Iranian Warships Dock in Sudan, Again
Two Iranian warships docked in Port Sudan on Saturday, a witness told AFP. This marks the second port call by the Iranian navy in Sudan in five weeks.
The Iranian navy said the 1,400 ton frigate Jamaran and the 4,700 ton support ship Bushehr "docked in Port Sudan, after successfully carrying out their assignments in the Red Sea, and were greeted by high-ranking Sudanese naval commanders." It did not say how long the warships would stay in port.
Khartoum said it was a "normal" port call but Israeli officials have expressed concern about arms smuggling through Sudan.
They have long accused the African country of serving as a base of support for the terrorists of Hamas, which rules Gaza.
Sudanese army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad told reporters on Friday night that the visit is "part of diplomatic and military exchanges between the two countries," and will last for three days.
A pair of Iranian navy vessels, the supply ship Kharg and corvette Admiral Naghdi, spent about two days at Port Sudan in late October.This took place immediately after an October 23 strike against the Yarmouk military factory in the capital, which led to speculation that Iranian weapons were stored or manufactured there. Sudan blamed Israel for the blast, while Israel refused all comment on the accusation.
But a top Israeli defense official, Amos Gilad, said Sudan "serves as a route for the transfer, via Egyptian territory, of Iranian weapons to Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists." Eight days of fighting between Israel and Hamas ended on November 21 with an Egyptian-mediated truce after 174 Palestinian Authority Arabs and six Israelis were killed. The Jewish state has accused Iran of supplying Hamas with the Iranian-made Fajr 5 missile, which was used to target Tel Aviv during the conflict.
Khartoum said Israel was spreading "fabricated information" about links between the Yarmouk military factory, Hamas and Iran.
Sudan's foreign ministry denied Iran had any involvement in the plant.
On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Ali Karti said Sudan welcomes the navies of any country, "except Israel."
A Pakistani frigate visited Port Sudan in late November.