March 6, 2015: Strategy Page
Over the last decade a growing number of weapons used by African rebels, warlords and nations under arms embargoes have been traced to Sudan. A lot of ammunition (especially grenades and bullets for AK-47s) has been made in Sudanese factories and shipped all over Africa, to anyone who could pay or whose goals coincided with those of Sudan. Many more weapons were from China and Iran but shipped via Sudan. A lot of this stuff ended up in Gaza. Some of this stuff made headlines when Israel intercepted shiploads of it being smuggled into Gaza and put the captured material on display for the world to sea. Sudan denies everything but has become notable as the only nation on the planet run by a man who is an indicted war criminal.
Sudan was also found to be the source of weapons purchased by Qatar and delivered by Sudan to rebels in Syria. This gives Sudan the distinction of being an ally and arms distributor for Iran as well as some Arab nations on the other side of the Persian Gulf who are threatened by Iranian aggression.
Israel always saw this Sudanese effort as a direct threat and has attacked Sudan several times in an effort to stop or slow down the arms smuggling going through Sudan. Thus in late 2012 Sudan reported that one of their ammunition factories blew up and blamed an Israeli air raid. Many Sudanese believe the bombed factory actually belonged to Iran. Sudan says they have proof it was an Israeli attack, in the form of fragments of Israeli missiles. Israeli officials refused to comment. Earlier in 2012 a local businessman in Port Sudan, Sudan died when his vehicle exploded. The dead man turned out to be a major arms smuggler (to Egypt and eventually Gaza) and the Sudanese government blamed his death on Israel. Sudan denies that it allows weapons to be smuggled into Egypt, but the Egyptian government believes otherwise. Israel denied any involvement with the Port Sudan explosion, as well as with similar events in the past. Egypt has since made it more difficult for Sudanese weapons to travel through Egypt.
Israel has been attacking the Iranian weapons pipeline via Sudan since at least 2008. The 2012 attack was documented by subsequent satellite photos showing large craters, like those made by large (one ton and half ton) bombs. The Israelis were apparently aiming for specific targets, like a number of shipping containers that had recently arrived from Iran. Two buildings in the factory compound were destroyed and 21 structures damaged. Not only are the Israelis bombing Sudan, but they are getting good information about what is where and when. This sort of thing has been going on for some time.
For example, in January 2009, Israel sent warplanes down the Red Sea to attack a convoy of trucks, near the Egyptian border in Sudan, carrying Iranian long range rockets destined for Gaza. Iran brings the rockets (and other weapons) in through Port Sudan, and then trucks them to Egypt. Sudan does not interfere. Egypt is not a friend of Iran but the border police can be bribed. The 2009 attack destroyed 17 truckloads of weapons and killed the 39 drivers. Since then the smugglers resorted to individual trucks and the use of small boats moving up the Red Sea coast.
In a 2011 incident a car travelling north, from Sudan towards Egypt, exploded. One of the dead was a Hamas official. Sudan blamed Israel for this, claiming that an Israeli aircraft must have fired a missile. No proof was offered, other than fragments from a Hellfire missile. But these could have been obtained from any number of Islamic terror groups who have lost members to Hellfire attacks. The Sudanese claimed that a U.S. AH-64 Apache helicopter gunship was used for the attack. The helicopter was said to have flown in from the sea.
In November and December 2011, Israeli aircraft bombed truck convoys carrying weapons from Sudan to Egypt. The Sudanese military refused to admit that Israeli aircraft were operating over northern Sudan but the Sudanese don't really have the means to prevent it.
In 2012 Israel and the newly independent South Sudan became allies, an arrangement sealed by a visit by the South Sudan president to Israel. For years Israel quietly aided the South Sudan rebels, who are largely Christians or animists. In 2011 South Sudan became a separate state, and Israeli aid, via Kenya, increased as a result. Israeli has long been on good terms with Kenya and most non-Moslem African nations. Israel and non-Moslem African nations have a common enemy in Islam, and especially radical Islam. As Islamic radicals have become more active in the past four decades, these alliances with Israel have become more popular in Africa.
Sudanese weapons and ammunition were recently found in use by Moslem rebels in the Central African Republic and by Moslem rebels in other nations all the way to the Atlantic coast. Islamic terrorists in Somalia have often been caught using Sudanese made ammunition. Libyans complain of Sudanese aircraft flying in with tons of munitions on a regular basis. These transports have been seen all over Africa for years and the cargo was often weapons or ammunition. While the Israeli attacks on Sudanese weapons movements gets a lot of attention, all these other Sundanese weapons smuggling activities do not. Overall Sudan has become a major source of weapons for terrorists and others who mean to do bad things to a lot of people. Sudan, as always, denies all and if the evidence is too compelling blames that on Israel.