After the former Trump administration removed Sudan from state sponsors of terrorism list last year, US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), part of Destroyer Squadron 2, anchored in Port Sudan today.
Sudan was one of four nations branded by Washington as a state sponsor of terrorism, along with Iran, North Korea, and Syria, severely impeding economic development, with few major foreign investors willing to run afoul of US laws.
Sudan's designation as a state sponsor of terrorism dates to its toppled ruler Omar al-Bashir, who had welcomed Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden as he imposed a brand of political Islam on the country.
Timothy Shanley commanding officer of USS Winston S. Churchill
Cmdr. Timothy Shanley commanding officer of the guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81) speaks with the US chief of mission in Khartoum Brian Shukan after disembarking off the vessel upon its arrival in Port Sudan.
US destroyer anchors in Port Sudan
US sailors look on as they stand aboard the US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), part of Destroyer Squadron 2, while it anchors in Port Sudan.
Sudan signs landmark deal
The conflict-ridden nation experienced a historic shift last year as Bashir was ousted in the face of youth-led street protests and a civilian-backed transitional government was later installed.
In October, Sudan's government signed a landmark peace deal in Juba with rebels in three main conflict zones.
The government set aside about 99 billion pounds, or $1.7 billion, from the budget for developing the health sector to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
'First US Navy ship to visit Sudan in decades'
US Military Maritime Transport Command USNS Carson City arrived at Port Sudan harbour on the Red Sea last week marking the first US Navy ship in decades’ docks in Port Sudan.
“Today, the Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Carson City arrived in Port Sudan, Sudan. This is the first US Navy ship to visit Sudan in decades and highlights the willingness of the United States Armed Forces to strengthen their renewed partnership with the Sudanese Armed Forces,” the US Embassy said.
Sudan's relations with Israel
“This visit follows the visit to Khartoum in January by US Africa Command’s Deputy Commander for Civil-Military Engagement, Ambassador Andrew Young, and Director of Intelligence, Rear Admiral Heidi Berg, to expand cooperative engagement,” the US embassy added.
Sudan had earlier signed accords, becoming the third Arab country to do so and the fourth to normalise diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in as many months.
Morocco was one of three Arab nations last year to normalise ties with the Jewish state under US-brokered deals after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, with Sudan following suit
Sudan's rocky transition
Sudan has been undergoing a rocky transition since the army toppled Bashir in 2019 following months of mass protests against his rule.
It has been struggling with a severe economic crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, with galloping inflation and chronic hard currency shortages giving rise to a volatile black market.
The US dollar officially trades at around 55 Sudanese pounds but in the parallel market it can be as high as 270 pounds. Sudan's transitional administration, which took over months after Bashir's ouster, has been pushing to rebuild the beleaguered economy.
In December, Washington removed Khartoum from its blacklist as part of a quid pro quo for the East African country normalising ties with Israel.