October 4, 2013 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese foreign ministry has denied media reports about Saudi Arabia’s support for the recent protests and the opposition forces to topple the regime and said that Sudan’s relations with the Gulf States are strong and well-established.
- People look at burning cars during protests over fuel subsidy cuts in Khartoum September 25, 2013. (Reuters)
Last week, violent clashes erupted between the demonstrators and security forces in different parts of the Sudan following the government’s decision to remove fuel subsidies leading to at least 34 deaths according to official figures and more than a 200 according to activists, opposition, and human rights organisations.
The foreign ministry also refuted in a statement on Friday that Saudi Arabia denied receiving Sudan’s foreign minister, Ali Ahmed Karti, as claimed by a prominent journalist.
The pro-government columnist, Ishag Ahmed Fadl-Allah, wrote in Al-Youm Al-Tali daily on Thursday that Gulf States refused to receive Karti last week because of Sudan’s growing relations with Iran, mentioning Sudan’s reception of Iranian navy warships.
Sudan twice allowed Iranian warships to dock in Port Sudan last year, drawing concern by the United States and its allies in the Gulf.
The statement also denied a report published on Friday by the pro-government Al-Sahafa daily claiming that an American report linked Saudi Arabia to the recent protests.
The foreign ministry further said that Sudan’s relations with all Gulf States are "strong and based on solid foundations of brotherhood, faith, common visions, and deep popular links".
The statement added that Sudan rejects any attempt to harm those relations whatever its motivation was. It further stressed that no Gulf State refused to receive the foreign ministry, saying that Karti’s schedule didn’t include a visit to the Gulf over the past period.
It also said that claims of the American report are "absolutely wrong", adding that it is nothing but an attempt to harm the strong and brotherly ties between Sudan and Saudi Arabia.
It called upon the press and columnists to refrain from reporting false information which harms the strategic relations with the Gulf States.
Last August, Saudi Arabia closed its airspace to the plane carrying Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir on his way to Iran where he was scheduled to attend the inauguration ceremony of president-elect Hassan Rouhani thus forcing him and his delegation to return home.
Observers speculated that Sudan’s growing ties with Iran could have irked the Saudis prompting them to block Bashir’s flight.
Several internal circles have recently reported Saudi support for the Sudanese opposition and activists seeking to overthrow the regime.