Dr. Yechiel Shabi, an expert on the Middle East from Bar Ilan University, explained on Tuesday why Sudan is currently interested in peace with Israel.
"It should be understood that Sudan was ruled until a year ago by a leader who was very closely involved in ties with the global Islamic movements and the most extremist religious leaders in Sudan. The country has very strong Islamic foundations and once it promotes relations with Israel, this could lead to riots and to a strengthening of the Islamic opposition. Sudan wants to earn its removal from the list of terror-supporting countries on one hand and on the other hand to move forward with normalization slowly, one step at a time," Dr. Shabi told Arutz Sheva in an interview.
Each side, he opined, seeks to profit from such an agreement. "For the Americans, the purpose of the contacts with Sudan is to reduce the Chinese effort and involvement in the country. The United States declared the war in Sudan to be a genocide and has issued an arrest warrant against the former leader of the country. Once the Americans did that, the Chinese came and supported the Sudanese who were begging for money and developed the oil industry but also sold them weapons."
"Now the Americans want to reduce the Chinese support and presence and, on the other hand, the Sudanese are seeking to write off billions of dollars in debt and support. The Americans are also demanding an end to ties with global evil centers and payments to American victims, in exchange for removal from the terror list," he added.
Asked what Israel could gain from an agreement with Sudan, Dr. Shabi replied, “Investing in a country that is poverty-stricken and non-progressive. The Sudanese have a lot to gain from relations with Israel. The question is whether it is the right move to tie removing Sudan from the list of terrorist supporters with normalization."
On the question of how such a peace agreement might look, he said, "There is an influx of Israelis, especially business and security people, who want to visit a country that needs and wants rehabilitation. Sudan has enormous natural resources and is poor in manpower. For example, take South Sudan, which was part of Sudan until 20 years ago. Israel has excellent relations with it."
"Beyond that, it is true that Sudan is one of the countries that has led the hawkish line against Israel for years. It appears that Netanyahu and Trump are forming a pro-Israel belt - from the Gulf through Bahrain and Jordan to Saudi Arabia which allowed us to fly through its airspace, to Sudan and Chad and other African countries."
"One of the goals is to cut off the axis of evil that begins in Iran and moves towards Syria, Lebanon and Yemen. Sudan has been heavily invested in relations with the Iranians. At the same time, the Americans are also cutting off Sudan from the Palestinian grip. We should remember that [Hamas founder] Ahmed Yassin visited Sudan before he was eliminated and there were Hamas representatives there. I see huge potential here for both Israel and Sudan," Shabi explained.
In his opinion, "The Sudanese can benefit from Israeli technologies, benefit from investments by Israeli investors and perhaps as normalization takes place slowly, the era of mutual tourism may come. Therefore, I do not rule out the possibility of a more interesting peace between us and Sudan. After all, we have no common border and no land dispute. The conflict is ideological and if Israel is recognized by other Arab countries in the region, there is huge potential for cooperation."
Listen to the interview with Dr. Yechiel Shabi (in Hebrew):