columnMiddle East

Israel is willing to mediate in Sudan’s civil war

The violence endangers regional stability and the normalization process between once-belligerent countries.

Germany evacuated around 780 people from 40 nations from Sudan, including 230 Germans. Credit: German Embassy London.
Germany evacuated around 780 people from 40 nations from Sudan, including 230 Germans. Credit: German Embassy London.
Yoni Ben Menachem
Yoni Ben Menachem, a veteran Arab affairs and diplomatic commentator for Israel Radio and Television, is a senior Middle East analyst for the Jerusalem Center. He served as director general and chief editor of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.

Israel and the United States were surprised by the outbreak of the war in Sudan. Their working assumption was that an agreement on the establishment of a civilian government would soon be reached, but the negotiations on its establishment failed due to power struggles between Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the commander of the Sudanese army, and Gen. Mohamed Hamdan “Hemedti” Dagalo, the commander of the Rapid Support Forces, which turned into a civil war.

In coordination with the United States and the United Arab Emirates, Israel took an unprecedented step and is trying to mediate between two generals who are now the rulers of Sudan and who claim to represent the Sudanese people after they deposed the previous ruler, Omar al-Bashir, in a military coup in 2019.

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen invited al-Burhan and Dagalo to come to Israel and conduct negotiations on a ceasefire in Sudan under Israeli auspices.

Israel has familiarity with the two sides and can significantly influence both.

Security sources point out that the Israeli Foreign Ministry has a good relationship with al-Burhan, with whom it is working on the issue of the normalization agreement reached in October 2020, while the Mossad has a good relationship with Hemedti on security and counterterrorism issues. It also coordinates operations on the internal situation in Sudan with Gen. Abdel Rahim Dagalo, Hemedti’s brother and deputy in the headquarters of the Rapid Response Forces.

Al-Burhan and Hemedti did not reject the Israeli offer outright but neither did they respond positively, and contact with them continues.

Israel fears that Sudan will fragment into a long civil war that will not only eliminate any chance of reaching a peace agreement between the two countries but will destabilize the region.

A blow to the normalization process

Sudan disintegrating into a long civil war could split and divide it into small countries. If this scenario were to materialize, it could mean that a peace agreement between Sudan and Israel would not be signed, which would damage the mutually beneficial normalization process between Israel and the Arab countries that the “axis of resistance” led by Iran is trying to thwart.

Media sources in Iran and Hamas spread the conspiracy theory that the Israeli mediation initiative is intended to subject Sudan to Israeli control as part of an Israeli-American effort to split Sudan and Arab countries and to create an Israeli leadership that will lead certain Arab countries politically, economically and socially.

Yousif Izzat, the political adviser to Hemedti, gave an interview to Israel’s Kan News a few days ago in which he claimed that the capital Khartoum and the Rapid Response Forces are subject to attack by the Sudanese army just as Israel is subject to attacks by terrorist organizations such as Hamas and other organizations. Izzat was a representative of Sudan at a JCPA conference recently held in Jerusalem.

Hamas cites the ties of Sudanese generals such as Hemedti to Israel to claim Sudanese leaders are hostile towards Palestinians.

Hamas accuses the Arab countries of standing on the sidelines and not acting in Sudan, which makes it difficult for foreign parties including Israel and the United States to intervene in an attempt to create a political reality in Sudan that will serve their interests.

The balance of power is now changing in the Middle East as the United States is gradually withdrawing and the Iranian axis with China and Russia is growing in influence.

Therefore, it is critical that Israel and the United States prevent a protracted civil war in Sudan, which has the potential to destabilize the entire region and undo the normalization process underway since the UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords in September 2020.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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