Israel urges US, Europe to improve relations with Sudan (?!!?)
I-24 NEWS – Israel has urged the United States and European nations to improve relations with Sudan following the African nation’s split with Iran and its tilt towards the Saudi-led Sunni axis of Muslim countries, Haaretz reported on Wednesday, citing unnamed senior Israeli officials.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry believes Sudan cut ties with Iran about a year ago and that it has halted weapons smuggling to the Gaza Strip, Haaretz said.
Diplomats reportedly urged US Under Secretary Of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, who recently made his first-ever visit to Israel, to increase cooperation with Sudan.
Sudan has requested that the US government remove it from the list of states sponsoring terrorism. Israeli diplomats conveyed to the US that while they do not expect it to cease embargoing Sudan, they encourage a warming in relations, according to the newspaper.
The Sunni Muslim-majority African nation has frequently assisted Israel’s enemies, having for years hosted a Hamas command center and maintained alliances with Iran and Hezbollah. Iran used Sudan as a base for smuggling weapons into Gaza and constructed a factory for long-range rockets for Palestinian militants, according to Haaretz.
The Sudanese government blamed Israel for a number of airstrikes on weapons convoys and other targets between 2008 and 2014.
Long one of Iran’s few Sunni Arab partners, Sudan announced early this year that it would sever ties with Tehran after the execution of a Saudi Shia cleric inflamed tensions in the region.
In March 2015, Sudan joined the coalition in Yemen against Shia Huthi rebels, despite already fighting insurgencies in its own country.
In August of that year, Sudan said it had received a $1bn deposit in its central bank from Saudi Arabia, with media reports at the time saying it was aimed at shoring up Sudan’s foreign reserves.
President Bashir’s 26-year rule has seen Sudan slapped with sanctions over rights abuses and its support for Islamic extremists, including Osama bin Laden.
Bashir himself is wanted on war crimes charges related to the insurgency in the western region of Darfur.
Ties with the rest of the Gulf region disintegrated over Khartoum’s support of the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, leaving Sudan to turn to Iran, also isolated and hit by sanctions.
Reports said Tehran supplied Sudan with ammunition and small arms, helping to develop its arms industry.
But the partnership soured in September 2014, when Sudanese officials ordered the closure of an Iranian cultural center in Khartoum, accusing its employees of preaching Shia Islam in majority Sunni Sudan.
The closure came with the economy faltering after nearly 20 years of sanctions, a situation exacerbated by the secession of South Sudan in 2011, which took with it three quarters of the country’s oil reserves.
The Khartoum government’s subsequent lifting of national fuel subsidies triggered street protests in September 2013, in one of the most serious challenges to Bashir’s rule since he seized power in 1989.
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