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‘The US ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’ list’

  • Category
    India & world
  • Published
    2nd Nov, 2020


In recent weeks, Sudan became the third Arab nation to normalise relations with Israel, days after the US removed it from its State Sponsor of Terrorism list, of which the North African country was a part for over 27 years.


What is the US State Sponsor of Terrorism list?

  • The US Secretary of State has been given powers to designate countries that “have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism” as “State Sponsors of Terrorism”.
  • The US can place four categories of sanctions on countries part of the list–
    • restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance
    • a ban on defence exports and sales
    • certain controls over exports of dual use items
    • miscellaneous financial and other restrictions
  • Sanctions can also be placed on countries and persons that engage in certain trade with designated countries.

Who are in the list?

  • After Sudan’s delisting, three countries remain with the designation:
    • Syria (listed in 1979)
    • Iran (1984)
    • North Korea (2017)
  • Apart from Sudan, other countries which were once part of the list and later removed include Iraq (first removed in 1982, relisted in 1990, and again removed in 2004), South Yemen (1990, when it merged with North Yemen), Libya (2006) and Cuba (2015).


  • The US added Sudan to the terrorism list in 1993, after it was accused of harbouring groups such as Hezbollah and Palestinian militant outfits which Washington deems as terrorists.
  • At the time, Sudan was ruled by dictator Omar al-Bashir, who had come to power in 1989 after toppling a democratically elected government.
  • Bashir, who enforced hardline Islamist policies over Sudan for three decades until his ouster last year, was also blamed for the 1998 bombings of US embassies in East Africa, and the 2000 bombing of the US warship Cole in Yemen.
  • After its designation in the US terrorism list, Sudan was cut off from the global economy, and was starved of foreign investment.
  • The country’s economy suffered another blow in 2011, when Christians and Animists in southern parts of the country, already up in arms against Khartoum for decades, seceded to form the new country of South Sudan, taking away more than three-quarters of Sudan’s oil reserves.
  • The country’s financial woes led to high inflation and price rises in essential commodities, leading to protests that led to Bashir being ousted from power in 2019.

How the current removal will benefit Sudan?

  • Sudan would rejoin the global economy– and be able to access foreign investments and debt relief from international financial institutions (IFIs).
  • However, experts say that because the delisting has been linked to Sudan recognising Israel, its unelected government could face a domestic backlash, as many are blaming the US of arm-twisting Sudan into compliance.

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