Sudan’s Burhan and His Sudden Turnabout on Israel (AUDIO INTERVIEW)
The Media Line speaks with an Africa expert on why the leader of a nation deeply identified with the rejectionist front against Israel decided to sit down and talk with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
On Monday, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the transitional leader of Sudan, held a surprise meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Entebbe, Uganda. It can certainly be described as an unusual move, because for decades, the northeast African nation has been an integral part of the rejectionist front against Israel.
It is a Muslim country where longtime dictator Omar al-Bashir, ousted this past April, oversaw a form of Sharia Law. It is a member in good standing of the Arab League. In fact, in September 1967, barely three months after Israel tripled in size during the Six Day War, Sudan hosted an emergency Arab League meeting where the resulting declaration – no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel – was distilled to forever link it with the Sudanese capital: “the three no’s of Khartoum.”
At a more recent Arab League meeting, held this past Saturday in Cairo, Sudan joined in the unanimous “no” to the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan unveiled by the Trump Administration the previous week.
Word of the meeting in Entebbe came from the Israeli side. In Khartoum there was silence – save for growing anger in the streets and an almost embarrassed admission from Burhan’s colleagues: “We, the members of the cabinet, were not notified or consulted about this meeting. We are waiting for the chief of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan to return and give clarification.”
So why the sudden – and stealthy – turnabout? And what does it mean for the precious unity required to bring Sudan to free elections at the end of the transition period?
The Media Line spoke with Ahmed Soliman, a research fellow on matters concerning Africa at London’s Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, to learn more.