Sudan and Israel friendship: Why a big ‘yes’ from Trump
Sudan is in the midst of political, economic and humanitarian turmoil, 18 months since the country’s non-violent protests overthrew long-term ruler Omar al-Bashir. The country is facing desperate times with collapsing economy and food crisis across the nation. This is being seen as an opportunity by US President Donald Trump and Israel – befriend Sudan.
Trump administration has proposed that if Sudan recognizes Israel and gets in term with long-time discredited country in the region then US would lift its name from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, thereby opening the gates to economy uplifting opportunities. This would be beneficial to Sudan for the needed stability economically.
30 years back when President Bashir seized power in 1989 through a military coup, he turned Khartoum as centre for militant jihadism. Sudan was the new base of extremist groups like Al-Qaeda for carrying out their terrorism attacks across the world, in countries including US, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kenya. The first terror attack in New York’s World Trade Center in 1993 led to designating Sudan as the terror sponsor by US.
Ripple effect led to many Sudan’s neighbouring countries increase the military pressure and international financial sanctions on the country. This was enough for Sudan to expel the most wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden and other jihadists after three years.
After the catastrophic 11 September 2001 attack that brought down WTC, CIA (US Central Intelligence Agency) found a new intelligence partner in Sudan’s security services. That should have been enough to remove Sudan from the list. But that didn’t happen. Congress was still apprehensive of Khartoum and hostile for many other reasons. That included war in Darfur and human rights violations.
Bashir’s government was still operating in hindsight. Relations with Iran and Hamas were quite open. The ties with Iran were however set loose in 2016 after pressure from UAE and Saudi Arabia. After Bashir was overthrown in 2019 it was expected that US would shift its stance, but it didn’t. Sanctions on Sudan were one of the most powerful tool for US State Department.
Sudan is crippling from all sectors. The state of hunger is astounding – UN states that 9.6 million Sudanese people are in severe food insecurity. This is made worse by Covid-19 lockdown and floods. The situation is too terrifying to be resolved through food handouts. What Sudan needs now is substantial influx of economic assistance.
Trump administration has given Sudan a way out.US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Khartoum in August end proposed a deal to Abdalla Hamdok, Sudan’s civilian Prime Minister – Sudan would be delisted as terror sponsor and President Trump would release the blocked fund if Sudan recognizes Israel. If Sudan agrees to do so, it would be the fifth Arab nation to normalize relations with Israel following the decision of UAE last month. This would also be a huge boost for Trump’s campaign ahead of the November Presidential elections.