8 November 2012

Sudan: Bashir Says Sudan to Seek Advanced Weaponry to Counter-Attack Israel

Photo: Peter Martell/IRIN
Sudanese soldiers (file photo): Israel has neither denied or confirmed it's involvement.

Khartoum — Sudan's president Omer Al-Bashir has revealed that his country will seek to acquire "advanced" attack weaponry to answer repeated Israeli attacks "tit for tat."

Al-Bashir made the comment in a speech he delivered on Thursday to members of the Sudanese community in the Saudi capital Riyad, where he arrived four days ago and underwent an operation described by state media as "minor and successful" to remove a Lipoma in his larynx.

The Sudanese president addressed the issue of the airstrike that hit Al-Yarmook military factory in the capital Khartoum in late October. Sudan says the airstrike was conducted by Israeli jet fighters but the Jewish state, which sees East African Muslim country as an ally of its top enemy Iran and a conduit of arms smuggling to the Hamas-controlled Gaza strip, has neither confirmed nor denied its responsibility for the attack.

It is widely believed that Israel carried out at least two airstrikes in eastern Sudan against in 2009 and 2011 targets involved in arms smuggling. Sudan always reserved the right to respond in kind, including in the latest case of Al-Yarmook, but never did.

Al-Bashir said that Sudan has basically two options to deal with this pesky problem. The first, he said, is to normalize relations with Israel but he quickly dismissed this option saying "Israel is the Zionist enemy and Israel will remain the enemy"

He went on to say that the second option is for Sudan to acquire military capabilities enabling it to "answer tit for tat"

Al-Bashir acknowledged that his country's failure to defend against the attack or detect the jet fighters raised a lot of questions. He justified this failure by saying that the high-technology Israel acquired from the US prevented detection of its jet fighters and therefore rendered Sudan's air defense systems "useless"

"The jets that carried out the incursion on Khartoum and hit the [Yarmook] complex are F-15 fighters. They are American-made jet fighters known for a long time but they recently added to them a new technology that makes no radar capable of detecting it"

Al-Bashir concluded his remark on the subject by reiterating that normalizing relations with Israel is a "red-line" and that the Jewish state will remain Sudan's top enemy. "They beat us today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, Israel will always be the enemy to us"

Health controversy

The Sudanese leader spoke in a loud and clear voice as to dispel rumors that his health situation no longer allows him to talk. State media reported this week that Al-Bashir underwent a minor surgery in Al-Riyad to remove a lipoma on his throat amid rumors that the 68-year-old ruler has been diagnosed with a terminal disease.

In his speech Al-Bashir said "I reassure you that I am in perfect health and I am not experiencing any side-effects from a minor and successful operation I underwent yesterday"

But claims by Al-Bashir and state media that Tuesday's operation was successful and had removed the "Lipoma" contradict statements in which the president's brother, Abdullahi Hassan Al-Bashir, said on Thursday that "the tumor his brother is suffering from is benign"

He told the Blue Nile TV that they are waiting for the results of a test on tissue samples for further confirmation, adding that the test's result is due to come out on Saturday.

It is hard to miss the discrepancy between the brother's statement and claims by Al-Bashir himself and state media that the operation was successful and that the tumor, whether benign or malignant, has already been removed two days ago.

Political analysts say that the lack of transparency on the part of the government about Al-Bashir's health situation, as well as the conflicting and confusing statements some officials have made regarding the issue, are the leading factors behind the proliferation of rumors.

The government first disclosed that Al-Bashir already had a surgery on his vocal chords in Qatar three months after it happened in August.

The deputy speaker of the Sudanese Parliament, Hagou Gasim Al-Said, told reporters on Tuesday that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) should immediately begin discussions on who will succeed Al-Bashir although he stressed that the president's health problems are normal.

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