31 August 2013

Sudan: U.S Calls On Sudan to Condemn Syria's Chemical Attack - Khartoum Warns Against Military Intervention

Khartoum — The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Saturday condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria against innocent civilians and expressing regret for the loss of lives that resulted.

US President Barack Obama speaks about Syria from the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, DC, on August 31, 2013 (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

This marks the first response by Khartoum to the alleged use of chemical weapons in rebel-held suburbs of Damascus which the west blames on Syrian government forces that is believed to possess the largest stockpile of chemical weapons in the region.

A United Nations team left Damascus on Saturday carrying evidence and samples relating to the attack. They are to determine whether chemical weapons were used but will not make a finding to which side is to blame.

Syria and its main ally, Russia, claim that it was rebels who carried out the gas attack as a provocation.

Sudan's statement today does not place blame on any side but strongly cautions against foreign military intervention under any circumstances.

"At the same time, Sudan, in line with its principal stances of rejecting foreign interference in the affairs of [other] states, and based on the public positions of the Arab League in stopping foreign intervention in Syria, announces its rejection of any foreign military intervention in Syria, whatever the justifications, and believes that Israel will be the primary beneficiary such interference," read the statement carried by state media.

"Sudan again calls on all Syrian parties not to allow external forces that are lurking at their country the opportunity to exploit their differences to achieve their own goals even if it led to the destruction of Syria" the foreign ministry said.

The ministry appealed to all parties in Syria "to pursue peaceful and political means to resolve the current crisis" adding that foreign military intervention in Syria "will further complicate the crisis".

Earlier today, the US embassy in Khartoum released a statement saying it is clear that Syria carried out the chemical attack and urged Sudan to denounce it.

"We urge Sudan to join us in condemning publicly the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons and in urging the international community to hold the regime accountable for this violation of a bedrock international norm" the US embassy said.

US president Barack Obama said today that he approved military action to punish Damascus for the use of poison gas against civilians.

Washington released an intelligence assessment on Friday saying that the regime of Bashar al-Assad launched the attack which it claimed killed 1,429 people including at least 426 children.

Obama said that he will put the use of force against Syria before US lawmakers to vote on it to the frustration of Syrian rebels and many of US allies in the region such as Israel, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Despite Khartoum's rejection of foreign meddling in Syria's affairs, the New York Times (NYT) uncovered this month what it said was a scheme by which Sudan would sell Chinese and local-made weapons to Qatar which in turn has been shipping it to rebels in Syria.

Officials in Khartoum speaking to NYT, vehemently denied the claims but nonetheless said that if Sudan's weapons were indeed seen with Syria's rebels then perhaps Libya had provided them.

Sudan assisted Libyan rebels fighting against Gaddafi in 2011 by providing weapons and also allowed NATO to use Sudanese airspace during the enforcement of a No Fly Zone there, according to Western military officials at the time.

However, the NYT argued that this would not explain the Sudanese-made 7.62x39-millimeter ammunition this year in rebel possession near the Syrian city of Idlib.

The ammunition, according to its stamped markings, was made in Sudan in 2012 -- after the war in Libya had ended. It was used by Soquor al-Sham, an Islamist group that recognizes the Western-supported Syrian National Coalition's military command.

Also it would not explain the presence of FN-6 antiaircraft missiles in Syrian rebel units. Neither the Gaddafi loyalists nor the rebels in Libya were known to possess those weapons in 2011, analysts who track missile proliferation told NYT.

The Sudanese government have initially called events in Syria a conspiracy caused by foreign meddling but later sided with Arab League resolution in November 2011 suspending Damascus from the Pan-Arab body.

Sudan also convinced Mauritania and Somalia to back it, according to diplomats who spoke to Reuters at the time.

The Arab League is expected to meet in Cairo on Sunday for discussions on Syria and is expected to come under heavy pressure from Saudi Arabia to back US strikes.

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