The Sins of Sudan

August 19, 1993

The State Department this week placed Sudan on its list of states sponsoring terrorism because of sanctuary that Sudan provides for offices and training camps of such terrorist groups as Abu Nidal, Hezbollah and Hamas. Since the military coup in 1989, Sudan has been the sole client of the extremist regime in Iran, a trouble-maker and undoubtedly guilty as charged.

Putting Sudan on the list with Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and North Korea begs other issues. It is without reference to possible Sudanese involvement in neighboring Egypt, where yesterday terrorists tried to assassinate the interior minister. Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, whom the U.S. is now seeking to deport, is a leader of the Egyptian Islamic revolutionary movement who enjoyed sanctuary in Sudan before getting it in the U.S.

The action is also apparently without reference to the Sudanese connection to the plots to create terrorism in New York. Five Sudanese nationals have been arrested for that. Two officials of Sudan's mission to the United Nations are said to be implicated by evidence.

Adding Sudan to the terrorist list symbolically isolates that regime. In practice, it can hardly get more isolated than it is.

Now, the United States will not sell Sudan arms; it wasn't going to, anyway. The U.S. will suspend all but humanitarian aid. The only existing foreign aid, however, is humanitarian and goes to victims of the Sudan government's war against the peoples of the south, not to the government in Khartoum. The United States will now vote against aid by international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund or World Bank. In fact, Sudan just had voting rights in the IMF suspended for nonpayment of loans dating back to 1984.

The regime of Gen. Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir is a blot on humanity for its campaigns to murder and starve the Sudanese of the south, who are mostly Christian and animist and racially blacker than the Muslim Sudanese majority of the north. The regime had showed signs in recent months of trying to regain legitimacy in hopes of wriggling out of isolation. Branding the current Khartoum regime as a sponsor of terrorism is justified and overdue but of little practical effect.

Sudan already was a pariah among nations.

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