Sudanese president criticizes Iran and Egypt

AP News
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Posted: Feb 06, 2017 6:07 AM
Sudanese president criticizes Iran and Egypt

CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accused Egyptian intelligence of supporting Sudan's opposition forces, and vowed to take a border dispute between the two neighbors to the United Nations Security Council if negotiations fail.

Al-Bashir, who came to power in 1989 coup and is the only sitting head of state facing genocide charges at the International Criminal Court, also accused Iran of attempting to spread Shiite Islam in Sudan in an extensive interview with Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya TV network.

A close ally of Saudi Arabia, al-Bashir spoke at length about what he called Iran's expansionist plans in the region — saying the United States essentially "handed over" Iraq to Iranian control by ousting Saddam Hussein.

"Americans set up a Shiite state in Iraq," he said, adding that Iran now controls four Arab capitals, including Damascus, Lebanon's Beirut through Hezbollah and Yemen's Sanaa through Shiite rebels that control the capital.

Sudan severed diplomatic ties with Iran in January last year in solidarity with Riyadh after the Saudis engaged in a public feud with Tehran. The dispute was triggered when angry crowds attacked Saudi diplomatic missions to protest the kingdom's execution of a prominent Shiite cleric.

Al-Bashir depends heavily on Saudi financial aid and has contributed jets and troops to the Saudi-led military coalition battling Shiite rebels in Yemen. The charges against the autocratic ruler stem from reported atrocities in the conflict in Darfur, in which 300,000 people were killed and 2 million displaced.

On Egypt, al-Bashir has had fluctuating relations with the country's army chief-turned-president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. He said that the disputed Halayeb Triangle on the Red Sea coast is Sudanese land which the Egyptians occupied in 1990.

"If they insist there are no negotiations, we will be forced to seek the Security Council track," he said. He also accused Egyptian intelligence of providing shelter to Sudanese government opponents.

Al-Bashir told the network that he will not run in the 2020 presidential elections. The 73-year-old underwent a heart procedure last month and has reneged on previous promises not to run in earlier presidential elections.