The Khartoum-Tehran axis

Sudan is a hot spot in the covert war of attrition between Israel and Iran.

November 14, 2012 14:08
2 minute read.
sudan protestors 521

sudan protestors 521. (photo credit: Reuters)


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The shadow war between Israel and Iran, acquired a new dimension last month, in an unexpected arena. On October 24, a mysterious air attack demolished workshops and stores at a munitions factory in Yarmouk, a suburb of Khartoum, the capital of Sudan.

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No one claimed responsibility for the attack but Sudanese cabinet ministers immediately accused the Israel Air Force of bombing the factory.

Israeli officials refused to confirm or deny the reports, creating an aura of ambiguity. But for the Israeli media and commentators it appeared clear, for a variety of historical, military, intelligence and operational reasons, that the Jewish state was indeed behind the attack.

To add drama to the event, two Iranian warships docked at Port Sudan a few days later. Official statements in both Sudan and Iran claimed that the naval visit had been meant to demonstrate the good relations between the two countries and was unrelated to the attack. But clearly the two events are linked. The Iranians arrived on a fact-finding and damage-control mission. And not only them.

A few days later the Israel Navy sent two of its warships, via the Suez Canal, to the Red Sea, sailing along the extensive Sudanese coastline.

Like their Iranian counterparts, Israeli officials explained that the voyage was “routine,” planned weeks in advance and had nothing to do with the recent developments. No one takes this explanation at face value.

Ships, like planes and satellites, are platforms. They can carry all sorts of loads: bombs and missiles but also cameras, sensors and listening devices.

Like aggressive canines, the Israelis and Iranians sniff, bark and sometimes bite each other, with state of the art electronic gadgets extending into sea, land, air and outer space.

The two enemies take their covert war of attrition to battlefields all over the Middle East and beyond. Sudan is just another brick in the wall of animosity.

According to foreign reports, Israeli intelligence agents were behind the assassinations of Iranian scientists and several sabotage attacks on Iranian missile and nuclear sites. Israeli and American cyberwarfare wizards reportedly contaminated Iranian computers and control systems, which damaged thousands of centrifuges that may enable Tehran to produce weapons-grade nuclear material. These and other unreported operations slowed down the pace of Iran’s nuclear program by a couple of years, but did not stop it.

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