The rise of Iran’s influence in Sudan
APRIL 5, 2009 – Africa Confidential based in London, defines itself as “one of the longest-established specialist publications on Africa, with a considerable reputation for being first with the in depth news on significant political, economic and security developments across the continent.”
This past Friday in an article, “Why was Khartoum so reluctant to admit that its arms transhipments had been hit by Israeli air strikes?” they said:
“Khartoum said nothing about Israel’s air strikes on north-east Sudan in January and February until the news leaked out through an Egyptian newspaper last week. It then blamed them on the United States though, we hear, it knew Israel was responsible. In all three raids, the targets were shipments of weapons to Gaza’s ruling Islamist party, Hamas – two road convoys in Sudan, one still at sea. Khartoum’s reluctance to admit that it had been hit by Israel contrasts sharply with its regular and ritual denunciations of the ‘Zionist regime’, which it increasingly says it blames for the Darfur crisis.
As Africa Confidential went to press, we heard that another arms convoy was moving north near the Red Sea coast and Egyptian forces were moving to the Sudan border to block it.”
Egypt’s English language Daily News on April 3, confirmed that “Egypt knew about air strikes on convoys in Sudan early this year that were said to be carrying weapons destined for Gaza but remained silent to avoid embarrassing Sudan,” state news agency MENA reported.
“Egypt knew about the attacks, thought to have been carried out by Israel, ‘from when they happened’ but it ‘did not want to embarrass the brothers in Sudan,’ Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit was quoted as saying.
“During March of this year, senior leaders of Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah offered international support to Sudan’s president after he was charged with war crimes in Darfur, a sure sign that the bid to prosecute him could sharply radicalize his regime.”
Israel’s alleged air strikes therefore should come as no surprise. For it was in April 2008, jewishinfoNews reported that Iran had signed a military pact with Sudan.
“A strategic jewel,” reported debka.com:
“For years Tehran has been building up its military ties with Khartoum with an eye on its geopolitical assets: a long coast on the Red Sea, a main sea lanes to the Persian Gulf, a Muslim nation located opposite Saudi Arabia and next door to Egypt; Sudan’s command of oil resources and the White Nile, a major water source for an entire African region. This strategic jewel finally dropped into Iran’s fundamentalist lap.”
There’s a well-known Persian proverb: “Risk – If one has to jump a stream and knows how wide it is, he will not jump. If he doesn’t know how wide it is, he’ll jump and six times out of ten he’ll make it.” How many more times will it take before Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and now Sudan really understand that Israel can jump not only higher, but also further.
Muslim world opinion of Iran and Hamas declines
Among the eight countries with sizeable Muslim populations surveyed by the Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2008, Hamas received a positive rating in only one, Jordan, where 55% voiced a favourable view of the organization while 37% expressed an unfavourable opinion. Pew Global added:
“There are other signs that the public opinion environment in the Muslim world had been growing less hospitable to Hamas. In recent years, there has been a steady decline in support for Hamas’ most infamous tactic: suicide bombing. For instance, in the 2002 Pew Global Attitudes survey, 74% of Lebanese Muslims said suicide bombing was often or sometimes justifiable, compared with 32% six years later. Between 2004 and 2008, acceptance of suicide bombing dropped from 41% to 5% among Pakistani Muslims; and between 2005 and 2008, it dropped from 57% to 25% among Muslims in Jordan.
Another sign of disaffection is seen in the mixed review — at best — that Iran, widely considered a major benefactor of Hamas, receives in many largely Muslim nations. Most notably, at least half of those surveyed in Lebanon (66%), Jordan (56%), Turkey (56%), and Egypt (54%) expressed a negative opinion of Iran in the 2008 Pew Global Attitudes poll. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fared even worse — majorities in Egypt (74%), Jordan (71%), Lebanon (67%), and Turkey (60%) said they have little or no confidence in the Iranian leader. So to the extent that Hamas is viewed as a proxy for Iran in a regional power struggle, this may damage the group’s appeal.”
(Photo source: Deseret News and Flickr)