Celebrations in Khartoum last December marking the one-year anniversary of the uprising. Photo: Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty Images

Sudan's transitional government has reached an agreement to compensate the families of victims of the 2000 U.S.S. Cole attack, which killed 17 sailors and injured 39, it said Thursday.

Why it matters: This is part of an effort to get off the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism. Sudan previously harbored al-Qaeda, which carried out the attack. The designation carries restrictions on foreign assistance and financial transactions that have strangled Sudan's economy.

The big picture: This is only one of several steps to clean up Sudan's international image taken by the joint military-civilian government that replaced brutal dictator Omar al-Bashir last year.

  • The most high-profile act was the announcement this week that Bashir will go before the International Criminal Court to face charges for war crimes and genocide in Darfur.
    • It's not yet clear where (or whether) a trial will take place.
  • Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok also made a historic visit to the Nuba Mountains, a rebel stronghold, and opened the isolated region to foreign aid.
  • Meanwhile, the leader of Sudan's governing council, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, held a landmark meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after decades of hostile relations.

What to watch: Sudan's economy is in shambles and its transition to democracy is far from certain. The delicate power-sharing deal with the generals is slated to continue until elections in late 2022.

  • "[W]ithout outside help, including financial, the risk is that its democratic experiment will slip backwards," David Pilling writes in the FT. "Without it, the path of Egypt or Myanmar beckons."
  • "In the age of President Donald Trump, it has no obvious champion in Washington. Nor do Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states currently propping up Sudan have much interest in seeing a vibrant democracy take hold."

Go deeper

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"I stood up for that": Pope Francis voices support for same-sex civil unions

Pope Francis at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Photo: Vatican Pool - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Pope Francis voiced his support for same-sex civil unions for the first time as pope in the documentary “Francesco,” which premiered Wednesday at the Rome Film Festival, per the Catholic News Agency.

Why it matters: The pope’s remarks represent a break from the position of the Roman Catholic Church, which has long taught that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered" and contrary to natural law.

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Countries waiting to see if Trump wins before moving on Israel normalization

The delegation lands at Israel's Ben Gurion airport. Photo: Jack Guez/AFP via Getty

The White House is attempting to leverage momentum from Israel's normalization deals with Bahrain and the UAE to get more Arab countries on board before the U.S. election.

Driving the news: President Trump wants Sudan's removal from the U.S. state sponsors of terrorism list to be accompanied by a pre-election announcement on Israel.

Poll: 92% of battleground state voters are "extremely motivated to vote"

Voters stand in line at the Metropolitan Multi-Services Center in Houston, Texas, on Oct. 13. Photo: Mark Felix for The Washington Post via Getty Images

91% of likely voters nationally say they are "extremely motivated to vote," including 92% in battleground states Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, according to a Change Research/CNBC Poll.

Why it matters: The 2020 election could see record-breaking levels of voter turnout. Voters last week cast ballots at nearly five times the rate they did at this point in the 2016 election, per the U.S. Elections Project. Over 39 million ballots have been cast in early voting states as of Wednesday.

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