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Iran tiptoes into the war in Sudan

Sudan's General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan listens to the national anthem after landing in the military airport in the city of Port Sudan, Sudan, August 27, 2023.

Sudan's General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan listens to the national anthem after landing in the military airport in the city of Port Sudan, Sudan, August 27, 2023.

REUTERS/Ibrahim Mohammed Ishak

Is Iran looking to tip the scales in Sudan’s bloody civil war in the government’s favor? Tehran sent shipments of the Mohajer-6, an unmanned aerial vehicle armed with precision-guided missiles, to the Sudanese army, senior Western officials told Bloomberg.


This comes just months after Iran and Sudan agreed to resume diplomatic relations, and it is a sign that Tehran wants to expand its reach in the strategically vital region.

Everyone wants a piece of the Red Sea pie. Sudan’s 400-mile Red Sea coastline has made the country a ripe target for some actors seeking greater influence in the area – including Russia and China. The Red Sea, which is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, is already at the heart of an escalating feud between the US and the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.

Is the war in Sudan becoming a proxy conflict? United Arab Emirates – a regional rival of Iran’s – is allegedly supporting the Rapid Support Forces, the paramilitary group fighting Sudan’s armed forces. The Gulf state denies taking a side in the war, but the UN has reportedly found “credible” evidence that the UAE has sent weapons to the RSF.

The RSF controls parts of Khartoum, the capital, and recently seized the country’s second-largest city, Wad Madani. The war, which began last April, has killed over 13,000 and displaced approximately 7.6 million – leading to a major humanitarian crisis. With more outside actors seemingly fueling the fighting by providing weapons to both sides, growing global calls for an immediate cease-fire in Sudan may go unheard.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock departed for a tour of East Africa on Wednesday. She warned against allowing the conflict in Sudan to become a “forgotten crisis.” The top German diplomat said “pressure” needed to be increased on both sides to help foster a negotiated solution to the war.

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