A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Khartoum Blasts and the Sinai Connection

The explosions that tore through the Yarmouk arms factory in Khartoum on Tuesday night were initially said to be an accident, but by the next day Sudan was blaming Israel, pointing to rocket casings and eyewitness reports of four aircraft  bombing the plant. Israel is taking its usual route of neither confirming nor denying, while Israeli officials are leaking information about Sudan's role in conveying Iranian arms via Sinai to Hamas in Gaza.

Israeli reports have suggested that the plant was operated by Iran's Revolutionary Guards to produce weaponry for Hamas, and that the plant is in Sudan to facilitate smuggling of arms via an increasingly uncontrolled Sinai into Gaza.  Israeli Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad reiterated these claims in effect, while declining to comment on any Israeli role in the bombing.

Egyptian media are also linking the attacks to Israeli efforts to stem the flow of arms via Sinai.

Israeli aircraft could reach Khartoum, at least with in-flight refueling, though there are also persistent claims in the Arab world that Israel leases a base on Eritrea's Dahlak islands for operations over the Red Sea, though Eritrea has denied this. On at least two earlier occasions (one of which is reported here), there have  been allegations of Israeli operations inside Sudan.

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