SUDAN WATCH: SLM's Abdel Wahid al-Nur visits Israel

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

SLM's Abdel Wahid al-Nur visits Israel

From Mon., February 16, 2009
Darfur rebel leader visited Israel
By Amos Harel and Barak Ravid
The leader of one of the rebel groups in Sudan's Darfur region recently visited Israel to discuss with a senior Israeli official the situation in Sudan.

Abdel Wahid al-Nur is the head of the Sudan Liberation Movement. While in Israel, he met with the senior official and discussed with him the ongoing conflict in Sudan.

Al-Nur came to Israel earlier this month at his own initiative, to attend the annual Herzliya Conference. He came with a group of European Jews, most of them French, who have been active on behalf of the Darfur refugees. He did not speak at any of the sessions, but did observe several.

At the conference, he was introduced to the senior official, and the two arranged a meeting, which took place a few days later.

The Defense Ministry responded, "In the interests of national security, various and sundry meetings are held. We are not in the habit of giving responses after each of these meetings."

The Sudan Liberation Movement was founded in 1992. It is a secular group that opposes the Islamist regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, and its official stated goal is to turn Sudan into a democracy that grants equal rights to all its citizens. However, it also has a military wing that has been fighting government forces in Darfur since 2001.

Close ties

Al-Nur fled to France in 2007 and has not been back to Sudan since then. He has won support from international human rights organizations and is considered very close to French Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy.

In the past, he has spoken in favor of establishing diplomatic ties between Sudan and Israel, and a year ago, he even announced that his movement was opening an office in Tel Aviv, staffed by Sudanese refugees who found asylum in Israel after fleeing the massacres committed by Bashir's forces in Darfur.

However, this was his first visit here.

Israel currently has more than 600 Darfur refugees, and Ehud Olmert's government decided to grant them all asylum and work permits. This decision was made in part because Bashir's government announced that any Sudanese refugee who set foot in Israel would be considered a "Mossad agent" and would therefore be sentenced to death should he or she ever return to Sudan.
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From The Associated Press February 16, 2009 - excerpt:
Sudanese rebel leader meets with Israeli spies
JERUSALEM: A powerful Sudanese rebel leader met secretly with top Israeli espionage officials in Israel earlier this month, Israeli defense officials said Monday.

The officials would not disclose the substance of the talks between Abdulwahid Elnur of the Sudan Liberation Movement and officials from Israel's Mossad spy agency. Israel claims weapons have reached Gaza Strip militants via Sudan and that Palestinian militants operate there.

The meeting took place on the sidelines of a security conference Elnur attended, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the meeting was confidential. The Defense Ministry had no immediate comment.

Last year, Elnur's group opened an office in Israel, which granted temporary residency status to 600 Sudanese who fled the massacres in their country's vast western Darfur region.

"We must forge new alliances, no longer based upon race or religion, but upon shared values of freedom and democracy. This is why we opened a representative office in Israel," he said at the time.

Elnur has said in the past that he favors establishing ties with Israel and opening an Israeli Embassy in Khartoum. Sudan considers Israel an enemy state and has no diplomatic relations with it. Elnur could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.

Elnur fled to France in 2007 and has lived in exile since.

The SLM was founded in 1992, three years after President Omar al-Bashir took power in a military coup, and took up arms in 2003, the year the war in Darfur began. Today it is the largest rebel group, though it has fractured into splinter movements. [...].


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