Egypt sends flood aid to Sudan

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Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of Egypt. (Photo/Supplied)
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A man passes on the side of a flooded road in the town of Alkadro, about (20 km) north of the capital Khartoum, Sudan, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 09 September 2020

Egypt sends flood aid to Sudan

  • Heavy rainfall caused ‘severe damage’ and 100 deaths, says minister

CAIRO: Egypt has sent two military transport aircraft containing food, medicine and rain-resistant tents to Khartoum amid heavy flooding in Sudan.

Egyptian Armed Forces spokesman Tamer Al-Rifai said that preparing the aid came under the direction of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as part of Egypt’s solidarity with the people of Sudan.

Faisal Mohammed Saleh, Sudanese minister of culture and information, said that there are feelings of sincerity from the people of Egypt toward the Sudanese.

“We have been immersed in the love of the Egyptians since yesterday, and their solidarity on social media,” Saleh said.

“We know the depth of the relations between the two countries and due to political circumstances, the two countries have been affected, but the relationship between them remains strong. We are grateful to the Egyptian government for sending urgent aid to Sudan,” he added.

In the country, 16 states have been affected by flooding, seven of which have been severely hit, resulting in about 100 deaths.

Sudan’s capital Khartoum was most impacted by the floods.

The minister said that damage is worsening due to the amount of buildings and the large population. He added that the flooding is the most extreme in over a century.

“We harnessed all the available resources and everyone is working as a team, but there is severe damage that will take a long time to repair,” Saleh said.

President El-Sisi declared his solidarity with the government and people of Sudan due to the rain and floods.

“My sincere solidarity with our Sudanese brothers, the government and the people, as a result of the rain and floods sweeping through Sudan, which led to tragic losses of individuals and property,” he said in a Facebook post.

I affirm Egypt’s constant readiness to provide all means of support to our Sudanese brothers in this critical period, to deal with the effects of the floods.

Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of Egypt

“I affirm Egypt’s constant readiness to provide all means of support to our Sudanese brothers in this critical period, to deal with the effects of the floods,” he added.

After heavy rain fell on southern Upper Egypt, the Red Sea mountain ranges and South Sinai, Egyptians feared that they too would face similar flooding.

“These days we are affected by the seasonal trough of Sudan, which causes torrential flow in the Red Sea, South Sinai and South Sudan. If we are affected by it, then how can we not think about its impact on Sudan,” said Ahmed Abdel-Aal, former head of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority.

He added that Egypt has taken precautions to prevent potential flooding.

A source in the Egyptian Meteorological Authority denied that Egypt was affected by the heavy rainfall.

On Saturday, several roads in the southern Red Sea governorate saw severe rain, including desert valleys in the 85 km area of Safaga-Qena road.

The Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said it monitored the quantity of rain that fell on some of Upper Egypt’s governorates, and that they are concerned with rainfall at the Nile’s headwaters.

“We are in the beginning of a water year. The floods will reach Egypt over three months in August, September and October,” said Mohammed El Sebaei, the ministry’s spokesman.

He said the High Dam will protect Egypt from flooding, as the dam can discharge surplus water if its storage capacity is reached.

El Sebaei said the situation in Egypt is different from Sudan and that flooding is unlikely.

Russian news agency Sputnik quoted Abdel-Fattah Mutawa, former head of the water resources sector at the Egyptian Irrigation Ministry, who said Egypt should empty part of Lake Nasser’s water to the Toshka spillway and purify the inlets at the end of the Rashid and Damietta branch.

Mutawa added that agricultural drainage stations must be kept in a state of readiness.

Revealed: How Iran smuggles weapons to the Houthis

Updated 01 October 2020

Revealed: How Iran smuggles weapons to the Houthis

  • Captured gang tells of route to Yemen through base in Somalia

AL-MUKALLA, Yemen: A captured gang of arms smugglers has revealed how Iran supplies weapons to Houthi militias in Yemen through a base in Somalia.

The Houthis exploit poverty in Yemen to recruit fishermen as weapons smugglers, and send fighters to Iran for military training under cover of “humanitarian” flights from Yemen to Oman, the gang said.

The four smugglers have been interrogated since May, when they were arrested with a cache of weapons in Bab Al-Mandab, the strategic strait joining the Red Sea to the Gulf of Aden.

In video footage broadcast on Yemeni TV, gang leader Alwan Fotaini, a fisherman from Hodeidah, admits he was recruited by the Houthis in 2015. His recruiter, a smuggler called Ahmed Halas, told him he and other fishermen would be based in the Somali coastal city of Berbera, from where they would transport weapons and fuel to the Houthis. 

In late 2015, Fotaini traveled to Sanaa and met a Houthi smuggler called Ibrahim Hassam Halwan, known as Abu Khalel, who would be his contact in Iran. 

This is a complex network that requires constant monitoring, hence the focus on maritime security.

Dr. Theodore Karasik, Security analyst

Pretending to be relatives of wounded fighters, Fotaini, Abu Khalel, and another smuggler called Najeeb Suleiman boarded a humanitarian flight to Oman, and then flew to Iran. They were taken to the port city of Bandar Abbas, where they received training on using GPS, camouflage, steering vessels and maintaining engines.

“We stayed in Bandar Abbas for a month as they were preparing an arms shipment that we would be transporting to Yemen,” Fotaini said.

On Fotaini’s first smuggling mission, his job was to act as a decoy for another boat carrying Iranian weapons to the Houthis. “The plan was for us to call the other boat to change course if anyone intercepted our boat,” he said.

He was then sent to Mahra in Yemen to await new arms shipments. The Houthis sent him data for a location at sea, where he and other smugglers met Abu Khalel with a boat laden with weapons from Iran, which were delivered to the Houthis.

Security analyst Dr. Theodore Karasik said long-standing trade ties between Yemen and Somalia made arms smuggling difficult to stop. “This is a complex network that requires constant monitoring, hence the focus on maritime security,” Karasik, a senior adviser to Gulf State Analytics in Washington, DC, told Arab News.

“The smuggling routes are along traditional lines of communication that intermix with other maritime commerce. The temptation to look the other way is sometimes strong, so sharp attention is required to break these chains.”