Sudan leader denies 'blackmail' over Israel deal
The military leader of Sudan's sovereign council has denied being blackmailed into normalizing ties with Israel.
That's despite the U.S.-brokered deal coinciding with the White House removing economically-struggling Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
In his first public comments since it was announced on Friday (October 23) in a call with U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan said the deal was "legitimate" and "benefits both parties".
"We were not subjected to blackmail.
We laid down our interests, to see if we would benefit from this, and we found benefits, and it could be that we gain more than the other parties.
That is because we think they need us at this time, and we can benefit from their need for us now." But the move is controversial in Sudan - once a staunch enemy of Israel - and has stirred opposition from some prominent political factions.
Burhan leads a military-civilian sovereign council that took charge after former president Omar al-Bashir was ousted last year.
They have since grappled with an economic crisis that includes rapid inflation, a weakening currency and a shortage of essential goods.
But relief is on the horizon.
Last week the US confirmed that it would lift Sudan from its list of state sponsors of terrorism - a designation that had been blocking international funding and debt relief.
Many believe that decision was unduly delayed and deployed to pressure Sudan into accepting the deal with Israel.