Sudan partially withdraws from Yemen after years of military support

Published 25.07.2019 00:12

Sudanese troops participating in a Saudi-led military coalition have partially withdrawn from areas they were deployed to in Yemen, according to a military source.

Col. Waddah al-Dabeesh, a spokesman for the Yemeni army, told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the Sudanese forces participating in the West Coast military front withdrew from three areas they were deployed in.

He explained that some Yemeni army forces were redeployed in these areas to replace the Sudanese forces. The withdrawal of the Sudanese forces came after an earlier and partial withdrawal of United Arab Emirates (UAE) forces from the same areas.

With Sudan in turmoil following the ouster of longtime President Omar al-Bashir, the continuation of his foreign policy toward Gulf countries by the military was not well received by the Sudanese people.

In May, the chief of the ruling military council Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan and his deputy Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo toured Khartoum's regional allies Egypt, Saudi Arabia and UAE. Al-Burhan met with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a former military chief who ousted the country's first democratically elected leader, Mohamed Morsi, in a coup in 2013.

Sudan is part of a UAE and a Saudi-led military coalition fighting Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. That marked a dramatic shift by Khartoum, which aligned itself with the Gulf Arab monarchies at the expense of close ties with their archrival Iran. Al-Bashir deployed troops to Yemen in 2015 as part of a major foreign policy shift that saw Khartoum break its decades-old ties with Shiite Iran and join the Saudi-led coalition. Sudanese media reports claim that many of the Sudanese troops fighting in Yemen are from the Rapid Support Force (RSF) paramilitary group. Sudan did not announce the number of troops participating in the war but had affirmed earlier its readiness to send 6,000 fighters to Yemen. Hundreds of Sudanese soldiers and officers are fighting in Yemen and have suffered casualties, raising calls for a withdrawal.

For nearly four months, thousands of people had protested across Sudan, calling for President al-Bashir to step down. Their wish came true on April 11, when the military ended his 30-year rule and placed him under house arrest. But it wasn't enough for the demonstrators, who fear an army dominated by al-Bashir appointees will cling to power or select one of their own to succeed him.

Protesters have stayed in the streets demanding that the generals hand over power to civilian leadership. Talks collapsed when security forces razed a protest camp outside military headquarters in Khartoum on June 3, leaving more than 100 dead, according to protesters. At least 136 people have been killed nationwide since June 3, including more than 100 on the day of the raid, according to doctors close to the umbrella protest movement, the Alliance for Freedom and Change. The health ministry says 78 people have been killed nationwide.

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