Sudan Moving Toward Normalizing Ties with Israel
Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and a delegation of Israelis were in Khartoum, Sudan on Thursday to meet with Sudanese leaders about normalizing ties between the two countries.
Cohen met with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, commander-in-chief of the Sudanese military and the de facto head of state in Sudan after a military coup in 2021. The two men discussed “ways to establish fruitful relations” between Israel and Sudan, and “prospects of cooperation” in various sectors such as agriculture, health, education, security, energy, and more, according to a statement by the Sudan sovereign council.
Sudan is a Muslim-majority nation, predominantly from the Sunni sect (like Saudi Arabia)—which also puts them at odds with Iran (a Shia Muslim country). The common growing threat from Iran continues to open doors for new partnerships for Israel and her Arab neighbors. Sudanese leaders though still had to put in the “party line” about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, urging Israel to work for “stability between Israel and the Palestinian people.”
Cohen also met with his counterpart, Ali al-Sadiq. Afterward, Sudanese officials said, “It has been agreed to move forward towards the normalization of relations between the two countries.”
Cohen called the trip a “historic diplomatic visit.” His visit marks the first time an Israeli minister has visited the country. But Sudanese officials speaking off the record with the Associated Press said the two countries are still a long way from normalizing relations. Negotiations have been in the works for close to three years, not long after the announcement of the first nations to join the Abraham Accords.
The visit came a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had indicated that Sudan was ready to join the Abraham Accords. A promise of restoration of US aid and Sudan’s removal from the state-sponsored terror blacklist were held out as incentives to finalize the agreement.
Historically, Sudan put their hatred for the Jewish state in writing in 1967 when it hosted the Arab League Summit, where all the participating nations officially adopted a policy to not engage with Israel. Despite the incentives from the US, Sudan does not appear to be ready yet to overcome the enmity it has had for Israel for decades and ink a new deal of friendship.