Turkish President Abdullah Gül announced last Thursday the approval of a law that opens the way for a military pact with Sudan, which would include training and technological cooperation, according to a report in the Turkish paper Today’s Zaman.

This follows a visit to Turkey by Sudan’s Defense Minister Abdel-Rahim Mohamed Hussein in May 2011 to finalize the deal, which includes provisions on the transfer of military technology between the two countries, according to a report in Saturday’s Sudan Tribune.

And last month, the Tribune reported on the strengthening relations between the countries represented by a Turkish plan to train Sudan’s health professionals.

The Republic of Sudan (North Sudan) is a Muslim Arab state, led by President Omar al- Bashir, who came to power in a coup in 1989 and is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in the country’s Darfur region. Sudan has long been linked to radical Islamic movements and governments such as Iran, Hamas, and al-Qaida, having hosted Osama bin Laden after he was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 1991 until his expulsion in 1996.

There have also been reports over the years of periodic Israeli bombings of arms factories or storage facilities in the country that have been linked with Iran and alleged to be for arming Hamas. The most recent bombing took place last October when Israel reportedly attacked an arms factory established by Iran for the smuggling of weapons to Hamas.

Sudan has historically had problems along its ethnic fault lines, particularly in the south and in Darfur. South Sudan is predominantly Christian and traditionalist while Darfur is inhabited by African Muslims.

The south of the country broke away and declared independence last July, creating the Republic of South Sudan.

Reports of increased cooperation between Israel and South Sudan have picked up since the country won independence and its president, Salva Kiir, visited Israel in 2011.

The latest big news between the countries came in January, when South Sudan signed an oil deal with Israeli companies.

The country is land-locked and depends on the north for the export of its gas, so it is possible that a deal with Israel could lead to a way to bypass its northern neighbor.

Therefore, the move by Turkey to increase its alliance with Sudan could be seen as a way to project its power in the region, countering Iranian involvement in the country and boosting the country at the expense of South Sudan, which is supported by Israel – a country that is at odds with Turkey’s Islamist leadership.

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