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Alawiyah Mukhtar

Sudan steps in from cold as Yemen heats up

Bashir said a threat to Riyadh was a "red line" [AFP]

Date of publication: 26 March, 2015

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Analysis: After years as an outsider in the Arab world, Sudan hopes its role in Saudi-led alliance in Yemen will bring it back into the fold, says Alawiyah Mukhtar.

Sudan's participation in Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen, launched by Saudi Arabia, has been described by Khartoum as "a step to maintain the region's security".

But the participation could bring other benefits for a country that has long been held in low regard in the region.

According to reports, Saudi Arabia requested that Sudan play a role in the war against the Houthis by opening its Red Sea ports for air and navy operations in the campaign.

But it appears Khartoum's contribution will stretch beyond logistical support. "The army will contribute to Decisive Storm with air and navy forces," said Abdul Rahim Ahmed Hussein, Sudan’s defence minister.

Al-Sawarmi Khaled Saad, the army's spokesman, added: "Khartoum will strongly and decisively participate in Decisive Storm to protect Riyadh’s security," Saad added.

Sudan has been in the cold in the Arab world since it sided with Iraq over its invasion of Kuwait in 1990. The decision, and its wider support for Saddam Hussein, made it an international pariah for the last two decades.

     Riyadh's security is a red line for Khartoum.

- Omar al-BAshir, Sudan's president

That could now all change, as relations with Saudi Arabia grow stronger.

On Wednesday, Sudan president Omar al-Bashir discussed regional and international events with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdul Aziz, and his defence minister, Mohammad bin Salman, in Riyadh.

"Riyadh's security is a red line for Khartoum," Bashir said.

In return for its participation in Decisive Storm, Riyadh promised to exert "tireless efforts" to lift economic sanctions against Khartoum.

Saudi Arabia is also said to be preparing a fund that will encourage Saudi companies to invest in Sudan.

The Saudi king also ordered his government, financiers and investors to increase their support for Sudan.

Analysts considered this to be a fitting reward for Khartoum.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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