive issue in Sudan. Even some pro-democracy members of the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition oppose it. As for the SST, escaping the list means Khartoum now has better access to international financial and investment organizations – in other words, access to capital markets. It will also make it much easier (and legal) for Sudanese to import western technology like smart phones and software. Sudan will also have easier access to foreign aid of all types, including life-saving aid (medical, food, etc.). The aid is a major consideration, for Sudan’s fragile transitional coalition is facing an extended economic crisis and food shortages. Recent floods have added to the economic woes. (Austin Bay)
October 24, 2020: The Sudanese government and Israel agreed to open trade and economic ties. Sudan’s and Israel’s negotiators called for normalized relations, which some media reported as diplomatic recognition. Not quite. But trade and investment deals are in the offing. Until today Sudan was officially at war with Israel. Is it fair to call Sudan the fifth Arab nation to make a peace deal with Israel? Yes. The negotiations and trade agreements indicate that a state of war no longer exists.
October 22, 2020: Ethiopia contends Sudan’s terrible floods this fall would have been worse without the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the Blue Nile. That may or may not be true since the White Nile has also flooded. Ethiopia responds that the GERD will definitely help Sudan control floods in the future. Despite complaints by Sudan and Egypt, Ethiopia began filling the GERD’s reservoir in July. On October 5 Ethiopia announced the GERD would begin generating electricity in late 2021.
October 20, 2020: Sudan’s central bank confirmed it has transferred $335 million to compensate American victims of terror attacks tied to Sudan.
UN officials and humanitarian organizations are demanding that South Sudan take immediate steps to create the “hybrid court” stipulated in the peace agreement. The Hybrid Court of South Sudan would try individuals accused of committing atrocities during the civil war. The country needs the court for many reasons. Foreign supporters of the court believe its existence would help calm the intercommunal violence flaring in several states in South Sudan, with Jonglei an example. A recent study by foreign observers accused South Sudan of failing to take any concrete steps to promote national healing.
October 19, 2020: The American president announced Sudan will be removed from the SST list as soon as it deposits $335 million in compensation funds for American victims of terror attacks tied to Sudan. The State Department put Sudan on the list in 1993. Sudan was accused of harboring terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah.
October 17, 2020: An International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor is in the Sudan capital to discuss how the ICC can cooperate with Sudan to try individuals charged with war crimes and genocide in the Darfur war. The most prominent defendant would be former dictator Omar al Bashir.
October 16, 2020: South Sudan reported that their oil production is now 160,000 BPD (barrels per day). That is down from a high earlier this year of 185,000. South Sudan attributed the decline to dealing with the covid19. Floods have also damaged oil field installations. South Sudan has been restoring its oil fields damaged during the civil war and had planned to produce over 200,000 barrels a day by early 2021, but that won’t happen. Before the civil war South Sudan produced around 300,000 BPD. Sudan also monitors South Sudan’s production because most of the oil is exported through pipelines running through Sudan.
October 15, 2020: In South Sudan the government and the OMA (Opposition Movement Alliance) announced they intend to sign a ceasefire agreement. The Catholic Church has been involved in the mediation effort, to include officials from the Vatican. The ceasefire agreement may be signed in Rome. South Sudan and the OMA are scheduled to meet in Rome in mid-November.
In northwest Sudan (Northern State), locals report an outbreak of Rift Valley Fever that has killed 79 people out of 2,000 reported cases. The disease is also afflicting livestock. The national government has declared the outbreak to be an epidemic. The outbreak was first reported in mid-September.
October 12, 2020: In western Sudan (Darfur) several groups peacefully protested the recent peace agreement between the Sudan government and the Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF). The protestors claimed the issue of internally displaced people (IDPs) has been ignored. Thousands of IDPs still live in camps in the Darfur region.
October 10, 2020: The United States condemned an October 5 attack on a UN emergency aid river convoy in South Sudan. The condemnation has weight, for the U.S. is South Sudan’s largest donor. In 2020 the U.S. will give South Sudan nearly $907 million in humanitarian aid. So far this year 14 humanitarian workers have died in South Sudan.
October 9, 2020: The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the World Food Program. In 2019 the UN agency provided food to an estimated 100 million people around the world. The Nobel committee praised the WFP for fighting hunger and attempting to end the use of food as "a weapon of war and conflict.” The WFP has been particularly active in in Sudan, South Sudan and Yemen. The WFP operated in what is now South Sudan during the Sudan civil war. The WFP was established in 1961, with U.S. president Eisenhower being a primary advocate. (Austin Bay)
October 6, 2020: In Sudan the trial of former Sudanese dictator Omar al Bashir has resumed in the capital. Covid19 panic caused the most recent delay, but Bashir’s lawyers have been using time-buying tactics to delay the trial.
October 5, 2020:
In central South Sudan (Lakes state) gunmen attacked a foreign aid boat-convoy on the River Nile. Three people were wounded. One person is missing and presumed dead.
The Sudan government and rebel group SPLM-N announced a new round of negotiations with the two dissident SPLM-N factions (al Hilu and SLM). These two factions have yet to agree to a peace deal with the government although there is agreement on a truce.
October 3, 2020: In South Sudan the transitional national government signed a peace agreement with several rebel groups
October 2, 2020: In Sudan floods have destroyed the homes of over 860,000 people while 560 schools were heavily damaged. So far flooding has killed 120 people.
September 29, 2020: In Sudan the Army has begun destroying 300,000 illegal firearms seized during disarmament operations conducted in the last three years.
September 28, 2020: Sudan and South Sudan have agreed to draft a new deal to co-develop oil fields in South Sudan. The deal gives Sudan greater flexibility to use South Sudanese oil for its own domestic purposes.