afrol.com, 1 March - Speaking in a debate on Sudan in the British Parliament in February, the British Government stated that it would be "quite wrong" to describe Sudan as a terrorist state. Baroness Scotland of Asthal, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, was responding to a question by Baroness Rawlins.
Dr. David Hoile, the director of the European-Sudanese Public Affairs Council, welcomed the position of the British government: "We welcome this statement by the British government regarding Sudan. ESPAC has long argued that the position held by the American government was untenable and that there was no credible evidence of Sudanese involvement in terrorism.
Sudan has been on the United States list of state sponsors of terrorism since August 1993. Following a thorough intelligence review, Sudan's Islamic government was found to be providing sanctuary, safe passage, military training, financial support and office space in Khartoum to officials of international terrorist and radical Islamic groups. Sudan has been under diplomatic sanctions by the United Nations since 1996. Also in 1996, the United States evacuated its Khartoum embassy.
Sudan is believed to provide military training and/or support to Hizballah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Algeria's Armed Islamic Group, and regional Islamic and non-Islamic opposition and insurgent groups in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda and Tunisia. In addition, hundreds of Iranian Revolutionary Guards are sent to terrorist training camps in Sudan to train in the subversion of moderate Arab regimes, according to US sources.
- It has been very clear for several years that Sudan's listing as a 'terrorist state' by the United States was an unsubstantiated political decision, Dr. Hoile however claims. "The shallowness of the American government's claims of Sudan and terrorism was exposed for all to see by the disastrously inept cruise 1998 missile attack on the al-Shifa medicine factory in Khartoum. To this day not a shred of evidence has been produced to support Washington's claims about the factory. The al-Shifa incident destroyed whatever credibility the American government may have had regarding its claims about Sudan."
- Far from being a terrorist state, it is all too evident that Sudan has itself been a victim of terrorism, Dr. Hoile claims. "We hope that the new Bush Administration will seek to distance itself from the Clinton Administration's failed Sudan policy and move more towards the policy of dialogue and engagement with Sudan pursued by Washington's European allies."
The Clinton administration held on to the claims that Sudan was supporting terrorism until it resigned. Last year, the claim that Sudan is "still harboring and supporting terrorists" was repeated by US officials, making it "clear that Sudan must change its position toward terrorism" before its unilateral sanctions could be lifted. Bush is not believed to change on that position, neither are the British believed vote against the continuation of UN sanctions.