Analysis: Iranian-Israeli proxy war flares up in Sudan

Sudan and South Sudan
While much of the world focuses on the effects of hurricane Sandy in the eastern United States, the proxy war between Israel and Iran continues to flare up, this time in Africa. Last week, the government of Sudan accused Israeli of being behind a surprise bombing of a weapons factory in the Sudanese capital Khartoum. According to Sudan’s Minister of Information, Ahmed Belal Osman, four Israeli Air Force jets invaded Sudanese airspace and struck the Yarmouk military complex in Khartoum, inflicting heavy damages. There are unconfirmed claims that the factory was operated by the Iranian government and produced weapons that were smuggled through the Sinai Peninsula into the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Palestinian group Hamas. On Tuesday, almost exactly a week after the alleged Israeli bombing took place, two Iranian warships arrived in Port Sudan, the country’s most important harbor, located on the Red Sea. The arrival of the vessels was confirmed by Iranian news agency IRNA, which said a helicopter carrier and a destroyer had docked at Port Sudan. The news agency, which is owned by the Iranian government, said the arrival of the ships was meant to contribute to anti-piracy efforts in the Red Sea. But non-Iranian news media, including British newspaper The Independent, quote observers who view the ships’ arrival in Sudan as an Iranian “show of support” for the Sudanese government. According to this explanation, Tehran’s decision to send the ships to the East African country is part of an ongoing proxy war between Iran and Israel taking place throughout the region. Israel has consistently provided diplomatic and material support for South Sudan ever since last year, when the African country declared its independence from Sudan. In responding to Tel Aviv’s diplomatic maneuvers, Tehran has gone out of its way to significantly strengthen its diplomatic and military ties with Khartoum in the past several months, to the point that it is now seen as one of Sudan’s most trusted international allies, along with China. The London-based Independent quotes an unnamed Sudanese military official as dismissing the ‘proxy war’ theory, claiming instead that the Iranian naval presence in Port Sudan represents nothing more than “an exchange of amicable relations” between Khartoum and Tehran. Meanwhile, the Israeli government refuses to confirm or deny any role in last week’s bombing in Sudan.

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