Continued religious persecution against Christians and other religious minorities, and ties with violent extremist groups, raises critical questions about the Khartoum regime’s role and true interests as a U.S. counterterrorism partner
Despite its bid for normalized ties with the United States and the rest of the world, Sudan continues a long-established tradition of brutally persecuting religious minorities, including the demolition of churches, and continues its ties with violent extremist groups, according to an in-depth report published today by the Enough Project.
In October this year, the United States lifted longstanding comprehensive sanctions on Sudan citing improvements in the Sudanese government’s counterterrorism and its broader humanitarian and human rights record. The report, “Radical Intolerance: Sudan’s Religious Oppression and Embrace of Extremist Groups,” analyzes the Khartoum regime’s track record and raises critical questions about its role and true interests as a counterterrorism partner.
Dr. Suliman Baldo, report author and Senior Policy Advisor at the Enough Project, said: “Sudan’s radical and intolerant regime is alleging improvements in its human rights and counterterrorism record as it pursues normalized relations with the United States and the rest of the world. However, the realities in Sudan bely the official spin doctoring – the regime’s long record, which continues today, of persecuting Christian minorities and many others in Sudan. The government’s ongoing abuse has included allowing extremist groups and its own security agencies to perpetrate violent attacks on Muslim Sufi groups, moderate Muslim scholars, rights defenders, and intellectuals. Also of grave concern are the regime’s longstanding links with active extremist religious groups in the country, some of which call for jihad, advocate for groups like al-Qaida or the Islamic State group, and threaten Westerners and Western interests.”
The report recommends that U.S. policymakers should account for religious persecution and associations with extremists as they embark on the next phase of engagement and anticipated discussions about remaining sanctions, terminating Sudan’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, and forgiving Sudan’s debt.
Omer Ismail, Senior Policy Advisor at the Enough Project, said: “It is essential that the United States pivot rapidly and aggressively to the relationship’s next phase, which should focus on creating leverage for 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.”
The report recommends that the ultimate reward that the Khartoum regime seeks, that of the abolition of its designation as a state sponsor of international terrorism, should be directly connected to real and measurable change such as the implementation of a comprehensive peace deal in Darfur that returns the millions of forcibly displaced persons to their original areas.
Dr. Baldo added: “Financial pressures, while sparing the Sudanese public, should focus on key officials and their networks that undermine peace and human rights. Pressures should include network sanctions combined with anti-money laundering measures. In addition, financial institutions should be encouraged to engage in heightened monitoring and alert potential money laundering activities or other risky activities, particularly by Sudanese politically exposed persons who may otherwise use the U.S. and international financial systems to move or obscure the proceeds of corruption.”
According to the report, other tangible reforms to be delivered by the regime in Sudan could include:
- Reforming the laws that discriminate against Christians and other religious minorities;
- Ensuring that constitutional provisions guaranteeing equal rights to all citizens—regardless of their religious beliefs or regional or ethnic background—are respected in practice;
- Upholding the rights to free speech and freedom of association and assembly, including and especially for those defending fundamental rights; and
- Genuinely countering violent extremist groups, including Salafist jihadi groups, that threaten, excommunicate, and attack those defending freedoms of religion and thought.
Click here for the full report.
ABOUT THE ENOUGH PROJECT – an anti-atrocity policy group
The Enough Project supports peace and an end to mass atrocities in Africa’s deadliest conflict zones. Together with its investigative initiative The Sentry, Enough counters armed groups, violent kleptocratic regimes, and their commercial partners that are sustained and enriched by corruption, criminal activity, and the trafficking of natural resources. By helping to create consequences for the major perpetrators and facilitators of atrocities and corruption, Enough seeks to build leverage in support of peace and good governance. Enough conducts research in conflict zones, engages governments and the private sector on potential policy solutions, and mobilizes public campaigns focused on peace, human rights, and breaking the links between war and illicit profit. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org.