The normalization in the relations between Israel and Sudan is a far more important blow to the Iranian plan to take over the Middle East and destroy Israel than the peace agreements between the Jewish state and the two Arab Gulf states Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Bahrain and the UAE have never actively taken part in the wars against Israel that have been raging since 1948 when the State of Israel was founded, and contacts between the parties have been going on for at least more than 25 years.
Sudan on the other hand played a big role in the ongoing war against Israel and was used by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas as a fertile ground for terrorist activity against Israel, while Iran saw the country as part of its Islamist axis.
The fall of the regime of the brutal dictator Omar al-Bashir in 2017 paved the way to the normalization after Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu met in February this year with Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, chairman of the ruling sovereign council of Sudan in the Ugandan capital of Entebbe.
Iran shipped sophisticated weapons bound for the Palestinian Authority and Hamas via Sudan such as the transport of weapons on the ship Karina A during the Second Intifada. The Israeli navy intercepted the vessel in the Red Sea and found fifty tons of weapons bound for Yasser Arafat’s Palestinian Authority (PA).
The crew of the Karina A was originally Sudanese but was replaced in Sudan by members of Fatah, the ruling Palestinian party in the PA, before it sailed to Yemen where Hezbollah and Iranian forces loaded the ship with sophisticated weapons.
Iran also used Sudan to transfer missiles to the Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and this led the Israeli air force to bomb at least three of those weapon transports in Sudan in 2009, 2012, and 2014.
The terrorist activity by those terror organizations was one of the reasons the Israeli spy agency Mossad set up a secret base in an idyllic seaside resort at the shores of the Red Sea in Sudan. The base was also used to smuggle thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel who were stranded in Sudan. Only a few people in Israel knew about the existence of the secret base.
The Sudanese capital Khartoum was the infamous place where the Arab League issued its three no’s against negotiations, normalization, and peace with Israel after the Six-Day War of 1967, but will now be the fifth Arab capital to house an Israeli embassy.
According to Professor Eli Podeh of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, ties between Sudan and Israel date back to the period after the Six-Day War of 1967 when rebel leaders in South Sudan began to seek military assistance from Israel.
“In the years 1972-1969, the Mossad provided assistance to the rebel organization "Anya-Nia" in its struggle against the regime in Khartoum. Ephraim Halevi and David Ben-Uziel (known as "Tarzan") were key figures in this story,” Podeh wrote in an article for the Hebrew language news site Walla.
After dictator al-Bashir was toppled in 2019, secret relations between Sudan and Israel were restored, leading to the official normalization now. At the same time relations between Sudan and Iran were severed and the country became part of the coalition led by Saudi Arabia that fought the Iranian-backed Ansar Allah or Houthi militia in Yemen.
Israel is going to help Sudan in the field of irrigation and agriculture and could help the predominantly Arab African country in other fields as well, such as desalination, medical technology, and more.
According to President Donald J. Trump and current Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, at least five other Muslim and Arab countries will follow the example of the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan and will formalize relations with Israel after the Presidential election in the US at the beginning of November.
One of these countries is Saudi Arabia according to Cohen, who has also played an important role in the process that led to the normalization in the relations with the UAE and Bahrain. The Mossad chief made numerous secret trips to the Gulf States and reportedly also played an important role in the realization of the agreement with Sudan.
Cohen spoke about the coming normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel during closed conversations last week, the Jerusalem Post reported citing the news site N12.
The Mossad director said that the Saudis were waiting with the announcement about normalization in the relations with Israel until after the US presidential election in order to give a “gift” to the winner.
A recent poll by Zogby Research Services revealed that 80 percent of the Saudis are now in favor of normalization in the relations with Israel within the next five years. Cohen thinks that Oman could be the next Arab country to follow the example of Sudan, Bahrain, and the UAE.
The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, Mitvim, of which Podeh is a prominent member, also published a poll showing that a majority of Israelis want to establish normal relations with Saudi Arabia.
The Palestinian leadership reacted with dismay and anger to the news of the normalization in the relations between Sudan and Israel.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) didn’t use the harsh language it uttered after the agreements between the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, however. Instead it issued a statement condemning the deal between Sudan and Israel saying “it affirmed its condemnation of the normalization of relations with the Israeli occupation state that usurps the land of Palestine.”
“No one has the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people,” the statement read.
In previous statements about the UAE and Bahrain deal the PA spoke about “backstabbing the Palestinian people” and about “betrayal and treason”. That, in turn, gave rise to anger in the Arab Gulf States where many Palestinian Arabs reside.
For this reason, a PA official clarified that the Palestinian leadership has to take into account “ the interests of Palestinians living in Arab countries.”
The real reason, however, that the PA reacted in more muted fashion to the normalization in the relations between Sudan and Israel is that the PA leadership realizes that it should be careful not to lose support from other Arab countries. The PA knows that it cannot afford to go on a collision course with Egypt, and that country has already lauded the normalization in the relations between Sudan and Israel. Nor can it anger Saudi Arabia, which is firmly on the side of Sudan, UAE, and Bahrain and is now considering following suit.