Wikileaks: Sudan seeks U.S. help to normalize ties with Israel

Posted: September 7, 2011 by PaanLuel Wël Media Ltd. in Junub Sudan

September 6, 2011 (WASHINGTON) – The Sudanese government conveyed to the United States in 2008 its desire to normalize ties with Israel, according to one of the diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks website.
The breathtaking revelation by the anti-secrecy website will likely cause a huge embarrassment to the Islamic government in Khartoum which prides itself as being a staunch supporter of the Palestinian people.
Top Sudanese officials including president Omer Hassan al-Bashir meet publicly with leaders of Islamic militant group Hamas who visit Khartoum.
The leaked document marked as confidential refers to a meeting between Bashir’s adviser Mustafa Osman Ismail and U.S. charge d’Affaires Alberto Fernandez on July 29, 2008. This was almost two weeks after the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor announced his intention to seek an arrest warrant for Bashir on ten counts of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in Darfur.
The Hague tribunal eventually issued the warrant against the Sudanese leader on all ten counts.
In his talks with Fernandez, Ismail accused the then U.S. assistant Secretary of State for African affairs of ordering the special envoy to Sudan Richard Williamson in June 2008 to end negotiations on bilateral talks that were ongoing between Khartoum and Washington.
Williamson at the time said that talks were suspended because leaders from the north and south were not serious about ending fighting in the disputed region of Abyei that has raised concerns about a return to civil war.
’’At this point the leadership of either side is not interested in meaningful peace,’’ Williamson said at the time.
The top U.S. diplomat in Sudan told Ismail as he was not present at the negotiations and as such he was not aware of this but added that he had seen zero evidence that this was the case with either Williamson or Frazer.
"We thought that Williamson was strong and could deliver, but we were wrong – now we will have to see what he will bring when he comes for his next visit" Ismail told Fernandez.
The presidential adviser said that prior to the bilateral discussions it was difficult to convince government hardliners such as Bashir’s assistant Nafie Ali Nafie about working with the U.S.
According to the cable, Ismail then became enthusiastic about the possibility of a breakthrough. As the discussions failed, said Ismail, the hardliners have gained more influence within the regime.
Bashir’s adviser then went on to say that the breakdown in the discussions have had a major impact on their foreign policy. He said that Khartoum drafted a strategy for working with the U.S. with immediate, intermediate, and long-term goals.
As an example, he stated that one aspect of this strategy included normalization of relations with Israel, because "if things were going well with the U.S., you might be able to help us with Israel, as they are your closest ally in the region".
A political analyst in Khartoum told Sudan Tribune that Ismail may have acted out of “desperation” to salvage the regime against the threat of the ICC.
“In an naive way, Ismail thought that he could lure the Americans by throwing the Israel [normalization] card thinking that the Americans would then quickly want to scrap Bashir’s arrest warrant. That was their last ditch attempt” said the analyst who did not want to be named.
Sudan routinely accuses Israel of fueling conflicts in the war ravaged country including the one in the western region of Darfur.
The Jewish state is believed to have conducted two airstrikes in Sudan in 2009 & 2011 that targeted suspected arms convoys and dealers carrying out smuggling operations of weapons into Gaza strip. The Sudanese defense minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein vowed to repel any future attack.
Sudan does not recognize Israel and have ruled out the possibility of doing so. It has reacted with anger for quick steps taken by the new state of South Sudan towards establishing ties with Israel.
Last month the foreign ministry spokesperson Al-Obaid Marawih said Khartoum is concerned that Israel may want to use South Sudan to undermine Sudan’s stability. He also claimed that that ruling party in Juba continued to receive support from Israel to prevent Arab-Muslim expansion.
Ironically, Israel is home to thousands of Sudanese refugees and migrant workers who arrived on foot after crossing Egypt’s Sinai peninsula.
In August, local media reported the intention of state prosecutors to charge the Secretary General of Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) over a visit he allegedly made to Tel Aviv.
The counts were to include spying, collaborating with an enemy state, sedition and war against the state and other codes related to violating the Immigration and Nationality law.

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