237. Telegram 2751 From the Embassy in Sudan to the Department of State1 2


  • Sudan Since the Coup Attempt-Implications for US


  • (A) Khartoum 2749
  • (B) Khartoum 2750

AF/E for AmbassadoR Brewer from Country Team

1. Summary: Presently the Sudan is strongly pro-American and as it happens is anti-Soviet. The time is ripe, therefore, to consider how best to take advantage of situation which presumably coincides with basic US political objectives in general vis-a-vis countries of the region. Our attitude should depend on our interests here, but we believe it important not to limit our view to situation as of now. The key to our perception of importance Sudan has for US in projection of what situation will be after 1980. Country Team believes that US interests here and geopolitical and economic importance of Sudan will increase significantly during 1980–1990 period. Seen in this light, present political situation should be considered carefully for we may decide that now is particularly favorable time to establish a position and relationship in Sudan which will serve US interests well during next decade and later. End summary.

2. Since last May when US resumed normal relations with GOS, events have moved rapidly. June visit of Nimeiri, as well as improved bilateral relationship and increasing public awareness of economic potential of Sudan, have resulted in a positive momentum that became particularly noticeable since early August. As far as we can tell, coup attempt has not rpt not diminished interest of others in Sudan. Arabs and Europeans are making major commitments to the country.

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3. For its part, as reftels indicate, desire to attract foreign investment and economic assistance, particularly from US, is more urgent from point of view of Sudanese leadership. Even general public developing rising expectations of improvements in welfare of populace that will result as Sudan begins to exploit its economic potential. To GOS, which is more than ever disenchanted and suspicious of Soviet Union, it is important that US make significant input to development effort. For Nimeiri US contribution not only will help him achieve important economic and social objectives, but it will assist him politically as a vote of confidence from an important foreign source. As noted in reftels feeling of urgency at top levels GOS and therefore leaders are eagerly awaiting responses to several proposals now under review in Washington, including some which are somewhat sensitive.

4. In light present favorable political climate here questions arise regarding how best to respond to Sudanese requests to assure that US interests are maximized. Hopefully, we shall witness moderation on political issues of importance to US in UN and elsewhere, but our primary interests with Sudan are likely to be economic. Moreover, one cannot have picture of our interests by looking at present situation only. Sudan has great economic potential and similarly it is potential economic interests which will be significant.

5. Generally agreed that Sudan’s potential food and agricultural capabilities are very large and country some day may be major food exporter. Less well known is that country has potential to become important supplier of raw materials including iron and copper and possibly of such strategic materials as gold, uranium and oil. Already several major US firms are investigating possibilities in minerals area. Country Team is of opinion that even if all specific areas of potential growth do not pan out and even if Sudan achieves only partial success, that after 1980 there is likely to be enough growth that Sudan will loom more important economically than is case today. Moreover, we suspect that at one point economic growth will accelerate and become self-sustaining. Furthermore, if Sudan does prove to have significant deposits of oil (see A-91, September 13, 1976) or of other strategic minerals, its importance would be even greater than envisaged based on its development as a major agricultural country.

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6. In short, Country Team anticipates that Sudan will become rather important country economically, but if this is so then as a result of its size and location, its overall geopolitical and strategic significance also likely to expand. It is largest country in Africa and is situated mid-way between Suez Canal and Bab al-Mandeb. It links Middle East/Egypt and Horn of Africa/Ethiopia. It lies accross Red Sea from Saudi Arabia. As large poor country these factors may not be particularly important increases and as US concern with Middle Eastern and Horn of Africa problems continues, the strategic significance of the Sudan will become of greater relevance to the US.

7. If it is true that after 1980 Sudan will be increasingly important to us as a market for goods and services, as a source of food and other raw materials and for strategic reasions—and we think it will—it would seem to be in our interest to take advantage of present favorable political climate. Our goal could be to establish a position and relationships which five or ten years from now will pay dividends similar to the way in which traditional US involvement and relationships in Saudi Arabia have helped us during times of turmoil in US-Arab relations.

8. We do not mean to suggest that US should come bursting back into Sudan. However, a momentum is developing that Washington should recognize. Right now GOS perceives need for US assistance and if we can continue to react positively and at least occasionally with speed we are likely to secure our position here in a manner which will serve us well later in the 1980s-1990s period when it is likely that we shall want to benefit as much as possible from Sudan’s stronger and more important economic position. We feel that it is important to register these views during Ambassador’s consultations and as US agencies, particularly AID, begin to focus on specific proposals currently under review in Washington.

  1. Source: Department of State, Nairobi Embassy Files: Lot 79 F 186, POL Sudan, 1976. Secret. Repeated to Addis Ababa, Cairo, Jidda, Kuwait, London, Moscow, Nairobi, Paris, and Tripoli.
  2. The Embassy country team recommended to Ambassador Brewer who was in Washington that the United States take advantage of Sudan’s positive current attitude toward the United States to establish a positive relationship for the future.