South Sudan-Israel Oil Deal Strains Juba-Khartoum Talks

Article Summary
A recent oil deal between South Sudan and Israel has caused an outcry in Khartoum, amid claims that the deal violates the Addis Ababa agreement, writes Al-Nour Ahmad al-Nour.

Qutbi al-Mahdi, the former head of Sudanese intelligence and member of the ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) political bureau, said that the southern state's announcement of an agreement to sell its oil to Israel deals a blow to the Addis Ababa agreement between South Sudan and Khartoum. The NCP also accused the EU and the US of backing the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) rebels with $24 million to support their political and military activity and to overthrow President Omar al-Bashir.

Mahdi said his government would not allow the passage of southern oil through Sudanese territory to Israel. He added that the Addis Ababa agreement did not specify which parties the South is allowed to sell oil to, but that this agreement would not prevent Khartoum from issuing a sovereign resolution banning the export of southern oil through Sudan to Tel Aviv.

Mahdi characterized the announcement of Juba’s agreement with Israel as an attempt to encourage negotiators from the south to act more stubbornly and downgrade the oil issue — especially since the Sudanese government has continuously linked oil exports to the implementation of the security agreement and to the southern army's disengagement from the SPLM-N rebels. Mahdi ruled out the possibility that the Juba and Tel Aviv agreement would affect the Sudanese economy, and said: "We have planned our budget so as not to avoid relying on southern oil revenues."

The oil minister in the South Sudan Government, Stephen Dhieu Dau, had announced an agreement to sell oil to Israel following an official visit to Tel Aviv made in the last few days.

Relations between the state of South Sudan and Israel were reinforced after the South gained independence nearly a year and a half ago.

In addition, Christopher Rowan of the US diplomatic mission in Sudan said his country is committed to normalizing relations with Khartoum. Rowan expressed his optimism that the second term of President Barack Obama would see greater interest in the Sudanese issue, especially if Congress approves the appointment of John Kerry as secretary of state. Kerry is an expert in Sudanese affairs, having visited Sudan on more than one occasion.

The US diplomat, speaking at a ceremony held at the US Embassy in Khartoum on the occasion of Obama's inauguration of a second term, said that the US presidential envoy to Sudan and South Sudan, Preston Lehman, will continue to carry out his duties even after his resignation. He expected a new envoy to be appointed soon.

Meanwhile, the ruling party liaison officer Hamed Sadiq accused the EU and the US of funding the SPLM-N rebels in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile to the tune of $24 million, in support of their political and military activity aimed at overthrowing the regime of President Omar al-Bashir. "We are aware of this support," he said. He pointed out that this would lead to the escalation of the military rebellion.

Found in: sudan, oil, israeli economy

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