Sudanese opposition groups accused Khartoum this week of reaching a secret agreement with Tehran to establish an Iranian military base on the Red Sea.
Anti-government newspaper Hurriyat Sudan cited an unnamed opposition source on Monday as saying that the Sudanese government had struck a deal with Iran for building a base on the Sudanese coast.
Meanwhile, Sudanese rebel group The Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) said on Sunday that Sudan’s President Omar Bashir has reached a “very advanced” arrangement with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to establish a naval base either in Port Sudan or elsewhere on the Red Sea, according to the Sudanese anti-government news outlet Al Rakoba.
By extending its naval presence as far as Sudan and the Red Sea, Iran would gain several advantages, including in regards to combating Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden but also in gaining control over the Red Sea shipping route, part of the channel through which Iran ships arms to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. An Iranian naval presence in Port Sudan would also upset Iran’s Sunni rival Saudi Arabia, located just across the Red Sea.
For its part, Sudan has long courted deeper ties with Iran, with whom it signed a military cooperation agreement in March 2008.
Sudanese opposition group JEM also noted that the Iranian military vessels’ visit to Port Sudan risked upsetting the country’s delicate relationship with Gulf states, on whom it relies for aid. Karti has also said that Arab Gulf states are not happy about Khartoum’s ties with Tehran, and could deny aid.
According to a September report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Saudi Arabia pledged $240 million to Khartoum in the form of infrastructure loans over the last 18 months. However, so far only $80 million have been disbursed.
Full article: ‘Khartoum allowing Iran to establish Red Sea base’ (Jerusalem Post)