Sudan Lawmakers Split Over Closer Ties With Iran
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In Khartoum, the controversy over the rapprochement between Sudan and Iran has escalated within the government on the one hand, and between the authorities and the opposition on the other.
This comes after Israel struck the Yarmouk arms factory last week, along with two Iranian warships docked in a Sudanese port on the Red Sea in eastern Sudan.
Reports revealed on Nov. 1 that the ruling National Congress Party’s (NCP) Foreign Relations Sector had failed to answer the question of Foreign Minister Ali Kerti.
In the NCP’s latest conference, Kerti asked: “Is it in the strategic interest of Sudan to strengthen ties with Gulf countries in order to secure financial and economic assistance and expand investments, or to promote ties with Iran, given the potential shifts in the conflict between Israel and Iran in the region and Sudan’s delicate and vulnerable position in the region, if forced to take part in any confrontation?”
The same reports stated that Khartoum had not yet responded to a request from Tehran proposing an “alliance with Sudan to protect the Red Sea region” and added that the proposal is still being examined by the presidency, the foreign ministry and the ruling party.
The reports added that the discussion at the ruling party’s foreign relations conference was heated and witnessed a quarrel, pushing some officials to leave the conference, which did not provide a precise answer to the question of the foreign minister.
Moreover, members of the parliamentary bloc of Sudan’s ruling NCP said that they are determined to collect signatures to interrogate Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Rahim Hussein about the repeated Israeli attacks against the country, most recently against the Yarmouk arms factory, in anticipation of a withdrawal of confidence.
Head of the parliamentary committee on security, defense and foreign affairs Mohamed el-Hassan el-Amin didn’t rule out the possibility of withdrawing confidence from the minister in the event of proven negligence.
Amin said in a statement that parliament may issue a non-binding recommendation to the president of the republic to withdraw confidence. Amin is expected to appear before the Sudanese parliament on Nov. 5 to give a statement about the details of the Israeli attack and the repeated security breaches taking place in South Kordofan.
In the same context, the coalition of Sudanese opposition parties warned the government against forming an alliance with Tehran, adding that the Iranian naval ships docking in the territorial waters of Sudan in the Red Sea threaten regional security.
The coalition demanded that the government strongly respond to Israeli accusations and claims regarding the nature of the Yarmouk factory that Israel attacked last week.
Coalition member Mohammad Dia al-Din said that Iran has ambitions in the region and cooperating with it requires caution and vigilance. He stressed the need for the government to assume its responsibilities, and reiterate its condemnation of the attack on the Yarmuk factory.
He also called on the internal front to unify in order to meet challenges and external threats to the country, noting that revealing the facts and disclosing the real reasons behind the Israeli attack serve internal unity against the aggression.
In the same context, the government Council of Parties lodged a complaint with the United Nations Mission in Khartoum (UNMIS) against the Israeli attack on the Yarmouk arms factory on Nov. 1.
The parties’ representatives — who organized a protest in front of the UN mission yesterday — demanded the UN Security Council take serious steps to punish Israel for violating international law and attacking Sudan.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said that the US was concerned with the presence of two Iranian warships of the Sudanese port, noting that the reasons for the ships’ visit are not yet known.
He added: “It’s hard for us to know what the details are of this visit now … Certainly we would be concerned, but we don’t have any more details.”
Toner added: “We have seen the information that two Iranian naval vessels docked in the Port of Sudan. We are looking at the situation closely,” and noted that the U.S. “monitors Iran’s activities in the region very closely.”