Middle East Monitor / October 22, 2020
Sources in Sudan and Egypt have revealed that Saudi Arabia is to pay $335 million to the US in order to accelerate normalisation of ties between the government in Khartoum and Israel, Safa news agency reported on Wednesday.
According to media reports, Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, intervened after US President Donald Trump set a condition that Sudan has to pay compensation to American victims of terror before removing its name from the US list of states which sponsor terrorism. The compensation being paid is to go to the families and victims of the 1998 US Embassy bombing in East Africa and the attack on the USS Cole, a guided-missile destroyer, off the coast of Yemen in 2000.
On Monday, Trump tweeted: “GREAT news! New government of Sudan, which is making great progress, agreed to pay $335 MILLION to US terror victims and families. Once deposited, I will lift Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. At long last, JUSTICE for the American people and BIG step for Sudan!”
Sudan has agreed previously to normalise ties with Israel in return for the removal of its name from the terrorism list, but its agreement was hit by Trump’s condition about compensation. However, the sources who spoke to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed said that the money would not be paid by Sudan itself as Sudanese Prime Minister Abdullah Hamdok had said, but by Riyadh.
They pointed out that there is a complete deal about the issue which includes support from Saudi Arabia and the UAE for Sudan which would start immediately after the latter signs up to the so-called Abraham Accords. A meeting between Sudanese officials on one side and American, Israeli, UAE and Saudi officials on the other apparently set out the details of the deal, its implementation stages and the pledges of the mediators.
Ominously, the deal also includes details about how they will deal with the inevitable popular protests in Sudan after the government declares its normalisation of ties with Israel.
Khartoum’s removal from the US terrorism list is a major step in Sudan’s efforts to reintegrate into the international community after ousting President Omar Al-Bashir last year.