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Protesting normalization in Khartoum. Photo: Abbas M. Idris/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Khartoum —Sudan's transitional government is on the verge of collapse, but Trump’s decision to remove Sudan from the U.S. list of states that sponsor terrorism could prevent that grim scenario.

The big picture: The country is virtually bankrupt. There are long queues at petrol stations and bakeries as the country grapples with severe flour and gasoline shortages. Electricity outages are back as temperatures continue to hover around 100℉.

The state of play: The government is very concerned that the current frustration among the Sudanese people could lead to widespread demonstrations.

  • Protests brought down ex-president Omar al-Bashir’s regime last year. There is genuine fear among Sudanese officials that similar protests may lead to the downfall of the government that replaced him.

The backstory: Removal from the U.S. terror list had been expected ever since the former regime was toppled.

  • There is a sense of betrayal in Sudan that the U.S. kept dragging its feet on the issue, in particular by linking it to normalization with Israel, something that has long been considered a taboo in Sudan.
  • However, many Sudanese feel their situation is too dire to remain dogmatic about ties with the Jewish state, even if they remain wholly sympathetic with the plight of the Palestinians.
  • If the road toward lifting sanctions and economic prosperity is normalization, then so be it.

What's happening: There are forces in Sudan — particularly Islamists and remnants of the previous regime — who use normalization as a rallying cry in their attempts to topple the government.

  • The governing council's military faction, led by Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, has been eager to seal the deal with Israel.
  • Fearing the domestic backlash, however, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was adamant that a sizable incentive was needed in order to sell normalization to the public.
  • More recently, he seems to have softened his stance and accepted a watered-down deal.

What’s next: The onus is now on the U.S. to move quickly to keep its end of the bargain and help keep the forces who seek to turn back the clock at bay.

Editor's note: This piece was written for the Axios from Tel Aviv newsletter. The author is the former deputy editor of the Sudan Tribune.

Go deeper

Oct 23, 2020 - World

Palestinian president condemns Sudan's normalization deal with Israel

Abbas on a 2016 visit to Sudan. Photo: Ashraf Shazley/AFP via Getty Images

The Palestinian Authority today condemned Sudan's decision to begin normalizing ties with Israel as “another stab in the back."

Why it matters: This is another blow to the Palestinian leadership — the third such announcement from an Arab country in two months despite Palestinian objections.

Oct 23, 2020 - World

Israel drops opposition to F-35 deal between U.S. and UAE

Netanyahu and Trump before the signing of the Abraham Accords. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz announced in a joint statement on Friday that Israel will not object to the sale of F-35 fighter jets by the U.S. to the United Arab Emirates.

Why it matters: The Trump administration was planning to notify Congress in the next few days about the upcoming deal, which has been a top priority for the UAE, Israeli officials said. The statement will likely convince Congress not to intervene against the deal over concerns for the Israel’s security.

6 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.