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Turkish MP calls for Sudan’s removal from terror list

Like Turkey, Sudan is a target for those who have designs on the region, Turkish lawmaker says at Ankara-hosted forum

15.02.2019
Turkish MP calls for Sudan’s removal from terror list

By Fatih Hafiz Mehmet and Mahmoud Barakat

ANKARA

Sudan should be removed from Washington's list of countries accused of supporting terrorism, a Turkish lawmaker asserted on Friday.

Speaking at a forum devoted to Sudan at Ankara’s Institute of Strategic Thinking (SDE), Orhan Erdem, a lawmaker for Turkey's ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party, welcomed the 2017 move by U.S. that lifted the economic sanctions on Sudan, which, he said, had been "unjustly" imposed on Sudan.

The U.S. first imposed sanctions on Sudan in 1997, ostensibly due to the country’s rights record and terrorism concerns. In late 2017, Washington lifted the sanctions but left Sudan on its list of alleged state sponsors of terrorism.

"We think that this [i.e., the removal of economic sanctions] was a very late step," Erdem said.

"Now we believe military sanctions imposed on Khartoum should be lifted and Sudan should be removed from the list of terror-sponsoring countries," said Erdem, who also serves as deputy chairman of parliament’s Turkish-Sudanese Friendship Group.

Like Turkey, Sudan is an important country that has been targeted by certain actors who have designs on the region,” he said.

Erdem went on to note that Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir had blamed ongoing anti-government demonstrations in his country on “foreign interference”.

“This can be seen clearly if you examine regional realities,” he added.

According to Erdem, the Middle East and North Africa is a “difficult region”, where states must be "fast, intelligent, flexible and decisive" if they want to maintain their independence.

He expressed hope that Sudan’s current problems might be resolved “through national consensus and appropriate economic policies”.

Sudanese Ambassador to Turkey Youssef al-Kordofani, for his part, who also spoke at Friday’s SDE forum, expressed his satisfaction with the event.

“Top Sudanese officials have come to Turkey to inform their Turkish counterparts about what is going on in Sudan,” he said.

Al-Kordofani also hailed Sudan’s longstanding relations with Turkey, saying that bilateral ties had improved even further since 2017.

In December of 2017, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Sudan, where the two sides signed a strategic cooperation agreement.

“Since President Erdogan's visit, we have signed over 50 more agreements across a range of fields,” al-Kordofani said.

He also praised the role played by Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay in further consolidating Turkey-Sudan relations.

“Bilateral cooperation has continued, from projects utilizing Sudanese national resources to the banking sector,” al-Kordofani said, pointing out that Turkey's Ziraat Bank planned to open a branch in Sudan in April.

The two countries are also cooperating closely in the field of education, he added, with Turkey recently raising its quota for scholarships awarded to Sudanese students.

As for Turkish-language education in Sudan, al-Kordofani noted that this had recently become much more popular, commending Turkey’s Maarif Foundation for operating Turkish schools in Sudan and Yunus Emre Institute which teaches the Turkish language and holds cultural activities.

According to the diplomat, the Turkish language is now being taught at four Sudanese universities.

Sudan has been rocked by popular protests for the last two months, with demonstrators decrying President al-Bashir’s failure to remedy the country’s longstanding economic woes.

A nation of 40 million people, Sudan has struggled to recover from the loss of three quarters of its oil output -- its main source of foreign currency -- when South Sudan seceded in 2011.

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