A logistics base for handling tanks, missile systems, self-propelled artillery and other heavy weaponry bound for Syria and Hizballah is secretly under construction in a section of Port Sudan which Omar al Bashir has leased to Tehran, debkafile reports exclusively from its military sources.
Iranian Revolutionary Guards engineers in civilian dress are overseeing the hundreds of Sudanese workmen laboring flat out to build Iran’s second Red Sea base after Assab in southern Eritrea.
As a safeguard against an Israeli strike, the new Iranian facility abuts directly on Port Sudan's oil exporting installations, through which South Sudan, Israel’s ally, exports its oil, the new republic’s only source of revenue which also pays for its purchases of Israeli arms.
To give the military port a civilian aspect and suggest that Iranian warships no longer visit the port, Tehran has switched to commercial cargo vessels and oil tankers for delivering weapons for its Syrian and Hizballah allies through Port Sudan.
Still, Western intelligence sources watching the work are certain that the new Iranian facility is a military port in every sense of the word. It is similar to the Russian naval base built at the Syrian port of Tartus, except for being twice as large and capable of accommodating Iran’s largest war ships as well as submarines. Tehran is taking advantage of the strong military and intelligence ties it has developed with Sudan’s ruler Bashir for streamlining the weapons supply route to its embattled allies.
The Iranian section of the port has a fence with watchtowers and will soon acquire air defense systems. It is guarded by Revolutionary Guards sentries wearing civilian clothes and Sudanese soldiers.
The new facility will enable Iran to transfer larger shipments of heavier weapons than the air corridor used until now to drop military equipment for the Syrian and Hizballah armies. The light and medium hardware will continue to be delivered by air, but the sea route for the heavy stuff will be cut in half by the large weapons depot the Iranians are building at the Sudanese Red Sea port.
This will make it possible to ship items to their destination from the Red Sea through Suez and on to the Mediterranean to meet needs arising urgently from war crises in Syria or potential conflicts with Israel.
Neither the US, Egypt or Israel has so far interfered with Iranian arms freighters navigating the Suez Canal on their way to Syria and the Lebanese Hizballah.
The Israeli Air Force has in the past struck four weapons convoys or targets in the Port Sudan area – two each in 2009 and in 2012.