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Sudan: Absurdity or confrontation! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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When you consider the operation to target the Yarmouk weapons factory in Sudan courtesy of Israel, as an Arab citizen concerned with Arab states, one is faced with two choices: Firstly, you could look at the Israeli strike on the Yarmouk weapons factory in an emotional manner, feeling anger towards Israel, and saying whatever comes into your mind about the Israelis. The other option is to look at the situation in a rational manner, and try to draw lessons from what happened and is happening in our region.

Personally, I prefer the second rational option, and this means asking a simple but important question, namely: how can there be an arms factory in a country that has been plagued by wars, divisions and crises? Sudan is a country that has experienced fierce civil wars and crises, whilst it is passing through circumstances that have resulted in its president being wanted for international justice, in addition to prompting the finest Sudanese minds and intellects to flee the country. This has prompted the international community to shine a light on Sudan, and there are international organizations and committees whose prime concern is Sudan, from Darfur to human rights cases. So how can this country build a weapons factory? This is not all, for Iran is also being accused of being involved in this. Worse than this, some Sudanese officials are saying that following this air strike, Sudan has become a confrontational state…yes, and so what? What can Khartoum do?

This is truly confusing, for the story here is not one of rumors or propaganda. In the late 1990s, the US bombed the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. According to the BBC Arabic news website, then President Clinton said that the targeting of this factory was related to the network led by Osama Bin Laden, and that this factory had been producing materials used in the production of chemical weapons, despite the factory owners’ insistence that the factory had nothing to do with Bin Laden. The story does not stop here, for an arms convoy was also targeted around two years ago in Sudan. It was said that Israel was behind this attack because this convoy included weapons being smuggled to Hamas. Today we see the bombing of the Yarmouk weapons factory, whilst Iran is also being accused of having links to the weapons production there. So what is more absurd than this in a divided Sudan, which is exhausted because of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood regime; a country that does not exit one crisis before it gets embroiled in another? Anybody who looks at the statistics regarding food security, poverty, education and child mortality in Sudan, not to mention the ongoing crises that exist in several Sudanese regions, will be well aware of the crisis that this country is facing as a whole, and the absurdity regarding the notion of the existence of arms factories serving foreign parties being located there! All of this means that Sudan as a whole is a region where it would be easy for military operations to be launched, whether from Israel or anybody else.

Anybody looking at the reality in Sudan, from its hosting of Osama Bin Laden to the presence of arms smuggling, not to mention the construction of absurd weapon factories, as well as its crises and divisions, will be well aware that the country is not a confrontational state, as some of its officials are claiming. Rather, Sudan is a country that has made systematic mistakes, particularly since these Muslim Brotherhood forces came to power; this means that first and foremost, it is Sudan and the Sudanese people who are the victims!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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