Tel Aviv: In Israel‘s diplomatic declarations, the year 2020 will likely be recalled as a watershed time following the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Sudan, Bahrain, and Morocco have established diplomatic relations with Israel. Israel had to exercise very hard for this fresh diplomatic success as it has been for more than a quarter of a century, from another Arab country, Jordan, established diplomatic relation with the Jewish state in 1993.
Many more current diplomats may follow the trajectory as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said more than once that many Arab countries are queuing up to formalize relations with Israel.
In particular, the normalization between Israel and Sudan is seen as a great change, as it was in Khartoum where Arab leaders, under the banner of the Arab League, adopted the “Three Noses” in 1967: no peace with Israel, No recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel after the Arab defeat in the 1967 war. Sudan is hoping to gain a lot from this new relationship, and US President Donald Trump has already ordered Sudan to be removed from the list of “state sponsors of terrorism.”
Trump’s period in the White House began with a new set of policies in the region aimed at declaring Iran a hostile nation, ending hostilities between Arab states and Israel, and sabotaging all previous efforts for a two-state solution. Above all, one of his aims was to resolve the Arab–Israeli conflict forever by the unilateral implementation of the “Deal of the Century.”
In May 2017, under his first foreign tour as US President, Trump visited Saudi Arabia for the first time. He supported Iran to fuel the fire of sectarianism and called for the Gulf countries to drive out extremists and terrorists.
Trump’s unilateral decision in Saudi Arabia led to the transfer of the US High Commission in Israel from Tel Aviv to the disputed territory of Jerusalem in December 2017 following anti-Iran rhetoric in Saudi Arabia. The celebration of relocating the US Embassy in Jerusalem was celebrated by Netanyahu’s visit to Oman, a neutral country in a regional conflict.
At a high-level meeting in the Middle East in Warsaw in February 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that regional peace could not be achieved without Iran.
At the Warsaw meeting, some signs of indulgence between the Arab states and Israel were visible as Yemen’s top diplomat appeared to be seated alongside Netanyahu, and as an open embrace between Oman’s top diplomat and Netanyahu.
Another meeting of Arab leaders was convened by the US and held in June 2019 with the agenda of unveiling the economic component of the Deal of the Century by Bahrain.
A $ 50 billion economic package for Palestine was announced but boycotted by all Palestinian political factions. In the midst of all these efforts and unilateral efforts, Israeli officials visited the UAE to sign an agreement to participate in the prestigious Expo 2020 to be held in Dubai in December 2019, which was later extended to COVID-19. The reason was canceled.
After years of lobbying, it was wooing and coercing the Abraham Accords that marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Ibrahim-Arab relationship. On September 15, 2020, a comprehensive ceremony was concluded on the South Lawn of the White House to agreement the historic agreement in the presence of Netanyahu and Trump, foreign ministers of the UAE and Bahrain.
By signing the agreement, all two Bahrain and the UAE became the third and fourth countries after Egypt and Jordan to formalize diplomatic relations with Israel. The mission that began with the Mission of the Century ended with the Abraham Pact, where the “Three Noses” of the Arab world were buried in the past.
How did it start for Sudan?
In recent years, no diplomatic move by Sudan, given its past relationship, could be more surprising than Israeli recognition. Israel was not only along with the first few countries to recognize the independence of Southern Sudan but was very helpful in the partition of Sudan by training rebel forces.
The most desirable objective for the new regime in Sudan was removed from the list of “states sponsoring terrorism,” and Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdullah Hamadok expressed his desire more than once to withdraw the approval.
Following its successes with the UAE and Bahrain, the US Pressures Sudan to declare its relations with Israel with its talks to remove it from the terrorist list.
Direct and secret negotiations between Israel and Sudan began in February 2020 when Sudan’s army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan made a secret visit to Uganda and met Netanyahu, where the two resolved to work towards normalization.
Two weeks after the meeting, Israeli aircraft were seen hovering in Sudanese airspace, suspended since the 1960s. Finally, the two sides publicly announced their relationship on October 23, 2020.
However, the joint statement made no mention of exchanges of ambassadors or inaugural missions. The absence of any plan to open the missions seems due to people’s fear of backlash as many were already disputed due to the transitional nature of the deal.
While many opposition factions are against the deal, many in the government are claiming that foreign policy cannot remain hostage to the group’s ideological firmness or will.
Soon after the deal, Netanyahu said that Israel was now changing the map of the Middle East, and now Israel is in contact with the entire world. He described the deal as good for Israel’s heart, finances and security.
Certainly, the deal will be a source of strategic depth for Israel, and perhaps no regional power can ignore its presence while creating security or a strategic blueprint in the larger Arab world.
For example, Israel can now emerge as a new stakeholder in the Nile water dispute between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia because Israel is already a supporter of Ethiopia.
Sudan’s entry into Israel’s diplomatic orbit could advance Israel’s economic and military interest and crown it as the unopposed leader in the region. With the deal, Israel has been able to oust one of Palestine’s arch-allies by winning over Sudan.
Now, Israel can complete a security cordon in the Red Sea, including Egypt, Jordan, South Sudan and Saudi Arabia. It can control terrorist activities in areas bordering Sudan, such as Mali and Niger, as well as hostile control in its interest.
As far as Sudan is concerned, it will get rid of its previous legacy, imposed by the US due to decades of economic tightness and political isolation. The deal is likely to bring in many economic investments and become a source of political. Diplomatic dividend.
According to one estimate, Sudan was paying approximately $ 1.5 billion for trade from the United States, especially from the United States, for its imports to the US. According to another report, the removal of the sanctions would provide relief from the country’s $ 60 billion debt, including a US $ 3 billion debt.
The US has already pledged $ 81 million in funding to support the humanitarian program. Many foreign companies will come to invest in Sudan to generate a lot of employment and now Sudan will be eligible for loans from global institutions.
A high-level Israeli delegation has already visited Sudan and held extensive talks about cooperation in the fields of agriculture, trade, commerce, and aviation. Sudan can be a great beneficiary of Israel’s experience in agriculture, and Israel is world-renowned for its water technology, from which Sudan can benefit.
Sudan is also expected to receive major financial support from countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, and there are unconfirmed reports that Saudi Arabia has given Sudan as compensation for the victims of bombing the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania Has paid $ 350 million.
Given the temporary nature of governance and the absence of consensus among political factions on the deal, it is very difficult to predict anything about its success. However, there is no doubt that if implemented, it would provide further diplomatic and strategic advantages to Israel in the region.
For Israel, nothing can be more beneficial to the country and more and more countries are lining up to recognize this and Sudan is a significant addition to it. There is no doubt that both countries are beneficiaries, but their nature is far from each other.
If Sudan is able to fulfill its economic and political objectives, Israel will be able to address many of its strategic, diplomatic and security concerns. Given the momentum of the diplomatic trajectory in Israel’s favor, many more countries in the region may announce their intention to open Israel very soon, but this will come at the cost of Palestine, which appears to have become a futile entity Arab states.