Voices from the Arab press: Sudan’s deal with Israel: a courageous act

A weekly selection of opinions and analyses from the Arab media around the world.

TOURISTS SAIL across the convergence between the White Nile river and Blue Nile river in Khartoum, Sudan, on February 15.  (photo credit: ZOHRA BENSEMRA/REUTERS)
TOURISTS SAIL across the convergence between the White Nile river and Blue Nile river in Khartoum, Sudan, on February 15.
Al-Jazirah, Saudi Arabia, October 31
Sudan is the Arab country that suffered the most from the disasters of political Islam, particularly from the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood ruled the country for nearly 30 years and applied all of its perverted theories in it, turning Sudan into a weak, divided and failed state in every sense of the word – in addition to one boycotted by most of the Western world. The ousted al-Bashir regime embarked on grandiose ventures that proved to be utterly foolish. This put Sudan on a bleak path, which got bleaker and bleaker with each passing day, until the Sudanese people finally took to the streets and replaced their regime. I visited Sudan many times; I know it well and have many friends who still live there. I know firsthand that Sudan boasts incredible human resources: people who want to do good in the world, who seek to build a better future for themselves and others, who wish to put their country on the right track. The problem of Sudan is that it is a museum of ideologies: Every Sudanese you find sympathizes with a different party or a group and the common factor between all these groups is their animosity toward each other. The last revolution was a genuine revolution, carried out by the young men and women of Sudan, but it fell short of its objectives. It failed to generate a real leadership capable of lifting Sudan out of its mess. The biggest problem of the defunct regime, along with its Brotherhood supporters, is that it insists on reinventing the wheel instead of drawing on past experiences, theories, and applications. This results in a never-ending state of failure. The Brotherhood – in all of its formations – has been Sudan’s Achilles’s heel. It brought destruction to Sudan time and again. Thankfully, there are early signs suggesting that the people of Sudan have finally learned this lesson. Instead of promoting more regional conflict and ideological clashes, they took the right path by prioritizing their collective national interest over the interest of various power groups. More specifically, I’m referring to their decision to normalize their ties with Israel. It goes without saying that Israel is one of the most innovative and technologically advanced nations in the field of agriculture. Partnering with Israel could bring great breakthroughs for the Sudanese economy. The two countries share similar soil and climate conditions. Rejecting the Israeli experience to boost Sudan’s well-being would thus be foolish. In addition, by normalizing ties with Israel, Sudan will finally be able to remove itself from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. This, in turn, will pave the way toward much-needed international loans and aid that would flow into the countries. In short, Sudan can reap incredible benefits from a deal of this kind. Therefore, I say this with confidence: Sudan’s decision to normalize its ties with Israel is one of the most courageous decisions in the nation’s history – one that may very well change its fate and put it on the right path for decades to come. – Muhammad Al-Sheikh
Al-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 1
The title of this column might be deceiving and lead the average reader to believe that I’m a supporter of Trump. I’m not. I don’t know who is going to win the elections and I have no business making uneducated predictions about the identity of the next American president. What I do know is that after watching the final presidential debate a few weeks ago, I found myself agreeing with Trump on one important, albeit unusual, issue: windows. During the debate, Biden suggested that buildings across the US should be retrofitted to have smaller windows in order to save energy. President Trump, in response, mocked this plan and suggested that it would make the American people depressed by giving them the sense that they’re caged inside the walls of their own homes. Like Trump, I too believe that large surfaces of glass are very important in housing and have a profound psychological impact on the well-being of the population. The issue of glass surfaces in architecture, especially in the arid desert architecture characterizing our region, is a perennial issue. I remember that when I was a student in the College of Architecture during the 1980s, this issue was widely discussed both inside and outside the classroom. The common wisdom was that windows should be made as small as possible in order to reduce incoming heat and thus curb energy expenditures. Accordingly, those who observe buildings built during that era will, indeed, notice that most of them boast small windows, which became a common trait of many buildings in Saudi Arabia. However, as time went by, people began noticing that smaller windows prevented them from enjoying the outdoors. They felt trapped and caged and, more importantly, detached from their natural environment. I’m with Trump in his belief that homes and buildings should boast large windows that allow their inhabitants to communicate with the outside world. Architectural history and the human experience have proven that this is important. I’m with the opinion of the American president because human beings need light, a view and nature. Those who want to conserve energy must think outside the box. Today, there are technologies that enable us to create glass that is energy-efficient. Instead of building barriers between humans and nature, we would be better off embracing the natural world around us and opening up to it. Too many homes today have turned into concrete boxes that feel more like prisons than a safe space. Therefore, I have the right to be with Trump, as he is right about at least one thing. We must place our psychological and social well-being at the core of our decision-making processes. Unfortunately, when I look at the work done by Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Housing, it becomes immediately clear that other considerations – like money and politics – are unfortunately put first. – Mishary Al-Naim
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.