Sudan and Israel are reportedly cooperating on irrigation and agricultural development projects, despite the fact that the Islamic government of the east African state has no formal ties with the Jewish state, Israeli daily Maariv revealed Tuesday, January 14.
Covert contacts include a visit conducted last year by a Sudanese minister to an agricultural training farm established by the Israeli foreign ministry in an Asian country. Sudanese citizens have also traveled to Israel to study drip irrigation systems and advanced technologies of maximizing crop yields.
Sudan declared war on Israel when the Arab-Israeli war broke out in June 1967, but shifted towards supporting of Egypt’s Camp David peace process in the late 1970s, under the Numeiri government. Khratoum’s current Islamist military regime, led by President Omar Ahmed Al-Beshir, denies the legitimacy of the state of Israel and opposes a Middle East peace process.
In 1993, Sudan was listed by the United States as a country sponsoring terrorism. UN sanctions were imposed over Khartoum's alleged role in a 1995 assassination bid by Muslim extremists on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
A Sudanese minister was reported in the late 1990s to have initiated contacts with Israeli officials, when on a visit to Morocco and Qatar, supposedly in a bid to establish non-official relations between the two states. Reports of these secret talks were strongly denied by Sudan.
In January 2002, similar reports surfaced in the Israeli madia claiming that employees of the Sudanese government received agricultural training in Israel. The Sudanese embassy in Amman categorically denied these stories too.
Agricultural cooperation between Israel and Sudan is perceived as a threat by some in Egypt, who fear that Israeli water engineers working in Ethiopia and Sudan could reduce the flow of the Nile, Egypt's only source of fresh water. Israel is also suspected of providing Sudan’s Christian rebels in the south, logistical and military support.
Israel is a leading producer and exporter of drip-irrigation systems and mechanized systems used to speed up harvesting. In Africa, extensive agricultural ties have been developed between Israel and Senegal, Eritrea, Egypt, Swaziland and Kenya. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )