News / Africa

Sudan's Iran Alliance Under Scrutiny

An Iranian soldier stands guard near Iranian Navy helicopter carrier Kharg at Port Sudan at the Red Sea State, October 31, 2012.
An Iranian soldier stands guard near Iranian Navy helicopter carrier Kharg at Port Sudan at the Red Sea State, October 31, 2012.
Sudan's accusation that Israel bombed a Khartoum weapons plant last week has drawn attention to long-standing Israeli complaints of alleged Sudanese cooperation with Iran in smuggling weapons to Palestinian militants.

Sudan and Iran have been allies for decades and boosted military ties under a 2008 agreement. As part of that relationship, two Iranian warships docked at Port Sudan on Monday, in what both sides described as a "routine visit".

But, allegations that the two allies also cooperate in arms smuggling have grown since the October 24 explosions at Khartoum's Yarmouk weapons facility.

Khartoum complex raises suspicions

The Yarmouk military complex in Khartoum, Sudan following the alleged attack. A U.S. monitoring group says satellite images of the aftermath of an explosion at a Sudanese weapons factory suggest the site was hit by an airstrike, October 25 2012.
The Yarmouk military complex in Khartoum, Sudan following the alleged attack. A U.S. monitoring group says satellite images of the aftermath of an explosion at a Sudanese weapons factory suggest the site was hit by an airstrike, October 25 2012.
The Satellite Sentinel Project, a U.S.-based monitoring group, says images of Yarmouk taken before and after the pre-dawn incident suggest the complex housed "highly volatile cargo" that exploded when struck by air-delivered munitions.

Sudanese authorities say four people were killed and blamed the destruction on Israeli warplanes.

Since the incident, Israeli defense commentators have claimed that the volatile cargo at Yarmouk included missiles made under Iranian supervision for smuggling through Sudanese and Egyptian territory to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials decline to comment on what happened at Yarmouk, but repeat their accusations of Sudanese-Iranian coordination in arms smuggling.

Sudan, Iran react to allegations

Speaking Tuesday, Sudanese and Iranian officials denied any Iranian involvement at the Yarmouk complex and accused Israel of looking for a false pretext to attack Sudan.

Sudanese Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs Mohamed Osman Rahamtalla says the Yarmouk incident is purely a Sudanese matter.

"We know the source of that attack and we have sent a very strong message against [the attackers]. Iran has nothing to do with this," he says.

Sudan says the apparent air strike was meant to damage its military capabilities.

Sunni-majority Sudan has been trying to improve those capabilities with the help of predominantly-Shi'ite Iran since the 1989 coup that brought President Omar al-Bashir to power.

Alliance rooted in Islam

Former U.S. special envoy to Sudan Andrew Natsios says a prominent Sudanese Islamist who supported the coup, Hasan al-Turabi, later approached Iran's Islamist rulers to form a Sunni-Shi'ite alliance between the two nations.

Writing in a U.S. magazine earlier this month, Natsios says Sudan is the only country that has formed what he calls "an enduring alliance with Iran based on a shared Islamist ideology."

Several specialists told VOA that Khartoum and Tehran developed an intelligence partnership in the 1990s, with Sudanese agents going to Tehran for training and Iranian agents using Sudan as an African hub.

Magdi El Gizouli, a Germany-based Sudan researcher with the Rift Valley Institute, says Sudanese admiration for Iran's Islamist system is no longer as important to the alliance as it was before.  

"To prove that, you only need to think about the continuous intelligence cooperation between Sudan and the United States -- a development that started after the 9/11 [terrorist attacks] and continues until today," he says.

Sudan's need for weapons

Gizouli says Sudan wants Iranian arms because it is dealing with insurgencies on several fronts.

Rebels have been battling the Khartoum government in Sudan's southern provinces of South Kordofan and Blue Nile since last year. Khartoum also has been fighting rebels in the western region of Darfur since 2003.

Gizouli says arms embargoes on Sudan implemented by Western powers also have forced Sudanese authorities to seek alternative sources of weapons.

"They have customized versions of Iranian missiles, Russian missiles and Chinese missiles, whatever they could lay their hands on," he says. "So any country that is ready to deliver technology to Sudan, Sudan will jump at the opportunity."

The United Nations Security Council imposed an arms embargo on warring parties in parts of Sudan in 2004. But, it has permitted countries to supply weapons to Sudan provided they receive guarantees the arms will not be used to commit atrocities.

Gabe Joselow in Nairobi contributed to this report.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: khalid AlMubarak from: London
November 01, 2012 2:37 AM
The Gaza blockade has been declared "unsustainable " and "unacceptable" by the G8(that include the US and UK) in Canada in 2010..Many Jews and Israelis oppose it,some have joined ships that tried to end it.The far right israeli Netanyahu-Lieberman coalition tries to deflect attention from its international isolation and Apartheid policies by false accusations and blatant aggression.Why did Israel attack a desert convoy during Hosni Mubarak's rule in Egypt instead of alerting the subservient ally and arrange for TV cameras to record proof of weapon smuggling when the convoy is confronted at the Egyptian border?


by: Johnson Armory from: Texas
October 31, 2012 3:08 PM
the Iranian soldier carries an Israeli Uzi... doesn't he??? well, you have to acknowledge - Iranians are not stupid... the Israelis are the best - and the best is the best... and an Israeli design of fifty years ago is still the best and performs far above all the "new" and expensive sub machine guns in existence... I know - I have them all...


by: Azam Shah from: Iran
October 31, 2012 2:57 PM
what a stain of shame on us!!! Hatred for Israel by our Mullahs so called "leaders" in their den of lepers and infidels - is so soul consuming that we are allied with Sunni Muslims... genocidal regimes - Sudan... Syria... to do what? kill more Black farmers in Darfur?? help degenerate Arabs?? Arabs are the snakes that will bite us eventually... what are we doing???

where is our "Iranian media"...?? does anyone believe what we hear in our "media"?? let me suggest that Iranian hatred for US/Israel and the West is not the beginning of the end but the stench of putrefaction of a body and mind dead already and in the process of decay already... Iran - rise up against those who betray God and His Chosen People... Rise up and reclaim our dignity...!!!


by: popota rocks mokoena from: Gauteng Province
October 31, 2012 10:50 AM
I rocks would suggest that way suden alience are easly targeted by united state so that they has to combine the military to protect them.
way so to many people are surfer in turkey
Shorely african people are so despirately for freedom which lie us to the country of war.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid