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Reports: Israeli delegation lands in Sudan for meeting with ruling general

Israeli officials said set to meet Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, as country is beset by anti-coup demonstrations and violence; senior US diplomats arrive to resolve crisis

People hold flags during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, January 17, 2022. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest the 2021 coup that has plunged the country into grinding deadlock. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)
People hold flags during a protest in Khartoum, Sudan, January 17, 2022. Thousands of people took to the streets to protest the 2021 coup that has plunged the country into grinding deadlock. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

A plane carrying a delegation of Israeli officials landed in Khartoum, Sudan, on Wednesday, Kan news reported.

According to the outlet, the plane departed Tel Aviv on Wednesday morning and made a brief stop in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt before arriving in Khartoum.

Kan added that according to the Saudi Al-Arabiya news outlet, the “Israeli military delegation” was slated to meet with Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who seized power in a coup last year.

A Sudanese military source told Al-Jazeera the Israeli delegation was greeted by the second-in-command of the Rapid Support Forces, a Sudanese paramilitary force that took part in the coup.

The Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the report.

An Israeli delegation was last reported to have visited Sudan in November, and to have met with Abdel Rahim Hamdan Dagalo, a prominent general in the Rapid Support Forces prior to the coup.

Separately, two senior US diplomats were in Sudan Wednesday to try and help find a way out of the ongoing crisis roiling the African country since the October military coup.

US Assistant Secretary of State Molly Phee and the newly appointed US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, first met with pro-democracy activists from the Sudanese Professionals Association, according to the US Embassy in Khartoum. They were also to later meet with the ruling generals and other political figures.

The activists led the uprising against al-Bashir and are now a pillar of anti-coup protests that have demanded a fully civilian government to lead the transition.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price said earlier this week that Phee and Satterfield would reiterate Washington’s call for Sudanese security forces to “end violence and respect freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.”

Before arriving in Khartoum, Phee and Satterfield attended a meeting of the Friends of Sudan group in Saudi Arabia to rally support for UN efforts to end Sudan’s ongoing deadlock. The group includes the United States, Britain and other international governments and world financial institutions.

Sudan’s turmoil has been worsened following the resignation of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok earlier this month. Hamdok, who was ousted in the October coup only to be reinstated a month later under heavy international pressure, stepped down on Jan. 2 after his efforts to reach a compromise failed.

On Monday, security forces opened fire on anti-coup protests in Khartoum, killing at least seven people and wounding around 100. The fatalities have brought the death tally among protesters since the coup to more than 70.

Sudanese protesters walk past burning tires as they rally to protest against the October 2021 military coup, in the capital Khartoum, on January 9, 2022 (AFP)

Sudan and Israel agreed to normalize ties last year, although progress has been slow amid government instability and anti-Israel sentiment among the public.

It was the military — not the civilian — leadership in Sudan that played a more active role in advancing normalization with Israel.

While much of the Western world has condemned the coup, Israel has remained notably silent.

Former US president Donald Trump agreed to support Sudan, including by removing the country from a list of state sponsors of terrorism, after it consented under US pressure to normalize relations with Israel.

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