Sudan heralds winds of change in normalizing ties with Israel

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Entebbe on Monday signals that Israel’s approach to dealing with one of the most strategically vital areas in the region, is bearing fruit.

Israel must fend off Turkey, Iran, Qatar to some extent, and the various terrorist organizations that pose a continuous threat to the country. The meeting in Uganda reflects the essence of Arab politics: Only a few days ago, Sudan was part of the Arab League nations condemning the Trump administration’s peace plan, and now, Khartoum’s need for Israel is great enough that their leader is willing to do the almost unthinkable and meet with an Israeli leader.

Israeli media largely ignore major developments such as the fact that massive quantities of military-grade weapons are smuggled through the Red Sea and Sudan to the Islamic militia in Libya.

Israel’s alliance here is not only with Egypt against the Islamic State but also against Turkey. The previous Sudanese regime gave Turkey control over Suakin, an island off the shores of Sudan overlooking the city of Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. This is a threat to the Saudis, but it is even a bigger threat to Egypt and Israel.

Sudan borders Chad, Uganda, and Egypt, and it has a very long shoreline on the Red Sea. So at the end of the day, Israel, Egypt and the United States will demand Turkey’s removal from this island.

Sudan, after decades of civil war and Islamic rule, is looking to make friends in the West. Usually, such developments need to be helped along, in which case Israel is the one to turn to.

Netanyahu has spent years cultivating ties with Africa – that is relations with Chad came to be. Muslim nations in Africa are warming up to the idea of normalizing relations with Israel, as are other nations on the continent, and the Palestinian issue can no longer stop a large Arab state like Sudan from taking care of its own interests first.

Israel has many things to offer Sudan, from defense aid to technological, economic, and agricultural assistance, and Sudan obviously sees Israel as a significant factor on their way to Washington.

The U.S. imposes sanctions on Sudan, and the shift seen there, along with the attempt to normalize relations with Israel, should also see Washington ease these sanctions.

The Israeli public cannot grasp the magnitude of the change in the Arab world’s attitude toward Israel because of the media downplays it, but if you look past the distractions, reality becomes clear: Israel currently enjoys growing support from Arab countries in the region – perhaps even more than the Palestinians do.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, would be wise to draw the proper conclusions and let rationale – the one guiding Arab nations searching for peace and prosperity alongside Israel – prevail.

(Amnon Lord/Israel Hayom)

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