The Fall of Sudan’s Ruler May Mark the End of One of the Arab World’s Most Enduring Islamist Regimes

April 17 2019

Last Thursday, the Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir stepped down in response to massive public protests and pressure from within his own government. A committed Islamist, Bashir has in the past cooperated with both al-Qaeda and Iran and presided over the genocidal slaughter in Darfur. Alberto Fernandez comments on the implications of his ouster:

In the months leading up to April 11, many sensed that Bashir was a dead man walking. No one in the region, including the Qataris, Saudis, or Egyptians, had the cash or the will to ameliorate Sudan’s major problems. Formerly, Gulf states had provided substantial temporary relief to Khartoum after South Sudan’s independence in 2011 prompted a steep decline in the north’s oil exports, and in 2015 after the regime distanced itself from Iran. Nor could the country’s new friends in Ankara or old ones in Tehran provide sufficient backing to restore a sustainable status quo. . . .

Past instances of . . . tactical flexibility showed the ruling party’s will to survive. . . . Consider that Sudan went from being a center of global jihadism and a host to Osama bin Laden to signing a peace deal and sharing power from 2005 to 2011 with largely non-Muslim, leftist, and secular rebels. . . . It also went from being a state sponsor of terrorism to cooperating closely with the Central Intelligence Agency on counterterrorism. Moreover, a decade ago, the regime was helpful to Washington on counterterrorism [while simultaneously continuing to aid] Iran in smuggling weapons into Gaza for use by Hamas. . . .

Solely in terms of survival, the Sudanese regime is the most successful Islamist government in the Arab world, excepting the hereditary rulers of the Arabian Peninsula. . . .

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Hamas, Iran, Islamism, Middle East, Sudan

 

At the UN, Nikki Haley Told the Truth about Israel—and the World Didn’t Burn Down

April 22 2019

Although Nikki Haley had never been to Israel when she took the position of American ambassador to the UN, and had no prior foreign-policy experience, she distinguished herself as one of the most capable and vigorous defenders of the Jewish state ever to hold the position. Jon Lerner, who served as Haley’s deputy during her ambassadorship, sees the key to her success—regarding both Israel and many other matters—in her refusal to abide by the polite fictions that the institution holds sacred:

Myths are sometimes assets in international relations. The fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, for example, allows [the U.S.] to sustain [its] relationship with China. In other cases, however, myths can create serious problems. On Israel–Palestinian issues, the Trump administration was determined to test some mythical propositions that many had come to take for granted, and, in some cases, to refute them. Haley’s prominence at the UN arose in large part from a conscious choice to reject myths that had pervaded diplomacy on Israel–Palestinian issues for decades. . . .

[For instance], U.S. presidents were intimidated by the argument that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would trigger violent explosions throughout the Muslim world. President Trump and key colleagues doubted this, and they turned out to be right. Violent reaction in the Palestinian territories was limited, and there was virtually none elsewhere in Arab and Islamic countries. . . .

It turns out that the United States can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests like opposing Iranian threats. The Arab street is not narrowly Israel-minded and is not as volatile as long believed. The sky won’t fall if the U.S. stops funding UN sacred cows like the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). Even if future U.S. administrations revert to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproved. That is a valuable accomplishment that will last long after Nikki Haley’s UN tenure.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, United Nations, US-Israel relations