Arabs, Israel take opposite sides on Sudan issue

Thursday, January 13, 2011   E-Mail this story   Free Headline Alerts

CAIRO Israel and the Arab world have aligned with opposing sides in the emerging conflict in Sudan.

Diplomatic sources said virtually the entire Arab League has been supporting the Khartoum regime in efforts to prevent seccession by southern Sudan. In contrast, Israel has quietly supported efforts by the largely Christian South to establish an independent state.

"Both sides are heavily involved," a diplomatic source said.

The sources said Egypt and Saudi Arabia have become the biggest supporters of the regime of Sudanese President Omar Bashir. They said Cairo and Riyad have urged Bashir to stop secession efforts by the south, the source of Sudan's energy resources.

In contrast, Israel has been quietly supporting the Christian South. The sources said Israel has forged links with most of the southern leadership and was prepared to expand trade with any state independent of Khartoum. Khartoum has been designated as a leading backer of the Hamas movement.

"Israel is likely to forge official diplomatic links with the south and win the opening of the south Sudan market to Israeli business people," Israeli analyst Yisrael Gozanksy wrote in Israel's largest circulation daily, Yisrael Hayom.

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