The popular revolution that overthrew dictator Omar Al-Bashir in 2019 was seen as a major step forward for the nation of Sudan. Democracy came to the country, and Al-Bashir was able to be brought to justice for the war crimes he oversaw during the Darfur conflict.
Sudan, Israel, and the U.S.
In October 2020, then U.S. President Donald Trump brokered a meeting between Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (the leader of the October 2021 coup) and an Israeli delegation. Trump promised to lift sanctions on Sudan in exchange for normalizing relations with Israel.
Israel soon developed ties with the Sudanese military, with intelligence sharing being established between the two nations’ armed forces.
Following the October 2021 coup, Israel voiced it’s support for Abdel Fattah al-Burhan’s power grab, pointing out that al-Burhan would be more open to normalizing Israel-Sudan relations than Abdalla Hamdok. The United States, on the other hand, had a different reaction.
The new administraion of President Joe Biden supported the civilian government, condemning the coup. A $700M aid package intended for Sudan was cancelled, and the United States called for a reversal to the civilian government and an end to the coup.
Washington was unhappy about Tel Aviv’s links to, and open support of the military coup in Sudan, saying “the normalization effort between Israel and Sudan is something that will have to be evaluated as we and as, of course, Israel watches very closely what happens in the coming hours and the coming days.”.
In a later call with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken would encourage Israel to pressure al-Burhan into ending the coup, using their military ties as leverage. According to an Israeli source, Jerusalem is working to comply with the United States’ request to use its ties with the Sudanese military.
This is the first major test of Biden’s diplomacy abilities when it comes to Israel. At first, I personally thought it would lead to a deterioration of Israeli-American relations and a loss for the Biden administration. However, it seems that Israel has found it more beneficial to maintain it’s close friendship with the United States than to support the Sudanese coup.