The so-called “peace deals” brokered by US President Donald Trump and negotiated between Israel and Arab-African countries not at war against it has quickly devolved into an exercise in bribery and coercion at the expense of human rights, international law, and democracy.
On October 23, Sudan joined the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain in normalizing, or rather publicly outing their already cozy relationship with the Israeli government, bonds formed by a mutual fear and hatred of Iran and Islamic political parties and an insatiable appetite for US manufactured weapons systems and surveillance technologies.
These normalization deals in no way reflect the will or interests of ordinary Emiratis, Bahrainis, or Sudanese, but the exclusive interests of their anti-democratic overlords.
To be clear, these normalization deals in no way reflect the will or interests of ordinary Emiratis, Bahrainis, or Sudanese, but the exclusive interests of their anti-democratic overlords, who exert their authoritarian rule to crush any and all political dissent. This reality was brought to light by a large scale poll conducted in the region in the past 12 months, which found nearly nine out of ten individuals in 13 Arab countries oppose “diplomatic recognition of Israel” by their respective country.
The motives and drivers behind the Sudanese government’s normalization of ties with the self-proclaimed Jewish state are even more troubling, given Sudan is navigating a fragile transition to democracy after more than 30 years of Omar al-Bashir’s brutal dictatorial rule.
Both the Sudanese people and the country’s political parties rejected the government’s decision to normalize relations with Israel and have since formed an opposition front against the agreement, arguing they’re under no obligation to accept it.
“We see that our people, who are being systematically isolated and marginalized from secret deals, are not bound by the normalization agreement,” reads a statement from Sudan’s Popular Congress Party.
“Our people will abide by their historical positions and work through a broad front to resist normalization and maintain our support for the Palestinian people in order for them to obtain all their legitimate rights.”
The country’s former Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi, who also leads Sudan’s largest political party, slammed the US brokered deal, saying it “contradicts Sudanese national law…and contributes to the elimination of the peace project in the Middle East,” warning it lays the groundwork for the “ignition of a new war.”
Other political leaders warned the normalization deal signed by the military led transitional government threatens to dissolve the country’s hard fought democratic gains.
Sudan’s military generals have used violent force not only to suppress pro-democracy protests but to stave off the likelihood of civil war.
To be clear, this is a deal wanted exclusively by Sudan’s military generals, who have used every dastardly mean imaginable to salvage the power they have lost since the overthrow of the dictator last year. The generals have used violent force not only to suppress pro-democracy protests but to stave off the likelihood of civil war, as they reluctantly agreed to take part in a transitional government until free elections can be held.
For now, this transitional government is broken down into three parts: a military led Sovereign Council; a civilian led cabinet; and a legislative chamber that has not yet been established. The military has made no secret of its wish to obtain American weapons and money and be struck from the United States’ list of state-sponsors of terrorism.
The deal signed between the transitional government and the US government has granted the generals all three wishes but has thrown the country’s path towards democracy and security in peril.
Sudan’s Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah Abdelrahman Al-Burhan, who is also Chairman of the Sovereign Council, held talks in September with American officials in Abu Dhabi to discuss removing Sudan from the US’ state-sponsors of terrorism list. Yet, it should also be noted that another man calling the shots for Sudan is the Council’s Vice President – General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – who commands the Rapid Support Forces, a 50,000-strong paramilitary organization that operates outside of the country’s central military command and is accused of carrying out atrocities, including mass killings and mass rapes, during the conflict in Darfur. Dagalo has forged close ties with Saudi Arabia and the UAE by providing support for the prosecution of their war in Yemen.
The manipulative influence of Saudi Arabia and the UAE over Al-Burhan, Dagalo, and the Sovereign Council cannot be overstated.
The manipulative influence of Saudi Arabia and the UAE over Al-Burhan, Dagalo, and the Sovereign Council cannot be overstated, given it was Saudi Arabia who paid US$335 million to the US to cover the amount owed by Sudan for its role in the bombing of the US Embassy in East Africa and USS Cole in Yemen.
To further help get the deal across the line, however, Israel pledged US$5 million worth of wheat to Sudan, with the US rewarding Israel with new F-35 fighter jets. Weapons for wheat is one heck of a deal for Netanyahu, but it’s one that further leaves the Palestinians and Sudanese in the cold.
“If normalization is seen as resulting from exploitation of Sudan’s economic and humanitarian desperation, it will be even more polarizing among the public, [as it will] accelerate the erosion of support for the transition, and expose the prime minister to the machinations of those within Sudan who are opposed to reform and, ironically, to the very regional actors that Israel and the UAE view as their primary adversaries,” warned the United States Institute of Peace last month.
The popular and widespread rejection of normalization by the Sudanese people and political parties, who see the agreement as a form of UAE-US-Israeli blackmail and a grab by the military for more power, could not come at a worse time in Sudan’s transition to democracy.