SEATTLE, Washington — Despite bountiful oil fields and a promising agriculture sector, Sudan’s economic failures and corrupt government led to widespread protests that culminated in a transitional democratic government led by Prime Minister Abdalla Habdok. This new government is working to negotiate aid for Sudan to rebuild its economy by fixing its foreign reputation and creating diplomatic ties.
A Population At Risk
Sudan is one of the poorest nations in the world, with 36% of its people living in poverty. 25% of the people in Sudan live under the extreme poverty line, and 6.2 million people are food insecure.
Due to the spread of COVID-19, the number of people facing food insecurity rose to 9.6 million people between July and September 2020. Furthermore, one out of three children are undernourished and 2.7 million children suffer from wasting annually.
Sudan Pursues Foreign Diplomacy
Sudan’s main obstacle to establishing relations with developed countries is its presence on a list of states that sponsor terrorism. However, the U.S. is working to establish a deal with Sudan that would the country removed from this list.
The agreement would revolve around Sudan settling to pay families of victims of terrorism over $300 million in exchange for its removal from the list.
Support for this deal is bipartisan in Congress, and pending Sudan’s removal would open the door for diplomatic conversations between Sudan and Israel. Communication between Israel and Sudan would be significant because, in 1967, Sudan claimed it would never recognize Israel as a nation nor know peace with Israel. An engagement of diplomatic relations between the nations would be a huge boost for peace and security in the region.
In exchange for recognizing Israel, Sudan is looking for funding to repair its economy. A Sudanese official specifically stated that it was offered an aid package of $800 million from the United States, the UAE and Israel, but countered by requesting $3 billion to curb inflation and provide for the basic everyday needs of their citizens.
Sudanese officials are split on granting recognition to Israel, as they are cognizant of the country’s contentious history with Israel and cautious of public backlash. However, Sudan would be further incentivized to recognize Israel if it is offered an aid package it cannot refuse from the U.S. Government.
How Does the US Benefit From Giving Aid?
By providing $311 million through USAID, the U.S. was the largest contributor of aid in Sudan in 2019. In 2020, the U.S. already pledged another $356 million to support Sudan’s democratic transitional government and bolster the economy against COVID-19.
The U.S. stands to receive a substantial return on its investment into Sudan’s economy. When John F. Kennedy established USAID, he asserted that allowing developing countries to crumble would be, “disastrous to our national security, harmful to our comparative prosperity and offensive to our conscience.” By providing aid for Sudan’s economy, millions of people will be brought out of poverty and stability will be brought to a developing nation. Such stability will perpetuate international security and peace.
The U.S.’s aid for Sudan shows support for Sudan’s democratic government and broadens the global reach of democratic principles. Furthermore, the U.S. is able to support its key ally, Israel, by facilitating conversations with a nation that has long been a foe.
How Would Aid for Sudan Help the Economy?
The Sudanese Government was hoping to negotiate a billion-dollar wheat shipment to support its citizens after heavy destruction from flooding, as well as a $2 billion grant to boost its economy. USAID has already committed $20 million for the provision of wheat to Sudan.
Sudan’s government faces the dilemma of whether to alleviate daily crises such as hunger and poverty or to direct funds into long-term economic infrastructure. In light of this financial crisis, the Sudanese Government claims they require $10 billion to properly rebuild the economy. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have already pledged $3 billion and have made good on the promise of a $500 million deposit.
Establishing diplomatic relations between Sudan and Israel would be a major win for not only U.S. foreign policy but for the security of the Middle East and North Africa. It would provide a clear statement to developing nations that diplomatic endeavors lead to far greater payoffs than hostile behavior. Furthermore, the assistance Sudan would receive for recognizing Israel would be integral to reducing domestic poverty and increasing national stability.
– Adrian Rufo