Bush extends sanctions on Sudan

By Eli J. Lake, UPI State Department Correspondent

Nov 01, 2001 (UPI)

President George W. Bush on Thursday extended U.S. sanctions against Sudan for another year, despite Khartoum's considerable contributions to the new U.S. war on terrorism.

A White House notice justified the sanctions, saying that "the actions and policies of the government of Sudan continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States."

That notice cites the government's continuing policy of allowing slavery of the Coptic minority in the south, restrictions on religious and political freedoms, and Sudan's harboring of terrorists.

On this last score, however, Sudan has received high marks from U.S. officials for cooperation with U.S. intelligence since the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. United Press International first reported in September that Sudanese authorities had actually handed over stray al Qaida operatives to U.S. officials. The Sudanese have given U.S. financial regulators access to its banking system and promised the U.S. military overflight and basing rights if needed.

In this spirit, U.S. diplomats in New York abstained from a vote that ended up lifting U.N. sanctions on Sudan earlier this month.

One U.S. official said Thursday that Omar Bashir's government has not been helpful on other key areas of importance to U.S. policy in Sudan. For example, Sudanese forces have stepped up bombing of humanitarian sites in the south, exacerbating the country's civil war with the Christian minority, since Sept. 11.

Sudanese officials have not allowed humanitarian workers key access to parts of the country, despite the Bush administration's decision this spring to send food aid directly to the north for the first time in 10 years.

The current sanctions against Sudan restrict all goods and services of Sudanese origin from entering the United States unless a presidential waiver is granted. This waiver has been granted without exception for the import of Sudan's gum arabic, which is a necessary ingredient in numerous U.S. products such as soft drinks and medicine caplets.

The sanctions block all non-agricultural assets from the government of Sudan inside the United States as well. Finally, the new sanctions prohibit all U.S. citizens from financial dealings with the government -- a restriction that has kept U.S. oil companies from exploring the potential reserves recently discovered in the middle of the country.