For Peace between Israel and Sudan to Succeed, Further American Help Is Necessary

November 20, 2020 | Orde Kittrie and Varsha Koduvayur
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Because Sudan is currently ruled by a transitional government as it recovers from many years of Islamist dictatorship, there is reason to doubt the longevity of any action taken in Khartoum, the recent normalization with Israel included. But, argue Orde Kittrie and Varsha Koduvayur, the U.S. can help preserve the fragile peace agreement by assisting Sudan as it moves toward democracy, and by aiding its overall stability. They write:

Abdelfattah al-Burhan, the head of Sudan’s military council and the country’s de-facto head of state, said key steps in enhancing relations with Israel will be delayed until they are submitted for approval by a legislative council that has not yet been established. Meanwhile, three Sudanese political parties responded to the joint statement by threatening to withdraw from the coalition backing Sudan’s transitional government.

Unless appropriately bolstered, progress towards Sudan-Israel peace risks stalling or worse. History shows that steps towards peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors can collapse in the absence of sufficient traction. Israel and Lebanon signed a peace agreement in 1983, but Lebanon canceled it a year later. Four other Arab states each at one time had, but then canceled, formal economic or other less-than-full diplomatic relations with Israel—Morocco (1994-2000), Oman (1996-2000), Qatar (1996-2000), and Tunisia (1996-2000).

The extent to which stable Sudanese democracy and comprehensive, lasting Sudan-Israel peace result from the recent U.S.-Sudan rapprochement depends heavily on next steps by Washington to implement two still-pending elements of the multipart agreement it reached with Khartoum in October.

As this process unfolds, Washington may need to be patient with Sudan and to keep Khartoum’s limits in mind. Each additional improved relationship between Israel and an Arab country, including Sudan, is good for the United States and the region. But a cautionary lesson is provided by the five prior Israeli rapprochements . . . which collapsed absent sufficient traction. The current enthusiastic embrace of peace with Israel by the UAE and Bahrain will be much more encouraging to other Arab states if it is not accompanied by a collapsed process involving a weakened Sudanese government giving in to protestors.

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