President Donald Trump, on Friday announced that Israel and Sudan have reached a deal to normalize ties. The agreement was brokered may serve as another foreign policy success less than 2 weeks before he contests elections for another term in the White House. Trump announced the breakthrough from the Oval Office while joined on the phone by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Chairman of Sovereignty Council Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and Sudanese PM Abdalla Hamdok.
According to a joint statement issued by three parties, the leaders of Israel and Sudan “agreed to the normalization of relations between Sudan and Israel and to end the state of belligerence between their nations” and “agreed to begin economic and trade relations, with an initial focus on agriculture.”
The Joint Statement
“The leaders also agreed that delegations will meet in the coming weeks to negotiate agreements of cooperation in those areas as well as in agriculture technology, aviation, migration issues and other areas for the benefit of the two peoples. The leaders also resolved to work together to build a better future and advance the cause of peace in the region,” the joint statement said.
Israeli PM Netanyahu said delegations from the two countries will meet soon to open discussions on cooperation in various fields such as trade and agriculture. However, Sudan’s acting foreign minister, Omar Gamareldin, talking to state TV on Friday said that the new deal has yet to be approved by legislative council.
“This is an agreement to normalize; it is not yet normalization. We must wait for Sudan’s democratic institutions to be functional, including the legislative council, so we can complete the ratification of this step so it can become, in reality, normalization. The government cannot unilaterally complete the process of normalization because the government is the Sovereign Council, the Council of Ministers and the Legislative Council,” said Gamareldin.
Palestinian leaders rejected the normalization agreement with one calling it a “serous stab in the back of the Palestinian and Sudanese people.” Palestinian militant organizations in Gaza also slammed the development and voiced their opposition to the agreement.
The news was announced shortly after the WH said Trump had informed Congress of his decision to put Sudan out of state sponsor of terrorism list. The rescission of the 27-year status of North-Africans was widely considered as being linked with the Israel deal, something that Khartoum denies.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, speaking from the Oval office on Friday, said both the removal of country from the designated list of state sponsors of terrorism and the normalization of ties with Israel “have one thing in common: They made sense for the Sudanese people.”
The former spymaster said Sudan “did all the things that they needed to do” to be relieved of the 27-year old designation and noted that United States back the civilian-led government in the African country, which was established after Sudan’s strongman, Omar al-Bashir saw an ouster in a military coup in April 2019 after ruling the country for three decades.
“The Sudanese leadership is now driving toward a really strong outcome and improved life for the people of Sudan and we think for the broader region in north Africa as well,” he said.
Removal demanded by Sudan
Senior government sources in Khartoum confirmed that the delisting from the state sponsor list of terrorism was demanded by Hamdok – the leader of the transitional government in Sudan – as a prerequisite for the initiation of normalization with Israel.
“The designation change was our priority and normalization is theirs,” one source said.
The Trump campaign has boasted about the President’s foreign policy victories in Middle East. In the past several weeks the administration has initiated and backed normalization treaties between Israel and Bahrain and Israel and UAE while hinting that the additional countries including Saudi Arabia will join the US and Israel in the coming time.
WH press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said in a statement that the formal notification to congress “follows on Sudan’s recent agreement to resolve certain claims of United States victims of terror and their families.” Khartoum has assured the US that it will make a settlement with the survivors and families of victims of the 1998 attacks on US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania while also compensating for the 2000 attack on the USS Cole and 2008 murder of US Agency for International Development employee John Granville in the capital of Sudan.
“Yesterday, in fulfillment of that agreement, the transitional government of Sudan transferred $335 million into an escrow account for these victims and their families,” she said.
“Today represents a momentous step forward in the United States-Sudan bilateral relationship and marks a pivotal turning point for Sudan, allowing for a new future of collaboration and support for its ongoing and historic democratic transition,” she added.
Sudan Prime Minister Hamdok
PM Abdalla Hamdok thanked President Trump for the removal of his country’s name from the blacklist of terror sponsors.
“We’re working closely with the US Administration & Congress to conclude the (state sponsor of terrorism list) removal process in a timely manner,” he wrote on Twitter Friday. “We work towards int’l relations that best serve our people.”
The spokesperson for Sudan’s sovereign council, Mohammed Al Faki made a comment with CNN: We have been formally notified that President Trump has signed the order rescinding Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terror. The order will be enacted in 45 days.”
Congress does have the option to overrule Trump’s decision to lift the designation, but only if both the House and Senate pass veto-immune joint resolutions of disapproval within 45 days. Sudan has been marked as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993 and it is one of the only four nations labelled with such designation – the other three include Syria, Iran and North Korea. As a consequence, Khartoum faces an array of sanctions including a ban of defense exports and sales and the inability to get a share of US foreign assistance.
The joint statement issued on Friday, read: “The United States will take steps to restore Sudan’s sovereign immunity and to engage its international partners to reduce Sudan’s debt burdens, including advancing discussions on debt forgiveness consistent with the Highly Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.”
McEnany, in her statement on Friday, urged the US Congress to “act now to pass the legislation required to ensure that the American people rapidly realize the full benefits of this policy breakthrough.”