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Sudan, Saudi Arabia complete joint air force exercise

April 10 - 2017 MEROWE
Saudi fighter jets (file photo)
Saudi fighter jets (file photo)

On Sunday, a joint military training of the Sudanese Air Force and its Saudi counterpart was concluded at Merowe in northern Sudan, in the presence of President Omar Al Bashir.

The 12-day “Blue Shield” training, the first of its kind between the air forces of the two countries, was conducted at the Merowe airbase, roughly 330 kilometres north of capital Khartoum.

The exercise included 450 Sudanese soldiers and 250 Saudi soldiers, and involved more than 24 aircraft including Russian-built MiG-29 jet fighters, while the Saudi air force is taking part with F-15s and Hawk fighter jets.

Speaking at the closing ceremony, El Bashir said that “This joint training will deter the enemies who are eager to control the resources of our nation”.

The president considered the Blue Shield manoeuvres as “an indicator of the good, eternal, and well-developed relations between Sudan and Saudi Arabia”.

He stated that the active participation of Sudan in the current Saudi campaign against the Houthi rebels in Yemen and in the October war of Egypt against Israel in 1973, as well as Sudan’s participation in the Arab forces stationed in Lebanon, Iraq, Congo, and the Comoros “confirm its steadfastness and commitment to its moral and political obligations”.

Cooperation

In March 2015, Sudan joined Saudi Arabia’s military campaign against the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen by sending aircraft. In October, hundreds of Sudanese ground troops arrived in Yemen. 

The decision to participate in the campaign was based on “the historical close ties” between Sudan and Saudi Arabia, and “the danger that threatens all of the region and Saudi Arabia specifically”, Ali Karti, then Foreign Affairs Minister, told Sudan News Agency.

Analysts said at the time that Sudan’s involvement in Yemen showed a shift of allegiances from Shiite Iran toward the Sunni Gulf Arab countries, which could bring economic rewards.

Since the operation in Yemen began, El Riyadh has pledged fresh investments in Sudan’s agricultural sector. In July and August, the Central Bank of Sudan reportedly received a total of $1 billion from Saudi Arabia. According to Khartoum, the economic assistance is not linked to its military support.


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