photo by jon nicholson

feature story - New Enough Project Report: “Radical Intolerance: Sudan’s Religious Oppression and Embrace of Extremist Groups”

december 12th, 2017

Note: This report was published by the Enough Project.

The Obama and Trump administrations, in temporarily and then permanently lifting comprehensive sanctions on Sudan, cited improvements in the Sudanese government’s counterterrorism and its broader humanitarian and human rights record. But a closer look reveals these claims to be very problematic, with major implications for the next stage of dialogue and policy between the United States and Sudan.

Now that the comprehensive sanctions have been lifted, it is essential that the United States pivot rapidly and aggressively to the relationship’s next phase, which should focus on creating leverage in support of American counterterrorism interests and much more fundamental reforms that could change the nature of the authoritarian, kleptocratic Sudanese state and better secure the rights of Christians, minority Muslims, war-affected Sudanese people, and others who have been victimized by this regime for nearly 30 years.

Khartoum’s track record raises critical questions about its role and true interests as a counterterrorism partner. Top U.S. policymakers who chart the next phase of engagement with Sudan should account for this as they engage in anticipated discussions about remaining sanctions, a significant shift in bilateral relations, terminating Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, and forgiving Sudan’s debt, estimated to have mushroomed to $50 billion.

Sudan’s intolerant regime has a long-established tradition of religious persecution that continues today despite its bid for normalized ties with the United States and the rest of the world. It also has maintained long relationships with active extremist groups. This record suggests Sudan may be an untrustworthy partner in the bid to push back against religious extremism that is gaining momentum in the region and is essential for combatting international terrorism. The next phase of the policy effort should therefore focus on more structural changes in Sudan to address these core problems that continue to be central to the Sudanese regime: links to extremists and deep discrimination against religious minorities.

Read the full report here.

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