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Sudan’s economy is in trouble, even without sanctions

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“THIS is the best you can find anywhere, and not just in Sudan,” says Ali Alsheikh, gesturing at the deep-green field behind him. His farm, which exports animal feed, belongs to DAL Group, Sudan’s largest conglomerate. Here, an hour’s drive south of the capital, Khartoum, one can glimpse a better economic future for Sudan: high-tech, capital-intensive and outward-looking. On October 12th, as a reward for “positive actions” by Sudan’s government in thwarting terrorism and allowing aid to reach war victims, America lifted sanctions first imposed by Bill Clinton in 1997. These included a trade embargo, a freeze on state assets and curbs on financial institutions dealing with Sudan. Omar al-Bashir, Sudan’s president, is still wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide

It will take years to clear up the rubble in the Middle East

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THE old town of Mosul is a wasteland. So are many other cities and towns that have been mangled by the wars in Iraq and Syria. There is so much broken concrete and twisted metal in Aleppo, the Syrian city pounded by Russian and regime warplanes during the bloodiest battle of its civil war, that the World Bank reckons it will take at least six years to clear the wreckage. In fact, the Herculean task of cleaning up the detritus of war has become one of the biggest obstacles in the region’s struggle to patch up its shattered cities. Part of the problem is that the debris contains unexploded bombs, heavy metals such as mercury and other sorts of toxic waste, all of which need to be dealt with gingerly. The other part is just that there is so much rubble. Simply trucking the debris 10km fro

As South Sudan implodes, America reconsiders its support for the regime

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IT IS not as bad in South Sudan as people think, insists Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, the petroleum minister. The UN may claim that a third of the population have fled their homes, but that is an exaggeration, says the sharp-suited former diplomat. Why, then, does he think the refugee camps are so full? Some people go there for the services, such as free food, he explains. Others have been scared by fake news, peddled by insurgents. “People are saying: ‘The Dinka [the largest ethnic group in South Sudan] are coming to kill you. You must leave!’” Seated in his plush office in Juba, the capital, Mr Gatkuoth scoffs that, when he was a rebel during South Sudan’s long war to break away from Sudan, his comrades used similar propaganda, telling people that the Arabs were coming to burn their villages

Iraq’s recaptured territory is being neglected

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IN THE evening Adil Jumaili and his daughter stand beside the Tigris river in Mosul and stare at the wreckage on the opposite bank. Two twisted cars lie where their home once stood. It was destroyed, along with 8,000 other buildings, when Iraqi forces recaptured the city from the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) in July. The hospital at Mosul’s edge, once amongst Iraq’s finest, has been flattened. So, too, has the government complex, all the schools and the medieval alleyways lined with madrassas and monasteries. Precision bombing by Western aircraft spared much of eastern Mosul, which is recovering fast. But western Mosul proved harder to retake. Block-by-block fighting and so-called “annihilation tactics” (a decision to wipe out IS fighters rather than let them flee) destroyed much of the

Raila Odinga takes a gamble by threatening to boycott Kenya’s election

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Odinga’s poker face IN THE rickety wooden markets in Nairobi, where traders sell old books, second-hand clothes and kitchenware, walking away is a buyer’s last negotiating ploy. If he is lucky, he will be chased down the street and offered a better price. Raila Odinga, Kenya’s softly-spoken opposition leader, seems to be hoping a similar strategy may rescue his electoral chances. On October 10th Mr Odinga withdrew from a re-run of the presidential election scheduled for October 26th, arguing that if it went ahead then it would not be free or fair. Courts had already annulled the presidential part of a wider set of elections held on August 8th, after finding problems with the way it was run. But no reforms have been made to the electoral process since then, he argued. It had already bee

Scrapping the deal with Iran could embolden its hardliners

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FOR three years American forces have quietly worked in tandem with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to roll back Islamic State in Iraq. It was as unlikely an alliance as any imaginable. A decade ago IRGC operatives orchestrated attacks on American soldiers in Iraq. Crowds still gather in Iran to chant “Death to America!” Yet as American planes struck from the sky, Iran managed the advance on the ground. All this may be about to change. As The Economist went to press, President Donald Trump was threatening to list the IRGC as a terrorist organisation and to “decertify” the nuclear deal that America and five other global powers signed with Iran in 2015. The agreement lifted some economic sanctions on Iran in exchange for limitations on its nuclear programme and close scrutiny of it

The Palestinians try to reconcile

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Mr Hamdallah (right) tries to shake loose some concessions IT MUST have felt like déjà vu for Rami Hamdallah, the Palestinian prime minister, as he crossed the heavily-fortified border into Gaza on October 2nd. It was his first visit in two-and-a-half years. There were speeches, rallies and lofty promises to end the schism that has paralysed Palestinian politics for more than a decade. It was like a replay of a trip he made in 2014 to inaugurate a new unity government— which fell apart within weeks. The Palestinian territories split in 2007, a year after Hamas, the militant Islamist group, won a majority in parliament. It seized control of Gaza after months of bloody fighting with its nationalist rival, Fatah. Since then Hamas has run the coastal strip as a separate fief, with its own c