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How Sudan could become an Iran-UAE proxy war

Iran’s efforts to establish a foothold in Sudan threatens its fragile ties with the UAE, which has its own interests in the war-torn country.
his combination of pictures created on April 18, 2023 shows Sudan's army chief, Lieutenant-General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan (L), in Juba on October, 14, 2019 and Mohamed Hamdan Daglo (R) known as Hemedti, who commands the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), addressing the media upon his return from Russia at Khartoum airport on March 2, 2022. - AKUOT CHOL,ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP via Getty Images

Before international attention turned to Iran’s role in strikes against US troops in the Middle East, Tehran had quietly been seeking to expand its influence in the Red Sea region, with Sudan emerging as a significant target and reports in late January alleging that Iran had delivered drones to the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF).

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian hosted his Sudanese counterpart, Ali Al-Sadiq Ali, in the capital Tehran on Monday. It was the first visit by a senior Sudanese official since the two countries resumed their diplomatic ties in October as Khartoum grapples with a split in government between Sudan Transitional Sovereignty Council leader Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his rival, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo Hemedti.

The Iranians, according to three Western officials cited by Bloomberg, sent the Sudanese military multiple shipments of the Mohajer-6, a single-engine unmanned aircraft that carries precision-guided munitions and is manufactured in Iran by Qods Aviation Industries.

The reported deliveries mark the involvement of another regional actor in Sudan’s brutal civil war, with Egypt and Saudi Arabia already backing the SAF. Meanwhile, the United Arab Emirates has faced increasing accusations of backing the SAF’s rival, the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF), exacerbating fears that Sudan may evolve into a proxy war between the UAE and Iran.

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