Sudan and Israel: Moving Towards Normalization, Then a Coup

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Demonstrators burn tires to block a road in protest of overnight detentions, in Khartoum, Monday.

Sudan's interim prime minister and a number of senior government officials were arrested Monday, the information ministry said, describing the actions as a military coup.

The internet in the country was largely cut off and military forces closed bridges, according to the ministry’s Facebook page. The country's main pro-democracy group and the largest political party urged people in separate appeals to take to the streets to counter the apparent military coup

>> Sudan coup attempt: PM, ministers arrested in Khartoum

>> Israel remains silent on Sudan coup amid normalization push

Monday's arrests come after weeks of rising tensions between Sudan’s civilian and military leaders. A failed coup attempt in September fractured the country along old lines, pitting more-conservative Islamists who want a military government against those who toppled former leader Omar al-Bashir in protests. 

September 23, 2021
Sudan seizes Hamas assets
Hamas Leader Khaled Mashal addresses the 8th General Conference of Sudanese Islamic Movement in Khartoum, 2012.
Hamas Leader Khaled Mashal addresses the 8th General Conference of Sudanese Islamic Movement in Khartoum, 2012.Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Two days after the attempted coup, Sudanese authorities announce that they have taken control of lucrative assets that for years provided backing for Hamas, shedding light on how the country served as a haven for the Palestinian militant group under former leader Omar al-Bashir.

September 21, 2021
Sudan says coup attempt foiled
Sudan's ousted President Omar al-Bashir during his trial in Khartoum, last year.
Sudan's ousted President Omar al-Bashir during his trial in Khartoum, last year.Credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

Sudanese authorities announce the foiling of an attempted coup by plotters loyal to ousted president Omar al-Bashir. Following the failed takeover, military leaders demand reforms to the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC) coalition and the replacement of the cabinet. Civilian leaders, in turn, accuse them of aiming for a power grab. Less than a month later, on October 16, thousands of demonstrators gather in front of the presidential palace in Khartoum, calling for the military to seize power.

June 27, 2021
Blinken holds call with Hamdok
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok holds a press conference in Khartoum, August.
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok holds a press conference in Khartoum, August.Credit: ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

In a telephone call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discusses Sudan’s commitment to normalizing relations with Israel. The telephone conversation with the Sudanese leader comes several days after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee adopts the Israel Relations Normalization Act of 2021, which supports and seeks to expand the normalization pacts.

June 23, 2021
Report says some in Sudanese government irritated by Israel's conduct
Sudanese Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan speaks at a rally in Omdurman district, 2019.
Sudanese Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan speaks at a rally in Omdurman district, 2019.Credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla

Civilian members of the interim Sudanese government express displeasure with the fact that Israeli officials were primarily dealing with their military counterparts, informing Jerusalem via members of the Biden administration that they were being cut out of the process, Axios reported.

According to Axios, “the Israeli government has communicated almost exclusively with the military” and that “there were strong reservations on the civilian side.”

April 6, 2021
Sudan repeals law banning ties with Israel
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok attends a meeting with the World Bank president in Khartoum, last month.
Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok attends a meeting with the World Bank president in Khartoum, last month.Credit: ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

Sudanese cabinet votes to repeal a 1958 law forbidding diplomatic and business relations with Israel while also reaffirming its “its support for the establishment of a Palestinian state."

January 26, 2021
Israel's intelligence minister heads delegation to Sudan
Eli Cohen, then economy minister, in 2020.
Eli Cohen, then economy minister, in 2020.Credit: Marc Israel Sellem / Pool

Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen travels to Sudan as part of Jerusalem’s first official delegation headed by a cabinet level official.

December 14, 2020
U.S. removes Sudan from terrorism list
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands with Sudanese Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling sovereign council, Khartoum, Sudan, August 25, 2020
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stands with Sudanese Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of the ruling sovereign council, Khartoum, Sudan, August 25, 2020Credit: Sudanese Cabinet via AP

Washington removes Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. The removal of the terror designation opens the door for the transitional government to get international loans and aid to service its more than $60 billion in foreign debt.

December 1, 2020
Sudan threatens to nix normalization
The U.S. Capitol stands in Washington, last week.
The U.S. Capitol stands in Washington, last week.Credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Khartoum threatens to stop moving forward with normalization should Congress fail to grant it immunity from future terrorism claims in court. Days later, Axios reports that Israeli officials are actively lobbying US lawmakers to approve the terrorism immunity bill, arguing that nixing the measure will not only set back normalization efforts with Sudan but with other Arab states as well.

October 19, 2020
U.S. announces it will remove Sudan from terror list
Donald Trump speaks with Benjamin Netanyahu on the phone about a Sudan-Israel peace agreement, in the Oval Office, last year.
Donald Trump speaks with Benjamin Netanyahu on the phone about a Sudan-Israel peace agreement, in the Oval Office, last year.Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images/AFP

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump announces that the U.S. would remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism once Khartoum sets aside $335 million for payments for American victims.

August 22, 2020
Report says Mossad chief met with Sudanese official
Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen at the Jerusalem Post conference, this month.
Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen at the Jerusalem Post conference, this month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

London-based newspaper Al-Araby al-Jadid reports that then-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen spoke with General Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, the deputy head of Sudan's Sovereignty Council, in a meeting brokered by the UAE. Sudan denies the report.

February 4, 2020
Netanyahu, Sudanese leader meet in Uganda
Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, last year.
Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, last year.Credit: RONEN ZVULUN / POOL / AFP

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the chief of Sudan's Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, meet in Uganda and agree to start normalizing ties between the two nations.

A senior Sudanese military official says the meeting was orchestrated by the United Arab Emirates. The meeting —which occurred less than a year after President Omar al-Bashir, who ruled Sudan in autocratic style for three decades, was deposed— was condemned by the PLO, which called it “a stab in the back of the Palestinian nation.”

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