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The UN Security Council warned the Islamic Republic of Sudan (Khartoum) and the new state of South Sudan in May 2012, that sanctions would be imposed on both countries unless their governments stopped the armed conflict they are engaged in and begin negotiating on how to share oil revenues, and come to an arrangement on border demarcation. Reuters Africa reported on May 2, 2012, that the UNSC resolution demanded that the parties commence talks within two weeks.
South Sudan gained its independence from Khartoum in July 2011 after a long civil war – two previous civil wars lasted from 1955-1972, 1983-2005. A Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in January 2005 between the People’s Liberation Movement of South Sudan (SPLM) and the Khartoum government, which stipulated that democratic governance would be put in place for all of Sudan and that oil revenue would be shared. Moreover, the Agreement set a timetable for a referendum in Southern Sudan regarding their independence. John Garang de Mabior, Chairman of the SPLM Army stated that the “peace agreement, in effect, prescribed a one-country-two-systems model, whereby the people of southern Sudan would decide after six years whether to remain within the Sudan or to opt for independence.”
The latest conflict, which erupted in April of this year, was a result of SPLM forces having seized the Heglig oil fields, located in the border area between the two states, with most of the fields within Southern Sudan. Khartoum bombed the area, in violation of the UNSC resolution of May 2, 2012, which called for the cessation of hostilities. In the meantime, Sudan’s Islamist president, Omar al-Bashir, turned to Islamist Iran for help. Al-Bashir, considered a war criminal by the International Court of Justice with ties to the genocide in Darfur, has been charged by the IJC with seven counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The IJC issued a warrant for Al-Bashir’s arrest on March 4, 2009.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, eager to win over the Sunni-Arab world, has been more than happy to comply and provide Khartoum with arms, ideology, and strengthened economic ties, including oil exploration. For Tehran, Bashir’s Sudan is a major Shiite Islam success story. Sudan is both an Arab and Sunni-Muslim previously allied with the West (under President Jafaar Numeiri). Omar Bashir transformed Sudan into an Islamic theocracy allied with Iran, and turned it into a base of operations for Tehran in Africa and the Middle East (supplying arms to Hamas in Gaza through Sudan).
During the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), Tehran was desperate to gain allies in the Arab world. It supported the coup that brought Omar al-Bashir to power in 1989 and has aided the Islamic government in Khartoum through investment in its oil infrastructure, and mostly by providing arms ever since. In 1992, Tehran sent more than 2000 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) to advise and train the Sudanese Popular Defense Force. IRGC forces in Sudan were also used to train Hezbollah terrorists, and set up a training infrastructure for various Islamic terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda. It was in Sudan that Iran and Al Qaeda opened a dialogue, putting aside their religious differences – Shiite vs. Sunni, respectively – to focus on the larger enemy – the U.S.
The special relationship between the theocracies of Tehran and Khartoum was revealed when Israeli jets struck an arms convoy destined for Hamas in Gaza in 2009. Since both Iran and Sudan are hindered by sanctions, Hezbollah agents in Sudan move Iranian arms shipped to Port Sudan through Egypt’s Sinai desert, using Bedouins to smuggle the weapons through tunnels to Gaza. Time Magazine (March 30, 2009) reported that “The bombing raid came after an intelligence tip-off. In early January 2009, at the height of Israel’s assault on Gaza, Israel’s foreign-intelligence agency, Mossad, was told by an informant that Iran was planning a major delivery of 120 tons of arms and explosives to Gaza, including anti-tank rockets and Fajir rockets with a 25-mile (40 km) range and a 99-lb. (45 kg) warhead. With little time to plan the operation, naval vessels and helicopters were rushed to the Red Sea in case Israel had to rescue a downed pilot, and the plan was hurried through. “The Israelis had less than a week to pull this all together…” According to Israel Today magazine (December 26, 2011), Sudan is a major conduit for trafficking of arms into the Gaza Strip.
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