On July 11th 2017 , the Office of the President of the United States issued an executive order …….deciding not to decide .Or , more positively said , “ALLOWING ADDITIONAL TIME FOR RECOGNIZING POSITIVE ACTIONS” . The main modification to the previous Executive Orders (13067 [1997] , 13412 [2006] and 13761 [2017] ) was purely one of date : the Executive Orders were up for revision on July 12th and a day before the dial was rotated forward to October 12th 2017 . A couple of days later , Ibrahim Gandour in Khartoum spoke at a press conference where he declared that “relations were strained between Sudan and the US but that the Sudanese Government had no intention to escalate tensions and return to the state of intenhostility that previously characterised the relations in the past years“. But why the whole hullabaloo about these sanctions ? Because for years the security establishment in the US had pushed for normalization of the Washington-Khartoum relations . In the last months of the Obama administration , Samantha Power had given a voice to this demand of the cloak-and-dagger  community which had been persuaded for years of the sympathy , support and efficiency of the Sudanese Mukhabarat . As the readers who know me probably know , I have entertained the strongest doubts about any genuine Sudanese security commitment of the Khartoum government  against its former Islamist friends . Many critics , and among them Eric Reeves who strongly dislikes Khartoum policies , have pointed at the gross human rights behaviour of the Islamo-Military Junta in Sudan , concerning Darfur IDPs , bombings , health neglect , restriction to humanitarian aides in conflict areas , support of brutal militias and so on . All these are true and the “sea change” in Sudanese behaviour that Samatha Power was pointing at was just a mere hologram that only she could see . But the argumentation of the spook establishment was different and belonged more nakedly to the Realpolitik school of thought . Yes , the subconversation went , these fellows are not quite dispensing the milk of human kindness around but they are useful , they help us chop off a few tentacles from the Great Islamist Octopus . It is a bit like the attitude towards post-2003 Kadhafi: nasty fellow , with Lockerbie and all that , but useful . The difference was that al-Qaida genuinely hated Kadhafi and had tried to kill him several times . Today the Libyan Islmists love Khartoum and receive help from that quarter . But even if we forget  the milk of human kindness and try to adhere to a drab and realistic Machiavellian outlook : it still does not work . The Khartoum government is humanly nasty but in addition , it is still trying to support interests that are directly opposed to those of the West . So how can “sea changing” President Beshir hope to fool us ? Because he has powerful friends , the kind that just ordered $100bn of weapons from the US at the time of the recent Trump visit in Saudi Arabia . Yes , $100 bn , this is not a typo (although how much of that money will actually ever be paid by the Saudi remains a question of suspended belief) . With friends like those , Beshir can afford to relax a bit when dealing with Washington . But why is Prince Salman such a good friend of the ar-rajil dakran fi’l Sudan ? Because the Saudis prefer ice cream to bullets and their anti-Houthi capacity in Yemen is rather slight . The Americans have already poured $12bn of military equipment into the hands of Saudi Arabia since the war began and the military impact has been zilch , rien , nada , zero . Will $100bn change the results ? Probably not . So Prince Salman needs mercenaries and Beshir is glad to oblige . Small gifts such as this help reinforce friendship . ICC-indicted Besir indirectly has good friends in Washington . But the bottom line is this : does it work ? would removing sanctions help the criminal leadership in Khartoum serve American (and other western) interests ? There again , probably not . If we look at the way things are going in Libya (a much more important theater of operation than Yemen for the Khartoum regime) , the Sudanese are solidly helping their Islamist friends and trying to undermine those who either support or even indirectly ally themselves to General Khalifa Haftar . Not that General Khalifa Haftar is a mild and pleasant democrat : he is a recycled Kadhafist of authoritarian temperament  , but he , at least , can be fitted within a Realpolitik framework . Not nice , but useful and rather efficient . Is President Trump aware of all this ? Unlikely . The position of Under-Secretary of State for African Affairs is still vacant in the U.S. diplomatic organigram and Mr Trump is probably too involved in his own survival as a President for such details to matter to him . So whether the dial will be turned to zero , or towards a later date again  on October 12th , will probably depend on factors that will have very little to do with the Horn of Africa and the Sahel .

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