Ehab Zahriyeh / Al Jazeera America – 2015-04-17 01:15:49
(April 15, 2015) — President Barack Obamaâ€™s decision to remove Cuba from the State Departmentâ€™s list of state sponsors of terrorism will, if approved by Congress, lift strict unilateral sanctions that have been in place for more than 30 years.
The prohibitions imposed on Cuba and other countries on the state sponsors of terrorism list include:
â€¢ A ban on arms-related exports and sales.
â€¢ Limits on the exports of dual-use items, or commercial products that can also be used for military purposes such as maraging steel, which is used for making gulf clubs and bombs. This sanction requires 30-day congressional notification for the export of these goods or services.
â€¢ Prohibitions on economic assistance.
â€¢ Financial and other restrictions, including a requirement that the US oppose loans to Cuba from the World Bank and other international financial institutions.
The United States added Cuba to the list in 1982 for its role in supporting leftist revolutionary movements in other countries. “Cuba has long provided safe haven to members of Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC),” according to a 2013 State Department report.
The report also noted, however, that Cuba hosted negotiations between FARC and the Colombian government aimed at reaching a peace deal.
“Circumstances have changed since 1982, when Cuba was originally designated as a state sponsor of terrorism because of its efforts to promote armed revolution by forces in Latin America,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement released on April 14. “Our hemisphere and the world look very different today than they did 33 years ago.”
Lifting of the sanctions would fulfill Obamaâ€™s commitment to Cuban President RaÃºl Castro in December to normalize relations between the two countries, which have been at odds since the Cuban communist revolution in 1959.
In addition to the economic sanctions, the US imposed an embargo in 1960 that bars American companies from doing business in Cuba. The US has already significantly loosened restrictions on US trade and investment, and lawmakers have introduced legislation to lift the embargo.
Nations Removed from the List
Iraq, Libya, South Yemen and Syria were the first countries placed on the state sponsors of terrorism list, in 1979. Iran was added in 1984; North Korea, in 1988; and Sudan, in 1993.
Iraq was removed in 1982 to allow US companies to sell arms to it during its war against Iran. But it was reinstated after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. President George W. Bush announced Iraqâ€™s removal from the list in September 2004, one year after the US invaded the country.
On May 15, 2006, thenâ€“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the decision to remove Libya from the state sponsors list because of the “historic decisions taken by Libyaâ€™s leadership in 2003 to renounce terrorism and to abandon its weapons of mass destruction programs.”
South Yemen was added to the list for its support for leftist armed groups, but after uniting with its northern neighbor the Yemen Arab Republic in 1990, it was removed.
North Korea was added to the state sponsors list in 1988, one year after the bombing of Korean Air Flight 858 en route from Baghdad to Seoul, which killed 115 people. Bush, who in 2002 described North Korea as part of an “axis of evil,” in 2008 announced the decision to remove the country from the state sponsors list after reaching an agreement on nuclear inspections.
After Cubaâ€™s removal, the only states still on the list will be Iran, Sudan and Syria.
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