Are there faint signs of progress in global crisis areas as of November 3 approaches?
1. ISRAELI-ARAB PRELIMINARY STEPS TOWARD CLOSER RELATIONS?
The recent joint announcement by the United States, Sudan, and Israel that the two Middle East countries have agreed to begin normalizing relations after decades of hostility appears to mark another possible initial step in easing Arab-Israeli tensions.
The September agreements six weeks earlier between the Jewish state and two Arab states, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, were more comprehensive, embracing full recognition by those two Gulf countries of Israel.
The latest Israeli-Arab accord was short of full mutual recognition, but an agreement to start negotiations over economic and related issues. A formal treaty agreement to exchange embassies, as Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain did on September 15, is expected to evolve later.
The breakthrough was announced on October 23 in President Trump’s White House office, as the President phoned Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and General Abdel-Fattah.
(Hamdok and Abdel-Fattah jointly lead a civilian-military government in power in Sudan since a popular uprising led to the removal of long-time dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir last year). The former dictator was deposed, imprisoned, and exiled to the Hague for an international tribunal on his violent and corrupt 30-year reign in Sudan.
2. THE NEWLY REFORMED SUDANESE GOVERNMENT AND REBEL LEADERS REACH A PEACE DEAL
Simultaneously, the new Khartoum government signed a peace agreement initialed last August and designed to put an end to a series of decade-long civil wars in Sudan. As Prime Minister Hamdok explained in a statement reported by the Associated Press: “The next biggest challenge is to work with all local and international partners to promote the agreement and its benefits.” He made the statement in Juba, South Sudan, as he attended the treaty signing. The Sudanese government earlier had reached a peace agreement with a coalition of several armed opposition groups in Sudan. (Sudan and South Sudan are separate sovereign nations).
The peace summit was hosted by South Sudan President Salva Kiir, whose own country gained independence from Sudan nine years ago following decades of civil war there, as well. According to AP, U.S. Special Envoy for Sudan Donald Booth, African Union chairman Moussa Faki, and Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly, also witnessed the ceremony.
3. INTERNATIONAL AID TO COVID-19 STRICKEN COUNTRIES
According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, worldwide international funding institutions have approved $206 billion for emergency assistance to countries afflicted with the virus since January 27. A principal contributor is the International Monetary Fund (IMF), $103 billion. The World Bank has promised $12 billion for developing countries to purchase and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine once that’s developed and certified.
As a 36-year veteran of the Voice of America (VOA), Alan Heil traveled to more than 40 countries a foreign correspondent in the Middle East, and later as director of News and Current Affairs, deputy director of programs, and deputy director of the nation’s largest publicly-funded overseas multimedia network. Today, VOA reaches more than 275 million people around the world each week via radio, television and online media. Read More