In January 2021, Sudan joined the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco and normalized its relations with Israel. This paper explores the record of largely back-door dealings between Khartoum and Tel Aviv, investigates the motives, weighs the bargains, and interrogates the ideological mystifications that cloud the policy choices of Sudan’s decision-makers.
Khartoum’s new rulers joined the Washington-minted Abraham Accords in January 2021 after a series of contacts and talks involving Khartoum and Tel Aviv with intense U.S. and Emirati mediation, talks that had begun in earnest soon after the demise of former president Bashir’s regime in April 2019. Bashir’s successors understand themselves as a direct antidote to the politics of Bashir and his Islamist support base and hence were keen to capitalise on winning the favour of his many enemies in the region. Once a friendly host to Palestinian Hamas and Islamic jihad and an open conduit for weapons and supplies passing to the Gaza Strip, Sudan was now eager to become a partner in a regional order predicated on the security of Israel. The paper explores the record of largely back-door dealings between Khartoum and Tel Aviv, investigates the motives, weighs the bargains, and interrogates the ideological mystifications that cloud the policy choices of Sudan’s decision makers.
An Agreement with a History Dating back to the Cold War
Fifty-four years earlier, Khartoum played host to injured Nasser, freshly humiliated in the Six Day War of 1967 and needy for the adrenaline gushes of elated masses. The Khartoum Arab League summit of 1967, held 29 August to 1 September 1967, was supposed to showcase unbreakable sumoud, steadfastness and resolution. In Khartoum, the Arab presidents and princes declared in unison their three no’s: “no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel”. An alternative interpretation of the apparent rejectionism of the Khartoum summit suggests a de facto acceptance of Israel’s really-existing settler colonialism, a nod at political arrangements short of formal peace treaties, and a willingness to seek the mediation of good quarters. READ MORE