From Sudan to Gaza, Iran's influence over Middle East holds no signs of dropping

From Sudan to Gaza, Iran’s influence over Middle East holds no signs of dropping

From attacks by rebels in the Red Sea to raids in northern Israel and the October 7 Hamas assault, global analysts have pointed a finger of blame towards Iran. It is unclear how much Tehran is directly involved in the planning of such incidents.

But the accusations get at a broader truth: In Middle Eastern geopolitics, Iran’s strategy of aligning with violent non-state actors, including Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon, influences the regional balance of power, as per The Conversation.

Impact of Iran’s Mohajer-6 drones on Sudan civil war

The power struggle between the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) erupted into a large-scale conflict in April 2023, triggering mass displacement, an economic crisis and a near collapse of healthcare services.

The death toll has already reached tens of thousands of innocent people. But Bloomberg recently quoted senior Western officials as saying that Iran has supplied Sudan’s army with combat drones, taking sides in the disastrous civil war.

Iran providing material support to the army is “widely accepted in the diplomatic community,” said Alan Boswell, Horn of Africa project director for the International Crisis Group. Regaining an ally along the Red Sea would be a major win for Iran, he noted.

Sudan received shipments of the Mohajer-6, a single-engine unmanned aircraft manufactured in Iran, said three officials requesting anonymity. Analysts who examined satellite imagery confirmed the drone’s presence in the country.

The Mohajer-6 is reportedly capable of air-to-surface attacks, electronic warfare and targeting on the battlefield, the news agency quoted US officials as saying. But it remains unclear what impact the entities may have had in the African nation.

Read More: Iran’s involvement in Sudan’s civil war raises regional stakes

‘Not Iran’s responsibility if others copy Iranian drones’

The US has accused Iran of supplying the infamous drones to Russia in its brutal invasion of Ukraine. Last year, it expanded sanctions, citing Tehran’s “deliberate proliferation of UAVs enabling Russia, its proxies in the Middle East and other destabilising actors.”

Iran, however, has repeatedly denied sending drones to Russia and arming the Houthis, saying the group is strong enough to act alone. On January 17, the foreign minister said it’s not Iran’s responsibility if other countries choose to copy Iranian drones.

Sudan: Millions face deteriorating humanitarian crisis

The crisis has been chiefly concentrated in the capital Khartoum. But the violence has also impacted other regions in Sudan, including Darfur, where mass killings and displacement have led to reports of ethnic cleansing, as per International Rescue Committee.

The country is navigating extreme levels of food insecurity, with 17.7 million people or 37% of the population experiencing crisis (IPC 3) or worse levels. At crisis levels of food insecurity, families adopt negative coping strategies, like marrying off their children.