day 11: pirates capture arms
heading to sudan from ukraine.
by New York Times:
It was September 2008 and a band of Somali pirates made a startling discovery. The Ukrainian freighter they had just commandeered in the Gulf of Aden was packed with weapons, including 32 Soviet-era battle tanks, and the entire arsenal was headed for the regional government in southern Sudan. The Ukrainian and Kenyan governments vigorously denied that, insisting that the tanks were intended for the Kenyan military.
But it turns out the pirates were telling the truth — and the Kenyans and Ukrainians were not, at least publicly. The tanks not only were headed to southern Sudan, but they were the latest installment of several underground arms shipments. By the time the freighter was seized, 67 T-72 tanks had already been delivered to bolster southern Sudan’s armed forces against the government in Khartoum, an international pariah for its human rights abuses in Darfur.
Bush administration officials knew of the earlier weapons transactions and chose not to shut them down, an official from southern Sudan asserted in an interview, and the cables acknowledge the Kenyan officials’ assertions that they had kept American officials informed about the deal. But once the pirates exposed the arms pipeline through Kenya, the Obama administration protested to the Ukrainian and Kenyan governments, even threatening sanctions, the cables show.
The United States’ shifting stance, on policy and legal grounds, on arms for southern Sudan is illuminated in the State Department cables, which were made available to The New York Times and several other news organizations.
The revelations about the tanks — the ones taken by the pirates are now sitting in Kenya, their fate unclear — come at one of the most delicate times in Sudan’s history, with the nation, Africa’s largest, on the verge of splitting into two. On Jan. 9, southern Sudanese are scheduled to vote in a referendum for their independence from northern Sudan, representing the end of a 50-year war. Huge quantities of weapons have been flowing to both sides, mainly to the north, turning the country into one of the most combustible on the continent.
Several years ago, the southern Sudan government contracted to buy 100 tanks from Ukraine using its own funds. The first shipment of Ukrainian tanks took place in 2007 with little fanfare, and the second shipment was delivered a year later.
In a Nov. 27, 2009, cable outlining talking points for American diplomats in Nairobi to present to the Kenyans, the State Department acknowledged “the apparent disconnect” between provisions of the peace agreement that allowed southern Sudan to develop its defensive capability and the Americans’ legal argument that arms should not be sent there because of the Khartoum government’s place on the terrorism list.
But the cable argued that southern Sudan did not need the tanks, they would be difficult to maintain and they would “increase the chance of an arms race with Khartoum.”
That did not appear to mollify the Kenyans. A cable on Dec. 16, 2009, recounted that the head of Kenya’s general staff told American officials that he was “very confused” by the United States position “since the past transfers had been undertaken in consultation with the United States.” According to the cable, the Kenyans asked whether the Obama administration was reconsidering whether to move forward with a referendum under the peace accord and whether it was “shifting its support to Khartoum.”
The Kenyans have told southern Sudan officials that the Americans are still asking them not to ship the tanks, according to Gen. Oyay Deng Ajak, the former chief of staff of the southern Sudan military, who asserted that the Americans had been aware of the transaction from the start.
Chris Ford commented:
“It sounds like parts of the Obama Administration don’t know what the other parts are doing in protecting Southern Sudan from the homicidal regime in the North. Obviously, the US, EU, Ukraine, and Kenya in on the deal have to profess to be shocked and dismayed after the pirates disclosed the arms shipment, to observe diplomatic niceties.
That said, it is a little rich for ernest Obama liberals to decry arms going to a “terrorist country” when the arms are intended on protecting the very people (Darfurans, S Sudan Christians and Animists) subject to terrorism from the Kartoum regime that led Kartoum to be listed as a state sponsor of terror.”
This human knows exactly what he is talking about. Sudan is (as Hillary stated), “a ticking time bomb.” And the north and south need to protect their people from their terrible regime.