The Sudanese government has seized all assets belonging to the Hamas movement that currently sit in Sudanese land including hotels, real estate, company shares, farmland and a television station – a value of $1.2 billion dollars, according o several media reports.
Hamas, which is classified as a terrorist group by many nations including the United States, had used Sudan as a refuge to transfer weapons, hide its members and store funding while Omar al-Bashir was president. Bashir was overthrown and arrested in 2019 and will likely be handed over by the new government to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity over alleged atrocities in Darfur in the early 2000s.
Sudan’s new government has been seeking to distance the country from its former classification as a state sponsor of terror. It normalized relations with Israel in October and later revoked citizenship from head of the political bureau of Hamas, Khaled Meshaal.
In recognition of these moves, the U.S. State Department removed Sudan from the list Terrorism in December and Sudan has gradually been welcomed into the international fold.
The move to confiscate Hamas assets come amid some diplomatic ruffles between Sudan and the United States. Last week, a senior Sudanese official told Israeli media that Sudan wanted a White House signing ceremony for its signing of the Abraham Accords. The United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Israel signed the historic Abraham Accords in an auspicious ceremony at the White House on Sept. 15, 2020, but Sudan and Morocco did not.
Shortly after those comments, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan called Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok to reaffirm the Biden administration’s commitment to the transitional democratic government in Sudan. Sullivan also said that Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. special envoy for the Horn of Africa, will be dispatched to the nation and that Hamdok will be invited to the White House in the “near future,” according to a State Department statement.
As for Hamas, the organization has officially lost a foreign base for its assets and members.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem, however, denied that the organization has any money or property in Sudan and claimed that it enjoys a good relationship with the Sudanese government. Hamas, which tries to maintain a legal presence in Arab countries, wants to avoid the appearance of conflict with such regimes in order to protect its interests abroad.
Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk accused Sudan of playing games.
“What happened in Sudan is a conflict between the civilian and military parts in Hamdok’s government to win US support,” he tweeted. “A cheap game using the name of the movement as a slander.”
In light of the confiscation, the Palestinian Authority – led by the rival party, Fatah – demanded that Sudan hand over the Hamas assets to the Palestinian Authority on the grounds that these funds were collected in the name of the Palestinian people and must be returned to them.
Sudan’s move comes at a time when Israel is negotiating to formally sign a peace agreement after announcing the normalization of relations.