30 April 2018

Sudan MPs Call On President to Withdraw Forces From Yemen

Photo: T3n60/Wikipedia Commons
The port city of Aden in Yemen.

Khartoum — Independent members of the Sudanese parliament have called on President Omar Al Bashir to withdraw the country's forces fighting in Yemen.

In a statement on Sunday, the independent MPs' Alliance for Change condemned the presence of Sudanese army and militia troops in Yemen, in support of Saudi forces fighting the Houthi rebels in the country.

"Dispatching Sudanese army soldiers and members of the Rapid Support Forces [Sudan's main militia] is an unconstitutional measure, and carried out without having been remitted to the Parliament," the statement says.

"Sudan should not interfere in the affairs of other countries," Abulgasim Burtom, chairman of the Alliance for Change told Radio Dabanga.

"The Interim Constitution of Sudan is clear: The President of the Republic has no right to decide to send an army [to fight] abroad," he explained.

"Furthermore, Khartoum should opt for balanced relations with other countries that serve the interests of Sudan."

Burtom as well called on the government "to appropriately compensate the families of the troops who died and were wounded in Yemen.

Military campaign

In March 2015, Sudan joined the military operation led by Saudi Arabia on the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The decision to participate in the Saudi military campaign against the Shiite Yemeni militants was based on "the historical close ties" between Sudan and Saudi Arabia, and "the danger that threatens all of the region and Saudi Arabia specifically", Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Karti told Sudan News Agency (SUNA) at the time.

Analysts said that Sudan's involvement in Yemen showed a shift of allegiances from Shiite Iran toward the Sunni Gulf Arab countries, which could bring economic rewards.

Since the operation in Yemen began, El Riyadh pledged fresh investments in Sudan's agricultural sector. In July and August 2015, the Central Bank of Sudan reportedly received a total of $1 billion from Saudi Arabia. According to Khartoum, the economic assistance was not linked to its military support.

Troops killed

There have been demands from within Sudan and abroad to withdraw Sudanese troops from the war in Yemen, especially following reports that on 10 April three senior Sudanese officers and dozens of soldiers were killed during a battle in northern Yemen. Dozens of soldiers were wounded.

Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, confirmed after meeting with ambassadors of the Arab coalition countries in Yemen (Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt), continued participation in the coalition forces and support of the efforts to restore stability in Yemen.

Minister of Defence Ali Salim told MPs that "This is not the first time for the Sudanese forces to participate in a war outside the country. He justified the participation as "natural".

In September 2017, Mohamed Hamdan Dagolo ('Hemeti'), commander of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, admitted that hundreds of Sudanese forces died in Yemen: "We effectively participated in the Yemeni war, we captured many towns, though we lost 412 soldiers including 14 officers."

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