August 26, 2013 (KHARTOUM) – The chairman of the Security and Defense subcommittee at Sudan’s national assembly Mohamed al-Hassan al-Amin affirmed Khartoum’s satisfaction with Saudi Arabia’s explanation over their decision to block the plane carrying president Omer Hassan al-Bashir on his way to Iran earlier this month.
- TV footage showing Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir upon his return to Khartoum airport with his delegation after Saudi Arabia refused to let his plane enter its airspace on its way to Iran August 4, 2013 (Sudan TV)
Al-Amin, who along with other lawmakers held a closed session on Sunday with Saudi ambassador in Khartoum Faisal bin Hamid Mualla, attributed the incident to "administrative and technical errors" without any political motivations.
Saudi aviation authorities at the time emphasized that Sudan did not seek pre-approval for the flight saying that it should have been obtained 48 hours in advance in coordination with governments in both countries.
But Sudan said that the chartered flight flown by a foreign crew is registered in Jeddah and as such had automatic clearance to fly through Saudi Arabia. They also said that details of the flight were communicated to Jeddah airport few hours prior to departure.
Furthermore, the Sudanese foreign minister said they informed Jeddah airport of Bashir’s presence on the flight 30 minutes before they entered Saudi Arabia’s territorial waters.
Saudi air traffic controllers then asked the pilot to wait, but 15 minutes later he renewed contact with the control tower only to be told that he should turn around and head back to Khartoum.
Jeddah airport then "immediately" disconnected channel of communication without inquiring about whether there is some sort of emergency on the flight, Karti added.
Notably, neither the Saudi royal court nor the foreign ministry commented on the incident.
The key lawmaker said that he conveyed to the Saudi envoy Sudan’s position of not interfering in the internal affairs of other countries and also discussed with him the turmoil in Egypt and Syria.
But al-Amin refused to express any position on Syria telling reporters "let us be vague".
He slammed unnamed newspaper columnists who speculated on Saudi Arabia’s delayed aid to flood victims in Sudan and linked its release to a recent visit by Egypt’s foreign minister Nabil Fahmy
"If support came late [from one country] you don’t tell that country you are late," al-Amin said before adding that these writings hurt Sudan’s national security.