Friday 23 October 2020
Since the overthrow of the autocratic President Al-Bashir, Sudan has tried to improve relations with the international community. For the African state, it’s about economic survival. That is why Khartoum is approaching Israel – and above all appeasing the USA.
After the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, according to the US government, Sudan has now also announced normalization of relations with Israel. The Vice Spokesman for the White House, Judd Deere, announced on Twitter, citing US President Donald Trump. It is “another important step towards the establishment of peace in the Middle East”. The White House had previously announced that Trump had informed Congress of his intention to remove Sudan from the notorious US list of state supporters of terrorists.
In return, Sudan had agreed to compensate American terrorist victims and their families. The payment of 335 million dollars (around 290 million euros) by the transitional government of Sudan has now been received, said the White House.
The classification as a terrorist state has isolated the country in northeast Africa internationally. After being deleted from the list, it should become easier for international companies and banks, among others, to do business in Sudan. In addition, it will also make it easier for the government in Khartoum to regain access to aid from multilateral donor institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The only other countries on the US terror list are North Korea, Iran and Syria. Sudan has been listed there since 1993.
“This is an incredible deal”
US President Trump described the normalization of relations now announced as “historic”. “The State of Israel and the Republic of Sudan have agreed to make peace,” Trump told journalists. The President had telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as the Prime Minister of Sudan, Abdullah Hamduk, and the chairman of the country’s Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah Burhan, to interconnect.
“This is an incredible deal for Israel and Sudan. For decades, Sudan was at war with Israel,” said Trump. The 74-year-old emphasized: “Today’s peace agreement will strengthen Israel’s security and end Sudan’s long isolation from the world.” Trump also said “many, many more” states would follow suit and normalize their relations with Israel. He expects that this will also include Saudi Arabia.
Netanyahu said that the agreements that had already been made would “go down in the history books”. “We are seeing the fruits of peace even now.” The Israeli Prime Minister spoke of a “tremendous upheaval”. “Today we are announcing a dramatic breakthrough in the direction of peace, with one more Arab country joining the circle of peace – this time with Sudan.”
In a video message he recalled the triple no of the Arab League at a conference in Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, after the Six Day War in 1967: “No to peace with Israel, no to recognition of Israel, no to negotiations with Israel.” Today Khartoum is saying “yes to peace with Israel, yes to recognition of Israel and yes to normalization with Israel,” said the head of government.
For years in a deep economic crisis
Netanyahu spoke of a new era of peace. Delegations from both countries would meet shortly to discuss cooperation in many areas, including agriculture and trade. “The sky over Sudan is open to Israel today,” said Netanyahu. This will also shorten flights from Israel to Africa.
For the crisis country Sudan, today’s announcement is an important step in solving the deep economic and political problems. With its predominantly Muslim population, the state – like many Arab countries – has so far not officially had diplomatic relations with Israel. Especially since the overthrow of the autocratic President Omar Al-Bashir in April 2019, Khartoum has been trying to improve relations with the international community.
Because the state in north-east Africa with its around 42 million inhabitants has been in a deep economic crisis for years – even the new fragile interim government of Prime Minister Hamduk has not been able to change much.