Widely reported Iranian boasting yesterday about supplying advanced rocketry to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad takes us back to the October 23 attack on the Yarmouk weapons facility in Khartoum. Two pieces of a puzzle apparently very much connected to each other.
So far this has been most succinctly articulated by Stratefor in this piece
That attack led to unabashed Sudanese expressions of support for the Hamas
On Sunday, Sudan’s Second Vice President al-Haj Adam Youssef said the incident would not stop Sudan supporting Hamas, whose officials have often visited Khartoum in the past, state radio reported in a text message sent to mobile phones.
Hamas officials are not the only ones who frequent Sudan:
A visit by two Iranian warships to a Sudanese port last week highlighted military ties between the two countries, and prompted speculation the stay was related to the arms factory blast. Sudan denied this, saying the visit was “routine.”
Iran’s interest in the country certainly seems to have increased recently:
Ali Akbar Salehi met with Sudan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs to discuss ways of expanding bilateral relations and regional developments.
The Iranians don’t usually pay courtesy calls for their own sake; they tend to mean business. Their business with Sudan didn’t start last month – a reminder from 2008:
Sudan and Iran signed a military cooperation agreement at the end of a second round of negotiations between defence ministers of the two countries.
Political-military interests aren’t promoted in a bubble. That’s why background and context are so important. The media caught the Iranian boasting – chapeau – but missed the Khartoum connection. Pity.
The Teheran-Khartoum axis is difficult enough to follow; Iran’s wider strategic designs on the African continent are literally a maze to decipher. But the media does provide snapshots from time to time:
Intelligence officials believe the missiles and other weapons seized from Gaddafi’s abandoned arsenals were smuggled across the Libyan border to southern Sudan earlier this month where they are now believed to be held at a secret storage facility run by the Revolutionary Guards at al-Fashir, the capital of North Darfur. Some of the missiles are also reported to have been smuggled into Egypt.
A geography reminder: Gaza is north of Egypt.
The report continues:
hundreds of Revolutionary Guards are based in Sudan where they help to train the Sudanese military and help to support the Sudanese government’s campaign against rebel groups. The Guards also have a number of training camps that are used to train Islamist terror groups.
Libya-Sudan-Iran-Gaza. All you have to do is connect the media dots to get the full picture.
(Happy Thanksgiving to our US readers.)
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