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

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid