Sudan this week withdrew from the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Iranian-backed Houthi insurgency in Yemen, after President Omar al-Bashir’s arms were twisted by Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and Iran’s Hassan Rouhani. This was an important coup for Tehran’s effort in Yemen, since the 5,000-strong Sudanese contingent accounted for more than half of the coalition’s ground forces in Yemen. DEBKA Weekly’s military sources report that Khartoum ordered the Sudanese officers and troops to discontinue combat operations and retire to their bases. A joint Saudi-UAE force is surrounding those bases after cutting off their supplies of food and fuel, although water is still running. Saud paymasters have also stopped handing out wages to the Sudanese combatants in Yemen.
Bashir justified his action in notes to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi in which he accused them of reneging on their commitments to supply Sudan oil and fuel products in return for Sudan’s contribution of a fighting unit to their war effort in Yemen. He also claimed that they failed to remit cash payments to the Sudanese state bank for funding national projects. The Sudanese president complained that his treasury was empty, and he had no money to provide his population with essential food. People are forced to stand in line to buy fuel for their cars and households, but are often turned away when supplies ran out.
“It is not for this that we sent our troops to fight,” said Bashir.
Our military sources report that he is at his wits’ end for bringing the Sudanese contingent home from Yemen, when he has neither the vessels nor the funds for the major project of shipping thousands of Sudanese across the Red Sea to home base.
Meanwhile, Ankara is celebrating the rights granted last year for Turkey to rehabilitate the island-port of Suakin in northeastern Sudan with a naval dock for civilian and military vessels on the Red Sea’s western coast. Erdogan has invited Iran to send its warships on a visit to the new Turkish sea base.