A US-Israeli conflict in Sudan: Coup d’Etat or Readjustment of the Partnership?

Written by – Elijah J. Magnier:

In 1992, I asked the President (Speaker) of the National Transitional Council, Mohamed Al-Amin Khalifa, at his office in Khartoum: Who rules Sudan, Omar al-Bashir or Hasan al-Turabi? During that period, al-Turabi had told me when I visited his house in the Sudanese capital that he thought “an officer (al-Bashir) in charge of the country would please the west”. But the Sudanese Speaker answered me: “God is the ruler of all of us”. Almost three years have passed, and Sudan is without a Parliament or a Speaker. Today Sudan is once more ruled by the military, who have turned against the civilian partner in the government.

The regime of Omar al-Bashir was overthrown in April 2019, so that Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan took over the reins of power in the name of a “transitional sovereign council” composed of civilians and military. With the arrival of a transitional government preparing for upcoming parliamentary elections in 2023, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and his ministers found themselves in the military’s grip, with Lt General Al-Burhan becoming the sole ruler of Sudan. The detention of the Prime Minister and most of his cabinet members – Foreign Minister Mariam al-Sadiq al-Mahdi is one of the few not in custody – took place only one hour after he praised General Al-Burhan. Hamdok found himself arrested and accused of “sedition and racism that aims to lead the country to civil war, hijack the revolution and target the armed forces.” 

Lt-General Al-Burhan issued his orders to detain Prime Minister Hamdok and many of his ministers and other political party leaders. The military stormed the building of the radio and television headquarters in the city of Omdurman. Al-Burhan sacked six Sudanese ambassadors in the US, EU, Qatar, Switzerland and China, who criticised his action.

Israel stands in support of the military government headed by Al-Burhan. Though the US supported the 15thPrime Minister of Sudan Hamdok, the Sudanese Army Command first threw him in jail but then put him under house arrest. He was allowed to receive a call from US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and welcome western diplomats at his house. The US intervention successfully obtained the temporary release of the Prime Minister from jail with no local visitors allowed and heavily armed guards surrounding his home. Many countries support the Coup dÉtat, and many others are against it.

Regional countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates – who consider the military command as a rare non-Islamic ruler and enjoy good ties with Israel – want to exclude from power the Islamists and the leftists represented by the Prime Minister. They, including Israel, instead prefer to stand by a solid Sudanese military ruler. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have provided the Sudanese military council with 3 billion dollars in aid. These countries fear the Islamists – supported by Qatar and Turkey – as a threat to their monarchy and ruling, and Egypt considers the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group. They are taking advantage of the deteriorating economic situation to support the military coup led by Lt-General al-Burhan, endowed with the power to change the “constitutional document” without any consultation or accountability. During the 1990s, under President Omar al-Bashir, Sudan hosted Usama Bin Laden and was


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Proofread by: Maurice Brasher