When Israel, declared its independence in 1947, Sudan officially declared war with Israel and did so again in the 1967 Six-Day War. For its part, Israel backed Christian militias that fought the Sudanese government in the First and Second Sudanese Civil Wars. Officially, Israel and Sudan do not currently have bilateral relations, but according to some Israeli sources, they maintain covert ties.
In January 2016, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour floated normalized ties with Israel provided the U.S. government lifts economic sanctions. It was revealed in early September 2016 that Israel had contacted the US government and encouraged them to take steps to improve relations with Sudan in wake of their break in relations with Iran. In February 2020, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan met in Uganda, where they agreed to normalize the ties between the two countries. Later that month, Israeli commercial planes were allowed to fly over Sudan.
Despite these preliminary moves towards normalizing relations, an actual formal agreement is still elusive. Last month, the Sudanese government fired its Foreign Ministry spokesman, Haidar Badawi Sadiq, after he told Sky News Arabia that Sudan was interested in establishing ties with Israel. He claimed talks were currently underway and predicted that a treaty could be signed by the end of the year or in early 2021.
It now appears that Sadiq’s announcement was preemptive but not unfounded. An agreement seems to have been on the agenda when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew from Israel to Sudan last month.
The Nile River flood in Sudan causes disasters! And caused the displacement of half a million citizens from their towns, 100 people were killed “may God have mercy on them”
— Abdulfatah (@a_otaku4) September 7, 2020
This is all part of a wave of peace that is washing over the region. High-ranking Arab diplomats are saying that Bahrain, Morocco, and Oman are on the way to strengthening ties with Israel, but will not take any official steps until Israel and the UAE sign off on a deal for normalization. A peace conference is expected to be held in the near future, though PA President Mahmoud Abbas has already stated that he will not attend.
These moves towards normalizing relations with Israel coincide with major social changes in Sudan. In April, President Omar Al-Bashir was ousted by the military. In the wake of the change in power, the Sudanese government has just agreed to a deal with rebel groups, effectively ending 30 years of rule under Shariah law and Islam as the official state religion. Sudan has asked the US to remove Sudan from the State Department list of state sponsors of terrorism. It has been reported that, among other reforms, the US has conditioned Sudan’s removal from the list on its normalization of diplomatic ties with Israel.
It is interesting to note that these political rumblings are accompanied by natural manifestations. Sudan has been suffering record flooding of the Nile River, its primary water source. The average level of the Blue Nile has reached 17.43 meters, the highest since the country started measuring in 1912, Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas said on Thursday. The Defense and Security Council was prompted to declare a three-month national state of emergency, designating Sudan a “natural disaster zone” after water levels reached the highest ever recorded. More than 100 people have died, over 100 000 homes have been damaged or destroyed, and about half a million residents have been displaced since the start of the rainy season.
Part of the problem is the lack of coordination between Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan regarding water resource management. A recent round of talks under the auspices of the African Union ended inconclusively last month.
Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion, noted that the Nile River can be the source of blessings as well as the source of curses from God.
“When Jacob went to Egypt, he settled in Goshen because of the blessings the Nile bestowed upon the Hebrews,” Rabbi Berger told Israel365 News. “But when it came time for the exile to end, the Nile became the source of several of the plagues. As long as the Egyptians were kind to the Jews, the river remained a source of blessing.”
A Biblical perspective
Rabbi Berger noted that the prophets predicted that the Nile River would play a role in the final redemption.
And the Nile papyrus by the Nile-side And everything sown by the Nile Shall wither, blow away, and vanish. Isaiah 19:7
“This is what is happening in the world today in a manner we have never seen before. Now that the end of the exile is near and the Jews are in Israel, we represent how the nations relate to the God of Israel. As long as we were in exile, this had no practical implications. Nations could hurt the Jews and there was no reaction from Heaven. But the Jews are in Israel, the covenant is in effect, and the final redemption is imminent. The rules have changed.”
Neighboring Chad, another African country considering normalization with Israel, has also been hit by flooding of the Nile with over 120,000 people being displaced.
“This wave of peace is setting the stage for the Messianic age which will be entirely peaceful,” Rabbi Berger said.”Peace will be defined in relation to Israel, which is precisely what we are seeing.”
And the many peoples shall go and say: “Come, Let us go up to the Mount of Hashem, To the House of the God of Yaakov; That He may instruct us in His ways, And that we may walk in His paths.” For instruction shall come forth from Tzion, The word of Hashem from Yerushalayim. Thus He will judge among the nations And arbitrate for the many peoples, And they shall beat their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks: Nation shall not take up Sword against nation; They shall never again know war. Isaiah 2:3-4
“Whoever rejects peace with Israel is going against the flow towards this final peace. And those countries that reject Israel are suffering, sometimes from Heaven and sometimes by their own hand.”
The rabbi emphasized that the pre-redemption peace was much more than a political agreement or a condition of non-violence.
“This must include an acknowledgment of God which translates into positive action including observing the Noahide Laws.”