Sudan says committed to Yemen military campaign, weeks after signaling doubts

CAIRO (Reuters) - Sudan remains committed to a Saudi-led alliance fighting in Yemen, state news agency SUNA quoted President Omar al-Bashir as saying, three weeks after the Sudanese defense minister said Khartoum was assessing its participation in the Yemen war.

Sudan has at least 3,000 ground troops and several fighter jets fighting in Yemen as part of the Saudi-led alliance. Dozens of Sudanese soldiers have been killed on coastal battlefronts, local and Yemeni media have reported.

SUNA said Bashir, at a meeting on Wednesday with Saudi Arabia’s assistant minister of defense Mohamed Abdullah al-Aish, said economic hardship will not deter Khartoum from “playing its Arab role in restoring legitimacy in Yemen, given that Sudan’s declared principle is to defend the land of the two holy mosques”.

Sudan’s Defense Minister Ali Salem told parliament earlier this month Khartoum was assessing its participation in the operations.

Aish said Saudi Arabia thanks Khartoum for the “heroic roles played by Sudanese forces that contributed to victories and progress” in the operations in Yemen, according to the agency.

Sudan has been largely cut off from international financing in past decades due to U.S. sanctions which were lifted in October. The country’s economy has been struggling since the south seceded in 2011, taking with it three-quarters of its oil output and source of foreign currency.

Sudan sent troops to Yemen with the Saudi-led coalition that intervened in the civil war in 2015 against Iran-aligned Houthis who had captured most of the main populated areas of the country and forced President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi into exile.

Sudanese parliamentarian Hassan Othman Rizq, who has spearheaded a campaign for withdrawing forces from Yemen, told Reuters earlier this month the decision to dispatch troops there was illegal because lawmakers had not approved it.

Reporting by Hesham Hajali and Ahmed Tolba, Writing by Arwa Gaballa, Editing by William Maclean