The National Umma Party (NUP) has objected to the sending of combat troops to Yemen, where hundreds of Sudanese soldiers recently arrived to participate in the ongoing Saudi military campaign against the Houthi rebels.
In a statement on Wednesday, the opposition party said it would welcome the army’s role in the provision of humanitarian relief. Yet, it strongly condemns “the participation of our military forces in a sectarian war. This will only deepen the divisions and prolong the strife.”
In an interview to be broadcast today, NUP Co-Deputy Chairman Maj. Gen. Fadul Burma Nasir, told Radio Dabanga that the Sudanese army was never sent abroad for combat operations.
“The only exception was made in response to the Israeli aggression directed at Egypt. But army troops have always been sent to assist in peacekeeping and humanitarian aid operations, for instance in Lebanon, or Kuwait,” he explained.
“We strongly oppose committing members of the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) into Arab combat missions. The Sudanese army’s role abroad should be limited to maintaining security and stability in a befriended country. This role should be clearly defined in an amended Constitution.”
Nasir, who was Minister of Defence during the so-called third Democratic Period (1986-1989), stressed that the SAF participation in the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen “will have serious implications for Sudan’s future and reputation”.
Sudan joined the Saudi offensive that started with air raids targeting Shiite Houthi strongholds in Sanaa on 26 March, together with eight other countries, including Bahrain, Qatar, and Egypt.
The decision to participate 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”, the Sudanese Foreign Affairs Minister stated at the time.
The decision meant a breach with Shiite Iran, that reportedly supported the Sudanese regime militarily and financially since 1989, when it took power in a military coup d’état.
The first ground troops arrived in Yemen's Aden last Saturday. According to the Saudiandnbsp;Alandnbsp;Watanandnbsp;newspaper, Sudanese Minister of Defence, Ahmed Awad Bin Auf, said that the soldiers’ mission is focused on policing and any work assigned to them by the leadership of the Arab coalition.
"There are 6,000 fighters from special forces, ground forces and elite troops ready to participate when requested by the coalition's leadership," he declared.
The Minister stated that President Al Bashir gave clear instructions for the provision of extensive military support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. “We are ready to send more troops and military contribution if needed,” he said.