Israel has been lobbying U.S. and EU states to soften their opposition to Sudan, whose leadership has engaged in genocide in Darfur and pursued a violent campaign to suppress a secessionist movement in South Sudan, which itself has been riven by civil war after gaining independence. Remember that Sudan’s dictator, Omar al Bashir, is wanted by the ICC for charges of war crimes and genocide. That he was an early supporter of, and provider of refuge for Osama bin Laden before he found refuge in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
For nearly a decade, Israel has frequently but covertly attacked Sudan, which it claimed acted as a way station for Iranian arms shipments to Gaza on behalf of Hamas. Both ships and land-based arms convoys were attacked by the IAF, which even launched a massive attack on a supposed Iranian arms depot, causing massive explosions in Khartoum. Israel has seen Sudan as a puppet of Iran and supporter of Palestinian terror for as long as anyone can remember.
But now all appears forgiven. This is the fruit of the budding bromance between Bibi Netanyahu and the House of Saud. Due to their mutual enmity toward Iran, Israel has parlayed this into a budding love affair with much of the Sunni world including Egypt, the Saudis and the Gulf States.
It appears that as far as al Bashir is concerned Iran couldn’t better the Saudi offer. So the latter, in effect, flipped him. The Saudis don’t make many friends naturally. Not too many even in the Muslim world are attracted to Wahabism, repression of women, and a largely hostile attitude toward much of the outside world. But money talks and there’s lots of it flowing out of Saudi oil wells. So the Saudis showered rials on al Bashir, who is facing economic catastrophe due to a set of economic sanctions against his country.
Bashir became a cheerleader for the Saudi massacre of Shia Houthis in Yemen. His country evicted Iranians from Sudan, even cutting off diplomatic relations. It welcomed the Saudis to take their place.
There is a new compact between Israel and the Saudis. Not many in the west (including the U.S. and Europe) have much favorable to say about Saudi Arabia. It has little influence outside of Riyadh. But Israel, despite its pariah status, does have the ear of policymakers, especially in the U.S. So Israel agreed to run interference on behalf of Sudan.
This seems to have borne some fruit. Secretary of State John Kerry hasn’t seemed to have met a genocidaire he can’t break bread with. You’ve seen that vile photograph of him dining in elegant luxury with Bashar al Assad in the years before the civil war. Now Kerry is meeting with Sudanese diplomats seeking a way to remove U.S. sanctions against their country. How short our memory is when we need someone to do our dirty work for us. Or to reward someone who’s betrayed a former ally we detest (Iran).
How little it surprises me that Israel champions the genocidaires of the world: it arms Congolese rebels who are responsible for killing 4-million there. It champions Paul Kagame, the Rwandan dictator who keeps the fuse well-lit in that decades-old war. Israel also supports the “moderate” Syrian Islamist rebels, al-Nusra, which are affiliated with al Qaeda.
Barak Ravid’s Haaretz story notes an Israeli pivot to Africa in recent years. But he neglects to note that this isn’t a pivot to democratic Africa (Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia). But rather a pivot to the worst dictators and killers known to that continent. The kind of scum who no decent nation or human being would be caught dead with. And those scum whom the Israeli government won’t officially deal with, are serviced gladly by Israeli military contractors who earn billions in consulting fees by providing security, weapons, and computer systems which permit them to rig elections (Zimbabwe) and maintain control of the population.
The next thing you know, there will be African refugees expelled from Israel and dumped in Kharthoum as they currently are in Uganda and other states whose acquiescence has been bought by Israeli arms and trade deals.
So will we anoint al Bashir with oil and christen him a new, redeemed man? Will we give him a free pass at the ICC? God, how the thought disgusts me.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.