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Sudan military leader says ties with Israel ‘may eventually take a natural form’

Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who led October coup, says normalization was ‘necessary to return Sudan to the international community’

Sudan's top army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan holds a press conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum on October 26, 2021. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)
Sudan's top army general Abdel Fattah al-Burhan holds a press conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum on October 26, 2021. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)

Sudan’s top general, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has said that “Sudan’s relationship with Israel may eventually take a natural form.”

In an interview with the Al Arabiya network published Friday, al-Burhan added that normalization with Israel was “necessary to return Sudan to the international community.”

A key motivator in Sudan’s decision to normalize ties with Israel last year was then-US President Donald Trump’s decision to remove Khartoum from the State Department’s blacklist of state terror sponsors

Al-Burhan seized power and detained Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on October 25, but after international condemnation and mass protests he reinstated the premier nearly a month later, in a deal that many in the pro-democracy movement oppose.

Anti-coup protests have been repeatedly held in Khartoum and other cities around the country to demand that the armed forces stay out of government. Sudanese security forces have cracked down on the rallies and have killed dozens protesters

Al-Burhan told Al Arabiya that the deal with Hamdok “was a real beginning of a transitional period in the country,” claiming that “many of the tasks of the transitional period have not been accomplished by political forces.”

He asserted that “the entire Sudanese people support our decisions, and some elites reject them.”

And he maintained that he did not seek to lead the country and would not run for the Sudanese presidency, saying: “I have a specific mission that I am committed to before the people and the army, which is to complete the transitional period. I will not run for the presidency even if I am asked to do so. My mission ends with the end of the transitional period.”

Sudanese Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan speaks during a press conference at the General Command of the Armed Forces in Khartoum, on October 26, 2021. (Ashraf Shazly/AFP)

On the subject of slain protesters, the general said peaceful demonstration was “a right guaranteed to all,” that fatalities were “unacceptable, and we will hold those involved accountable.”

Last month the Israeli Walla news site reported that an Israeli delegation visited Sudan after the coup, meeting with military leaders in order to gain a better impression of the volatile situation in the north African country and how it might impact efforts to finalize an agreement to normalize diplomatic ties.

The delegation, which likely included representatives from the Mossad spy agency, met with Abdel Rahim Hamdan Dagalo, a prominent general in the Rapid Support Forces, a Sudanese paramilitary force that took part in the coup, Walla reported.

Sudanese protesters call for a civilian government during demonstrations near the presidential palace in Khartoum, Sudan, November 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Marwan Ali)

It was the military, not the civilian leadership, in Sudan that played a more active role in advancing normalization with Israel last year. Burhan had been the more prominent player leading normalization efforts in Israel.

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