Sudan Wants Off US Terrorism List, But Peace With Israel Could be a Prerequisite
Sudan is eager to be removed from the U.S.’ list of states that harbor terrorism but also not ready to normalize relations with Israel.
On the sideline of the meeting between Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday, Sudanese Foreign Minister, Asma Mohammad Abdalla, said that diplomatic ties between Sudan and Israel are not yet possible. Establishing ties with Israel could, however, help Sudan in its quest to be removed from the U.S.’ list of states that harbor terrorism.
Hamdok and Abdalla are part of Sudan’s newly formed government established after popular protests in early 2019 brought the end of the 30-year reign of Sudan’s former president Omar al-Bashir.
According to the Israeli online English-language newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, the minister made the remarks to the Hebrew-language Israeli newspaper Maariv in Paris during the newly-formed transitional cabinet of Sudan’s first visit to Europe.
The minister’s remarks echoed a similar statement she made to Al Jazeera in early September when she said, “Of course, in principle, I mean, if you look at the Arab states. Most of them have relations [with Israel] in one way or another. Sudan is one of the Arab states, but now is not the time.”
During the visit, Macron pledged financial support to Sudan of an estimated 60 million Euros. Macron also promised Sudanese officials that France will make every effort possible to help Sudan remove itself U.S.’ list of states that harbor terrorism. Sudan was placed on the list in 1993 during the reign of former President Bashir, but Bashir was deposed under mass pressure in April of 2019.
The Jerusalem Post quoted Sudan’s prime minister Hamdok as saying during the European trip that “the terror belonged to the former regime” and that “Sudanese people are not terrorists.” He added that his own contacts with the U.S. government were “encouraging.”
Media leaks reported by The Jerusalem Post had previously suggested that Sudan and Israel could be attempting some kind of a normalization of ties. Last February, it was reported that the head of Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, Yossi Cohen held a meeting with Sudanese top security official Salah Gosh on the sideline of a security conference in Munich.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Arab media reports said that Gosh sought Israel’s help to topple former President Bashir. Gosh himself was fired from his post following the Sudanese revolution several months ago.
Though the U.S. – Israel’s key ally – has lifted economic restrictions imposed on Sudan during the time of former deposed President Bashir, Sudan remains on the harborer of terrorism list.
A period of unrest marked by a military crackdown on civilian protests that saw the deaths of hundreds of protesters followed the removal of Bashir in April. However, in early September, Sudanese opposition parties and Sudan’s military agreed to form a technocratic professional government which would include five civil members and six military officials to run the country for a transitional period of three years. General elections are planned to follow the three-year transitional period.