A report by the Geneva-based NGO Small Arms Survey reveals that Iran is one of the top suppliers of arms to the government of Sudan, Business Insider reported Thursday.
Most of these weapons were likely in the possession of the regime in Khartoum at some point. As the Small Arms Survey report notes, “Iran’s role in Sudan’s defence industry is primarily ideological.” They are both regimes founded by revolutionary Islamist governments. And they’re both countries under international sanctions, which gives them added incentive to cooperate.
Iran also reaps a strategic dividend from their ties with Sudan. Their warships have docked at Sudan’s Red Sea ports, and the relationship is a rare instance of Iran building close ties with a Sunni Muslim government, or with a state outside of the Middle East.
In return for being an Iranian client, the ever-embattled regime in Khartoum receives crucial Iranian help in setting up and operating its domestic arms capacity. And it gets plenty of weapons, too. The Small Arms Survey sites UN sources that report Iran was responsible for “13 per cent of Khartoum’s self-reported arms imports from 2001 to 2012.”
Among the Iranian weapons the report cataloged are “Iranian light machine guns, RPG launchers, mortar tubes, and landmines.” Iran and Sudan signed a military cooperation agreement in 2007.
Iran is prohibited from exporting arms by United Nations Security Council resolution 1747.
Israel has long accused Iran of shipping arms to Hamas by way of Sudan. This past March, Israel intercepted a shipment of missiles in the Red Sea, not far from the coast of Sudan, which was tracked from Iran and reportedly headed towards Gaza. Israel is believed to have struck a stockpile of weapons in Sudan last July that was being sent by Iran to Hamas.
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