Sudan–United States relations

Sudan–United States relations are the bilateral relations between Sudan and the United States. The United States government has been critical of Sudan's human rights record and has dispatched a strong UN Peacekeeping force to Darfur.[4]

American–Sudanese relations
Map indicating locations of USA and Sudan

United States

Diplomatic mission
U.S. Embassy, Khartoum[1]Embassy of Sudan, Washington, D.C.[2]
Chargé d’Affaires Steven Koutsis[3]vacant

A review of relationsEdit

After the outbreak of the Six-Day War in June 1967, Sudan declared war on Israel and broke diplomatic relations with the U.S. Relations improved after July 1971, when the Sudanese Communist Party attempted to overthrow President Nimeiry, and Nimeiry suspected Soviet involvement. Relations improved further after the U.S. provided assistance for the resettlement of refugees following the 1972 peace settlement that brought the First Sudanese Civil War with the south.

On 1 March 1973, Palestinian terrorists of the Black September organization murdered U.S. Ambassador Cleo A. Noel and Deputy Chief of Mission Curtis G. Moore in Khartoum. Sudanese officials arrested the terrorists and tried them on murder charges. In June 1974, however, they were released to the custody of the Egyptian government. The U.S. Ambassador to Sudan was withdrawn in protest. Although the U.S. Ambassador returned to Khartoum in November, relations with Sudan remained static until early 1976, when President Nimeiri mediated the release of 10 American hostages being held by Eritrean insurgents in rebel strongholds in northern Ethiopia. In 1976, the U.S. resumed economic assistance to Sudan.

In late 1985, there was a reduction in staff at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum because of the presence of a large contingent of Libyan terrorists. In April 1986, relations with Sudan deteriorated when the U.S. bombed Tripoli, Libya. A U.S. Embassy employee was shot on 16 April 1986. Immediately following this incident, all non-essential personnel and all dependents left for six months. At this time, Sudan was the single largest recipient of U.S. development and military assistance in sub-Saharan Africa.

Presidency of Omar al-BashirEdit

Following the military coup against the democratically elected government of prime minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, after it began negotiations with rebels in the south, brought to power the National Islamic Front led by General Omar al-Bashir, official U.S. development assistance to Sudan was suspended in 1989. U.S. relations with Sudan were further strained in the 1990s. Sudan was perceived to take sides with Iraq in the Gulf War as Sudan opposed intervention from countries outside of the region. In the early and mid-1990s, Carlos the Jackal, Osama bin Laden, Abu Nidal, and other terrorist leaders resided in Khartoum. Carlos was captured and handed over by the Sudanese authorities and bin Laden (who was unknown before 9/11) was asked to leave the country by the government. All the while, Sudan maintained its support of the Palestinian cause. Sudan's role in the Pan-Arab Islamic Conference represented a matter of great concern to the security of American officials and dependents in Khartoum, resulting in several drawdowns and/or evacuations of U.S. personnel from Khartoum in the early-mid 1990s. Sudan's links with international terrorist organizations was of concern to the U.S., leading to Sudan's 1993 designation as a state sponsor of terrorism and a suspension of U.S. Embassy operations in Khartoum in 1996. In October 1997, the U.S. imposed comprehensive economic, trade, and financial sanctions against Sudan. In August 1998, on accusations of manufacturing chemical weapons, the U.S. launched cruise missile strikes against Sudan's Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory. The owner of the factory took the case to court demanding compensation, as the U.S. came short on providing evidence to support the strike on a pharmaceutical factory. The last U.S. Ambassador to Sudan, Ambassador Tim Carney (27 June 1995 – 30 November 1997), departed the post prior to this event and no new ambassador has been appointed since. The U.S. Embassy is headed by a charge d'affaires.

The U.S. and Sudan entered into a bilateral dialogue on counterterrorism in May 2000. Sudan has provided concrete cooperation against international terrorism since the September 11 attacks in 2001 on New York and Washington. However, although Sudan publicly supported the international coalition actions against the al-Qaida network and the Taliban in Afghanistan, the government criticized the U.S. strikes in that country and opposed a widening of the effort against international terrorism to other countries.

By 2001, the United States had another strategic interests in Africa due to the presence of oil, with Darfur and Kordofan being "the areas richest in oil in the entire country."[5] The U.S. Embassy was reopened in 2002, though an ambassador was not appointed.

In response to Sudan's continued complicity in unabated violence in Darfur, U.S. President George W. Bush imposed new economic sanctions on Sudan in May 2007. The sanctions blocked assets of Sudanese citizens implicated in the Darfur violence, and also sanctioned additional companies owned or controlled by the Government of Sudan. Sanctions continue to underscore U.S. efforts to end the suffering of the millions of Sudanese affected by the crisis in Darfur. Sudan has often accused the U.S. of threatening its territorial integrity by supporting referendums in the South and in Darfur.


Al-Bashir was deposed as Sudan's president in a coup d'état in April 2019. In September 2019, Sudan's new prime minister, Abdalla Hamdok, said that he held useful talks with U.S. officials while at the United Nations, and expressed hope Khartoum could “very soon" be removed from the U.S. state sponsor of terrorism list.[6] In December 2019, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the U.S. and Sudan are to begin exchanging ambassadors after 23 years of no diplomatic relations.[7] However, Hamdok became the first Sudanese leader to visit Washington D.C. since 1985.[8]

The last U.S. Ambassador was Tim Carney, who left the post on 30 November 1997. Also in December, it was reported that the Sudanese transitional government is to close the offices of Hamas, Hezbollah, and any other Islamic group designated as terrorist by the U.S.[9] Sudan remains on the U.S. state sponsor of terrorism list.

As at June 2019, the office of U.S. Ambassador to Sudan was vacant. The Chargé d’Affaires was Steven Koutsis[10] and the Deputy Chief of Mission was Ellen B. Thorburn.[11]

U.S. assistanceEdit

Despite policy disagreements, the U.S. has been a major donor of humanitarian aid to Sudan throughout the last quarter century. The U.S. provided assistance for resettlement of refugees following the 1972 peace settlement that brought the First Sudanese Civil War with the south to an end. The U.S. was also a significant source of aid in the March 1989 "Operation Lifeline Sudan," which delivered 100,000 metric tons of food into both government and SPLA-held areas of Sudan, averting widespread starvation. In 1991, the U.S. made large donations to alleviate food shortages caused by a two-year drought. In October 1997, the U.S. imposed comprehensive economic, trade, and financial sanctions against Sudan. However, during another drought in 2000-01, the U.S. and the broader international community responded to avert mass starvation in Sudan. In 2001, the Bush Administration named a Presidential Envoy for Peace in Sudan to explore what role the U.S. could play in ending Sudan's civil war and enhancing the delivery of humanitarian aid. For fiscal years 2005-2006, the U.S. committed almost $2.6 billion to Sudan for humanitarian assistance and peacekeeping in Darfur as well as support for the implementation of the peace accord and reconstruction and development in southern Sudan. In response to Sudan's continued complicity in unabated violence in Darfur, U.S. President George W. Bush imposed new economic sanctions on Sudan in May 2007.

However, relations between both countries have, at least, the chance to improve since President Barack Obama's sending of Special Envoy Scott Gration to Sudan to improve diplomatic conditions, and discuss ways to avert the current Darfur conflict. On 9 September 2009, the U.S. published a new law to ease the sanctions on parts of Sudan. Obama named Donald E. Booth as his Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan on 28 August 2013.[12][13]

On 13 January 2017, the U.S. lifted economic and trade sanctions on Sudan due to cooperation with the Sudanese government in fighting terrorism, reducing conflict, and denying safe haven to South Sudanese rebels and improving humanitarian access to people in need. The White House announced the easing of sanctions as part of a five-track engagement process.[14] On 16 March 2017, the U.S. and Sudan announced the resumption of military relations after exchanging military attachés.[15] In April 2017, it was announced that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), which was “especially keen to see sanctions lifted“, had decided to open a large office in Khartoum.[16][17] Sudan was also removed from the list of Muslim-majority countries on the American travel ban.[16] On 6 October 2017, the U.S. permanently lifted all 1997 sanctions after Sudan cut all ties with the North Korean regime of Kim Jong Un.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "U.S Embassy in Sudan".
  2. ^ "Embassy of the Republic of the Sudan, Washington D.C."
  3. ^ "Chargé d'Affaires Steven Koutsis". U.S Embassy in Sudan. Retrieved Oct 6, 2017.
  4. ^ Peter Woodward, U.S. foreign policy and the Horn of Africa (Routledge, 2016).
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ "After U.S. talks, Sudan sees path to lifting sanctions soon". Reuters. 2019-09-27. Retrieved 2019-09-29.
  7. ^ "U.S. to exchange ambassadors with Sudan, ending 23-year gap". Reuters. 2019-12-04. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  8. ^ "US to name ambassador to Sudan for first time in 23 years: Pompeo". France24. 4 December 2019.
  9. ^ Sudan will close office of terrorist groups Hezbollah, Hamas
  10. ^ "Our ambassador". U.S. Embassy in Sudan. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  11. ^ "Deputy Chief of Mission Ellen B. Thorburn". U.S. Embassy in Sudan. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  12. ^ "Statement by the President Announcing the Appointment of Ambassador Donald Booth as U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan". White House Office of the Press Secretary. 28 August 2013. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  13. ^ Madhani, Aamer (28 August 2013). "Obama names special envoy for South Sudan and Sudan". USA Today. Archived from the original on 1 September 2013. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  14. ^ "Obama to ease Sudan sanctions on way out". Associated Press. November 10, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  15. ^ "US, Sudan resume military ties after 24-year hiatus". Anadolu Agency. March 16, 2017. Retrieved March 16, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c T.G. (10 October 2017). "Why America has lifted sanctions on Sudan". The Economist.
  17. ^ "Sudanese official defends decision to have CIA office in Khartoum". Middle East Monitor. April 11, 2017. Retrieved April 14, 2017.

  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State website

Further readingEdit

  • Ali-Masoud, A. T. I. Y. A. "America and the Arab World through the prism of the United Nations-A Study of Libya and Sudan in the Post Cold War Era (1990-2006)" (PhD. Dissertation, Durham University UK, 2013) online.
  • Rennack, D. (2005) Sudan: Economic Sanctions (Congressional Research Service - The Library of Congress. online
  • Roach, Steven C. "Whither or whether US foreign policy in South Sudan?." in Steven C. Roach and Derrick K. Hudson, eds. The Challenge of Governance in South Sudan (Routledge, 2018) pp. 131-146.
  • Ronen, Y. (2002) "Sudan and the United States: Is a Decade of Tension Winding Down?" Middle East Policy Review 9#1, 94-108.
  • Woodward, Peter. U.S. foreign policy and the Horn of Africa (Routledge, 2016).

External linksEdit