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Saudi Arabia, Sudan to hold talks on Yemen military campaign

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March 30, 2015 (KHARTOUM) – The Sudanese foreign ministry announced that officials from Khartoum and Saudi Arabia will exchange visits in the coming days to enhance coordination in the military campaign on Yemen codenamed “Operation Decisive Storm” that began last week.

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Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir (L) and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman Bin Abdel Aziz meet in Riyadh on 25 March 2015 (SPA)

Sudan formally announced its participation in the military coalition comprising mainly of Arab Gulf states in addition to Egypt, Jordan and Morocco.

The offensive is targeting Shiite Houthi militants allied with Iran, who have taken control of Yemen since September 2014.

The ministry’s spokesperson Ali al-Sadiq in a statement on Monday revealed that senior Saudi officials and others coalition member states will travel to Khartoum in a few days for further consultations.

Likewise, Sudanese officials will fly Riyadh for the same purpose.

The government spokesperson Ahmed Bilal Osman told Bloomberg on Thursday that Sudan put 4 planes at Saudi Arabia’s command and is prepared to deploy 6,000 soldiers to fight Houthi rebels in the event of a ground war.

Sudanese president Omer Hassan al-Bashir told al-Masry al-Youm newspaper in Cairo that their participation is “symbolic” consisting of 3 Russian Sukhoi-24 fighters and some transport planes.

Bashir also expressed readiness to send an infantry division “if requested to do so” by the Saudis.

Analysts believe that Sudan’s swift decision to join the coalition is part of a wider strategy to mend ties with Arab Gulf states after years of strained relations over Khartoum’s strong ties with Iran.

Yesterday Sudan’s foreign minister Ali Karti reiterated that their relations with Iran did not amount to an alliance and never exceeded the traditional diplomatic framework.

The Secretary General of the rebel Sudan People Liberation Movement North (SPLM-N) Yasir Arman said in remarks to al-Taghyeer online newspaper that Bashir was summoned to Saudi Arabia and given a choice between joining the operation or continuing to support the Houthi rebels.

Arman said that Bashir is aiding terrorism with one hand and reaping rewards of war on terrorism in the other.

He pointed out that the Sudanese people refused Bashir’s meddling in the affairs of other countries since it hosted Bin Laden in the 1990’s and refused intervention in Central African Republic (CAR) and Libya or Khartoum’s support of the Houthis in Yemen and Boko Haram in Nigeria.

He downplayed chances that Sudan’s participation in the military operations will lead to the improvement of its relations with Western countries.

The United States had refused to comment on Sudan’s participation in the operations.

(ST)

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