Following Eritrea’s latest accusation against Qatar for financing a secret jihadist movement led by a radical Islamic Cleric Mohammed Jumma and funding for the establishment of a joint Sudanese – Ethiopian Defence Unit at the Southern part of the border town Kassala, Foreign Ministry of Sudan categorically denied the allegation as “fabricated and baseless”.
The Foreign Ministry press statement expressed its deep surprise by the Eritrean Information Ministry statement and categorically denied the existence of any Eritrean Islamic radical group on its soil.
The statement, however, didn’t deny the formation and deployment of a joint Sudanese-Ethiopian military unit alongside the Eritrean border with Sudan that was fully financed by the Qatari Embassy in Khartoum.
At the beginning of the year, Sudan deployed thousands of its paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) fighters in Kassala and closed its border with Eritrea.
At the time, Khartoum pointed an accusing finger at Egypt.
Prior to the deployment of RSF and closing the Kassala border, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated media outlets, such as Al Sharq and MEMO along with Qatari state-owned Al Jazeera started to simultaneously report a story on the arrival of a UAE backed Egyptian troops, armed with modern technology and heavy armored vehicles in Eritrea.
Eritrea’s President Isaias Afwerki trashed this fictitious news story of Egyptian troops arrival and training Eritrean troops at a military academy in Sawa as ‘too ridiculous’ to merit a serious response and described it as the ‘joke of the year 2018’.
But that doesn’t stop the Sudanese government from justifying its massive military build-up along its eastern border and issue a six-month state of emergency decree citing imminent Egyptian security threat coming from the Eritrean side.
Although these Qatari propagated false claims have been proven to be not true by several diplomats in Asmara and many Sudanese political groups in Khartoum, the Sudanese move still cannot justify the need for the establishment of a joint Defence Unit with Ethiopia along the Eritrea-Kassala border.
What is the purpose of this joint defense unit?
According to the Eritrean intelligence reports, the joint defense outfit was fully funded by the State of Qatar. The Eritrean Information ministry statement claimed that,
“at the beginning of March, a delegation of Qatari military officers, led by the Ambassador of Qatar in Khartoum, Rashid Bin Abdurahman Alnueimi, paid a visit to the “Joint Sudanese-Ethiopian Defense Unit”, to inspect its operations and gauge the security situation in the Kassala area.
Asmara also said the Sudanese intelligence and security services are tasked with the operation “including determining specific missions as well as overall administration”.
In early January, the State of Qatar gave the Sudanese Defence Forces 3 MIG jet aircraft that were subsequently deployed in Kassala. This was purportedly done to “thwart an attack from Eritrea that would be unleashed with the support of the United Arab Emirates” The pilots for the three MIG fighter planes being two Qataris and an Ethiopian.
Eritrea hasn’t yet leveled any accusations against Sudan. However, it questioned the motive behind Qatar’s anti-Eritrea propaganda and security activities using Sudan as a springboard.
“The question is why Qatar involves itself in such senseless intricacies against Eritrea,” quizzed the Eritrean Ministry of Information statement.
Sudanese Foreign Ministry, however, reiterated that Sudan pursues a policy of good neighborliness and non-interference in internal affairs of neighboring countries.