Saudi Arabia, UAE urge new talks in Sudan as death toll rises to 100

Bricks are laid by protesters to block a street in the Sudanese capital Khartoum to stop military vehicles from driving through the area on Wednesday, June 5, 2019. (AP)
Updated 06 June 2019

Saudi Arabia, UAE urge new talks in Sudan as death toll rises to 100

  • Death toll in the Sudanese military’s crackdown has risen to 100
  • Saudi Arabia expressed its condolences to the families of those killed

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the UAE raised concerns regarding the deteriorating situation in Sudan and urged all Sudanese parties to resume talks.

Saudi Arabia said on Wednesday it was concerned about new violence in Sudan and urged a resumption of talks between military rulers and protesters demanding a civilian government.

The Saudi statement came as Sudanese opposition representatives rejected an offer of renewed dialogue from the Transitional Military Council, and the death toll from Monday’s attack on the protesters’ sit-in outside army headquarters in Khartoum rose to 100 when 40 bodies were found in the Nile River.

“The government of Saudi Arabia has followed with great concern the developments in the brotherly Republic of Sudan, which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries,” Saudi Arabia said.

“The Kingdom affirms the importance of resuming the dialogue between the various parties in Sudan to fulfill the aspirations of the brotherly Sudanese people.”

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said they hope talks will resume between the Sudanese parties in a statement on Thursday.
"The UAE hopes that wisdom, voice of reason and constructive dialogue would prevail between all Sudanese parties, in a way that guarantees security and stability of Sudan, helps spare its people the scourge of evil, safeguard its gains and ensure its unity,” the statement said.

The paramilitary commander accused of ordering Monday’s massacre said the law must be upheld. “We will not allow chaos ... we must impose the authority of the state through law,” said Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, known as Himedti, deputy chief of the military council and head of the Rapid Support Forces.

The general criticized makeshift barricades erected across streets by demonstrators with the aim of blocking access for the security forces, but he said the military council had launched “an urgent and transparent investigation” into Monday’s violence. “Any person who crossed boundaries has to be punished,” he said.

The military council has controlled Sudan since ousting President Omar Al-Bashir in April after months of protests. It has ditched an agreement for a three-year transition period to a civilian administration and is now pushing for an election in nine months.

On Wednesday, however, the council appeared to soften its position, and offered an unconditional resumption of talks with opposition groups. “We in the military council open our arms to negotiate with no restriction but the national interest to continue building a legitimate power that reflects the aspirations of the Sudanese revolution in every way,” said its head, Lt. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan.

Sudan’s alliance of protesters and opposition groups said the military could not be trusted, and rejected the offer. “Today the council invited us to dialogue and at the same time it is imposing fear on citizens in the streets,” said spokesman Madani Abbas Madani.

The atmosphere in Khartoum remained tense on Wednesday, with demonstrators blocking streets in several districts.

Most shops were shuttered on what would usually have been a bustling Eid holiday. There were minor protests outside mosques after Eid prayers but no significant clashes with security forces.

The United Nations said late Wednesday it was relocating some of its staff away from Khartoum, while Britain warned its citizens against all but essential travel to Khartoum and decided to pull non-essential staff from its embassy.

*With AFP


Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

Updated 16 September 2019

Arab coalition: Iran provided weapons used to attack Saudi Aramco sites

  • US official says all options, including a military response, are on the table
  • Washington blames Iran for the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field

RIYADH: Iran provided the weapons used to strike two Saudi Aramco facilities in the Kingdom, the Arab coalition fighting in Yemen said Tuesday.

“The investigation is continuing and all indications are that weapons used in both attacks came from Iran,” coalition spokesman Turki Al-Maliki told reporters in Riyadh, adding they were now probing “from where they were fired.”

The coalition supports the Yemen government in the war against the Iran-backed Houthi militants, which claimed they had carried out the attack on Saturday.

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US officials have said Iran was behind the attack on an oil processing plant and an oil field, and that the raid did not come from Yemen, but from the other direction.

“This strike didn't come from Yemen territory as the Houthi militia are pretending,” Maliki said, adding that an investigation was ongoing into the attacks and their origins.

The Kingdom's Foreign Ministry said international experts, including from the UN, will be invited to participate in the investigation.

Preliminary investigations showed that Iranian weapons were used in the attack, which knocked out more than half of Saudi Arabia's oil production and damaged the world's biggest crude processing plant, the ministry statement said.

"The kingdom is capable of defending its land and people and responding forcefully to those attacks," it added.

The ministry said the attack above all targeted global oil supplies and called it an extension of previous hostile acts against oil pumping stations in May.

The Houthis have carried out scores of attacks against Saudi Arabia using drones and ballistic missiles.

Al-Maliki labelled the Houthis “a tool in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the terrorist regime of Iran.”

The attacks against Abqaiq, the world's largest oil processing facility, and the Khurais oil field in eastern Saudi Arabia knocked out nearly half of Saudi Arabia’s oil production.

Crude prices rocketed on Monday by more than 10 percent.

Iran has denied involvement, something US President Donald Trump questioned Sunday in a tweet saying “we'll see?”

Later on Monday, Trump said it was "looking likely" that Iran was responsible for the attacks.

A satellite image of Saudi Aramco infrastructure at Khurais. (US Government/DigitalGlobe/ via Reuters)

Trump said "we pretty much already know" but that Washington still wanted more proof. "We want to find definitively who did this."
"With all that being said, we'd certainly like to avoid" war, he said. "I don't want war with anybody but we're prepared more than anybody."

Trump had raised the possibility of military retaliation after the strikes on Sunday, saying Washington was “locked and loaded” to respond.

The US has offered a firm response in support of its ally, and is considering increasing its intelligence sharing with Saudi Arabia as a result of the attack, Reuters reported.

A US official told AP that all options, including a military response, were on the table, but added that no decisions had been made.

The US government also on Monday produced satellite photos showing what officials said were at least 19 points of impact at the oil processing plant at Abqaiq and the Khurais oil field. Officials said the photos show impacts consistent with the attack coming from the direction of Iran or Iraq, rather than from Yemen to the south.

Also on Monday, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that he had spoken over the weekend with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and an Iraqi defense official about the recent attack on the oil facilities.

Iraq said the attacks were not launched from its territory and on Sunday Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had told him that Washington possesses information that backs up the Iraqi government’s denial.

Condemnation of the attacks continued from both within Saudi Arabia and from around the world.

Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council called Tuesday for concerted efforts to hold those behind the attacks accountable.

Meanwhile, the UN’s special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths said the attacks on Abqaiq and Khurais had consequences well beyond the region and risked dragging Yemen into a “regional conflagration.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Iraq that he was "extremely concerned" about escalating tensionsand accused Iran of "destabilizing" the region.

*With AFP, AP, Reuters