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Israel mediates between Russia and south Sudan

Israel's clandestine role as mediator in arms and infrastructure deals between Russia and South Sudan gives Egypt cause for concern

Saleh Naami in Gaza, Sunday 26 Dec 2010
sudanese migrants
Migrants from Sudan wait in-line for a security check before boarding a flight at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, late Monday, 12 December. (AP)
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Israeli website Tek Debka has revealed that a secret meeting took place in Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman's office last week.

The meeting brought together high ranking representatives in the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Sudan (SPLM) and the head of the Russian Federation Council’s Committee for International Affairs, Mikhail Margelov. Margelov was appointed by Russian Premier Vladimir Putin as a special commissioner to Sudan in 2008.

The commissioner's main mission was to discuss Russia's participation in oil related projects in South Sudan after secession is confirmed in the expected independence referendum, on 9 January.

According to the website, the Israelis convinced the Russians to support the southerners' right for self determination. Israel also urged their Russian counterpart to send weapons and artilleries to the SPLM. Israel played the card of oil in convincing the Russians by explaining to them the major potential of investing in Sudanese oil projects.

The website also pointed out that the Russians have already granted the SPLM fighter jets together with a list of other weapons with coordination between the SPLM and Russia in full swing.

Russia had been, until now, a staunch opponent to the idea of secession.

Earlier this year, Margelov drew the ire of southern Sudan when he warned of the failure of a new state in south Sudan and expressed fears of a new Somalia emerging in the region.

"We as an international community and countries that are permanent Security Council members do not want a new Somalia in South Sudan," he said.

Meanwhile, the website showed Russia as depending mainly on Israel to improve ties with Juba, the future capital of an upcoming southern Sudan State.

Most importantly yet, the website declared that Salva Kiir, head of the SPLM, has a personal office in Tel Aviv which he uses to coordinate the group’s political, military and intelligence ties with Israel.

The website also quoted an intelligence source as saying that Tel Aviv understands that Israeli's excellent relations with Juba represent a strategic threat to Egypt which is concerned about Israeli activities in South Sudan and its high level of coordination with Salva Kiir. The site added that Tel Aviv has been a constant supplier of weapons to the SPLM through a third party.

Intelligence sources added that Egypt's major concern is its water resources. A resumption of conflict between North and South Sudan could endanger its share of water resources. Leaked reports had shown the Southern government’s readiness to allow the Nile Basin countries to increase its share of Nile water at Egypt’s expense.

Israel has also invested much effort to establish solid military and intelligence relations with the Ethiopian Prime Minister Miles Zenawy who is considered as Egypt's enemy.

"Tel Aviv enjoys good relations with countries that represent a threat to Egypt in the African Horn which is a very annoying policy to Cairo," the sources added.

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