January 2016 - Posts
January 31, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s vice president Hasabo Mohamed Abdel-Rahman has emphasised that the ongoing dialogue conference won’t recommend normalization of ties with Israel.
- Minister Ibrahim Ghandour
The national dialogue initiated by president Omer Hassan al-Bashir last year has officially started in Khartoum last October amid boycott by main opposition parties and armed rebel groups.
Abdel-Rahman, who addressed the final session of the societal dialogue Sunday in Khartoum, said the Sudanese leadership won’t let down or betray its people, stressing that relations with Israel wouldn’t be normalized.
He underlined commitment of the presidency to implement the outcome of the political and societal dialogue, calling for abandoning verbal and physical violence and resorting to dialogue instead of war.
Last November, the head of the little-known Independent party and member of the dialogue conference made a request for normalization with Israel arguing that there was no justification for hostility towards Israel. He pointed out that this stance took a toll on the country politically and economically.
On 18 January, member of the dialogue foreign relations committee Ibrahim Suleiman said views on normalizing relations with Israel have varied between those calling for full normalization and those who reject the idea categorically, saying few members indicated the proposal could be adopted under specific conditions.
Suleiman described the position of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) towards the normalization proposal as “unclear”, saying the view which the latter presented at the conference calls for establishing good relations with all nations.
It is worth to mention that the NCP’s head of political sector, Mustafa Osman Ismail, had earlier said the decision to normalize relations with Israel must be made by the committees of dialogue conference.
Also, Sudan’s foreign minister Ibrahim Ghandour said his country wouldn’t mind considering the possibility of normalizing ties with Israel, underlining that Sudan doesn’t establish relations with one country at the expense of another country.
His statement raised strong reactions within the ruling party and Sudanese Islamists.
Sudan has no diplomatic relations established with Israel and remains hostile to the Jewish state on the grounds that it is occupying Arab lands.
Until recently the Sudanese passport had a stamp on it reading that it is valid for “All Countries Except Israel”.
January 27, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudanese President Omer al-Bashir Wednesday has ordered to open joint border with the neighbouring South Sudan .
- al-Bashir and Salva Kiir
The official news agencySUNA reported that the Bashir has issued a presidential decree ordering to open the border with the South Sudan and "directed the concerned authorities to take all the necessary measures for the implementation of this decision on the ground".
Sudan closed its border with the South Sudan in June 2011, one month before the formal declaration of independence.
At the time, the decision interved days after the start of a rebellion in the South Kordofan by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N). Khartoum accused Juba of supporting the former members of the ruling party in South Sudan.
Last week, Bashir directed to reduce the transit fees for the oil produced in South Sudan. On Monday, President Salva Kiir responded by ordering his army to withdraw from border with Sudan to 5 miles [8km].
Kiir further disclosed that he had dispatched a personal special envoy to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to convey to President al-Bashir his desire to normalise ties with Sudan.
Kiir also predicted that Bashir would direct to open the joint borders for communications, trade and relationship between the peoples of the two, once one, but split nations.
Last November the two countries agreed to reactivate the safe border demilitarized zone agreed on 27 September 2012 and to deploy the UNISFA supported joint monitoring force..
In the past, Khartoum refused to open the border, asking Juba to implement the security agreement and to stop its support to Sudanese rebel groups.
January 25, 2016 (JUBA) - South Sudanese President, Salva Kiir, has ordered his army to withdraw from border with Sudan to 5 miles [8km] away from the border, saying this was in implementation of the peace agreement signed 11 years ago with Sudan and reaffirmed in the cooperation agreement signed in 2012 after independence of the world’s youngest nation.
- al-Bashir and Salva Kiir
"Today, I want to announce to you, beloved citizens of the Republic of South Sudan, that I have instructed those who are concerned with this matter within our government to withdraw forthwith, any of our Republic of South Sudan army units on the borders, to at least five miles south of our common borders of 1st January 1956, in accordance with our commitment to the terms of The Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005 with Khartoum,” the statement reads in part.
The president, according to the statement on Monday, revealed that he had dispatched personal special envoy to the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, to convey to President Omer al-Bashir his desire to normalise ties with Sudan.
"My dear beloved citizens of South Sudan, this is to inform you that during the last three weeks, soon after Christmas, I had decided that we must normalize our relations with our brothers and sisters of our sisterly neighbouring Republic of the Sudan. I had dispatched my personal special envoy to Khartoum since the end of December 2015, who has been discussing this matter of the normalization of our common borders with the Sudanese authorities in Khartoum,” he said.
Kiir also pledged that he will activate all the committees tasked with the implementation of the cooperation agreement, adding that he also understood huge populations from the two countries live in the states at the common borders.
“It is our obligation, responsibility, and duty to cooperate, and to normalize our relations with our brothers and sisters in the Republic of The Sudan for the sake of our people on these mutually agreed common borders.”
He expressed optimism that his counter-part, President Bashir, will also respond “positively” to his message of normalization of the relations and will open the common borders for communications, trade and relationship between the peoples of the two, once one, but split nations.
The new tone to expedite good relations with Khartoum comes as Khartoum agreed to review its oil charges in response to a request by the South Sudanese government. The collapse of oil prices has left the new country virtually with no significant revenues.
Jan 21, 2016 (Roi Kais - Israel News) - While Jerusalem and Khartoum are a long way from normalized relations, the last few months have seen Sudan edge closer to the moderate Sunni camp while speaking openly about improved ties with Israel.
- Minister Ibrahim Ghandour
Relations between Israel and Sudan may be experiencing an unexpected, albeit slight, thaw.
A few days ago, an "international Sudanese dialogue forum" came to a close in Sudan, aimed at uniting the various dominant parties and armed groups in the country. During the forum, which was launched in October by President Omar al-Bashir, the groups discussed various topics such as state law, personal freedoms and foreign policy.
Surprisingly, the issue of normalizing relations with Israel came up a number of times over the three months.
"There is no justification for Sudan having hostile relations with Israel, because it will pay a political and economical price for it," said the head of the Sudanese Independent Party, who viewed the lifting of US sanctions against Sudan as the opening point for normalizing ties with Jerusalem. The sanctions were put in place around two decades ago as a response to Sudan's support for terrorism.
The statements of the Sudanese Independent Party chairman were surprising, but not as surprising as those of Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour.
"The matter of normalized relations with Israel is something that can be looked into," Ghandour said during a convention in the capital Khartoum, in response to an argument heard at the event that Sudan's belligerent stance towards Israel is an embarrassment to Washington.
According to this argument, improved ties with Israel would open the door to creating better ties with the US government. Ghandour's announcement stirred up controversy in Arabic media, leading him to clarify that Sudan is not linking its relations with any specific country to those with another state.
Participants at the forum understood the message that the foreign minister was sending them and several dozen said that they support the establishment of ties with Israel under certain conditions.
"The Arab League supports this approach," said one forum member, Ibrahim Sliman.
Members of al-Bashir's ruling party say that there has been no discussion relating to relations with Israel in any party meetings.
Al-Bashir, who is subject to an international arrest warrant by the Hague for war crimes, said in November 2012 that normalization with Israel is a "red line." His declaration came shortly after Israel attacked a weapons factory in the center of Khartoum.
The surprising dialogue that has arisen surrounding Israel-Sudan relations is likely due to the dramatic developments in the Middle East over the last few months. Nonetheless, it seems that full normalization is still some way off.
Sudan appears to have been edging closer to the moderate Sunni camp over the last two years, while distancing itself from Iran's Shi'i leadership. Two weeks ago, Sudan cut its diplomatic ties with Iran following an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
Over the last few years foreign and Sudanese media have addressed Israel Air Force attacks inside Sudan, aimed at, according to the reports, preventing weapons deliveries to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khameini and al-Bashir. Are weapons shipments from Sudan to Iran a thing of the past? (Photo: AP, Motti Kimchi, AFP)
Relations between Sudan and "resistance movements," i.e. Hamas and Hezbollah, strengthened during the 1990s, particularly since al-Bashir's assumption of power. Sudan's support for Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden embroiled it in a dispute with the US, which hurt Khartoum both politically and economically.
The change began in September 2014 when al-Bashir closed Iranian centers in Sudan and expelled the Iranian cultural attaché under the claim that he had spread Shi'ism in the Sunni country. Sudan was one of the first countries to join the war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are supported by Iran. The peak was reached with Sudan's severing of diplomatic ties with Iran two weeks ago, a step taken by a number of other Sunni countries.
It is not inconceivable that Sudan's actions are a means of winning financial rewards from Saudi Arabia and that it is interested in normalizing ties with Israel in order to improve its financial situation. It is worth remembering that one American visitor who leaked to Wikileaks quoted an adviser to President al-Bashar, Mustafa Osman Ismail, saying in a meeting with senior state officials: "If things with the US go well, you will help us ease matters with Israel, your closest ally in the region."
January 2, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Secretary General of Sudan’s Popular Congress Party (PCP) Hassan al-Turabi said that dialogue is the only option to overcome the national crisis, pointing his party calls for a two-year interim government headed by president Omer al-Bashir.
- Bashir shakes hands with Turabi - 2014
In an interview with the Qatari Al-Sharq newspaper Saturday, Turabi called for allowing freedoms and securing basic rights to resolve the Sudanese crisis, saying that dialogue is the only available option to maintain unity of the country.
He called for establishing good governance that is based upon law, respect for human dignity and commitment to rights and duties, demanding the review of previous governance experiences.
The Islamist leader warned that Sudan is currently facing the dangers of conflicts and disintegration for domestic and external reasons.
“We fear [that Sudan could face the danger] of Somalization or [the fate of countries] surrounding us such as Syria, Libya and Yemen,” he said
“It is high time to end the crises and stop the war in Darfur, South Kordofan and Blue Nile as well as [facing] the external threats and the economic hardships following the secession of South Sudan which led to the loss of 50% of the oil revenues,” he added
Turabi pointed that Sudan is witnessing major changes due to the large increase in the number of colleges and the widespread use of modern means of communication, saying dealing with those developments requires new kind of thinking.
He said his party accepted to participate in the national dialogue initiative launched by President Bashir due to recent developments, noting that all political parties chose to engage in the dialogue.
“Dialogue has become a strategic choice that is adopted by the [political] parties and the armed groups and even the Western nations were convinced [that it is the only option] due to the high cost of conflicts,” he said
The government-led national dialogue conference was inaugurated in Khartoum on October 10th amid large boycott from the major political and armed opposition.
The Islamist leader disclosed that the government and the rebel Sudanese People’s liberation Movement/North (SPLM-N) have made progress in the security talks on South Kordofan and the Blue Nile particularly with regard to the ceasefire and the humanitarian issues.
Turabi added that he was convinced that dialogue can’t achieve the entire demands of the opposition, saying the transition could be achieved by negotiating issues under discussion.
“Many ideas and papers were being presented [to the dialogue] six committees and the outcome of the [dialogue] would establish the bases for the transition,” he said
“ Several views have been laid out [in the dialogue] including amending the constitution, interim period, institutions of governance, formation of a mini government, introducing a post of a prime minister and the continuation of the [current] National Assembly to amend the constitution,” he added
He said that his party called for a two-year transitional government to be headed by President Bashir and a cabinet with large executive powers besides keeping the current legislative institutions to approve the outcome of the dialogue.
“General elections should be held following the end of the interim period and the incumbents of the constitutional and legislative posts wouldn’t be allowed to participate in it. The elected Constitutional Assembly would approve the country’s permanent constitution. Presidency would be rotated among members of a council of states that is formed in a manner to reflect diversity in Sudan,” he said.
He stressed that no party participating in the dialogue would achieve 100% of its objectives, noting the ultimate goal of the dialogue is to resolve the country’s crises, maintain its unity and agree on a permanent constitution.
The PCP was among the first political forces to approve Bashir’s call for the national dialogue. Also, the lslamist party is the only significant political force that didn’t suspend its participation in the process.