Congress must implement US-Sudan deal – opinion

The northeastern African nation of Sudan, long ruled by a murderous dictator who supported terrorist groups, is on the cusp of a sweeping shift toward democracy under a new leader. As part of efforts to re-integrate Sudan into the international community, the reformist prime minister recently signed a landmark diplomatic agreement with the United States to compensate American victims of the 1998 al-Qaeda attacks on two US embassies. It’s the best and potentially last opportunity for victims and their families to achieve justice, but one final hurdle remains: Congress needs to approve the deal.Lawmakers in Washington should act immediately to finalize the long-sought bilateral settlement. Not only would it bring closure to victims and their families, it would also strengthen our national security and that of our regional allies by supporting Sudan’s pro-democracy movement. There is no time to wait, as anti-Western forces inside Sudan are actively trying to take the country backward.I know firsthand the vital and often urgent role the United States must play in supporting democracy in Africa, where terrorist organizations seek allies in despots, and ceaselessly look to exploit unstable governments. In 1999, I co-led a delegation to Nigeria to oversee that country’s historic elections, which helped turn the tide of 16 years of dictatorships and laid the foundation for its success and resilience as a democratic nation. I also know how quickly conditions can devolve, having witnessed the tragic genocide in Darfur.Sudan is at a crossroads. Last year, following an uprising among the country’s 40 million people, dictator Omar al-Bashir was toppled after a three-decade reign. , a well-regarded economist who worked at the United Nations, was appointed prime minister and set about to free the nation of its status as a pariah state and repair its many strained relationships.Hamdok has demonstrated his commitment to take on that enormous challenge. At home, Hamdok quickly overturned a long list of oppressive social policies. Just months after taking office, he repealed a moral policing law that had placed strict controls on women’s clothing and social activities. He has also spearheaded a slew of other reforms, including throwing out apostasy laws and ending the use of public flogging as a punishment.ON THE world stage, Hamdok has taken major steps to undo the enormous damage done by al-Bashir. For example, he agreed to begin the process of normalizing relations with Israel, which al-Bashir’s regime considered a mortal enemy. And late last year, Hamdok met with the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs to discuss his plans to implement wide-ranging political reforms and resuscitate the country’s ailing economy. It was the first time a Sudanese leader had come to Washington since 1985.This October saw a milestone that seemed impossible just a few years ago. Twenty-seven years after the US placed Sudan on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, Hamdok’s government signed a settlement with the US in which Sudan agreed to pay $335 million in compensation to victims and their families of terrorist bombings on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 that were carried out by terrorists who were harbored by Sudan.

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if(window.location.pathname.indexOf(“647856”) != -1) {console.log(“hedva connatix”);document.getElementsByClassName(“divConnatix”)[0].style.display =”none”;}While nothing can mend the permanent injuries suffered on that day or bring back the loved ones who were brutally killed, the bilateral agreement can help victims and their family members wring some measure of justice out of the tragedy they experienced.But victims of those terrorist attacks, several of whom I have come to know personally in my efforts to support their cause for justice, won’t receive the compensation until Congress passes legal peace legislation to implement the deal. Currently, the $335 million is in escrow, though Sudan says it won’t hold the money indefinitely.Congress should not let this window of opportunity close. Hamdok has already survived an assassination attempt and he faces mounting opposition from factions within Sudan that remain flagrantly hostile to Israel and the US. Should Congress fail to approve the settlement, it will undercut Hamdok when he can least afford it and undermine Sudan’s peace process with Israel, which is far from set in stone.To bring American victims closure and promote democracy in a country that was once a hotbed of terrorism, lawmakers should seize the moment and finalize the bilateral agreement between the US and Sudan.The writer served as chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee from 2013 to 2019.
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