Sudan President: I Was Advised to Normalize Relations With Israel to Help Stabilize Country

Omar al-Bashir's government has faced protests for months, while Israel has reportedly been working to normalize ties with the Arab nation

FILE PHOTO: Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir addresses the nation on the eve of the 63rd Independence Day anniversary at the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, Sudan December 31, 2018.
REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah/File Photo

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was advised to begin normalizing relations with Israel in order to improve conditions in his country, he said Thursday

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However, Bashir said in a meeting with religious leaders in the capital city of Khartoum and without specifying who gave the advice, "sustenance is in the hands of God."

Bashir's comment came as his government continued to face protests that have roiled the country for the past several months, and which have been met with violence and repression on the part of security forces.  The International Criminal Court charged him in 2009 with crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, where Sudanese forces killed hundreds of thousands of non-Arab members of tribal groups.

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In November, the Sudanese government denied that Israel was working to reestablish diplomatic ties with Khartoum. Two years ago, after Sudan severed its relationship with Iran, Haaretz reported that Israel had urged the United States and other countries to improve their relationship with the Arab African country in response. The Foreign Ministry’s assessment at the time was that Sudan severed its ties with Iran in 2015 because arms smuggling via Sudan to the Gaza Strip had halted and the Sudanese were drawing closer to the Sunni Arab bloc headed by Saudi Arabia.