Foreign and Defense Policy

Striking Iran: the target’s in Khartoum

An explosion at the Yarmouk munitions plant in Khartoum, Sudan, killed two people Tuesday. The Sudanese blame Israel, citing residents’ reports of aircrafts or missiles just before the blast and that evidence was found within the ruined arms factory. A video of the site shows the blast crater and what the Sudanese claim is a missile in the wreckage. Yarmouk, according to Sudanese opposition sources, belonged to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

So what interest would Iran have in Khartoum?

The relationship spans decades back to the start of Omar al Bashir’s rule, and it’s worthwhile to note that Iran opposed the International Criminal Court arrest warrant issued for Bashir’s role in Darfur war crimes. The Bashir regime, in exchange, has openly supported Iran’s nuclear program. Sudanese support for Iranian arms trafficking to Hamas has been alleged in the past.

Isn’t Israel more concerned about Iran’s nuclear program?

Yes, but Israel’s southern border remains under attack and militant groups have tested the limits of its Iron Dome defense system. Israel reported that over 72 rockets and mortars fired from Gaza Tuesday landed within its borders by midafternoon. Hamas claimed responsibility. The Gaza-based group had avoided direct confrontation with Israel since the 2008 conflict. The shift may be an indication that the group is increasingly assured of its position and that Israel cannot rely on Egypt, as it did before, to help crack down on militancy there.

Does this strike change anything?

It will draw the spotlight on Israel. The reactions of Arab countries will be particularly interesting. The 2007 Israeli strike on a Syrian nuclear site passed without comment from an Arab government, except for Syria. This strike was not on a nuclear site, though the Iranian proxies certainly help prop up the Iranian regime. Will these proxies, such as Hamas, respond?

AEI’s Critical Threats Project published an analysis of the strike available here.


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