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Dozens of Sudan protesters burn Israeli flag in rally against normalization

Demonstrators gather outside cabinet offices in capital Khartoum with signs reading ‘Abraham Accords are American blackmail in exchange for submission’

Sudanese demonstrators burn Israeli flags during a rally against their country's recent signing of a deal on normalizing relations with the Jewish state, outside the cabinet offices in the capital Khartoum, on January 17, 2021 (ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)
Sudanese demonstrators burn Israeli flags during a rally against their country's recent signing of a deal on normalizing relations with the Jewish state, outside the cabinet offices in the capital Khartoum, on January 17, 2021 (ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Dozens of Sudanese protesters burned the Israeli flag Sunday during a rally against Khartoum’s recent signing of a deal that would advance normalizing relations with the Jewish state.

Demonstrators gathered outside the cabinet offices in the capital Khartoum, chanting anti-Israel slogans and carrying banners reading, “Normalization is betrayal” and “Normalization is a crime.”

On January 6, Sudan became the third Arab country to sign the US-brokered “Abraham Accords” on normalizing ties with Israel after the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain last year.

Morocco also reestablished diplomatic relations with Israel, after cutting ties in 2000 in solidarity with Palestinians during the Second Intifada. The accords have contributed to the severe isolation and weakening of the Palestinians by eroding a longstanding Arab consensus that recognition of Israel should only be given in return for concessions in the peace process.

A Sudanese demonstrator holds a placard that reads in Arabic ‘The Abraham Accords, a US provocation and the sale of our homeland to the Zionists’ during a rally against their country’s recent signing of a deal on normalizing relations with Israel, outside the cabinet offices in the capital Khartoum, on January 17, 2021 (ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

The protesters, who said they belonged to an anti-normalization group, also carried banners reading “Down with Abraham accords” and “Abraham Accords are American blackmail in exchange for submission.”

Sudan signed the accords less than a month after Washington removed Khartoum from its “state sponsors of terrorism” blacklist as part of a quid pro quo for the East African country normalizing ties with Israel.

In October, Khartoum said its deal with the Jewish state would only come into force after its approval by a yet-to-be-formed parliament.

The country has been undergoing a rocky transition since the army toppled long-time president Omar al-Bashir in 2019 following months of mass protests against his rule, triggered by economic hardship.

Sudanese demonstrators burn Israeli flags during a rally against their country’s recent signing of a deal on normalizing relations with the Jewish state, outside the cabinet offices in the capital Khartoum, on January 17, 2021 (ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

The transitional administration, which took power months after Bashir’s ouster, has been pushing to rebuild the country’s economy beleaguered by decades of US sanctions and internal conflict.

It has sought to boost its international standing by forging closer ties with the US, as it grapples with a deepening economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sudanese demonstrators stem on an Israeli flag during a rally against their country’s recent signing of a deal on normalizing relations with the Jewish state, outside the cabinet offices in the capital Khartoum, on January 17, 2021 (ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP)

Sudan’s economy has also suffered from decades of US sanctions and mismanagement under al-Bashir, who had ruled the country since a 1989 Islamist-backed military coup.

The designation dates back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and other wanted terrorists. Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin visited Sudan earlier this month for a trip focused on the country’s struggling economy and possible US economic assistance, including debt relief. Sudan today has more than $60 billion in foreign debt. Relief from its arrears and access to foreign loans are widely seen as its gateway to economic recovery.

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