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The military takeover in Sudan has raised concerns in Israel over the future of normalisation of ties between the two countries. On Monday, the Sudanese military announced a state of emergency and dissolved the government, hours after detaining the country’s Prime Minister, Abdalla Hamdok, and ministers in his civilian government.

Israeli media said the military takeover will derail Sudan’s access to the US-sponsored normalisation agreements, known as Abraham Accords. The recent moves in Sudan are likely to delay Sudan’s official accession to the Abraham Accords.

“Abraham Accords” refers to last year’s US-sponsored agreements that saw four Arab countries—the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, normalise relations with Israel.

KAN News quoted an unnamed senior Sudanese diplomat as saying that the military takeover will not dramatically affect normalisation with Israel.

The source argued that the majority of the military leaders in Sudan support the normalisation process with Israel and have consolidated their power after dissolving the government and declaring a state of emergency.

However, one diplomat, who belongs to Hamdok’s camp, warned that “the coup may weaken popular support for normalisation.” “The [Sudanese] people are fed up with military coups,” the diplomat said.

“The army made a huge mistake, and it may face an uprising from within,” which will worsen if the US decides “to cut off economic aid that Sudan desperately needs,” he said.

The analysis argued that the recent developments in Sudan could “affect Sudan’s relations with Israel because it was one of the countries that joined the path to normalisation in the wake of the Abraham Accords.”

For its part, Israeli newspaper, Yedioth Aharonoth, said that the military takeover in Sudan “is likely to lead to the return of (US) sanctions and postponement or abandonment of the (normalisation) agreement completely.”

The media outlet noted that the Sudanese military leadership was more supportive of normalising relations with Israel than the political wing as they were keen to see US sanctions lifted.

Although the normalisation process was slow due to the serious disagreements that plagued the Sudanese leadership, the normalisation process scored a few points over the past year, including a visit to Sudan by former Intelligence Minister, Eli Cohen, and the visit of a Sudanese security delegation to Israel.

The report said the Sudanese leadership is interested in formalising relations with Israel to ensure all sanctions are lifted but warned that Sudanese political forces opposing military rule might undermine this.

According to the newspaper, the West, led by the US, is unlikely to accept a military rule in Sudan and if relations between Washington and Khartoum deteriorate, then Tel Aviv’s relations with Sudan will also be affected.

It noted that US sanctions on Khartoum were gradually being lifted, but also noted that they might be re-imposed due to the military takeover, a step that may force the Sudanese military leadership to back down from its normalisation deal with Israel.

However, what seems to boggle our minds is the fact that Jeffrey Feltman, the US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, met with General Burhan on Sunday, and the Sudanese general said the military might take control of the government from former Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok.

On Monday, Feltman met both al-Burhan and Hamdok to discuss tensions between Sudan’s civilian leadership and the military. Just hours after the meeting, the military seized power. In response to the coup, the US suspended $700 million in financial aid for Sudan.

As part of the deal, Sudan agreed to pay $335 million in compensation to victims of the 1998 US bombings in Kenya and Tanzania that were carried out by al-Qaeda even though Osama bin Laden was not living in Sudan at the time of the attacks. In response to the embassy bombings, the US destroyed a pharmaceutical factory in Sudan.

The US began discussing removing Sudan from the terror list after Omar al-Bashir, who ruled the country since 1993, was ousted by a coup in 2019. The Trump administration added normalization with Israel as a last-minute condition. Sudan agreed to the normalization, but many political forces in the country are opposed to the idea, and Khartoum has not officially opened diplomatic relations in Israel.

To prove that Israel and the US might be behind this coup to prop up the so called “normalization” project in Sudan, an unnamed Israeli official is reported to have told the Israel Hayom newspaper that the latest coup in Sudan is good news for the normalization effort. The official said General Burhan was more likely to strengthen ties with Israel than Hamdok.

This bold statement from the Israeli official makes it very clear that General Burhan carried out this coup in order to reinforce the normalization project. It is also clear that the general is playing to the gallery of certain powerful Gulf Arab countries and Israel who must be behind this coup.

However, it is very tricky, the general might or might not succeed. The possibility of not succeeding seems to be very high as the majority of those in the civilian political camp do not support the so called “normalization” project and risks plunging the chaos and bloodshed.


Dr. Mustafa Mheta

Senior researcher/Head of Africa Desk

Media Review Network

South Africa