Gulf media speculates on Israel-Sudan relations, secret Lebanese talks

UAE media is speculating on Israel’s possible relationship with Sudan amid widespread rumors across the Middle East.

An Israeli delegation visited Khartoum on Wednesday to discuss signing a peace agreement between the two countries, “informed Sudanese sources” told Al Ain News, an online news portal based in the UAE.

In addition Kuwait’s Al-Jarida claimed to reveal secret talks between Israel and Lebanon that may predate the recent discussions about demarcating water boundaries.

The anonymous sources quoted by Al Ain News said the delegation, whose composition was not known, “met with the head of the Sudanese Sovereignty Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. “The meeting discussed the issue of signing a peace agreement between Tel Aviv [sic] and Khartoum, at a time when the United States announced its intention to remove Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism.” The article said the Sudanese government did not confirm the meeting as of press time.

Al Ain News also reported on Israeli media reports about an “imminent peace agreement” between the countries. The agreement would be the third after the UAE announced normalization in August and Bahrain in September. Both agreements have now been signed, and an Israeli delegation visited Bahrain this week and a UAE delegation traveled to Israel. Sudan would be the fifth Arab country to make peace with Israel, Al Ain News said.

Sudan has an important role in the history of modern Israel. Ethiopian Jews came to Israel in the 1980s via refugee camps in Sudan. In addition, Sudan was where the famous “Three No’s” (no to peace, no negotiations and no recognition) resolution of the Arab League was made following the Six Day War in 1967.

In the 1980s, then defense minister Ariel Sharon met Sudanese president Jaafar Nimeiry, according to the Associated Press. In 1985, according to an Egyptian newspaper, Sharon met Nimeiry in Kenya in a meeting arranged by Saudi businessman Adnan Khashoggi, AP reported.

At the same time, Al-Jarida in Kuwait reported that security sources revealed negotiations between Israel and Lebanon about demarcating the border. This issue was one that the US announced last month and the first round took place earlier this month.

The negotiations are the result of many years of efforts, including a “major secret role of former Lebanese foreign minister Gebran Bassil, Lebanese President Michael Aoun’s son-in-law,” a source told Al-Jarida. The report comes as announcements of Saad Hariri being renamed as Lebanon’s new prime minister.

According to the report, Bassil had worked on securing Lebanese Hezbollah acceptance of the discussions and had also worked with Nabih Berri of the Amal Movement. Aoun is an ally of Hezbollah.

Al-Jarida’s report claims that “the majority of the points of contention were overcome during the secret direct and indirect meetings between the two sides under American auspices.” The report points out that this is important to Egypt, Cyprus, Greece and other countries regarding economic zones in the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, UAE State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash has spoken about the need to build trust across the Gulf and reduce escalation in the region. This appears to be directed at messaging to Iran and perhaps Qatar. “Peace and stability” is essential, he tweeted.

Gargash, like other UAE key leaders and foreign diplomats, has been central to the new initiatives the UAE is involved in, including peace with Israel. The report about Gargash was in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is continuing to challenge Turkey by boycotting Turkish products. This week, Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sisi was in Cyprus with Greek and Cypriot leaders discussing joint work and also messaging about reducing tensions with Turkey. The tripartite summit between Sisi, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades and Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was held in the Cypriot capital of Nicosia on Wednesday.

The summit “discussed means of enhancing joint tripartite cooperation in various fields and developing the historical relations that bind the three countries together,” the Egypt Independent online newspaper quoted Egyptian presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady as saying.

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