Oman, Sudan peace deal with Israel no time soon, says UAE ambassador

The two Arab countries are not in a rush, says Yousef Al Otaiba, despite recent reports that relations are on their way.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The UAE’s ambassador to the United States lowered expectations of either Oman or Sudan rushing to normalize ties with Israel.

Yousef Al Otaiba, who is credited with playing a large role in his country’s agreement to sign the Abraham Accords in September, which established official relations with Israel, cited two major reasons for downplaying the recent optimism that these two countries would soon follow.

Sudan is in the midst of a political changeover that will take time, he said.

Having deposed its long-time dictator Omar al-Bashir in April 2019, the Transitional Military Council (TMC) that was set up is in the midst of executing a 39-month process that is supposed to lead to a new Constitution and free elections in 2022.

Al Otaiba also said that Sudan is looking for a lot more aid from the American government than what the Trump administration has offered so far. The New York Times reported Sunday that the administration offered $800 million, while the TMC has asked for three to four billion dollars. This, in addition to being taken off the U.S. list of terror-supporting states that blocks Sudan from receiving crucial foreign funding.

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The hypothesis that the TMC is in no rush gained credence last Thursday when Sudan’s acting Foreign Minister Omer Ismail told reporters in Geneva, “We are looking at the normalization like any other issue that we look at. There is no urgency there.”

The issue “was not part of discussions in the Sudanese Council of Ministers at any level,” he added.

As for Oman, the state-backed media had publicly praised the Abraham Accords after the White House signing ceremony. However, the ambassador pointed out that the country has a new ruler, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq al Said.

Bin Tariq, who had been the country’s culture minister, took over in January after his cousin, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, died. It is natural that he would have to consolidate his power and tread carefully at first.

Oman has not followed up on the initial positive reaction to Bahrain and the UAE normalizing ties with Israel. In Tuesday’s speech in honor of the opening of the UN General Assembly, its foreign minister made a point of fully backing the Palestinian position regarding its conflict with Israel.

From the standpoint of championing peace, he said, the Sultanate backs “the legitimate and just demands of the Palestinian people, and the establishment of an independent state of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on the basis of international law and the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions as well as the Arab peace initiative, which is based on the principle of land for peace and the two-state solution.”

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The Arab Peace Initiative, formulated by Saudi Arabia in 2002, says that the Arab world would make peace with Israel only after it withdraws to the 1949 Armistice lines.