KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - This week the magazine will review three selected press columns of the foregoing week on the official visit paid by the Chairman of Sudan’s Transitional Sovereign Council (TSC) to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) this month, since it has stirred a lot of controversy and conflicting views, as published in various Sudanese press and media forums.
In an article entitled ‘Don’t Lie to Us’ published on 22nd September, in his column ‘Agenda’ at ‘El-Sudani’ newspaper, columnist Abdelhameed Awad commented on the chairman’s visit to the UAE from a ‘matter-of-principle’ perspective, opening the article by relating to his readers a meeting held at the presidential palace, on the 13th of September, between Sudan’s minister of justice Dr. Nasreldin Abdelbari and the chairman of the transitional sovereign council. In relation to that palace meeting, a concise press statement was released on the official facebook webpage of the sovereign council to the effect that the justice minister had reviewed with the chairman his ministry’s role in establishing solid foundations for justice values and principles. That concise statement was quickly dubbed by many journalists, the writer included, as ‘false’ and ‘sloppy’ camouflage for the real purpose of the minister’s meeting, which was originally held to arrange for the chairman’s visit to the UAE in order to negotiate delisting of Sudan as state-sponsor of terrorism in a series of tripartite meetings including Sudan, UAE and USA. The UAE meetings were also planned to discuss the normalizing of Sudan’s ties with Israel as would later become revealed.
Columnist Abdelhameed expressed the opinion that it would have been a face-saving tactic for the sovereign council and the ministry of justice to remain silent over the purpose of the minister’s meeting with the sovereign council chairman on September 13th, instead of misleading the public, in the same manner as was customary all through the defunct regime’s rule of 30 years.
The writer also lamented the fact that the Sudanese transitional government adopted an attitude of unjustified silence over the real purpose of the presidential palace meeting even after 24 hours of the chairman delegation’s arrival at the UAE and the launching of negotiation meetings. The writer expressed shame and sorrow that the Sudanese people would have to resort to foreign media channels to know about what was happening in those negotiation meetings instead of receiving the news firsthand from Sudanese national media and press.
The writer concluded his article by relating a statement made by Sudanese patriot Osman Digna when he was captured by colonization authorities upon a snitch report by a close ally of his, as he told the snitcher ‘Hope you haven’t sold me cheap!’.
The subject of the visit itself, i.e. delisting versus normalizing of ties with Israel, has also been prone to pros and cons views by journalists, particularly column writers.
As an example of the supportive views we hereby review an article by Dr. Elnour Hamad, as published in his column at ‘El-Tayyar’ newspaper.
Dr. Elnour stated that the purpose of his commentary review on the issue of normalizing Sudan’s ties with Israel was meant to break off the mental and psychological barrier that had long been standing in the way of Sudan’s normal dealings with Israel, especially that many countries in the region had already had ties of some sort or another with Israel, including Egypt and Jordan. Elnour said it was high time that Sudanese people and politicians should think rationally about what was of best value to Sudan from a mere point of national interest instead of adopting unrealistic publically-declared agenda of other Arab countries that had all-along been dealing with Israel under the table since the 1990s.
Dr. Elnour also highlighted many instances of the paradoxical fact that the political Islamist movement in Sudan has been preaching boycotting of Israel while their mentors in Turkey and Qatar do deal openly with Israel. The writer also referred to the opposition stand adopted by long-time politician El-Sadiq El-Mahdi against normalizing ties with Israel while his party’s leadership had long ago expressed interest in having normal ties with Israel, ever since the 1950s. The third instance, as referred to by columnist Elnour, was the anti-normalization position taken by the Sudanese Communist Party, where the writer indicated that the Soviet Union, under the communist rule, was one of the first state-recognizers of Israel as sovereign state. Even after the Arab’s defeat of 1967 and Israel’s occupation of Sinai and the Golan Heights, the Sudanese Communist Party, as well as other communist parties in the Arab world, could not dare to call upon the Soviet Union to withdraw its recognition of Israel as sovereign state in the Middle East.
The writer also refers to the fact that the Palestinians themselves have had normal dealings and ties with Israel since very long time, where certain factions of them signed the Oslo deal with the Israeli state long time ago.
In addition to possible future exchange of interests between Sudan and Israel following normalization of ties, the writer sees in the normalization a historic opportunity for Sudanese people to break away from the attitude of supporting futile causes that have long been abandoned by their own initiators.
On a further note, the writer admitted that Israel has been committing numerous trespassing instances and human rights violations and atrocities; yet he contested that if we were to base our political and bilateral relations with countries on basis of their human rights record, we should have severed bilateral relations with many Arab and non-Arab countries around us.
The writer concluded by saying that any options made as regards the establishing of either close or reserved ties with Israel should be made within the context of recognizing Israel as a sovereign state.
Opposing views to normalizing Sudan’s ties with Israel may be represented by an article published in ‘Sudanile’ by Ms. Umsalama El-Sadiq El-Mahdi on 25th September 2020. Umsalama claimed that Lt. General Elburhan had exceeded his mandate by holding those normalization talks, since all matters of external relations fall under the umbrella of the ministry of foreign affairs. Added to this the transitional government has no mandate to decide into the issue of normalizing ties with Israel.
Umsalama also expresses the opinion that normal ties between countries are usually based on mutual benefits, defending that Israel’s theological stands and methodical attitude of aggression and occupation disqualify it as a country seeking peaceful co-existence with its neighbors, especially that Israel still classifies Arab and Muslim countries, even those which have already normalized ties with it, as foes. Therefore, upon 70 years of declaration of Israel as sovereign state, only a handful number of countries have so far normalized ties with Israel, stated Umsalama.
The writer also reviewed examples of some Arab states that have already normalized ties with Israel focusing on Egypt, where she numerated a number of losses incurred upon the Egyptians, where until today Egypt doesn’t have full sovereignty over Sinai, as they can neither construct airports nor have large military enhancements or armed forces on the ground under Camp David deal. Israel, on the other hand, has won two crucial benefits: semi-international recognition, and strategic intelligence alliance with Egypt under the wide umbrella of countering terrorism, though Egypt is still classified as strategic enemy by Israeli military policy makers. Permission for Egypt to export gas to Israel for 20 years as of 2005, adds to the benefits gained by Israel. Also, there are complaints that cancerous agricultural inputs have been entering Egypt from Israel.
On the popular level, Umsalama states that Egypt has suffered greatly in consequence of normalizing ties with Israel. The Egyptian people were emotionally against normalizing ties with Israel, she said. Therefore the peace deal remains a government-to-government issue and has never garnered popular support. Umsalama gave examples of popular opposition and dissent including the assassination of President Sadat, the assault on an Israeli tourist bus on 9th February 1990, and the attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo in 2011 following an attack by Israel military that resulted in the murder of 6 Egyptian soldiers.
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