Sources close to Sudan's Sovereignty Council told i24NEWS Israel and Sudan will initiate normalizing ties this weekend with a Sudanese-Israeli Friendship Association opening in Khartoum next Saturday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also expected to meet Sudanese premier Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in Uganda in the coming days. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni hosted informal talks between Netanyahu and al-Burhan about normalizing relations last February. However, Sudan's cabinet objected to not being "notified or consulted" about the February meeting and the Forces of Freedom and Change, a coalition of civilian groups governing Sudan according to a power-sharing agreement with the Transitional Military Council, said al-Burhan lacked the authority to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel. In August, Sudanese acting Foreign Minister Omar Qamar al-Din Ismail fired Foreign Ministry spokesman Haidar Badawi Sadiq less than 24 hours after the latter told Sky News Arabia that Khartoum wants to normalize relations with Israel. Then, a week later, Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok informed Mike Pompeo, "The transitional government does not have a mandate... to decide on normalization with Israel." Yet, speculation that Sudan will imminently recognize Israel increased when American UN Ambassador Kelly Craft told Al Arabiya yesterday that another Arab country will sign a peace deal with Israel in the "next day or two." Craft's statement followed three days of UAE-mediated talks between US and Sudanese delegations that al-Burhan acknowledged touched on recognizing Israel. But, Axios reported the UAE-mediated talks ended without a breakthrough on Sudanese recognition of Israel.
The IMF's Executive Board endorsed Sudan's Staff-Monitored Program, which was approved by the Managing Director on September 9. Sudan's foreign debt surpassed 190 percent of GDP in 2019 while inflation hit 167 percent last month. Khartoum reached out to IMF to monitor its reform program, which involves cutting fuel subsidies and widening the tax base, in the hope of ultimately unlocking debt relief.
Washington granted Iraq a 60-day sanctions waiver to import Iranian gas for its crippled power grids as well as Iranian electricity. Washington has continually renewed the waivers since blacklisting Iran's energy industry after withdrawing from the JCPOA in 2018. These waivers were intended to give Iraq breathing room to ramp up domestic production and find other foreign suppliers. The last waiver covered 120 days and the shorter duration of the one issued Thursday reflects American frustration that Iraq still relies on Iran for nearly 30 percent of its electricity needs.
The State Department announced Thursday it will impose sanctions on two Iranian judges, Seyyed Mahmoud Sadati and Mohammad Soltani. Sadati reportedly presided over part of the judicial proceedings culminating in Iranian wrestler Navid Afkari's execution earlier this month. Iranian courts sentenced Afkari to death for purportedly murdering a plainclothes agent during 2018 protests against poor living conditions. Afkari claimed authorities extracted his confession through torture. Religious hardliners allegedly instigated the protests to destabilize "reformist" President Hassan Rouhani, but the demonstrators quickly turned against the entire regime.
The US Thursday pledged more than $720 million in additional humanitarian assistance for Syrians as part of ongoing effort to provide food, shelter, education, medical care, professional opportunities, safe drinking water, hygiene supplies, and access to mental health resources. This brings the total American aid to Syria and Syrian refugees since the beginning of the civil war to more than $12 billion.
Micah Levinson is the Washington, DC Resident Fellow at the Middle East Forum