Two Iranian warships docked in Port Sudan for the second time in less than two months in recent days, angering Saudi Arabia, which provides crucial aid money to the African nation.
The stated purpose of the visit was to refuel the Iranian vessels, whose presence in Sudan is part of the military cooperation between the two nations, according to a Sudanese military spokesman.
In October, the Islamic Republic sent two navy ships to Port Sudan just days after an attack on a munitions factory near Khartoum. Sudan blamed Israel for that attack.
Israeli officials did not respond to the accusations but rather blamed Sudan for providing aid to Hamas terrorists in Gaza, in part by smuggling Iranian weapons into the Strip.
Israel charges that Iran provides Gazan terrorist groups with weapons, including rockets, via Sudan. The weapons are smuggled across Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and into the Gaza Strip through a network of smuggling tunnels under the 15-kilometer border.
Sudan’s Vice President Al-Haj Adam Youssef said in November that his country is not intimidated by “Israeli aggression” and that it would continue to support Hamas.
The cooperation between Sudan and Iran may hinder the former’s efforts to obtain aid from the Saudis, who are worried about Iranian influence in the region, according to regional experts cited by Reuters.
“Sudan needs to understand that this visit will not be accepted by Saudi Arabia,” said Khalid al-Dakhil, a Saudi political analyst.
Though Saudi Arabia has not officially commented on the warships, the kingdom’s pro-government daily Al-Riyadh warned that Sudan was risking its relationship with Gulf states.
“Sudan is in a state of losing balance as it loses Arab friendship, especially of Gulf Arab states, who know the precise details of its alliance with Iran, politically and militarily,” stated an editorial in the paper on Saturday.