The Sudanese Conflict and Israel

Israel finds itself in a unique position to intermediate in Sudan’s internal conflict, and hopefully save a peace deal between the two nations.

By Aviel Schneider | | Topics: Sudan
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan. EPO-EFE/ABIR SULTAN / STRINGER
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Burhan. EPO-EFE/ABIR SULTAN / STRINGER

According to various sources, Israel has called on both sides in the Sudanese conflict to end the fighting in Khartoum, which has so far claimed over 330 lives. Israel’s normalization process with Sudan over the past three years and the relationships it has developed with both General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Hemedti, puts it in a unique position to influence both warring generals. The Middle East has its own rhythm and logic, and political forces cannot always change this.

Ongoing clashes between the Sudanese military and paramilitary forces are hampering the formation of a civilian government and the prospect of a peace deal with Israel. In 2020, Sudan became a signatory to the Abraham Accords, a peace deal between Israel and a number of Arab states brokered by the Trump administration. After the military coup in Sudan in 2021, in which the military and General al-Burhan dissolved the government and arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other members of the government, the normalization process between Israel and Sudan was put on hold and US aid was suspended.

Sudanese people demonstrate in support of their people in Sudan in front of the European Union Embassy in Tel Aviv, June 25, 2019. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Israel’s diplomatic relations with Sudan began years ago under al-Burhan, who currently chairs the Sovereign Council and thus acts as Sudan’s de facto head of state. According to sources, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has communicated with al-Burhan, while the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad has been in contact with Hemedti to clarify security and counter-terrorism issues. Hemedti is a general and politician who has been deputy president of the ruling military council under al-Burhan since April 2019. He commands the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) and his paramilitary force. The two generals, whose armies now fight each other, were allies in the past. Now the young General Hemedti has launched a coup in Khartoum.

According to Israeli reports, Jerusalem was monitoring negotiations in Sudan to draft a framework agreement for the formation of a civilian government. Sudan has attracted the interest of numerous countries, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, all of which are involved in the country’s political landscape. Hemedti has accused Egypt of forming alliances with al-Burhan, claiming that Cairo sent fighter jets and troops in support of the Sudanese military. However, this was denied by the Egyptians. Because Israel has close ties with both generals, Jerusalem has decided not to take sides in the conflict for the time being and not to participate in mediation efforts. Nevertheless, Israel is trying to press both generals into a truce. When Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen visited Khartoum in February, he urged al-Burhan to press ahead with restoring power to a civilian government and made it clear that without it, a peace deal will be difficult to achieve.

It all started in 2016 when Israel demanded Washington open doors in Khartoum after Sudan severed diplomatic ties with Iran. The split met Israel’s interests, as did Sudan’s subsequent distancing from Hamas. In August 2017, a Sudanese minister, Mubarak Fadel Al-Mahdi, spoke for the first time of normalization with Israel in an interview with the television station Sudania24. General al-Burhan, who came to power after the resignation of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda in February 2020. In January 2021, Sudan signed the declaratory part of the Abraham Accords. The signing took place at the United States Embassy in Khartoum in the presence of US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

And now Israel has to see how it holds everything together in Sudan. According to various sources in Jerusalem, efforts are still going on behind the scenes to resolve the conflict between the generals in Khartoum and thus to come closer to a peace agreement with the Muslim state.


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