Michael B. Bishku
Dr. Bishku is a professor in the department of history at Augusta University.
South Sudan, composed originally of 10 states populated by more than 12 million inhabitants of numerous ethnicities and languages and practicing mostly an animist or Christian faith, received its independence from predominantly Arab and Sunni Muslim Sudan on July 9, 2011, becoming the fifty-fourth sovereign country in Africa. Following decades of conflict and a referendum, it is only one of two political entities on the continent that has successfully seceded from another country and been universally recognized as a sovereign state (Eritrea being the other) since the period of European decolonization (Ghana in 1957 to Zimbabwe in 1980) and Namibia’s independence from Apartheid South Africa in 1990.1 However, despite sizable oil deposits and other natural resources as well as fertile land, South Sudan’s population suffers from a lack of education and health care as well as food shortages and extreme poverty.
Worst of all, beginning in December 2013, South Sudan faced the ravages of a civil war between the forces of President Salva Kiir and Vice President Riek Machar — members of Dinka and Nuer, respectively, the country’s two largest ethnic groups — during which, according to a U.S. State Department estimate, at least 382,000 people have been killed and over four million have been displaced.2 In addition, countless women and girls have been subjected to rape.3 In August 2018, a power-sharing agreement was signed in the latest attempt to bring an end to the conflict, which has hindered the distribution of foreign assistance and delayed the ability of South Sudan to earn revenue, especially from oil.
Israel’s connections with South Sudan predate that country’s independence. In the early 1960s, Israeli diplomats made their first direct contact in neighboring African states with representatives of Anya-Nya, which began an insurgency in 1955, attempting to secede from Sudan months before that country achieved independence from Britain and Egypt. While the South Sudanese were dependent upon imported military supplies, the Israelis were trying to keep Sudanese troops far from the Egyptian front. Originally, Israel had hoped that Sudan could be brought into an alliance on the periphery of the Arab world against Nasser’s Egypt, Israel’s most formidable political and military adversary. While this did not succeed, the Israelis were able to establish an alliance with Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie, who was antagonistic toward Sudan for its assistance to Eritrean rebels fighting for independence. Israel also achieved excellent relations with Kenya and military connections with Uganda until Idi Amin reversed course in early 1972. Israel was especially concerned with maintaining the security of its maritime link through the Red Sea and in challenging Egyptian influence on the African continent. Thus, its relations with the countries in the Horn of Africa and in East Africa were of great importance. Given the strategic threats of Iran and the al-Qaeda offshoot al-Shabab in Somalia, they continue to be.
Due to historical connections, and in need of economic and technical assistance as well as political leverage against Sudan, South Sudan turned to Israel among other states. The civil war and continued chaos have, of course, limited Israel’s ability to carry out programs of assistance, though not the alleged arms sales. Nevertheless, South Sudan usually has given Israel political support in the United Nations by at least abstaining on key resolutions related to the Palestinians. Meanwhile, South Sudan has been flirting with the idea of observer status in the Arab League, another source of prospective economic aid. This article will examine Israel’s ties with South Sudan from the 1960s to the present, with particular emphasis on relations since independence, and how they relate to the complex geopolitics of the region as well as Israel’s updated strategy in dealing with Arab and Muslim states.
In 1965, some 10 years after the beginning of the first civil war in the South, while on a diplomatic mission to Nairobi, Israeli General Moshe Dayan met with Joseph Lagu, who would subsequently become chief of staff of the Anya-Nya armed forces, and Oliver Batali Albino, an important gunrunner for that organization.4 Dayan convinced Albino that Israel would be sympathetic, and there was some discussion of what types of arms and ammunition might be supplied. However, it was not until June 1968 that Israel reached a formal agreement to provide military assistance to the South Sudan Provisional Government (SSPG). The Israelis were more interested in dealing directly with Lagu, whom they regarded as more reliable, than with politicians in the SSPG. In late 1969, Lagu traveled to Israel, where he received two weeks of intensive training. Thereafter, he set up a drop zone in South Sudan that was initially supplied by Israeli aircraft flying over Ethiopia and refueling in Kenya or Uganda. An arms depot was subsequently established in Ethiopia, which also provided training, as did Israel. Some Israeli supplies were transported into South Sudan from neighboring Zaire. Israel also gave Anya-Nya weapons captured from the Arabs during the Six-Day War, which were quite effective for fighting against Sudanese forces. Overall, the assistance was relatively small-scale so as not to offend other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, which were wary of secessionist threats. However, Idi Amin’s falling out with the Israelis and his embrace of Muammar Qadhafi’s Libya and the Palestine Liberation Organization hindered supply routes, forcing Lagu to enter peace talks with the Sudanese government. Thus, the first civil war ended with the Addis Ababa Accord of March 1972.5
The agreement was attacked throughout the Arab world as a capitulation by Jaafar Numeiri’s Sudanese government to Anya-Nya. However, not only did this bring an end to Israeli involvement in South Sudan, it led to an improvement in relations between Israel and Sudan.6 (More than a decade later [984-85] and a few months before he was overthrown, Numeiri allowed his country, in cooperation with the CIA and Mossad, to serve as a staging point, in return for American financial aid and bribes to Sudanese officials, for the transport of some 7,000 to 8,000 Ethiopian Beta Israel Jews to Israel. This was known as Operation Moses.)7 While the Addis Ababa Accord allowed for the unification of the three southern provinces with a regional president and assembly, the official use of English and the incorporation of Anya-Nya forces into the Sudanese Army’s Southern Command,8 the central government’s indifference to grievances created tensions and episodes of violence by both sides. Refugees fled to Ethiopia and were politically organized by the Marxist government that came to power in September 1974 with the overthrow of Selassie; Sudan countered by providing succor to Eritreans opposed to the Ethiopian regime. Despite these provocations, Ethiopia and Sudan toned down their differences during the late 1970s and early 1980s.9
It was not until 1983 that Sudan’s second civil war began, when John Garang’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement reacted to the government’s abolition of autonomy for the South. According to the Egyptian newspaper Al-Shaab, in December 1992, Sudanese government sources claimed that Garang was obtaining shipments of weapons from Israel through Kenya, including TOW rockets, mortars, Uzis and ammunition. The South Sudanese leader denied having contact with Israel. However, reports persisted in the Arab press, including an assertion by Sudan’s minister of culture and information, in Jordan’s Al-Rai in June 1995, that Israel was using Uganda as a supply base for the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement.10 Given Sudan’s close ties with Iran from the 1990s until 2016, it is quite probable that Israel was periodically using its relationships with neighboring states — including post-Marxist Ethiopia (Mengistu Haile Mariam left for exile in Zimbabwe in May 1991) and Eritrea, which had their own political problems with Sudan — to interfere in Sudanese affairs.11 In December 2004, it was reported in the London-based, Saudi-owned Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that two Israelis were arrested in Jordan for allegedly providing arms to rebels in the Darfur region of Sudan.12
The second civil war ended in January 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement allowing for (1) the resumption of autonomy in the South, (2) a regional referendum on independence to be scheduled six years hence, (3) the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army to remain as a defense force, and (4) power sharing at the national level. Garang became first vice president of Sudan and president of the South Sudan region in July 2005 but died in a helicopter crash the following month.13 He was succeeded in those two posts by Kiir. During the interim period, the sharing of revenues from oil (discovered in the South in 1978) lacked transparency; legal reforms, which were supposed to allow for secularism and cultural protections for non-Muslims in the South, were not implemented, and border disputes in the northern part of the South Sudan region remained unresolved.14 Hence, the South Sudanese voted overwhelmingly — more than 98 percent — for separation from the rest of the country in January 2011. Yet divisions persisted in the South and eventually led to another civil war.
In October 2010, Kiir told the London-based, Saudi-owned Al-Hayat daily that Israel “is the enemy of the Palestinians only, it is not the enemy of the South,” and that he was amenable, after independence, to having an Israeli embassy in Juba.15 This is especially noteworthy, given the fact that in January 2009, Sudan acted as a staging point for an unsuccessful Iranian attempt to smuggle arms to Hamas in the Gaza Strip; Israeli aircraft bombed the 23-truck convoy in the Sudanese desert.16 Naturally, Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the new state in July 2011. The following month, a delegation led by then-deputy speaker of the Israeli Knesset Danny Danon (now the country’s UN ambassador) visited Juba to develop relations. The Israeli delegation met with President Kiir as well as the ministers of foreign affairs, finance, and industry and trade. Danon was quoted as saying, “Israel’s technological wealth and South Sudan’s wealth of natural resources [mentioning oil, gold, silver, lead and copper] are a sure recipe for prosperity in both states,” while Kiir pledged to visit Israel and that a future South Sudanese embassy (yet to be established) would be located in Jerusalem. Kiir also asked Israel to provide South Sudanese refugees in that country with vocational training before returning them home.17 They did not receive such training — indeed, they were deported within months — but their children were able to attend school.
In December 2011, during President Kiir’s official visit to Israel, he stated:
I am very excited to be here, to set foot in the Promised Land. Israel has always supported the South Sudanese people — we wouldn’t exist without you. You fought beside us to allow for the inception of South Sudan and we would like to learn from you. ... We have shared values. Throughout history we have overcome similar struggles. We will work with Israel in the future to bolster the strategic ties between our countries. ... South Sudan is interested in pursuing joint ventures with Israel in the fields of infrastructure, agriculture, water conservation and advanced technologies.18
In addition to laying a wreath at Yad Vashem, the South Sudanese president met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and President Shimon Peres. Greatly involved in Israel’s outreach to Africa during the 1950s and 1960s, Peres had, as deputy defense minister, met with South Sudanese leaders in Paris (along with Prime Minister Levi Eshkol), and was the most effusive in echoing Kiir’s sentiments.19 Although Kiir wished to keep the visit “low key,” it nevertheless disturbed Sudan and possibly Egypt, which is always concerned with projects that might affect the flow of the Nile and its tributaries.20
A reporter for the Jerusalem Post noted that Israeli officials had little to say about Kiir’s visit other than the fact that a team of experts would be sent to South Sudan to evaluate the country’s technological needs regarding infrastructural development, construction, agriculture and water management. This was the case, despite the fact that South Sudan was also interested in a military relationship as it was engaged in skirmishes along its disputed border with Sudan — and that Kiir was accompanied by his defense minister. In the words of the Jerusalem Post reporter, for Israel, South Sudan was “a friendly country in the heart of a region that Iran is trying to penetrate” and was “part of a cluster of countries in eastern Africa, including Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda, that Israel is trying to cultivate in a manner not seen for years.”21
The security angle was of great interest in the Arab world. A January 2012 report from The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research asserted that Israel’s military and security interest in South Sudan was twofold: (1) expanding its weapons market, and (2) gathering information on developments in the region. It alleged that Israel was attempting to establish an air base in South Sudan and that Israeli weapons, artillery, rocket launchers and remote sensing devices were provided to the South Sudanese Intelligence Service and Presidential Security Unit via Uganda. The report concluded with a warning that, given these developments, South Sudan would become an important ally of Israel; meanwhile, “Arab states should take positive steps towards strengthening their relations with South Sudan so that it becomes supportive of the Arabs and their causes.”22 Al-Jazeera, reporting on the impact of Kiir’s visit to Israel, concluded, “Israel’s foothold in South Sudan is significant, as it continues its efforts to build a Christian alliance in Africa to fend off Arab influence and the growing Islamic trends there [Sudan and Somalia].”23
One observer refers to these moves as “Israel’s Periphery Doctrine 2.0,” including cooperation not only with South Sudan but also Greece, Cyprus and Azerbaijan.24 Doctrine 1.0” involved coordinating with Turkey, the shah’s Iran and Ethiopia.
However, Sudan, faced with internal problems and severing relations with Iran (as did Somalia) in 2016 in return for Saudi financial assistance, is considered less of a threat today. Israel is still concerned with Iran’s assistance to the Houthi rebels in Yemen and al-Shabab’s presence in Somalia, as well as its threat in the form of terrorist attacks in neighboring African states, especially Kenya. As for South Sudan in particular, in January 2012, just a few weeks after Kiir’s visit, Israel appointed a non-resident ambassador for that African country: Haim Koren, an Arabic-speaking specialist in Middle Eastern affairs and a former director of the Foreign Ministry’s Political Planning Division as well as an instructor in the National Security College.25
Between June and August 2012, 1,038 South Sudanese nationals who had entered Israel illegally and were living primarily in Arad, Beersheba, Eilat or Tel Aviv were airlifted to Juba. Those who volunteered to leave received a lump sum of about $1,000; others lost their jobs beginning in March, as their Israeli employers feared being penalized, and were subsequently arrested before being deported. Families were split up, women and children being detained at the Saharonim and Ketzi’ot centers, while men were sent to Givon.26 Following the deportation, an Israeli volunteer group organized the Come True project to provide a good education for a number of the children deported to South Sudan. Israeli donors support this project at a cost of about $1,200 a year per student, and the children are educated at six boarding schools in Uganda and Kenya, though the base of operations is at the Trinity School in Kampala. For a number of children, their earliest memories are of Israel, and they speak Hebrew; they hope to receive their higher education in Israel and return to South Sudan when peace is fully restored.27Despite the hardships for their parents, who are in still in South Sudan or in refugee camps in Uganda and Kenya, these children have developed a lasting affinity for Israel.
As for bilateral relations between the governments of Israel and South Sudan, in July 2012, the two countries signed their first official agreement for Israel to provide assistance in desalination, irrigation, and water transport and purification projects in South Sudan. Israel’s energy and water minister, Uzi Landau, noted in his comments to South Sudan’s water and irrigation minister, Akec Paul Mayom, “You are among friends. ... The lessons from the stories of our people are similar. We have experienced ... inhumanity. Our duty is to ensure that this does not happen again.” He suggested that, given South Sudan’s lack of oil refineries, it should ship its crude to Israel in the future.28 However, as South Sudan’s two pipelines to the outside world pass through Sudan to the Red Sea, and some of the oil fields lie in territory both countries claim — at the time of the water agreement there were military skirmishes in the area — such an arrangement would be impossible given Sudan’s adversarial posture towards Israel, unless an alternate pipeline was constructed.
Such a pipeline, for which Kenya has agreed to serve as a transit route, was estimated in 2012 to take up to three years to build, provided funding could be found at a cost of $4 billion (as of today no plans have materialized).29 Nevertheless, in January 2013, South Sudan’s petroleum and mining minister, Stephen Dhieu Dau, announced, following a visit to Israel, that he had signed an agreement with several Israeli oil companies seeking to purchase crude from his country. He did not identify them since negotiations were ongoing, and no details were divulged as to how or when the deal would be done.30 It should be noted that South Sudan’s proven oil reserves of 3.5 billion barrels are half of Azerbaijan, which is an important supplier of Israel.31
A month later, the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies of Tel Aviv University published a report titled “The Strategic Importance of South Sudan,” in which the authors claimed, “With increased support of Western countries alongside Israel, it becomes more likely that South Sudan will develop into a stable regional power and a stalwart ally.”32 In August 2013, the deputy chief of mission at South Sudan’s embassy in Washington, Dhanojak Obongo, published an article on his country’s foreign policy that stated, “Our objective should assure collaboration with any country which may be interested in assisting our economic and social development. Reciprocity principles of mutual benefit as well as no meddling in our sovereignty affairs are mandatory.”33 Instead of achieving stability and progress in economic and social development, by the end of the year, South Sudan had plunged into civil war.
Even earlier, upon its independence in 2011, South Sudan became the object of an arms embargo by the European Union, extending the one they had imposed on Sudan in 1994.34 The United States and the United Nations preferred periodic selective sanctioning of military leaders on both sides of the South Sudan conflict beginning in 2015.35 It was not until July 2018, just a month before the latest power-sharing agreement to end the civil war, that the UN Security Council finally imposed an arms embargo, following a U.S. lobbying campaign that had attempted unsuccessfully to pass such a resolution two years earlier under the Obama administration.36
In January 2016, the UN Security Council published a report on South Sudan noting that Israeli-produced Micro Galil automatic rifles and their updated ACE assault rifles were delivered via Uganda prior to the civil war and were in the possession of the army, national police and security services following the outbreak of fighting. Israel claimed it did not receive a request to transfer these arms, which were sold to Uganda in 2007 and sometime afterwards. (Israel’s State Comptroller had issued a report in 2013 pointing out that there were “shortcomings, some of them significant” in the oversight of arms exports.)37 The UN report also mentioned an “unwritten agreement” between the South Sudanese government and Uganda to supply the former with arms and ammunition from “its own stock or [that it] acquires the weapons and transfers them ... without necessarily involving or obtaining the consent of the primary seller.” Besides these transfers from Uganda, according to the report, early in the war, Kiir’s South Sudanese government received from China Russian-made Mi-24 attack helicopters, machine guns and grenade launchers. Machar’s rebel army also captured government arms and was supplied with ammunition from Sudan, probably through airdrops.
Finally, the report states briefly, without elaborating, that the South Sudanese National Security Service’s “ability to identify and illegally apprehend individuals has been significantly enhanced since the beginning of the conflict because it has acquired additional communications interception equipment from Israel.”38 According to Eitay Mack, an attorney and activist concerned with supervision of Israel’s arms exports, South Sudan’s government, with the help of locally stationed Israeli technicians, targeted not only opponents but also journalists.39
In December 2018, the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on a retired Israeli major general, Israel Ziv, the owner of Global CST, a security services company, for supplying South Sudan’s government $150 million worth of weapons, including rifles, grenade launchers and shoulder-fired rockets. Ziv is accused of carrying out this deed under the cover of an agricultural company and of having “close collaboration with a major multinational oil firm.” Furthermore, according to the Treasury press release, “While Ziv maintained the loyalty of senior Government of South Sudan officials through bribery and promises of security support, he has also reportedly planned to organize attacks by mercenaries on South Sudanese oil fields and infrastructure, in an effort to create a problem that only his company and affiliates could solve.”40 While Ziv denied the charges, South Sudan’s Foreign Ministry stated that the move “was designed to undermine the implementation of the [August 2018] peace agreement.” Even though the United States believes that it has sufficient evidence against Ziv, this episode should not overshadow legitimate efforts in agriculture and economic and social development by the Israeli government and humanitarian-aid organizations in South Sudan.
One of the first NGOs to arrive in South Sudan following independence was IsraAID, which has been attempting to prevent sexual assault and provide services and information for survivors of rape by training social workers, medical staff, and church and community leaders on how to cooperate in dealing with such problems. Its country director for the first five and a half years, Ophelie Namiech, told a reporter from the Canadian Jewish News in October 2016: “This is the only country in the world where you should tell people you’re Israeli and where it is an asset. It opens all doors.”41 Despite the persistent efforts of IsraAID, it was not until September 2018 that South Sudanese soldiers — who, together with the armed opposition, have been the worst perpetrators of sexual crimes and other human-rights abuses — were eventually sentenced for committing actions involving rape. A military court imposed jail terms of at least seven years on three soldiers for an attack against foreign-aid workers that took place in 2016 at a hotel in Juba.42
Another Israeli NGO, iAID, worked in cooperation with the UN World Food Program and the Ugandan prime minister’s office in August and October 2017 to distribute food and assist in developing technologies for clean water and electrical power at the Rhino Settlement, a camp in northwestern Uganda for refugees from South Sudan.43 Two former Israeli soldiers hired to support their efforts reported “an overwhelmingly dystopian climate defined by government corruption and a dearth of food, medical supplies and order.”44
In August 2017, MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, a division of the Foreign Ministry, supplied six tons of food to the South Sudanese village of Yambio, near the border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo; it was distributed personally by Israel’s ambassador to South Sudan, Hanan Goder.45 The following month, the Israeli government sponsored 20 South Sudanese for a two-year program in agriculture called “learn and earn,” offered at various colleges in Israel, that allows for one day of study and five days of practical work each week.46 While South Sudan has received humanitarian and technical assistance, in return it generally has provided Israel with political support — or at least neutrality — on crucial votes at the United Nations by voting with the United States, abstaining or being absent.
According to the U.S. Department of State’s latest annual report on UN voting, in 2016, South Sudan backed the United States and Israel twice on 18 anti-Israel resolutions in the General Assembly — like Guatemala, which now has an embassy based in Jerusalem. Only Canada and Palau sided with the United States and Israel every time; the Marshall Islands and Micronesia did so 17 times, Nauru eight times, and Australia seven. South Sudan abstained nine times, was absent six and voted against the United States and Israel only once. Rwanda, hailed as one of Israel’s best friends in Africa, was absent 18 times.47 In 2015, South Sudan voted against the United States and Israel twice and abstained or was absent eight times.48 In 2014, South Sudan voted against the United States and Israel once, abstained eight times and was absent nine.49 In 2013, it voted against the United States and Israel once, abstained 13 times and was absent four.50 In 2012, it voted with the United States and Israel once, against them four times and was absent 14.51 In 2011, it abstained once and was absent 16 times.52
Regarding specific votes, South Sudan was absent in the October 2011 vote to grant Palestine full membership in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), but voted along with nearly all African countries for the November 2012 resolution to grant Palestine “Non-Member Observer-State” status at the UN.53 More recently, in December 2017, South Sudan abstained from a United Nations resolution supported by a majority of 128 to declare “null and void” the U.S. government’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Forty other countries, including some from Africa, also abstained;54 Togo was the only African country among nine UN members to vote no. At the time, a “top presidential aide in Juba” stated to the Paris-based Sudan Tribune that “only hard times reveal true friends” while announcing that the South Sudanese government had sent “congratulatory messages” regarding recognition to both President Donald Trump and Netanyahu.55 South Sudan joined 11 other African countries in planning to send representatives to a gala celebrating the relocation of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem in May 2018.56 In all, 33 countries accepted invitations to attend, though most EU states refused.57 However, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, only 23 countries were represented, the only no-shows among African states being South Sudan and Côte d’Ivoire.58 In December 2018, a U.S.-sponsored resolution condemning Hamas for “repeatedly firing rockets into Israel and for inciting violence, thereby putting civilians at risk” failed to receive a two-thirds majority in the U.N. General Assembly. South Sudan voted in favor with 86 other countries, including some in the EU, Rwanda, Liberia and Eritrea, while most African states either voted against or abstained.59
Several months earlier, in March 2018, the Middle East News Agency (MENA), Egypt’s official news agency, reported that South Sudan submitted an application to join the Arab League.60 In June 2016, in an interview with Asharq al-Awsat, South Sudan’s foreign minister, Deng Alor Kuol, mentioned that his country might consider joining that organization.61 However, when similar reports appeared in the press, spokespersons from the South Sudanese Foreign Ministry indicated that their country was more interested in the possibility of observer status similar to Eritrea’s, most likely as a means of seeking greater economic assistance.62
Nevertheless, Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shukry, met with President Kiir in Juba a few days after the appearance of the aforementioned MENA report, and reportedly discussed the application as well as other “regional issues of common concern,” including Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam project on the Blue Nile, which will affect the flow of water downstream.63 While South Sudan values its relationship with Israel, it needs to develop amicable relations with all its neighbors, including those in the Arab world. Indeed, while South Sudan may be pursuing connections with the Arab League, in April 2016 it joined the East African Community, whose membership includes countries such as Kenya and Rwanda, which have close relations with Israel.
South Sudan has been independent for less than a decade, much of that time engaged in a destructive civil war. Its leadership is willing to cooperate with Israel, with which it has had longstanding connections, not only for technical assistance, but also to gain political leverage vis-à-vis its northern neighbor, Sudan, as well as to encourage further aid from Western countries, nongovernmental agencies and financial institutions. Israel, which feels political pressure within the United Nations and from European states regarding Palestinian issues, has been eager to further develop its ties with countries in Africa, especially during Netanyahu’s tenure as prime minister. It regards diplomatic support (or at least, abstentions) in world forums on key issues affecting Israel as a quid pro quo for substantive technical cooperation. Israel is concerned foremost with East Africa, the non-Arab region closest in proximity, both for security against the threats of jihadist groups and the maintenance of unhindered trade along maritime routes. South Sudan’s overland transit passes now through Sudan; if alternative routes are developed through other countries in East Africa, it would certainly benefit Israel. Meanwhile, Sudan also controls air space over South Sudan, an inconvenience for Israeli aircraft on possible routes in Africa and beyond to South America, though Sudan did allow Netanyahu to pass through on a return trip from Chad in January 2019.64
1 “Somaliland,” whose territory corresponds to the former British Somaliland, declared its independence from Somalia in 1991 and has established a well-organized administration, but it is not officially recognized by any country. On the other hand, the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic controls territory in the eastern part of Western Sahara, which has been occupied by Morocco since Spain left that territory in 1975, enjoys the official recognition of dozens of countries and is a member of the African Union.
2 Siobhán O’Grady, “A New Report Estimates That More Than 380,000 People Have Died in South Sudan’s Civil War,” Washington Post, September 26, 2018. The article points out that in March 2016, UN officials estimated the death toll at 50,000. In the same article, a graph provided by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine estimates refugees who left the country at 2.5 million and who were internally displaced at 1.8 million.
3 Laura Smith Spark, “Scores of Women, and Girls Raped over 10-Day Period in South Sudan, aid agency says,” CNN, December 1, 2018: https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/01/africa/south-sudan-women-raped-msf-intl/…. The agency is Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders).
4 According to Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi, contacts between Israel and representatives of the Anya-Nya were conducted through Israeli embassies in the neighboring states of Congo, Ethiopia and Uganda beginning in 1963; see The Israeli Connection: Who Israel Arms and Why (New York: Pantheon Books, 1987), 48.
5 Information for this paragraph is derived from Scopas S. Poggo, The First Sudanese Civil War: Africans, Arabs, and Israelis in the Southern Sudan, 1955-1972 (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 155-161; Edgar O’ Balance, The Secret War in the Sudan, 1955-1972 (Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1977), 126-128; Ian Black and Benny Morris, Israel’s Secret Wars: A History of Israel’s Intelligence Services (New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991), 185-187; and Belete Belachew Yihun, “Ethiopia’s Role in South Sudan’s March to Independence, 1955-1991,” African Studies Quarterly 14, nos. 1&2 (November 2013): 37-40.
6 Jacob Abadi, “Israel and Sudan: The Saga of an Enigmatic Relationship,” Middle Eastern Studies 35, no. 3 (July 1999): 25.
7 Tudor Parfitt, Operation Moses: The Untold Story of the Secret Exodus of Falasha Jews from Ethiopia (New York: Stein and Day, 1985), especially 89-107; and Ahmed Karadawi, “The Smuggling of Ethiopian Falasha to Israel through Sudan, African Affairs 90, no. 358 (January 1991): 23-49. The term “Falasha” has since been replaced with “Beta Israel.”
8 O’Balance, Secret War, Appendix B includes provisions for autonomy under the Addis Ababa Accord of March 1972.
9 Yihun, “Ethiopia’s Role,” 40-41.10 Al-Shaab, December 4, 1992 and Al-Rai (Amman), June 8, 1995, as cited in Abadi, “Israel and Sudan,” 31-32.
10 Ibid., 32. Michael B. Bishku, “The Muslim Middle East and Northeast Africa: The Interaction of Geopolitics, Economic Interests and Regional Rivalry,” Journal of Global South Studies 36, no. 1 (Spring 2019): 1-22, especially 10-13, discusses Iranian connections with Sudan in detail.
12 Yossi Melman, “Israelis Held in Jordan on Arms-smuggling to Darfur Rebels: Report,” Haaretz, December 16, 2004, as reprinted in the Sudan Tribune: http://www.sudantribune.com/Israelis-held-in-Jordan-on-arms,7043.
13 “Details of Ex-Sudan VP John Garang’s Death,” Daily Nation, July 28, 2018: https://www.nation.co.ke/news/africa/John-Garang--The-flight-of-no-retu….
14 Matthew LeRiche and Matthew Arnold, South Sudan: From Revolution to Independence (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 17-19.
15 Al-Hayat, October 28, 2010, quoted in The Middle East Reporter, October 29, 2010, 14.
16 “How Israel Foiled an Arms Convoy Bound for Hamas,” Time, March 30, 2009: http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1888352,00.html.
17 “South Sudan Vows to Establish Embassy in Jerusalem and Not Tel Aviv: Report,” Sudan Tribune, August 29, 2011: http://www.sudantribune.com/South-Sudan-vows-to-establish,39995.
18 Quoted in Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Israel’s Ties with South Sudan,” December 25, 2013: https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/AboutTheMinistry/Events/Pages/Israel%27s-ties-wi….
19 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Pres Peres and PM Netanyahu Meet with South Sudan President Kiir,” December 20, 2011: https://mfa.gov.il/MFA/PressRoom/2011/Pages/President_Peres_meets_South….
20 Herb Keinon, “Diplomacy: An Appreciative Partner in Africa,” Jerusalem Post, December 23, 2011: https://www.jpost.com/Features/Front-Lines/Diplomacy-An-appreciative-pa….
22 Ibrahim Abdel Karim, “Israel and South Sudan: Common Interests and Future Prospects,” The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, January 9, 2012.
23 Al-Jazeera, “South Sudan and Israel — Unlikely Allies?” December 22, 2011: https://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2011/12/20111222756562….
24 See Yoel Guzansky, “Israel’s Periphery Doctrine 2.0: The Mediterranean Plus,” Mediterranean Politics 19, no. 1 (2014): 99-116.
25 Herb Keinon, “Israel Names Envoy to South Sudan,” Jerusalem Post, January 11, 2012: https://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Israel-names-envoy-to-Sout….
26 Laurie Lijnders, “Deportation of South Sudanese from Israel,” Forced Migration Review, no. 44 (September 2013): 66-67: https://www.fmreview.org/detention/lijnders.
27 Uzi Dann, “The South Sudanese Children Who Dream in Hebrew in Uganda’s Capital,” Haaretz, March 23, 2018: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-the-south-sudanes….
28 Sharon Udasin, “Israel Signs 1st Agreement, on Water, with S. Sudan,” Jerusalem Post, July 24, 2012: https://www.jpost.com/Enviro-Tech/Israel-signs-1st-agreement-on-water-w….
29 “South Sudan in Kenyan Oil Pipeline Deal,” BBC News, January 25, 2012: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-16720703.
30 Itai Trilnick, “South Sudan Says It Signed Oil Deal with Israel,” Haaretz, January 20, 2013: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/.premium-south-sudan-says-….
32 Baroness Caroline Cox and Jessica Snapper, “The Strategic Importance of South Sudan,” Israel Institute for Strategic Studies, Paper No. 24 (February 2013), 26: https://sectech.tau.ac.il/sites/sectech.tau.ac.il/files/Sudan6_9.3.pdf.
33 Dhanojak Obongo, “The South Sudan Foreign Policy,” Sudan Tribune, August 19, 2013: http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article47712.
34 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), “EU Arms Embargo on South Sudan,” May 27, 2019. It was adopted under European Council Decision 2011/423/CFSP, which exempted non-lethal military equipment and for which SIPRI provides a link to the document: https://www.sipri.org/databases/embargoes/eu_arms_embargoes/south_sudan.
35 “South Sudan Conflict: UN Imposes Sanctions on Generals,” BBC News, July 2, 2015: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-33360495; and Waakhe Simon Wudu, Ayen Bior and Michael Atit, “South Sudan Says US Sanctions Unfortunate,” Voice of America News, September 8, 2017: https://www.voanews.com/a/south-sudan-us-sanctions/4020319.html.
36 “Security Council Imposes Arms Embargo on South Sudan,” UN News, July 13, 2018: https://news.un.org/en/story/2018/07/1014622.
37 “Israel’s Role in South Sudan under Scrutiny,” Ynet News, September 10, 2016: https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4852711,00.html.
38 United Nations Security Council, “Interim Report of the Panel of Experts on South Sudan Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2206 (2015),” S/2015/656, August 21, 2015, 19-24: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/2015/656; and United Nations Security Council, “Final Report of the Panel of Experts on South Sudan established pursuant to Security Council Resolution 2206 (2015),” S/2016/70, January 22, 2016, 25-33 and 45-46: https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3…. The quotes are from the final report on 29 and 45-46, respectively.
39 Gill Cohen, “Israel Supplies South Sudan Government with Wiretapping Equipment,” Haaretz, January 27, 2016: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-supplies-s-sudan-go….
40 United States Department of Treasury, “Treasury Sanctions Three Individuals for Their Roles in the Conflict in South Sudan,” December 14, 2018: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm574.
41 Sam Mednick, “How an Israeli NGO Is Combating Rape in South Sudan,” Canadian Jewish News, October 21, 2016: https://www.cjnews.com/news/international/israeli-ngo-combating-rape-so….
42 “South Sudan Soldiers Jailed for Rape and Murder,” BBC News, September 6, 2018: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-45432454.
43 “iAid South Sudanese Rhino Refugee Camp Uganda,” n.d.: https://iaid.org/project/iaid-south-sudanese-rhino-refugee-camp-uganda.
44 Daniel K. Eisenbud, “iAid Dispatches Former IDF soldiers to Aid South Sudanese Refugees,” Jerusalem Post, October 14, 2017: https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/iAid-dispatches-IDF-soldiers-to-aid-S….
45 “Israel Sends Food Aid to Drought-Stricken South Sudan,” Israel21c, August 24, 2017: https://www.israel21c.org/israel-sends-food-aid-to-drought-stricken-sou….
46 Kidega Livingstone, “Israel to support South Sudan in Agriculture,” Juba Monitor, November 15, 2017: http://www.jubamonitor.com/israel-to-support-south-sudan-in-agriculture.
47 United States Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, “General Assembly Resolutions Related to Israel Opposed by the United States,” Voting Practices in the United Nations, 2016.
48 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, “General Assembly Resolutions Related to Israel Opposed by the United States,” 2015: https://2009-2017.state.gov/p/io/rls/rpt/2015/practices/260118.htm.
49 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, “General Assembly Resolutions Related to Israel Opposed by the United States,” 2014: https://2009-2017.state.gov/p/io/rls/rpt/2014/practices/244930.htm.
50 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, “General Assembly Resolutions Related to Israel Opposed by the United States,” 2013: https://2009-2017.state.gov/p/io/rls/rpt/2013/2013/224864.htm.
51 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, “General Assembly Resolutions Related to Israel Opposed by the United States,” 2012: https://2009-2017.state.gov/p/io/rls/rpt/207878.htm, accessed September 18, 2019.
52 U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Organization Affairs, “General Assembly Resolutions Related to Israel Opposed by the United States,” 2011: https://2009-2017.state.gov/p/io/rls/rpt/2011/practices/189980.htm.
53 Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Rwanda and Togo abstained in that vote.
54 Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Lesotho, Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda abstained.
55 Sudan Tribune, “South Sudan Lauds U.S. Trump Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital,” December 9, 2017: http://sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64211.
56 The other African countries that planned on sending representatives were Angola, Cameroon, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.
57 The East African, “Africa Weighs Position on Israeli Relations,” May 27, 2018: https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ea/Africa-weighs-position-on-Isra…. This article cites Tanzania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Mahiga as stating that his country did not attend the event.
58 Noa Landau, “These Are the Countries Planning to Participate in Israel’s Celebrations of U.S. Embassy Move,” Haaretz, May 16, 2018: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/these-countries-participating-…; and Noa Landau, “Israel Said 32 Countries Confirmed They’d Attend U.S. Embassy Gala. Here’s Who Really Came,” Haaretz, May 17, 2019: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-here-s-who-really-att…. Bosnia was not originally listed, while eight other countries were no-shows. This article contends that Tanzania was represented.
59 Raphael Ahren, “Resolution Condemning Hamas Fails at UN, despite Majority, Unprecedented Support,” Times of Israel, December 7, 2018: https://www.timesofisrael.com/un-resolution-condemning-hamas-fails-to-p…; Herb Keinon, “Palestinians Try Procedure to Prevent Anti-Hamas Resolution in UN,” Jerusalem Post, December 6, 2018: https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Watch-Live-UN-votes-on-US-s…; and “UN Rejects US-Drafted Resolution to Condemn Hamas,” Al-Jazeera, December 7, 2018: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/12/rejects-drafted-resolution-conde….
60 “South Sudan to Join the Arab League,” Sudan Tribune, March 6, 2018: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64885.
61 Ahmed Younis, “Foreign Minister of South Sudan: We are Considering Joining the Arab League,” Asharq al-Awsat, June 7, 2016: https://eng-archive.aawsat.com/ahmedyounis/interviews/foreign-minister-….
62 Gatdiet Peter, “Applying to the Arab League as an Observer Is Recommendable, but Wrong Time,” Sudan Tribune, March 13, 2018: http://www.sudantribune.com/spip.php?article64930.
63 “South Sudan Requests to Join the Arab League,” Al-Jazeera, March 12, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/03/south-sudan-requests-join-arab-l….
64 Raphael Ahren, “Khartoum Lets Netanyahu’s Plane Fly over South Sudan, in First for Israel,” Times of Israel, January 21, 2019: https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-historic-first-israeli-plane-flies-ove….
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