The US Senate joined the House of Representatives last week to overturn President Donald Trump’s veto of the National Defence Authorisation Act. The Act covered the approval of the defence budget estimated at $740 billion.
The Senate decision delayed the outgoing president’s objection to a law that included sanctions and hostile measures against Turkey for its purchase of Russia’s S-400 missile defence system. Although it is rare for the Republicans and Democrats to agree on matters, the decision made by both chambers of the US Congress suggests the start of a new era headed by President-elect Joe Biden.
The Congress consensus over the law and the hostile measures against Turkey was no surprise. The disturbing and tragic surprise was not for Ankara, but for Khartoum, with Congress also passing the Sudan Democratic Transition, Accountability and Fiscal Transparency Act, 2020. This law reinforces American supervision of the army, intelligence and security services in Sudan, and imposes tight control over the Sudanese defence budget as well as its financial dealings. It also puts in place a number of restrictions and legislation that makes the future of Sudan dependent on the will of the US government, Senate and House of Representatives, both Republicans and Democrats.
This sad news echoed across Sudan yesterday, with the passing of this sinister act following in the wake of the great enthusiasm of the political forces and newly created sovereign institutions for US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s removal of Sudan from the terrorism list and the easing of sanctions. Sudan has been put firmly back under American influence and dependency on Washington. This will be reinforced further when the Americans build the largest embassy in Africa in the Sundanese capital, as Sudan is transformed into the headquarters of the US Africa Command.
The passing of this legislation sets Sudan back months, even years. Despite promises of support from Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu in return for normalisation with Israel, and despite opening the doors to Israeli security officials, Khartoum has neither been spared nor able to remove Sudan from the circle of economic targets.
Reassurances by Pompeo and the Israeli media, and the announcement that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is to visit Khartoum within a few days to give a strong push to the normalisation efforts, mean nothing; Sudan is hostage to the will of America and is threatened by a pernicious law that is more dangerous than economic sanctions. From the outside, this law tastes like honey, but on the inside, it is poisonous subordination and loss of sovereignty. The supposedly “democratic” law makes Sudan’s sovereign institutions lose their sovereignty over the land.
In fact, the Democratic Transition… Act 2020 is like a knife in the back of the Sudanese state, its government, people and institutions, and a strong example of the dark future that awaits normalisers wherever they might be. This is especially true for those who believe that Netanyahu, Israel and a US president can provide guarantees, cover and protection for their policies. This blow to Sudan and its people is a textbook example of the foolishness of normalising with and embracing Israel and its leaders.
This article first appeared in Arabic in The New Khaleej on 3 January 2021.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.