JERUSALEM – In the aftermath of alleged Israeli Air Force attacks against Sudanese weapons storage facilities and arms smuggling convoys that featured advanced Iranian weapons destined for Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have increased their military alliance with Sudan. Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity and genocide.
Over the past few weeks, several Iranian naval vessels have docked in Port Sudan in order to unload new weapons intended for both the Sudanese military and Hamas, and to establish a naval base on the Red Sea. NATO and Saudi naval vessels patrol the Red Sea region near Sudan for the purpose of combating Somali pirates, while Israeli submarines and UAVs are also purportedly operating in the area to keep a watchful eye on both the Iranian navy and Sudanese military. Israel has forged a close relationship with South Sudan, the fledgling African Christian nation that fought a long war against al-Bashir’s Islamic regime before declaring independence in July 2011.
Sources say that the IDF’s military intelligence branch believes that Port Sudan is the drop-off point for Iranian-made Fajr medium-range missiles, which were fired by both Hamas and Islamic Jihad at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during last month’s Gaza fighting. Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders have openly acknowledged the Revolutionary Guards’ delivery of the advanced missiles to Gaza. For their part, the Israelis have warned the White House and the UN that they would void the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire with Hamas if advanced Fajrs were smuggled back into Gaza.
Arab news sources reported that al-Bashir has given the go-ahead to Iran’s Guards to build a military base on Sudanese soil. It would feature Iranian long-range missiles capable of hitting southern and central Israel, while also threatening nearby Saudi Arabia and American Air Force and naval bases in Gulf Arab states. The Saudi Arabian government, which has supplied Sudan with hundreds of millions of dollars for various infrastructure projects during the past few years, has threatened to cut off that financial aid if al-Bashir allows the Iranian Revolutionary Guards to establish a formal military presence in and around Port Sudan.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that it would sell to Israel a host of new munitions worth nearly $650 million in order to restock depleted weapons inventories in the aftermath of Operation Pillar of Defense. Most of the weapons will go to Israel’s Air Force, which bombed over a thousand targets in Gaza during that operation.
Before this week’s gathering of Israel-based foreign correspondents, including those from Arab media outlets, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lambasted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and EU leaders for remaining silent after Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal openly called for the destruction of the Jewish state.
“This [past] weekend, the leaders of Hamas openly called for the destruction of Israel. Where was the outrage? Where were the UN resolutions? Where was President Abbas?” Netanyahu asked. “Why weren’t Palestinian diplomats summoned in European and other capitals to explain why the PA president not only refused to condemn this, but actually declared his intention to unite with Hamas?”