November 5, 2012 (KHARTOUM) – Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party (NCP) has accused its rival, the Islamist opposition Popular Congress Party (PCP), of being directly involved in the Israeli airstrike that allegedly destroyed Al-Yarmook military factory in Khartoum last month.
- Fire engulf the Yarmouk ammunition factory in Khartoum October 24, 2012. - Reuters
An NCP official told the pro-government daily Akhir Lahzah on Monday that media comments by Israeli officials indicate that the Jewish state decided to bomb the factory on basis of a report published on 15 May 2010 by the PCP-affiliated newspaper Ra’y al-Sha’b about the establishment of an Iranian arms factory in Sudan.
The report, titled “Revolutionary Guards builds Iranian arms factory in Sudan”, alleged that members of the Qudus Brigade of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had set up an arms factory in Khartoum as part of a military agreement signed by Iran’s former defense minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar during his visit to Khartoum in March 2008.
According to the paper, the factory is being used to manufacture and supply arms to the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.
Ra’y al-Sha’b was immediately suspended and had three of its journalists arrested and brought to trial on charges of publishing false information. But the report caught the attention of Western and Israeli media which cited its contents in articles about Khartoum’s relations with Tehran.
The NCP official, who asked not to be named, said that Israeli officials confirmed that the planning of the operation started two years ago, which coincides with the period of the paper’s report.
Israel accuses Sudan of being implicated in the smuggling of Iranian weapons to the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip through the Egypt’s Sinai peninsula. It is widely believed that the Jewish state was behind two airstrikes in Sudan before, the first pulverized an arms smuggling convoy in the east in 2009 and the second destroyed a car in the Red Sea town of Port Sudan in 2011.
The paper’s report said that Iran established the factory in Sudan to avoid shipping weapons via Iranian ports.
The NCP official said that the PCP’s vengeful mindset led the party to fabricate the report.
But the PCP has rejected the accusation saying that the government is trying to use them as a scapegoat for its involvement with Iran.
Kamal Omer, PCP’s political secretary, said during his party’s regular symposium in the capital Khartoum on Monday that the allegation that his party was involved in the attack was a “ridiculous accusation”.
Omer said that the government is lying to demonize the PCP. He assigned the blame for the attack instead to the government’s “suspicious” relations with Iran. He even suggested that the recent renewal of US economic sanctions against the country could be a result of Khartoum’s relations with Tehran.
“We need to review our foreign relations” he said.