Sudan Trades Red Sea Bases for Iranian Arms

Sudanese defense minister Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein spent four days this week – from Saturday, Jan 13, to Wednesday, Jan 17 – in Tehran.

He was greeted by Iran’s defense minister Mustafa Mohammad-Najjar with this warm declaration:

“Tehran is prepared to share its defense experiences and capabilities with all Muslim states. Unity is the main vehicle for the development of the Islamic world.”

But the real vehicle was driven behind the scenes in the Sudanese visitor’s quiet talks with the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards General Rahim Safavi and its new Iranian intelligence minister, the hawkish Mohammed Mohseny-Ejehy.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military and intelligence sources disclose that the Sudanese minister and the Iranian RG commander ended up signing a broad-based military cooperation treaty between their two governments.

Iran undertook to modernize the Sudanese armed forces and furnish them with tanks, armored cars, fast boats, short-range and medium-range surface missiles, ammo, anti-tank and anti-air rockets, jeeps, trucks and communications systems.

Sudan will pay bottom prices for these goods, no more than a few million dollars, but will essentially pay in the coin of facilities for Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ naval vessels in Sudan’s Red Sea ports of Aqiq, Tinkikat and Port Sudan.

Hussein’s talks with the Iranian intelligence minister were equally fruitful:

Iran will be allowed to establish a string of “intelligence” (terrorist) bases along Sudan’s border with Ethiopia and Chad. Tehran made no bones of its plans for using these Sudanese bases for opening up three new anti-US fronts in Africa.

Somalia is one; Iran will use its newly-acquired land and sea bases in Sudan to try and stir up anti-American and anti-Ethiopian elements.

Chad is another; there Tehran will seize positions and consolidate its grip on the country by exploiting the collapse of central government in N’Djamena and the spreading revolt against President Idriss Deby. Iran has long coveted Chad’s uranium deposits and sought control of a source of cheap uranium ore.

The third anti-US front is the Red Sea.

Iranian missile boats and submarines in Sudanese ports will be in position to not only block the Hormuz Strait choke-point of the Persian Gulf, but also impede shipping traffic in the Suez Canal, including the oil tankers and warships sailing back and forth between the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources, the arms deal is a huge breakthrough for Sudanese president Hassan Bashir.

Because of the catastrophic Darfur crisis, Western governments have blocked sales to Sudan of arms and military vehicles. Tehran has capitalized on Bashir’s disadvantage and is willing to do more: The ayatollahs offered to use their influence with Beijing to persuade China to sell Sudan weapons systems as well.

Chinese president Hu Jintao has scheduled a visit next month to Khartoum, which is becoming a boom town as Sudanese oil production increases and revenues soar.

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