Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says the US seeks to divide his country into five regions, more than a month after Washington announced that it had lifted its strict sanctions on the east African country.
“We have information that the US desire is to divide Sudan into five states if we don’t find protection,” said the Sudanese leader in an interview with the RIA Novosti agency. The transcript of the interview was published on Saturday.
Bashir added that his respective country faced “great pressure” from Washington, which he blames for “ravaging the Arab world,” referring to the situations in Iraq, Syria and Yemen as examples.
Some 20 years ago, the White House imposed a tough trade embargo against Sudan, accusing Khartoum of serving as a safe haven for Osama bin Laden, who allegedly spent five years there before being expelled in 1996.
On October 6, the administration of US President Donald Trump announced that it was ending US sanctions against the poor country. Washington also dropped Sudan from a travel ban list in September after being in place for some eight months.
The original travel ban, which came right after Trump assumed office in January, targeted six Muslim-majority countries, including Sudan. The ban had faced growing opposition from rights campaigners and governments while courts in the US had also ordered its partial annulment. The new list targets North Korea, Chad, Venezuela, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.
Trump’s removal of Sudan from the list and his potential decision to permanently lift the US sanctions imposed on the African country in 1997 comes after Khartoum clearly adopted a shift in its foreign policy.
Khartoum has sided with Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the US, in regional conflicts, a policy which seems to have appeased Washington.
However, President Bashir did not provide details on why he thought the US wanted to divide his country after it lifted the crippling sanctions on the African country. The Sudanese leader, instead, announced that Khartoum had requested Russian warplanes and that it could further ask for S-300 air defense systems.
“We requested Su-30 [fighters] because they cover the Sudanese airspace, as well as Su-35. We have no intentions to carry out aggression abroad, we want to protect our country,” Bashir said
On Thursday, the Sudanese president met his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu in the coastal Russian city of Sochi. After the meeting, Bashir said that they had discussed the creation of a military base on the Red Sea, expressing readiness to renew military-technical cooperation with Moscow.
Bashir added on Thursday that his country needed “protection from the aggressive actions of the US,” as he believed that the division of Sudan into two parts in 2011 was a result of American policy. Since 2013, tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in South Sudan due to a civil war.
The crisis-hit Sudan has also been affected by years of insurgency as armed groups continue to pose threats to government forces and civilians.