Sudan and the United States enjoyed generally close relations
during the late 1970s and early 1980s. In fact, then Vice President
George Bush had paid an official visit to Khartoum only one month
before Nimeiri's overthrow in April 1985, and Nimeiri himself
was in Washington trying to obtain more United States aid when
the mass demonstrations that culminated in his downfall erupted.
Both the transitional military government and the parliamentary
government viewed past United States support for Nimeiri suspiciously,
and were determined to end the de facto alliance that had developed
after 1979. Because the most visible symbol of this alliance was
Operation Bright Star, the biennial joint military exercises that
had taken place partly on Sudanese territory, one of the first
policy decisions was to terminate Sudan's participation in Operation
Bright Star. Nevertheless, relations with the United States remained
important while Sadiq al Mahdi was prime minister because Washington
continued to be a significant donor of foreign aid.
This situation changed following the 1989 military coup. Washington
terminated all economic assistance to Sudan in accordance with
the provisions of a foreign assistance appropriations law that
barred all United States assistance to a country whose democratically
elected government had been overthrown by the military. Although
this legislation included mechanisms for the Department of State
to waive this provision, the Bush administration chose not to
do so. The RCC-NS viewed the aid cut-off as an unfriendly gesture.
Subsequently, when the United States continued to provide humanitarian
assistance for the thousands of Sudanese being displaced by drought
and civil war, administering this relief aid directly through
the United States Agency for International Development, the RCC-NS
accused Washington of interfering in the country's internal affairs.
Khartoum's reluctance to cooperate with the humanitarian program
prompted United States officials in early 1990 to criticize publicly
the Bashir government for impeding the distribution of emergency
aid and even confiscating relief supplies. These charges, which
were echoed by the British, the French, and several international
relief agencies, further antagonized the RCC-NS.
In this atmosphere, it was perhaps inevitable that Bashir would
mistrust the motives of the United States when it proposed a peace
initiative to end the civil war. In May 1990, after temporizing
for several weeks, the RCC-NS rejected the United States proposals
for a cease-fire. Khartoum's support for Iraq during the Persian
Gulf war further strained relations between the two governments.
Finally, in February 1991, the United States withdrew all its
diplomatic personnel from Sudan and closed its embassy in Khartoum.
Data as of June 1991