The Sudan Armed Forces (SAF)’s Chief of the General Staff, Lt General Kamal Abdel-Ma’arouf and his Saudi counterpart, Lt General Fayyad bin Hamed al-Ruwayli have discussed military cooperation between the two countries. On Sunday, Abdel-Ma’arouf returned to Khartoum following a 3-day visit to Saudi Arabia during which he attended the closing ceremony of the joint military exercise “Gulf Shield-1”. The two chiefs of staff discussed a number of issues of common concern besides ways to promote military cooperation between Sudan and Saudi Arabia in all fields.
The meeting also discussed Sudan’s participation in the Saudi-led war against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. It is noteworthy that Sudan was among 23 countries that took part in the “Gulf Shield-1” military drills that began on March 18, 2018. For years, Khartoum’s regime maintained close relations with Riyadh’s arch-rivals in Tehran. However, in January 2016, Sudan severed ties with Iran after an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran amid a row over the execution of a Shiite Muslim cleric. Sudanese troops are deployed in Yemen since October 2014 within a Saudi-led Arab coalition against the Shiite Houthi militants.
In February 2016, the Sudanese army participated in a regional military exercise including Saudi and Gulf armies, Egypt, Jordanian, Pakistani, and Sudanese armies. Following reports about the killing of dozens of Sudanese soldiers in Yemen’s northern province of Hajjah earlier this month, several legislators called to withdraw the troops from Yemen. However, the Minister of State for Defence Ali Mohamed Salim defended Sudan’s participation in the war and described it as “normal”.
Last October, President Omer al-Bashir thanked Saudi Arabia and UAE for their strong support to the lift of 20-year U.S. economic embargo. The two countries vowed to continue supporting Sudan removal from the list of countries supporting terrorism.
© 2018 the Sudan Tribune (Roubaix, France)
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