Long treated as the stepbrother of the Abraham Accords – and many times not even mentioned in the list of the Muslim countries that have normalized ties with Israel – now Sudan is being even further ostracized from the agreements.
The U.S. suspended its Abraham Accords assistance to Sudan in response to the violent military coup that took place last year in the country and expects Israel to halt the normalization process as well. America is demanding that Sudan’s military coup leaders cede power to a civilian-led transitional government.
During the coup, the country’s civilian prime minister was arrested and dozens of protesters were killed. Thousands of Sudanese have since protested against the coup with the military cracking down on demonstrations and killing dozens more. The Abraham Accords, the normalization agreement between Israel and Sudan – brokered by the Trump administration – was signed between the two countries in October 2020 before being formally ratified in 2021.
But right after the military coup took place in October, the Biden administration suspended $700 million in general financial aid to Sudan.
“The United States is not moving forward at this time with assistance originally committed to Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government in connection with its efforts to improve Sudan’s bilateral relationship with Israel,” an unnamed State Department spokesman said in an email. “This includes wheat shipments and certain development and trade and investment assistance.”
The spokesman added that the Biden administration expects Israel to join the call for a return to an elected government.
“We strongly encourage the State of Israel to join us and the broader international community in vocally pressing for Sudan’s military leaders to cede power to a credible civilian-led transitional government,” the spokesman said.
“As for the Abraham Accords, as we’ve said, they are a positive development that have had clear benefits for Israel and the region. The United States will continue to look for opportunities to engage with Israel and other countries to normalize relations and expand cooperation.”
The U.S. “strongly supported the decision of Sudan’s civilian-led transitional government to improve the country’s relationship with Israel and applauded the specific commitments that both sides made in that regard,” the State Department spokesperson stated, but “the decision by Sudan’s military leaders to seize power on Oct. 25 has made any further progress in improving these countries’ relationship unsustainable.”
Israel has remained silent in regard to the coup, refraining from condemning it. Instead, the Jewish state has had several exchanges with coup leaders.
In early October 2021, before the coup, Abdel Rahim Hamdan Dagalo, a Sudanese general in charge of the Rapid Support Forces paramilitary, participated in Sudanese delegation that secretly visited Israel. While Dagalo played an instrumental role in the coup, Israeli officials have denied that they knew about the coup plans ahead of time.
In November 2021, an Israeli delegation, including Mossad officials, visited the coup leaders in Sudan. The purpose of the visit was reportedly to find out whether the coup would affect normalization between Sudan and Israel.
In January 2022, another delegation of Israeli officials reportedly traveled to meet with General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the military leader now in charge of running the country. The precise composition of the Israeli delegation and the content of the Sudanese-Israeli talks remains unclear.
Israel’s silence in its communications and contact with Sudanese coup leaders “was perceived in Sudan as proof of Israel’s support for the military leaders,” former Sudanese Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari wrote in Haaretz in April, arguing that it will have a “negative impact” on how the Sudanese public feels about normalization.
“If Israel is interested in continued normalization, and in security and civil stability, it must unequivocally support democracy. By doing so, it will bring about a change in the perception of many Sudanese, who think that Israel is supporting the authoritarian military regime, or acquiescing to it,” Abdulbari wrote.