Ron Ben-Yishai

Target in Sudan: Arms shipment

Analysis: Iran missiles destroyed in attack on Khartoum 'factory' could have threatened Israeli ships, oil and gas drilling

All signs indicate that it was not an "arms factory" that was bombed in Sudan recently, but a huge shipment of advanced weapons and ammunition that was on its way from Iran to terror elements in Gaza. A reliable Western source says that even if a small number of these weapons systems would have reached the Hamas-ruled territory, they could have posed a major threat to Israel and the IDF. However, it appears that the shipment did not include chemical weapons or drones, as published by several media outlets around the world.


It is safe to assume that at least some of the weapons were manufactured in Iran and were designated for the Palestinian Global Jihad in Gaza and other terror organizations in the Strip that are funded by Iran. The weapons were probably shipped as "civilian cargo" from the Persian Gulf, through the Indian Ocean and from there to one of the Sudanese ports along the Red Sea. The cargo was unloaded and delivered to Khartoum on trucks.


There, deep in Africa, the Iranian weapons were unloaded at the "Yarmouk" military site. According to reports, the site serves as a central distribution station along Iran's arms smuggling routes to clients in the eastern Mediterranean Basin – in accordance with an agreement between Iran and Sudan. These routes are operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, and the clients are terror groups in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Syrian forces loyal to Assad.


Apart from weapons that arrive at "Yarmouk" directly from Iran, weapons stolen from the warehouses of the Gaddafi regime's army and later purchased by the Iranians or the Palestinians most likely also make their way to the military site just outside of Khartoum. The weapons are transported from Khartoum by land to the Egyptian border. Smugglers then transfer the arms to the Nile Delta region, and the Bedouins in north Sinai are in charge of smuggling the cargo through underground tunnels into Gaza.


This long, circuitous route was chosen over the more direct route (from Port Sudan, along Sudan and Egypt's Red Sea coastline to the Suez Canal, and from there to Sinai), which was abandoned by the Iranians because they apparently realized that Israel was gathering intelligence in the area and carrying out successful operations to curb the arms smuggling.


According to reliable sources, Israel has attacked a number of arms convoys over the past few years. The new route was supposed to evade the eyes and ears of Israeli intelligence. The Quds force apparently believed that the Israelis would not reach the Sudanese capital.


It appears that the protection provided by the Sudanese government to these arms convoys along a significant portion of the smuggling route (until they reached the Egyptian border) and the ability to conceal the weapons inside trucks encouraged the Iranians and the smugglers: Instead of the small vans that were used to carry the weapons along the Red Sea coast, the recent convoys that departed from Khartoum included trailer trucks loaded with containers filled with hundreds of tons of light weapons, rockets, missiles and explosives.


אזור הפיצוץ (צילום: רויטרס)

Massive fire at Sudan 'arms factory' (Photo: Reuters)


The weapons most likely included Iranian "Fajr" rockets, which have a range of more than 70 kilometers, anti-aircraft missiles and maybe even Iranian-made land-to-sea missiles that could possibly endanger Israel's offshore oil and natural gas drilling. Such missiles would certainly pose a threat to Israeli ships patrolling off Gaza's coastline. Just recently terrorists in Gaza tried to intercept an Israeli aircraft using a shoulder-launched Russian "Strela" missile, which is apparently manufactured in Iran.


In summation, the convoys that arrived from Khartoum carried everything the Iranians did not dare transport via the Red Sea coastline or aboard ships en route to Gaza, Hezbollah and Syria.


The Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt is concerned by this phenomenon no less than Israel is. Cairo is aware of the possibility that some of the smuggled weapons will end up in the hands of terror elements that threaten the new government. Therefore, Egyptian intelligence services have increased their efforts, and since the beginning of the year they have succeeded in intercepting two or three massive weapons convoys that originated in Sudan. However, it is clear to all that this is just a drop in the bucket.


Images taken by the Satellite Sentinel Project three weeks prior to the explosion at "Yarmouk" clearly show a large number of shipping containers. Satellite images of the aftermath of the explosion showed six 52-foot wide craters near the epicenter of the blast at the compound, suggesting the site was hit in an airstrike.


The Satellite Sentinel Project, which was founded last year with support from actor George Clooney to monitor the destruction of villages by Sudanese troops in the country's multiple war zones, said: "The explosions were centered on a site that, as recently as October 12, consisted of a 60-meter-long, shed-type building and approximately 40 shipping containers, each 6.5 meters long, stacked nearby. The October 25 image reveals evidence of massive explosions at this site and no evidence remains of the 60-meter-long building or the shipping containers. While SSP cannot confirm that the shipping containers

seen on October 12 remained at the site on October 24, analysis of the imagery is consistent with the presence of highly volatile cargo in the epicenter of the explosions."


The evidence clearly suggests that it was not a legitimate army factory that was bombed, as claimed by Sudan, but containers of weapons and ammunition that were meant to be delivered to terror organizations and Syria. These containers were ready to be loaded onto trailer trucks parked between an oil storage facility and hangars, which were not damaged in the strike.


So why did Sudan claim that it was an arms factory? First of all, to hide the embarrassing fact that it is cooperating with Iran and sending arms convoys that pass through its neighbor, Egypt. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted on genocide charges by the International Criminal Court, is not interested in a crisis with his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Morsi.


The claim that Israel bombed a weapons factory is aimed at diverting global attention from Sudan's involvement in Iran's arms smuggling operation. It also serves as an excuse for the Sudanese army's failure to prevent four fighter jets from flying over Khartoum. Apparently, Israel's technological and military advantage is a legitimate excuse in Sudan, but the Sudanese have yet to explain how they knew that exactly four Israeli planes took part in the attack. It is doubtful that the Sudanese can prove the strike was carried out by Israeli jets, oitherwise they would have already presented the evidence.



פרסום ראשון: 10.29.12, 18:12
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