Iran denounced on Saturday the normalization agreement between Sudan and Israel, saying it was the result of Khartoum paying a “ransom,” as Bahrain became the latest Arab country to welcome the announcement of the deal.
“Pay enough ransom, close your eyes to the crimes against Palestinians, then you’ll be taken off the so-called ‘terrorism’ blacklist,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry tweeted. “Obviously, the list is as phony as the US fight against terrorism. Shameful.”
Sudan was a staunch ally of Iran until 2016, helping the Islamic Republic smuggle rockets and other weapons to Palestinian terror groups in Gaza. This prompted Israel to repeatedly bomb military facilities in Sudan, according to foreign reports.
Before the normalization deal was announced on Friday, US Donald Trump signed a waiver to remove Khartoum from the State Department’s blacklist of state terror sponsors. Congress now has 45 days to approve the measure.
Earlier in the week, Trump announced his intention to sign the waiver after Sudan followed through on its pledge to deliver $335 million to compensate American victims of past terror attacks and their families. Sudan transferred the funds the next day.
The money is meant for victims of the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by the al-Qaeda network while its leader, Osama bin Laden, was living in Sudan.
Sudan’s presence on the terror list — along with Iran, North Korea and Syria — subjects it to crippling economic sanctions and limits the impoverished country’s access to international credit.
Additionally, a senior US official said Friday Sudan has committed to designating Iran-backed Hezbollah as a terror organization as part of the agreement with Israel. The issue was not mentioned in the joint statement from Israel, Sudan and the US released by the White House on the normalization deal.
Trump announced the Israel-Sudan deal on Friday at the White House in a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudan’s leaders.
In the call, Trump said Tehran would also eventually sign an agreement with Jerusalem.
The US president predicted that “ultimately” Iran would possibly “become a member of this whole thing” and get on board the peace process. “I’d love to help Iran,” he said. “They’ve gone from a rich country to a poor country in a period of three years. And I’d love to get them back on track,” he said, emphasizing that they simply can’t have nuclear weapons and must stop shouting “Death to Israel.” He said Iran wants him to lose next month’s elections but will call and seek a deal if he’s reelected.
The agreement with Sudan came after Israel last month signed normalization agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.
On Saturday morning, Manama welcomed the announcement of the agreement between Israel and Sudan.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Bahrain welcomes the announcement of an agreement to establish relations between the Republic of Sudan and the State of Israel, which was facilitated by the United States of America, as an additional historic step towards achieving peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East,” said the ministry in a statement.
Earlier in the morning, the UAE applauded Sudan’s move to normalize relations.
The UAE foreign ministry said the deal was “an important step to boost security and prosperity in the region,” according to the Emirati state news agency WAM.
Egypt, the first country to sign a peace deal with Israel in 1979, was one of the few other Arab countries to publicly praise the Israel-Sudan deal.
“I welcome the joint efforts of the United States, Sudan and Israel to normalize relations between Sudan and Israel and I value all efforts aimed at establishing regional peace and stability,” Egyptian leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi tweeted.
Regional giant Saudi Arabia was notably silent.
While officially stating that it will not normalize ties until Israel signs an internationally recognized peace accord with the Palestinians, Riyadh has given tacit approval to the UAE and Bahrain deals and allowed Israeli aircraft to use its airspace.
The Palestinian leadership blasted the deal, as it did with the normalization agreements with the UAE and Bahrain.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he “condemns and rejects” the Israel-Sudan agreement.
“No one has the right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people and the Palestinian cause,” the statement from Abbas’s office said.
The Hamas terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, also condemned the deal as a “political sin” that harms both Palestinians and Sudanese.
The deal with Sudan will include aid and investment from Israel, particularly in technology and agriculture, along with further debt relief. It comes as Sudan and its transitional government teeter on the edge. Thousands have protested in the country’s capital Khartoum and other regions in recent days over dire economic conditions.