Sudan fires spokesman after comments on peace with Israel

Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Haidar Badawi Sadiq was fired on Wednesday, a day after expressing support for peace with Israel. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 August 2020

Sudan fires spokesman after comments on peace with Israel

  • A Sudanese government official told The Associated Press that deliberations between Sudanese and Israeli officials have been going on for months, with help from the US

CAIRO: Sudan on Wednesday fired the spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry, a day after he remarked that the African country was looking forward to making a peace deal with Israel.

The development comes after last week’s bombshell announcement of a deal between the UAE and Israel to normalize relations, which will make the UAE only the third Arab nation, after Egypt and Jordan, to have full ties with Israel.

Sudan’s acting Foreign Minister Omar Qamar Al-Din said he dismissed Ambassador Haidar Badawi from his post after Badawi said his country was “looking forward to concluding a peace agreement with Israel.”

“There is no reason to continue hostility between Sudan and Israel,” Badawi was quoted as saying by Sky News Arabia. “We don’t deny that there are communications” with Israel, he added, saying both countries would gain much from a deal. Badawi’s remarks immediately drew a pledge from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “do all that’s needed” to wrap up a deal.

Qamar Al-Din, the foreign minister, sought to distance himself from Badawi’s comments, saying they were received “with astonishment.” He insisted his ministry had not discussed the issue of ties with Israel.

In February, Netanyahu met with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, the head of Sudan’s transitional government, during a secret trip to Uganda, where both leaders pledged to pursue normalization of ties.

“President Burhan put Sudan on the right track with his meeting with the Israeli prime minister,” Badawi said.

A Sudanese government official told The Associated Press that deliberations between Sudanese and Israeli officials have been going on for months, with help from the US.

“It’s a matter of time. We are finalizing everything,” he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters. “The Emirati move encouraged us and helped calm some voices within the government who were afraid of backlash from the Sudanese public.”

An Israeli deal with Sudan would mark another setback for the Palestinians, who have long counted on the Arab world to press Israel to make concessions to them as a condition for normalization. That wall of Arab support had long served as one of the Palestinians’ few points of leverage against Israel.

Sudan, a majority Arab nation, hosted the landmark Arab conference after the 1967 Mideast war where eight Arab countries approved the “three no’s”: No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations.

But in recent years those hostilities have softened.

Sudan is now on a fragile path to democracy after a popular uprising led the military to overthrow former President Omar Bashir in April 2019. A military-civilian government rules the country, with elections deemed possible in late 2022.

At the time of the Burhan-Netanyahu meeting, the Sudanese military said the talks with Israel were an effort to help end Sudan’s status as an international pariah state.

Sudan is desperate to lift sanctions linked to its listing by the US as a state sponsor of terror. That would be a key step toward ending its isolation and rebuilding its battered economy. The US and Israel are staunch allies.

The designation dates back to the 1990s, when Sudan briefly hosted Osama bin Laden and other wanted militants. Sudan was also believed to have served as a pipeline for Iran to supply weapons to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. Israel was thought to have been behind airstrikes in Sudan that destroyed a convoy in 2009 and a weapons factory in 2012.

European Parliament resolution urges sanctions on Turkey 

Updated 27 November 2020

European Parliament resolution urges sanctions on Turkey 

  • MEPs found that Turkey’s decision to partially reopen Varosha weakened prospects of a solution to the conflict
  • Ankara’s move has been criticized by the US, Greece as well as Greek Cypriots

ANKARA: The European Parliament has called for sanctions on Turkey following President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s controversial visit to Northern Cyprus on Nov. 15.
Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), agreeing on a resolution in support of Cyprus, urged EU leaders to “take action and impose tough sanctions in response to Turkey’s illegal actions.”
The parliament’s non-binding resolution on Nov. 26 emphasized that Turkey’s gas exploration activities in the eastern Mediterranean were illegal. EU leaders are due to meet in Brussels between Dec. 10-11.
MEPs also found that Turkey’s decision to partially reopen the fenced-off suburb of Varosha, in the city of Famagusta, weakened prospects of a far-reaching solution to the decades-long Cypriot conflict.
The Turkish army fenced off Varosha in 1974 after its military intervention, while Greek Cypriots who fled from the resort town could not return to their homes.
“MEPs call on Turkey to transfer Varosha to its lawful inhabitants under the temporary administration of the UN (in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 550 (1984) and to refrain from any actions that alter the demographic balance on the island through a policy of illegal settlement,” the resolution said.
Ankara’s move has been criticized by the US, Greece as well as Greek Cypriots.
The resolution was denounced by Turkey’s Foreign Ministry, which criticized the European Parliament for “being prejudiced and disconnected from the realities” on Cyprus. 
During the EU summit some sanctions, on sectors such as shipping, energy and banking, are expected to be adopted, depending on Germany’s mediation efforts as the current holder of the EU’s six-month presidency.
Laura Batalla Adam, a political analyst and the secretary general of the EU-Turkey Forum, said that even if EU leaders were divided, the possibility of sanctions remained on the table.
“The decision to reopen Varosha just adds to an already extremely tense situation between Turkey and the EU,” she told Arab News. “The next days are going to be decisive as to what kind of sanctions could be imposed, depending on Ankara’s moves in the Eastern Mediterranean.”
According to Batalla Adam, a moratorium on drilling activities until the two sides can enter into negotiations to settle their dispute would be a way to ease tensions and start working on a more positive agenda.
Turkey will continue its seismic studies near Greek islands in the eastern Mediterranean until Nov. 29 with its Oruc Reis research vessel.
Ankara pulled the vessel back in September to allow more room for diplomacy and negotiations with Greece, but sent it back to the disputed area, provoking a harsh reaction from EU members Cyprus, Greece, Germany and France.