Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 30, 2008

The Southern Sudan Weapon Mystery

Somali pirates, the unofficial coastguard of Somalia, captured a Ukrainian cargo ship with lots of weapons on board. b real has kept us informed about the story from with this item on downward. Next to many small arms, at least 33 relative modern battle tanks are on board of the ship, enough equipment for a full tank battalion.

The ship was supposed to unload in the Kenyan port Mombasa. Kenya says that the weapons are for its own army. Multiple other sources refute this and allege that the weapons are for the Sudan People's Liberation Movement in Southern Sudan.

The LA Times, reporting on the issue today, asserts:

[S]ince signing a 2005 treaty with the Sudanese government that ended a 21-year north-south civil war, the SPLM has not hidden its desire to strengthen its former guerrilla army. It spends about half its budget on military training, salaries and supplies.

In addition to purchases and assistance from countries such as the U.S., Russia and Ethiopia, the new autonomous southern Sudanese government recently announced it might build its own air force.

Under the terms of the peace treaty, southern Sudan is permitted to operate and fund its own military, separate from the national army. The agreement does not prohibit southern Sudan from purchasing foreign weapons, nor is the region restricted by the United Nations arms embargo, which covers the Darfur region in western Sudan.

The last paragraph seems to be wrong to me. Southern Sudan is supposed to integrate the forces of the various rebels and the regular military, but it is not to allowed to purchase additional weapons.

One part of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement that governs Southern Sudan is the Agreement on Permanent Ceasefire and Security Arrangements Implementation Modalities between the Government of the Sudan (GOS) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLM/SPLA) during the pre-interim and interim periods (pdf).

The interim period ends in 2011 when the people in South Sudan will hold a referendum.

Until then, according to the text of the Ceasefire and Security Agreement:

5.3. The permanent cessation of hostilities shall include final termination of the following activities:
...
5.3.5. Replenishment of ammunition, weapons and other lethal or military equipment;

If Southern Sudan's regional government really bought tanks (with who's money?) it may well be in breach of its obligation under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement.

Has anyone better or additional information on this?

Posted by b on September 30, 2008 at 12:45 UTC | Permalink

Comments

from b real's #45 post

The United States have started a military training for the SPLA troops in order to transform the former rebel army to a professional army.

Washington denied that contracts with a specialized firm, DynCorp, included any arms deal with southern Sudan’s government, which donors say has funnelled the biggest chunk of its budget — some 40 percent — into defence.

Posted by: annie | Sep 30 2008 14:25 utc | 1

dyncorp is one of the private contractors officially working under contract w/ the u.s. dept of state for SSR (security sector reform) in at least one african nation, liberia. haven't found any indication that there's a similar u.s. training program budgeted for the SPLA after a quick, limited search, however there is indeed a larger SSR program in southern sudan. from a july article in juba, Security System Reform seminar concludes,

JUBA (14th July) A Security System Reform (SSR) seminar supported by the Swiss military has been concluded amidst great optimism for greater coordination between Southern Sudan's different security organs.
...
[GOSS Minister of Regional Cooperation Hon. Benjamin] Marial observed that GOSS has been misunderstood on several occasions especially regarding the involvement of Norway, USA, Germany, Britain, Italy and now Switzerland in rebuilding the SPLA. “They say that these countries are giving us arms; I hope they are”, but he explained that their international partners are assisting to establish a true security system in order to enhance the implementation of the CPA that is a peace guarantee to the people of Southern Sudan.

that la times article b cited states that

Southern Sudan ... has been buying Russian-made tanks over the last year, officials said, including nearly 50 T-54 battle tanks. That deal drew attention in February when one shipment was briefly held up at the Kenyan port of Mombasa amid that country's postelection turmoil.

Andrew Mwangura, head of the Seafarers Assistance Program in Kenya, said at least three arms shipments destined for southern Sudan had moved through Mombasa over the last year.

if that many nations are involved in SSR in southern sudan, it should be possible to confirm whether those tanks actually ended up in possession of the SPLA. if there were already three shipments & one of them alone contained 50 tanks, that would be sorta hard to keep secret, one would think. it sounds plausible that, as there's the push from oil-exploiting foreigners for southern sudan to secede from the larger territory, a buildup of arms is envisioned as a prerequisite

also wondering is it possible that some have gone to chad? back in february, reuters reported that

PARIS, Feb 14 (Reuters) - France sent munitions from Libya to Chad to help that country's army repel rebels who attacked the capital N'Djamena earlier this month, France's military said on Thursday.
...
Defence Ministry spokesman Laurent Teisseire confirmed media reports that French planes had transported ammunition for Chad's Russian-built T-55 tanks from Libya to N'Djamena.

"Chad says it called on Libya to supply it with munitions for this Soviet-era equipment. Within this framework, France put into effect its cooperation agreement with Chad with regard to logistics," Teisseire told reporters at a briefing in Paris.

France's La Croix newspaper had earlier suggested it was the French government that had contacted Libya to secure the munitions, after a warming in bilateral relations.

as we've pointed out before, the u.s. has tried to maintain a low profile in its military training of chadian forces. there was confirmation of this in that senate foreign relations committee report, "Embassies As Command Posts in the Anti-Terror Campaign", from december 2006 which worried that

The country is unstable, desperately poor, and run by a repressive government that is being challenged by a persistent armed resistance. Desperate for a military strong enough to protect it from the rebels, the government has signed an Article 98 agreement, exempting U.S. military personnel from International Criminal Court procedures and thus enabling it to receive military assistance. It has also signed a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with the United States. With extensive "under-governed spaces" as potential terrorist havens and bordering countries with equally uncertain futures, the country was termed "a model country for security assistance" by the regional combatant command. Civilian embassy officials, however, are demonstrably less keen. They question the rate at which military programs are rapidly escalating and the sizable and still growing presence of U.S. military personnel in-country. A U.S.-labeled backpack, observed on a government soldier undergoing U.S. training, underscored for SFRC staff the potential complications of a too-close association with the country's military. It would be a major setback if the United States were to be implicated in support of operations shoring up the repressive regime, regardless of the stated intent of such training.


and then the guy playing the role of u.s. president issued a "Memorandum for the Secretary of State" feb 17, 2007 that declared

SUBJECT: Presidential Determination on Waiving Prohibition on United States Military Assistance With Respect to Chad

Consistent with the authority vested in me by section 2007 of the American Servicemembers' Protection Act of 2002, (the "Act"), title II of Public Law 107-206 (22 U.S.C. 7421 et seq.), I hereby:

* Determine that Chad has entered into an agreement with the United States pursuant to Article 98 of the Rome Statute preventing the International Criminal Court from proceeding against U.S. personnel present in such country; and

* Waive the prohibition of section 2007(a) of the Act with respect to this country for as long as such agreement remains in force.

definitely not enough information out there to indicate what's been going on, but i'm curious if the dots connect at all?

and any other govts in that region that have russian tanks in their militaries? or are in the process of acquiring them?

at any rate, it's very suspect that kenya appears to be covering for somebody, which, given kenya's military-to-military relations and its roles as a proxy/subordinate & key geopolitical actor in the region, would probably be the united states

Posted by: b real | Sep 30 2008 17:05 utc | 2

what happened? all the work of b real is missing!

Posted by: timid | Sep 30 2008 17:38 utc | 3

And then there's apparently another ship:

Pirates die strangely after taking Iranian ship


The Iran Deyanat was sailing in those waters on August 21, past the Horn of Africa and about 80 nautical miles southeast of Yemen, when it was boarded by about 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They were alleged members of a crime syndicate said to be based at Eyl, a small fishing village in northern Somalia.

The vessel’s declared cargo consists of “minerals” and “industrial products”. But officials involved in negotiations over the ship are convinced that it was sailing for Eritrea to deliver small arms and chemical weapons to Somalia’s Islamist rebels.

Posted by: DharmaBum | Sep 30 2008 17:42 utc | 4

what happened? all the work of b real is missing!

Of course, did you expect any different? To be blunt, I have all but begged, waved money, done everything I can do to get b to burn a cd of the MOA archives for just that reason. But I can't even get him nor other MOA's to even reply. So fuck it,.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Sep 30 2008 17:50 utc | 5

30 minutes ago, I was reading a long chain of articles about Somalia, with very good links of b real, and some others, p.e. a bloke asking for his commisions as realtor, and other one telling us about a bar in Chicago with photos of Sarah Palin nude etc, I think about 10 to 20 posts, and suddenly all was erased!. Why? any inconvenient story about the ships in Somalia?
I want to know what happened.
Uncle , it is not a problem of CD, I think is a problem of the server, or maybe b?

Posted by: timid | Sep 30 2008 18:28 utc | 6

IT WAS A CHANGE IN ALL THE ARTICLE, OR IS MY MIND AND ME IS BECOMING CRAZY?

Posted by: timid | Sep 30 2008 18:31 utc | 7

@timid - nothing is missing and there was no change at all - you clicked the back button on this item? Or what are you trolling about?

@Uncle - you'll get your CD when I find time to make it. Of course you are free to harvest the site yourself whenever you want.
---

back to Southern Sudan

So they bought some old T-54 tanks from the 1960s earlier on - appropriate with their money and capabilities.

But on board of that Ukrainian ships are T-72, a two generation jump in tank technology. While still not modern, it requires some sophistication to run and maintain a T-72. The price label on each of those is probably $1 million. Who paid for these, the training, maintenance, ammunition and all the other stuff that is needed to make them a force.


Posted by: b | Sep 30 2008 19:02 utc | 8

and any other govts in that region that have russian tanks in their militaries?

I think both Ethiopia and Eritrea at least has had old soviet tanks.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Sep 30 2008 19:25 utc | 9

@DharmaBum - that report of a hijacked Iranian ship with "weapons of mass destruction", like several others on the same issue run in the foreign press, is solely based on a very dubious piece a propaganda by one Nick Grace who once ran a propaganda shop hunting al-Qaeda named clandestineradio.com.

The piece was published on the right wing propaganda site Long War Journal owned and operated by one Bill Roggio.

The far right militants loves his stuff for obvious reasons. Tell me who finances it ...

I am pretty sure that while some facts in that specific story may be correct, the way the story is written up to suggest "WMD" is complete baloney.

Some site South Africa copying and you linking to it doesn't make it any more truthful.

Posted by: b | Sep 30 2008 19:27 utc | 10

Just to put the thread back on topic, b real's excellent work uncovering this is still contained in the original thread b linked to at the top of this page or here. fwiw when a good thread begins running in the middle of OT or another it must create a real dilemma for b. if he moves the thread some readers lose it, if he doesn't the debate gets lost in amongst others such as the stupid palin nude, if he duplicates the thread elsewhere then the debate is diluted.
There is no easy answer, b does a good job maintaining this site as well as finding the issues that keep everyone coming back.

I have followed b reals thread and a number of things are apparent - for all their expressed enmity ukraine russia and amerika appear happy to work together fucking over africa. The 'pirates' have a solid point of view that isn't being expressed in any of the stories. This latest seizure of a boatload of death for africa is likely going to be used to justify some sort of murderous attack on the alleged pirates.
Not for piracy, for being unwhite and having the gall to try to prevent whitefellas from polluting africa with weapons poisons and disease.
One of the posts had a link to an article about the toxic waste european companies have been dumping off the horn of africa especially Somalia. It included comments and the ugly ethnocentric invective coming from whitefellas in europe or north america was unbelievable. meanwhile a couple of ex pat somalis were trying to bring a little reason to the debate explaining these pirates were heros. Nobody listened.

We all know how this works european and amerikan nations/corporations play up the local resentment at injustice, arm some of the disadvantaged and encourage them to stage a coup. If they succeed the new boss gives contracts to his backers and therefore the gouging by the foreigners leaves no money for the locals who angry at injustice get targeted by a different bunch of nations/corporations(often the ones who had backed the former leader) and arms the disadvantaged so the cycle runs again.
If anyone says "hey how come africa is all about violence and revolution" they are told it is all to do with african tribalism. When of course the real cause is whitefella greed.
How long did amerika keep the same scam running in Latin America? amerikan attention to GWOT has enabled most Latin American nations to move past that cycle but we are told that will change after the next election. assholes.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Sep 30 2008 20:13 utc | 11

afp: Somali Pirates` Spokesman Says Hijacked Weapons on Ukraine Ship Belong to Sudan (scroll down to 2nd article)

"The situation on the Ukrainian ship is different today. There are negotiations going on between the pirates and the foreign ships," said Abdikadir Musa Yusuf, deputy seaports minister for the Somali breakaway region of Puntland.

"The pirates agreed not to offload the shipment and were in return given an opportunity to demand whatever they needed," he told AFP.
...
"We are sticking to the demand for 20 million dollars. This is not ransom, but a fine for unlawfully transporting weapons on Somali waters," [pirates` spokesman Sugule] Ali said.

The pirates said the arms were headed for Sudan. The Ukrainian owners of the freighter and Kenyan government said the tanks were destined for Kenya.

"We are confirming that these weapons do not belong to the government of Kenya but belong to southern Sudan," Ali added. "But whoever is the weapons` owner is not our problem, our problem is the 20 million dollars."

a surprisingly informative job of reporting from nyt's gettleman: Q. & A. With a Pirate: “We Just Want the Money”

Q. Tell us how you discovered the weapons on board.
A. As soon as we get on a ship, we normally do what is called a control. We search everything. That’s how we found the weapons. Tanks, anti-aircraft, artillery. That’s all we will say right now.

Q. Were you surprised?
A. No, we weren’t surprised. We know everything goes through the sea. We see people who dump waste in our waters. We see people who illegally fish in our waters. We see people doing all sorts of things in our waters.

Q. Are you going to sell the weapons to insurgents?
A. No. We don’t want these weapons to go to anyone in Somalia. Somalia has suffered from many years of destruction because of all these weapons. We don’t want that suffering and chaos to continue. We are not going to offload the weapons. We just want the money.

Q. How much?
A. $20 million, in cash. We don’t use any other system than cash.

Q. Will you negotiate?
A. That’s deal making. Common sense says human beings can make deals.
...
Q. What will you do with the money?
A. We will protect ourselves from hunger.
...
Q. What if you were told you could leave peacefully, without arrest, though without any ransom money. Would you do it?
A. [With a laugh] We’re not afraid of arrest or death or any of these things. For us, hunger is our enemy.

Q. Have the pirates been misunderstood?
A. We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits [”sea bandit” is one way Somalis translate the English word pirate]. We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.

Q. Why did you want to become a pirate?
A. We are patrolling our seas. This is a normal thing for people to do in their regions.

Q. Isn’t what you are doing a crime? Holding people at gunpoint?
A. If you hold hostage innocent people, that’s a crime. If you hold hostage people who are doing illegal activities, like waste dumping or fishing, that is not a crime.

Q. What has this Ukrainian ship done that was a crime?
A. To go through our waters carrying all these weapons without permission.

Q. What is the name of your group? How many ships have you hijacked before?
A. I won’t say how many ships we have hijacked. I won’t talk about that. Our name is the Central Region Coast Guard.


financial times: Hijacked ship linked to Sudan

An African military official working in south Sudan and a government adviser in Khartoum said the south was in the midst of a big rearmament programme ahead of an election next year before independence due in 2011.

South Sudanese rebels signed a peace deal with the Khartoum government in 2005 after decades of civil war.

But some members of the southern government fear that because the south has most of Sudan's oil reserves the north will not allow it to secede.


Posted by: b real | Oct 1 2008 5:09 utc | 12

Interview with a pirate: Somali Pirates Tell All: They’re in It for the Money

The Somali pirates who hijacked a Ukrainian freighter loaded with tanks, artillery, grenade launchers and ammunition said in an interview on Tuesday that they had no idea the ship was carrying arms when they seized it on the high seas.
...
In a 45-minute interview, Mr. Sugule spoke on everything from what the pirates wanted (“just money”) to why they were doing this (“to stop illegal fishing and dumping in our waters”) to what they had to eat on board (rice, meat, bread, spaghetti, “you know, normal human-being food”).

He said that so far, in the eyes of the world, the pirates had been misunderstood. “We don’t consider ourselves sea bandits,” he said. “We consider sea bandits those who illegally fish in our seas and dump waste in our seas and carry weapons in our seas. We are simply patrolling our seas. Think of us like a coast guard.”
...
He insisted that the pirates were not interested in the weapons and had no plans to sell them to Islamist insurgents battling Somalia’s weak transitional government. “Somalia has suffered from many years of destruction because of all these weapons,” he said. “We don’t want that suffering and chaos to continue. We are not going to offload the weapons. We just want the money.”

He said the pirates were asking for $20 million in cash; “we don’t use any other system than cash.” But he added that they were willing to bargain. “That’s deal-making,” he explained.
...
The piracy industry started about 10 to 15 years ago, Somali officials said, as a response to illegal fishing. Somalia’s central government imploded in 1991, casting the country into chaos. With no patrols along the shoreline, Somalia’s tuna-rich waters were soon plundered by commercial fishing fleets from around the world. Somali fishermen armed themselves and turned into vigilantes by confronting illegal fishing boats and demanding that they pay a tax.

Posted by: b | Oct 1 2008 5:10 utc | 13

Boingboing reports of a mysterious siege engine being smuggled into Washington, DC, inside a forty-foot tractor-trailer, with a flash mob ready and waiting by their cells, as the truck maneuvers to get within 120 yards or so of the White House. Should be interesting!

Posted by: Chew Backee | Oct 1 2008 5:26 utc | 14

this report on T-72 transactions shows

T-72; items: 77; transferred from Ukraine to Kenya in 2007

but i still haven't found any verification that the kenyan army has those. the press coverage out of kenya in the past few days has stated that kenya has old british tanks, that there has been no training for those type of tanks, and that, if the tanks were indeed destined for kenyan forces, the normal protocol for purchasing them had not been followed. all of this is, of course, coming from the press, which is generally not the best source for factual data.

one story in the east african standard today contained a quick mention allusion to the atmosphere in the kenyan military

We established yesterday that the issue of the weapons is such a sensitive issue that the matter is discussed in hushed tones in the military barracks. "This issue is so sensitive that no one is willing to discuss it. You have to watch your back," says a military source.

one article i saw today mentioned a discrepancy in the cargo documents re the name of the shipping company. not clear yet how this figures in. the kenyan govt claims to have different invoices than the somali coast guard discovered onboard.

Posted by: b real | Oct 1 2008 6:05 utc | 15

@ Uncle $cam

You can use an internet 'Webspider' to create a duplicate of a website, or a browsable copy for offline viewing very easily.

You don't need better than an analogue modem and you can tune settings to complete the trawl over days/weeks if necessary, or whatevers convenient ... all easily configurable and can periodically update.

May I suggest 'Teleport Pro' ? Lightwieght, straightforward, tunable and even has 'wizards' ... Shareware download page

Happy to assist via email if you need it, or a spare 'key' ?

Peace/Salaam/Shalom

Posted by: Outraged | Oct 1 2008 9:20 utc | 16

The waste dumping and plunder of fish gives another dimension to why the western warships are there. Of course, using the navy now and then is always double plus good but why there and why so consistent? Why not score a victory and send the navy somewhere else?

It is not like they do not know that the warlords - erstwhile allies of the west - are in on it. And as I wrote the other day when a danish ship actually captured some alleged pirates they just dropped them of at the nearest fishing village. But the danish ship stayed, despite the appearent pointlessness.

So keeping the waters safe for western waste and theft, now there is a reason to have naval ships on patrol outside Somalia!

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Oct 1 2008 15:54 utc | 17

daily nation: Who really owns the hijacked battle tanks?

The authenticity of shipping documents presented by the Government to prove Kenya’s ownership was called into question — and investigations showed the cargo might in fact have been destined for South Sudan, as the US Navy has claimed all along.

Impeccable sources in Kenya’s military confided that the tanks and other arms — including anti-aircraft guns and rocket propelled grenades — were going to Mombasa only to be off-loaded and sent on to Juba, the South Sudan capital.

The seizure of the equipment, the source said, had put the Kenya Government in an awkward position because it was seen to be in breach of a UN embargo on sale of arms to Sudan.
...
It also emerged that Kenya might have been sucked into an arms stockpiling contest between the Sudanese government in Khartoum and the South Sudan administration based in Juba.

Sources in South Sudan told the Nation that Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir — currently facing indictment for war crimes over the genocide in Darfur — has been spending huge amounts of money modernising his army, especially the air force.

South Sudan had responded by acquiring a wide range of military hardware including the tanks seized last week, the sources said.

The stockpiling appears to be linked to next year’s referendum, which will decide whether Sudan remains one unified state or splits into North and South.

In case of a split, the sharing of oil resources could trigger tension between the two new countries.

Investigations by the Nation found that despite repeated claims of ownership of the arms shipment by the Kenya Government, the Department of Defence was finding itself in an embarrassing position because their importing breaks most of its own procurement rules.
...
The procurement rules, coupled with Kenya’s stated foreign policy and a check with the Ukrainian exporter and shipper, plus sources within the military indicate that the tanks were in fact on their way to transit to South Sudan, in spite of official Kenyan denials.

When the pirates seized the ship last Thursday, Mr Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers Association was quoted as saying that the cargo was destined for Southern Sudan and was the latest of three or four such shipments since last year.

The Nation established that the tanks started passing through Mombasa last year. On November 2, a train carrying 17 T-72 tanks derailed at Kokotoni about 30km from Mombasa, damaging five of them.

The accident, which happened shortly after 4am, prompted a military security operation at the scene.

The area was sealed off and army officers prevented the press from taking pictures. Then, on January 25, this year, 33 more tanks were ferried by train from the port during the height of the post-election violence.

...

The source said it would require a drastic change of government policy to change military hardware given that even the personnel must be trained before the equipment was acquired.

And the people in President Kibaki’s Government do not show any signs of turning to Russian hardware.

The DoD has an elaborate procedure for procuring arms and equipment.

Unlike in the past when DoD has procured military hardware, this time round, the Nation investigations found no information showing that a technical team or other military personnel from the department travelled to Ukraine to evaluate the T-72 tanks or for training.

so it's pretty clear that kenya is being used to transit military supplies headed to sudan, probably at the behest of the u.s.

now there are stories today about the u.s./ethiopian-installed transitional govt (TFG) of somalia warming back up to the russians in either (a) an attempt to save their asses after the ethiopians & u.s. get closer to writing them off, or, (b) gain leverage over the u.s. by being seen to court thier old nemesis & inviting them to establish a foothold in the HOA

Somalia welcomes Russian help in fighting piracy

Somalia welcomes Russian help in fighting piracy off its coast and is "not satisfied" with warships from other countries, the country's ambassador to Moscow said on Wednesday.

President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed "gave permission for Russian ships to enter the sea [off Somalia] and fight the pirates in the sea and on the coast", ambassador Mohammed Mahmud Handule said at a press conference in Moscow.
...
The ambassador criticised the activities of foreign warships off Somalia, although he did not name any countries.

"Many warships can be found near our shores, but we are not satisfied with the results of their activities," said Handule.

"More than 10 countries are patrolling [Somalia waters], but we have asked Russia and she agreed to our request," he said, referring to an international effort to contain piracy.
...
Handule also offered warm words for Moscow, a former Cold War ally of Somalia.

The envoy praised Russia's conduct in its war with Georgia in August and said Somalia would follow Moscow in recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the rebel Georgian regions at the heart of the war.

a cnn rpt, "Somalia asks Russia for help with pirates", adds

"The government and the president of Somalia are allowing the Russian naval ships to enter our waters, and fight against pirates both in the sea and on the land, that is, if they would have to chase them," Amb. Mohamed Handule said at a news conference in Moscow.

strangely, that article also says "Handule, the Nigerian ambassador, seemed to criticize the United States for not taking action."

looks like somebody's got john mccain-syndrome ;-)

anyway, the russians already have at least one ship on the way, as i pointed out in the comments in the other thread.

just for fun - the paranoic neocons @ stratfor don't let reality from getting in the way of their trying to turn the HOA of 2008/9 into the central america of the 1980s!
Somalians, Russians and Pirates

Somalia announced today its intention to recognize the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. So far, only Nicaragua [gasp!!] (and of course Russia) recognizes them as independent. According to Somalian Ambassador to Moscow Mohammed Mahmud Handule, “We want Russia to start military and technical cooperation with our country as soon as possible. Active talks are currently under way between our countries’ foreign ministries on Russia’s assistance in training Somalian border guards, combat units and security services.” According to Handule, Somalian President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed has agreed to allow Russian forces to fight pirates at sea and, significantly, on Somalian soil.
...
While some reports said the ultimate destination for the tanks was southern Sudan, it appears that the Kenyans were actually buying them from Ukraine.
...
Setting aside the coincidence that Russia announced the deployment of an anti-piracy warship three days before the hijacking of the Ukrainian ship, the strategic issue is that the Russians are involving themselves once again in the Horn of Africa. They had been involved there during the Cold War, and they are returning — on a very small scale for now. The Horn of Africa is critical to U.S. counterterrorism efforts; the region is watched through Africa Command, headquartered in Germany, and Djbouti hosts the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

This follows the pattern Russia established with Venezuela [double gasp!!!!]: recruiting allies whose interests diverge from the United States’. The primary function at this point is to irritate the United States, since the primary deployment is naval — and so minimal that it presents no threat to U.S. naval sea lane control. At the same time, the Somalian announcement that the Russians are welcomed ashore in Somalia opens the possibility of a Russian land base in the region, and the possibility of Russian troops helping to assert government control over Somalian chaos — or at least trying to.

The fate of the hijacked ship is unknown. Kenya’s decision to buy T-72s from Ukraine is not unheard of. The timing of the announcement and the hijacking is entirely coincidental. We understand all of that of course. But in this bizarre affair what is clear is that the Russians are moving ahead rapidly to at least show the flag in diverse parts of the world, and are finding willing partners — maybe not of the first quality, but enough to distract the United States at least somewhat from more focused and pressing issues elsewhere.

"Kenya’s decision to buy T-72s from Ukraine is not unheard of"

i think we're showing that this is clearly not the case here

and, lastly, on wednesday the u.s. "stood up" it's latest unified combatant command, AFRICOM ... in germany, of course

an associated press article, "US Africa command aims at cooperation", includes this bit

The pirate-infested waters off Somalia will remain the responsibility of Central Command.

if true, what's up w/ that? i thought the latest selling point behind AFRICOM now is that it consolidated all the ongoing responsibilities for u.s. military activities on the continent (sans egypt) into one neat command?

and, can't resist just one more - also from that ap article

No U.S. military forces are assigned to Africa Command, other than the roughly 1,800 troops in Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa, based in Djibouti, and a much smaller contingent associated with a program known as the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Initiative.

LOL. 'no forces' meaning 2000+

Posted by: b real | Oct 2 2008 4:40 utc | 18

heh. evidently, the fact that the russians are sailing to the somali coast is getting quite a few cold warrior-types all worked up. (never mind the fact that there are already several u.s. ships on patrol there - and watching the faina, or that the u.s. is largely responsible for the current destabilized state of somalia). not meaning to waste anyone's time on this really, but i found it interesting. skip stratfor & go straight to the conspiratorial - coming from a blog that

holds to the position that the "collapse" of communism in Eastern Europe between 1989 and 1991 was part of a long-term strategic deception orchestrated by the Moscow-Beijing Axis. Current events are analyzed here in that light. In particular, we monitor Communist Bloc military exercises, the activities and statements of Soviet communists, the spread of neo-communism in Latin America, and the Islamo-Marxist alliance.

among the other nutty things there, readers are confronted w/ the following perceptive deduction
Since current negotiations between Moscow and Baidoa, the Somali Republic's provisional capital, will apparently permit the Russian Navy to assume a constant presence near the Horn of Africa, shrewd Russia watchers should consider the possibility that the Faina hijacking was from start to finish a Kremlin ploy. [bold in original]

i did come across a march 2007 interview of ambassador mohammed mahmud handule w/ novie izvestia that, along w/ the provocative headline, contained this
The Ambassador of Somalia in Russia Mohamed Handule: “We are offering Russia uranium and iron ore.”

Is it true that the USSR and Somalia completed a uranium agreement?

Yes, it happened in 1976 when the uranium-ore deposits were discovered.

Was it an official agreement or a secret one?

There were no secrets at all. And now we are negotiating with Russia about the mining of uranium and iron ore. Besides “Zarubezhgeologia” intends to explore oil and gas. Canadian and some other countries are claiming the same. Now we are drafting a bill according to which all such problems will be solved through tender. We would like to cooperate with Russia and USA but we are equally open for all.

i've been tracking somalia almost daily for nearly two years now - can't say i've seen any mention of negotiations w/ russia on oil & gas exploration in the somali media. plenty of other nations, mainly wildcatters, but i don't recall reading that russia is even interesting in contracting at that stage.

Posted by: b real | Oct 2 2008 6:30 utc | 20

more somalis slaughtered in the bakara market on wednesday
8 killed in mortar attacks in Mogadishu

Mortars slammed into a Mogadishu market on Wednesday in a heavy shellingthat has killed at least 8 people and injured 15 others more, witnesses said.

Residents said the shelling started after Alshabab fighters launched mortars to the airport where a plane was carrying supplies for AMISOM troops landed.

Fighting worsened at the weekend, even as UN officials sought to broker a ceasefire between government and opposition representatives in neighbouring Djibouti.

Eyewitnesses told Shabelle that AMISOM troops fired the mortars to the Bakara market and Madina district but the spokesman of the troops major Brigye Bo-hoku has denied that reports saying that they’ve defended themselves.

this is the third report in two weeks of AMISOM shelling the marketplace there. so many people dying -- at the very least 9000 dead since early 2007 -- the vast majority of it at the hands of the occupiers propping up the unpopular transitional govt. but all that the rest of the world seems to care about is shipping lanes, insurance rates & ship crews held hostage by citizen coast guards & pirate gangs.

bloomberg: EU Sending Warships to Fight Pirates Off Somali Coast

Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) -- France, Germany and six other European Union governments say they will deploy additional warships off the coast of Somalia to fight piracy as soon as next month.

Germany will send a frigate, German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung said. France has already dispatched a ship and Spain has sent an observation plane. The goal is to have an EU fleet of three warships, a supply ship and three naval surveillance planes, Jung said.

``We have to take effective action against pirates,'' Jung told reporters today at an EU meeting in Deauville, France. ``We have to first push back the pirates, restore security on the high seas and make free maritime trade possible again.''
...
The EU naval anti-piracy force would be separate from Task Force 150, though the two fleets would coordinate actions, Morin said. The make-up of the force and its rules of engagement will be worked out in talks between now and Nov. 10, he said.

Of the 27 EU countries, France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Cyprus, Belgium and Sweden have said they will contribute, according to Morin. Britain will consider joining, though it says its naval forces are already stretched, Morin said. Morin said he's proposed that the fleet's operational headquarters be in Britain.

Last month, the EU set up an office in Brussels to coordinate the anti-piracy efforts of its naval forces in the area.

Morin said the forward headquarters for the fleet hasn't been decided yet. France and Spain use a French military base in Djibouti for their anti-piracy efforts. The U.S.'s Fifth Fleet, the backbone of Task Force 150, is based in Bahrain.

Posted by: b real | Oct 2 2008 7:45 utc | 21

the govt in kenya obviously must be guilty as charged - this move is pretty blatant

Mwangura charged over remarks on hijacked ship

A seafarers official who has been in the news over the Ukraine ship hijacked off the Somalia coast, has been charged with issuing alarming statements and being in possession of narcotic drugs.

The programme coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Programme, Andrew Moningeti Mwangura, will be in custody for five days.

This follows an application by police to conduct further investigation.

Mwangura, who was arrested on Wednesday evening outside The Standard offices in Mombasa, was charged that on September 28 at Diamond Trust Arcade on Ngong Road, he published a false statement.

The charge further stated that the statement was published in The Standard issue number 139, which said the military hardware on hijacked ship MV Faina was destined for Southern Sudan.

Mombasa Resident Magistrate Richard Kirui was told the statement was likely to cause fear and alarm to the public.

The second count stated that on October 2, at Changamwe, he was found in possession of four rolls of cannabis with a street value of Sh200.

Mwangura, who is represented by lawyer Francis Kadima, denied the charges.

The lawyer said his case was a misdemeanour and an application for his detention was unreasonable.

"How can you claim that you arrested my client at Changamwe when he was in town and you arrested him in town," Kadima protested.

He said Mwangura was ready to co-operate with the police adding five days was a long period to do investigation.

Kirui, in his ruling, said in view of the circumstances of the main count, it required more time for investigation.

He ordered that the case be heard on October 30.

mwangura is the go-to expert on piracy along the coasts of east africa. tough to imagine that kenyan authorities will actually be able to get away w/ this. it only makes them look more guilty of the charges than ever, their actions speak volumes

Posted by: b real | Oct 3 2008 2:58 utc | 22

some idiot wrote a fear-mongering editorial in thursday's boston globe that only serves to further misinform its readers & endanger lives
Terrorists of the seas

THERE IS NOTHING romantic about the pirates who have been hijacking ships off the coast of Somalia. Theirs is a vicious business that endangers maritime workers of many nations, threatens ecological calamities, and pumps millions of dollars into local Islamist militias with links to Al Qaeda.

from a press release thursday by an intel outfit outta denmark
Press release on Somalia Piracy

New research puts the number of seafarers held hostage by Somali pirates at a record high. During the month of September, a total of 374 people of all nationalities were held by pirates in Somalia and the highest held at the same time was 339.

“This is the highest number of hostages at one given time for many years. Last year we saw a total of 292 seafarers held captured” says Hans Tino Hansen, Managing Director of Risk Intelligence, the Danish company behind MaRisk, a maritime security threat assessment solution that provides intelligence on maritime security threats around the world.
...
“Pirates are not interested in killing seafarers indiscriminately, they are interested in obtaining ransoms. For them, piracy is a business, albeit an illicit one. Currently, the evidence is clear - they are unfortunately relatively successful at what they’re doing” –says Mr Hansen.

Recently there have been attempts by some commentators to connect piracy to Islamic militants; however, Risk Intelligence’s research does not support this claim.

an afp article, also from thursday
Somali Islamists tell pirates to destroy Ukrainian arms ship

MOGADISHU (AFP) — Somali Islamist militants on Thursday urged pirates holding a Ukrainian ship carrying tanks and military hardware to destroy the cargo and the vessel if they are not paid ransom.
...
"If they do not get the money they are demanding, we call on them to either burn down the ship and its arms or sink it," Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, a spokesman for the Shabab movement, told AFP in an interview.

But Robow said his movement, which is gradually gaining ground over government troops in southern Somalia, was not linked to the pirates who seized the Belize-flagged freighter last week as it headed for Mombasa in Kenya.

"We have no contacts and links with the pirates and they are in the waters for their own interests."

"It is a crime to take commercial ships but hijacking vessels that carry arms for the enemy of Allah is a different matter," added Robow, whose movement nearly stamped out piracy when it controlled southern Somalia last year.

and, from that interview linked cited in #12, a spokesman for the coast guard is asked

Q. Are you going to sell the weapons to insurgents?

A. No. We don’t want these weapons to go to anyone in Somalia. Somalia has suffered from many years of destruction because of all these weapons. We don’t want that suffering and chaos to continue. We are not going to offload the weapons. We just want the money.

plenty more of the same out there to dispel the attempts to link the insurgency & the various groups hijacking ships at sea. after all, it was the islamists who put a halt to piracy during the six months they controlled somalia.

it's really shocking to read through the comment sections of these 'pirate' stories across the web & see how many maniacs are out there screaming for immediate death to all pirates. reckless editorials like this one in the globe only help manipulate these sentiments, at the expense of any understanding exactly what the facts on the ground are & the actual context involved

Posted by: b real | Oct 3 2008 4:58 utc | 23

The British Chatam House is also fearmongering about a possible piracy-terrorist connection. But even then its paper (pdf) on the issue says:

The only period during which piracy
virtually vanished around Somalia was during the six
months of rule by the Islamic Courts Union in the
second half of 2006. This indicates that a functioning
government in Somalia is capable of controlling piracy.
After the removal of the courts piracy re-emerged.With
little functioning government, long, isolated, sandy
beaches and a population that is both desperate and
used to war, Somalia is a perfect environment for piracy
to thrive.

Posted by: b | Oct 3 2008 7:13 utc | 24

this rpt is only for small arms & light weapons - not major conventional weapons like the tanks & helicopter on the hijacked ship -- but it is helpful

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute: New SIPRI paper on Ukraine's small arms and light weapons exports

The paper is the first of a series of background papers for a Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs-funded feasibility study on including small arms and light weapons in the SIPRI Arms Transfers Database, focusing on sub-Saharan Africa.


from the summary


This paper examines Ukrainian SALW exports to Africa,as recorded by the Ukrainian export control authorities,for the years 2004 –2007.
...
Ukraine is to be commended for demonstrating its commitment to regularly reporting its exports of SALW.However,Ukrainian SALW exports to three African countries — Chad,Kenya and Libya — raise questions over whether Ukraine is acting as a responsible exporter. In the cases of Chad and Libya, there are concerns that SALW could be diverted to rebel groups subject to UN arms embargoes, further contributing to the destabilization of Chad and of the Darfur region of Sudan. The violence that marred the Kenyan 2007 general election and the ongoing conflict in the Mount Elgon region call into doubt Ukraine’s decision to export SALW to Kenya in 2007 and 2008.

from the body

of the six African states that were listed by the Ukrainian Export Control Service reports as recipients of Ukrainian SALW exports for the years 2004–2007 — Algeria,Chad,Equatorial Guinea,Kenya,Libya and Uganda — three are potentially destinations of concern.

on libya

Libya was the recipient of 101 500 automatic rifles and submachine guns exported from Ukraine in 2006–2007. ... Court papers revealed that Libya was not the final destination for all these rifles,and Chad and Sudan were thought to be among the most likely destinations. Major arms suppliers including France,Russia and the UK sought to export major conventional weapons to Libya in 2007. However,Libya remains a destination of concern with regard to the diversion of SALW and ammunition. It highlights possible causes for concern and recommends further policy steps that Ukraine could take.The appendix gives a list of published Ukrainian SALW exports for 2004–2007, translated from Ukrainian.

on chad

Ukraine has reported exporting 12,000 automatic rifles and submachine guns to Chad in 2006–2007. Several UN member states have,like Ukraine, delivered major conventional weapons to assist the President of Chad, Idriss Déby Itno,in his struggle with armed opposition groups between 2006–2008. The export of automatic rifles and submachine guns from Ukraine is of potential concern because of fears that SALW and ammunition are being diverted via Chad to embargoed targets operating in the Darfur region of Sudan. For example, the latest report of the UN panel of experts tasked with monitoring the arms embargo on Darfur discusses an ongoing investigation into the origins of more than 3000 Kalashnikov rifles, 3 rocket launchers of unspecified model and 23-mm anti-aircraft guns acquired by a non-state armed group in Darfur. The UN panel was able to piece together a probable route for these arms from Eritrea to the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) based in eastern Chad, but it was unable to identify the country of origin. It may be significant that Belarus, Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine have all been contacted in the course of the panel’s enquiries, but it is unclear whether they were contacted with regard to this particular case.

on kenya

... Perhaps significantly, although Kenyan officials made it clear that the 33 T-72 tanks, grenade launchers and ammunition aboard the hijacked Ukrainian ship Faina were part of a larger deal under which tanks, artillery and SALW were delivered by Ukraine in 2007, these weapons did not appear in Kenya’s recent submission to UNROCA [the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms]. Kenya's report to UNROCA for 2007,submitted on 26 September 2008, records ‘nil’ imports and ‘nil’ exports of major conventional weapons and gives no information on SALW. Although it is possible that the Kenyan submission for 2008 will include information on the transfers to Kenya recorded in the Ukrainian reports for 2007, the timing of Kenya’s ‘nil’ report undermines its official position and contributes to suspicions that the arms could be diverted.

the report lists sales to kenya in 2007 of 40,000 "automatic rifles and submachine guns" and 405 "hand-held under-barrel and mounted grenade launchers." we need to find a listing of declared conventional weapons exports to kenya. reportedly, this is not the first shipment of tanks to kenya, so it would not be presumptive to infer that kenya did not report those transactions to UNROCA either. and kenya should be of concern for diverting to sudan as well. among other interests, it was the mediator for the CPA, largely at the behest of the u.s., as i pointed out in the open thread, and kenya desperately needs oil from southern sudan.

as for what is onboard the faina, this is from a ria novosti article dated oct 1st

The ship's armament includes SS-N-25 Switchblade anti-ship missiles, SA-N-9 Gauntlet SAM, a 100-mm gun, torpedoes and depth charges. The frigate also carries a Ka-27 ASW helicopter.

that report also mentioned that

Nyna Karpachyova, the Ukrainian parliament's human rights ombudsman, said that the real owner of the ship, which was carrying 33 T-72 tanks and other military equipment, was an Israeli citizen, Vadim Alperin.

going back to that SIPRI SALW paper, it did not raise any concern over uganda's purchases from the ukraine, of which there was only a recorded 3 "revolvers and pistols" and 1,000 "rifles and carbines". uganda, however, does have a reputation as a supplier to actors & proxies in neighboring countries, including the SPLM/A and the rebels in darfur.

brief example of relevant context here, from an old political advisor to idi amin

Since [Museveni's] rise to political power in Uganda in 1986, the country has served as a principle staging area for logistical and humanitarian support for the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement and Operation Lifeline Sudan, the UN's humanitarian relief efforts to the people of southern Sudan. In a revealing statement made during a banquet in Uganda's capital, Kampala, President Museveni admitted his government had actively supported the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, a longtime U.S. client organization, in its fight against the Sudan government where millions have died as the result of internal war. Furthermore he has visited and met with members of the autonomous Southern Sudan government in Juba without notifying the national government in Khartoum. Sudanese national leaders denounced this act as a deliberate provocation, saying: "We are still one country."

Posted by: b real | Oct 5 2008 6:02 utc | 25

nudge, nudge, wink, wink...

south african press association: US to attack pirates?

The United States Navy has its eye on the land bases of Somali pirates, a US commander warned on Sunday.

Admiral Mark Fitzgerald, commander of US naval forces in Europe and Africa, was speaking to media on board the cruiser USS Monterey, in Cape Town harbour.

He said 20 000 ships passed the Somali coast every year, and to defend them all would require a naval force that did not exist any more.

"That said, we know where the pirates live on land, and... I guess we won't go any further," he said with a laugh.

"I can't predict, nor do I have knowledge of any operations there.

"But it's pretty clear where these people are coming out of. We'll see what happens."
...
Fitgerald and the Monterey are in Cape Town for the goodwill visit of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, which arrived on Saturday and is anchored in Table Bay.

Posted by: b real | Oct 6 2008 18:25 utc | 26

bbc: Hijacked tanks 'for South Sudan'

The BBC has seen evidence suggesting that the Ukrainian ship being held by pirates off Somalia is carrying weapons and tanks destined for South Sudan.

A copy of the freight manifest appears to show contracts for the hardware were made by the Kenyan Ministry of Defence on behalf of South Sudan's government.

This would directly contradict repeated statements by Kenya that the weapons on board the MV Faina are for its army.
...
A copy of the MV Faina's manifest given to the BBC appears to confirm that the contract was issued on behalf of South Sudan, although the Kenyan defence ministry is named as the consignee.

Contract numbers for tanks, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and anti-aircraft guns contain the initials GOSS, which military sources tell the BBC is a reference to the Government Of South Sudan.

This is an acronym commonly used in Sudan.

Posted by: b real | Oct 7 2008 14:28 utc | 27

mwangura was released on tuesday after being held for five days on bogus charges (see #22). no word on whether he his under any sort of gag order before his court date

and another east african standard article -- Twist in arms saga puts Govt in tight corner -- following on the heels of the bbc article linked in #27 characterizes the uncomfortable situation kenyan officials now find themselves in despite having silenced mwangura for several days

The Government found itself deep in diplomatic embarrassment after it emerged that the freight manifest for the hijacked ship carrying tanks and military weapons shows that the consignment was actually headed for Southern Sudan.

A copy of the freight manifest shows that the Defence Ministry made contracts for the hardware on behalf of South Sudan.

Government officials were last night unwilling to comment on the matter, and they kept tossing us around when confronted with the fresh information.

Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula declined to comment, saying it was a security matter.

"I cannot comment on that. That is a security matter that should be dealt with by the Ministry of Defence," said Wetangula.

When we reached the Minister for Defence Yusuf Haji by telephone last night and confronted him with the details, he only said: "No Comment", then hang up.

The Department of Defence spokesman Bogita Ongeri refused to comment on the development and instead referred us to the Government spokesman Alfred Mutua.

Dr Mutua told us he was in a place where could not immediately take our phone call. We sent him a text message, but he did not respond. Subsequent calls went unanswered.

now, were kenyan officials acting on their own? or were they doing the bidding of u.s. & perhaps israeli agencies?

Posted by: b real | Oct 8 2008 3:25 utc | 28

inner city press:

The Security Council on Tuesday addressed Somalia piracy and the question of Guinea-Bissau, with talk of imposing sanctions on individual drug traffickers. Afterwards, this month's Council President, China's Ambassador Zhang Yesui, emerged. He spoke briefing on each item, took one question from Inner City Press, and was gone (to a "pressing engagement," his staffer said). The question was whether anyone on the Council had brought up the problem of toxic waste being dumped on Somalia's coast line, and of illegal fishing. That didn't not come up, China's Ambassador hurriedly said. Video here.

France's [Ambassador Jean-Maurice] Ripert, when Inner City Press asked the same thing, answered only on fishing, saying that France is hurt by illegal fishing off of Africa too. Sources tell Inner City Press that Spanish ships, for example, fish off of Western Sahara. The list of those going it off Somalia is not impossible to finding, trending to the East. But all they can talk about is pirates...

Posted by: b real | Oct 8 2008 3:44 utc | 29

Posted by: b real | Oct 8 2008 4:38 utc | 30

reuters: Aircraft bombs Islamist stronghold in Somalia

BAIDOA, Somalia (Reuters) - An unidentified aircraft bombed an Islamist rebel stronghold in central Somalia on Thursday, witnesses said, but it was not immediately clear if there were any casualties.

U.S. forces have launched several airstrikes inside Somalia in recent months against al Shabaab insurgents who have been fighting Somalia's weak Western-backed interim government and its Ethiopian military allies since the start of last year.

"A plane bombarded the outskirts of our village," said Hassan Maalim in Goobgudud, 18 miles southwest of Baidoa. "The whole earth shook but we don't know the damage or death it caused. It was flying over us since morning."

The identity of the aircraft was unclear.

daily nation: Kenya: No more discussion on arms destination

Kenya will not budge to media pressure to explain the destination of the hijacked arms aboard a Ukrainian ship, Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua said on Thursday.

Kenya will not budge to media pressure to explain the destination of the hijacked arms aboard a Ukrainian ship, Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua said on Thursday.

...

The Nation has since established that the tanks started passing through Mombasa last year.

On November 2, a train carrying 17 T-72 tanks derailed at Kokotoni, about 30 kilometres from Mombasa, damaging five of them.

The accident which happened shortly after 4am prompted a military security operation at the scene. The area was sealed off and army officers prevented the Press from taking pictures.

Then, on January 25, this year, 33 more tanks were ferried by train from the port during the height of the post-election violence.

shabelle: Kenyan army to train up to 10,000 Somali troops

Kenya is set to begin training up to 10,000 Somali troops. Foreign Affairs Minister Moses Wetangula told African ambassadors meeting at the Serena Hotel that the training of the military, paramilitary and police officers will be carried out according to local training programmes.
...
Currently, only Uganda and Burundi have contributed troops to AMISOM [African Union Mission in Somalia]. Now, Kenya is backing an international initiative to strengthen the Somali government. It will train thousands of mainly combatant paramilitary troops at facilities like this one where armed officer cadets were commissioned as officers in the presence of President Mwai Kibaki today. The president praised the discipline and reputation established by Kenyan armed forces.

Foreign Affairs Wetangula says Kenya will now extend military and police training to the Somalis.

[Wetangula] We have offered that we will train six to 10,000. We have talked to our friends so that it is team spirit in terms of support for funding. We will as a government offer one of our training institutions where we will train them.

Kenyan soldiers training Somali troops would have been unthinkable just a few years back. The two countries had treated each other with mistrust and suspicion as military tensions between them threatened to spill over in the 70s and 80s. The minister did not give any further details on the matter, including just who will fund the training bill.

(uh, how many guesses do you need?)

daily nation: United force to quell conflicts

Military commanders from Eastern Africa are in Nairobi to put final touches on the establishment of a united force to deal with conflicts on the continent.

Once in place, its troops will be deployed to trouble spots within 14 days after violence breaks out.
...
The commanders from 13 countries are meeting under the auspices of the African Union.

Plans are also under way to build an even larger force comprising 35,000 soldiers, 1,000 police officers and 1,000 civilians to be deployed as peace-keepers.
...
Kenya has started training 2,000 soldiers to be seconded to the force expected to be in place next year.

The larger force will be known as East African Stand-by Brigade and the other Rapid Deployment Unit.

The AU has organised similar meetings in North, South, Central and West of Africa.

“Next month, 200 military commanders from different countries will meet in Nairobi to examine common guides that have been adopted by their respective armies,” said the head of political affairs with the brigade’s coordination board, retired colonel Peter Marwa.

After the rapid deployment, members of the brigade will be sent to trouble spots within 30 days.

Top commanders in the region have so far identified Somalia as a clear case of a country that requires immediate intervention to restore peace once the brigade is formed.

Posted by: b real | Oct 9 2008 15:09 utc | 31

Its just an old war,
Not even a cold war,
Dont say it in russian,
Dont say it in arabic.
Say it in broken english,
Say it in broken english.

sudanese media center: SPLM Offers US$ 10m for Ukrainian Ship Hijackers to Release Weapons

It reportedly that evidence has increased showing ownership of SPLM for weapons found on the Ukrainian ship held by pirates off Somalia. A Russian newspaper published information confirming hijacked tanks and weapons on board of the ship owned by southern Sudan collected by Kenya on behalf of SPLM. Some local newspapers say that a delegation from SPLM left to Kenya to negotiate for releasing the weapons for US$ 10m compensation.

Posted by: b real | Oct 10 2008 3:11 utc | 32

time: The Somali Pirates: Tanks, But No Tanks

There is mounting evidence from U.S. officials and other experts that the tanks aboard the Faina were not destined for Kenya, as both the Kenyan government and the tank's Ukrainian shippers claim, but for South Sudan, the autonomous oil-rich region of Sudan, which has a fractious relationship with the central government in Khartoum. If the standoff is resolved, will the three American warships encircling the Faina just clear a path and allow it to proceed?

The U.S. Navy says its primary concerns are making sure the crew is safe and that the armaments don't fall into the wrong hands — that is, those of the Islamic insurgents who have made Somalia ungovernable. It may simply be a matter of national priorities. As long as the insurgents don't get any of the weapons, the U.S. Navy will look the other way.

reckon that'll be what the orders that come down say to do

..a South Sudanese government adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity on Thursday ...[,] a former fighter with the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), told TIME that Kenya had agreed long ago to facilitate such arms deals for South Sudan. "I know they belong to us, to South Sudan," the adviser said in a telephone interview. "There was a deal between the SPLA and the Kenyan government that they facilitate everything. The destination is simple — they were going to South Sudan."

If that's indeed the case, that the tanks are meant for South Sudan, then it's possible the parties involved are violating the terms of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the historic 2005 deal that ended Sudan's 21-year civil war. According to the CPA, neither North nor South Sudan is allowed to rearm in the period before a 2011 referendum is held on South Sudanese independence — unless they have express permission from a Joint Defense Board, which is then obligated to inform the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan. A spokesman for the U.N. Mission in Sudan tells TIME that the mission has received no such information about the tanks.

Without definitive proof, there may be no choice but to let the Faina go. The shipping manifest quoted by the BBC is ambiguous at best — and does say that the consignee is Kenya's Ministry of Defense. "After a ship is released, what normally happens is, the ship is taken and debriefed by the warships that are closest to it," says Roger Middleton, the Africa Program consultant at the Chatham House think tank. "I'm pretty sure that whatever happens, they're going to be escorted for the rest of their journey. But the thing is that if these have been bought legally, I don't know that there's a lot anybody can do to keep them from reaching their destination."

seeing as how time is putting together the story for the exoneration of the u.s. military, it certainly makes you wonder just who is putting together the ransom money?

If the Faina is let go, the only chance of learning what really happened may be in Ukraine.

if the western press has any say about it, that is

Posted by: b real | Oct 10 2008 3:45 utc | 33

Posted by: b real | Oct 10 2008 15:08 utc | 34

missed this on the 6th, but the childhood-fantasy-laden la times editorial staff got in on the nonsense too
A Jolly Roger jam

Shiver our timbers -- there be pirates afoot. Only today's pirates don't sport parrots on their shoulders or hooks in place of hands; they tend to be Al Qaeda-affiliated, drug-addled thieves and kidnappers who operate off the shores of a country that in some ways makes Afghanistan look like the garden spot of the Middle East.
...
Somalia is a failed state torn by fighting among competing warlords and a Taliban-like Muslim insurgency. Its troubles are worsened by the pirates, who collect multimillion-dollar ransoms from shippers and use the money to prop up lawless factions within the country. Failed states like this one are breeding grounds for terrorist movements, which is why coalition naval forces must team up with shippers and make fighting pirates a higher priority.

Posted by: b real | Oct 10 2008 15:46 utc | 35

finally, a news agency goes into a bit more depth

al jazeera: 'Toxic waste' behind Somali piracy

Somali pirates have accused European firms of dumping toxic waste off the Somali coast and are demanding an $8m ransom for the return of a Ukranian ship they captured, saying the money will go towards cleaning up the waste.

The ransom demand is a means of "reacting to the toxic waste that has been continually dumped on the shores of our country for nearly 20 years", Januna Ali Jama, a spokesman for the pirates, based in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, said.

"The Somali coastline has been destroyed, and we believe this money is nothing compared to the devastation that we have seen on the seas."
...
While money is the primary objective of the hijackings, claims of the continued environmental destruction off Somalia's coast have been largely ignored by the regions's maritime authorities.

Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy for Somalia confirmed to Al Jazeera the world body has "reliable information" that European and Asian companies are dumping toxic waste, including nuclear waste, off the Somali coastline.

"I must stress however, that no government has endorsed this act, and that private companies and individuals acting alone are responsible," he said

Allegations of the dumping of toxic waste, as well as illegal fishing, have circulated since the early 1990s.

But evidence of such practices literally appeared on the beaches of northern Somalia when the tsunami of 2004 hit the country.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) reported the tsunami had washed up rusting containers of toxic waste on the shores of Puntland.

Nick Nuttall, a UNEP spokesman, told Al Jazeera that when the barrels were smashed open by the force of the waves, the containers exposed a "frightening activity" that has been going on for more than decade.

"Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there," he said.

"European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.

"And the waste is many different kinds. There is uranium radioactive waste. There is lead, and heavy metals like cadmium and mercury. There is also industrial waste, and there are hospital wastes, chemical wastes – you name it."

Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments.

"We [the UNEP] had planned to do a proper, in-depth scientific assessment on the magnitude of the problem. But because of the high levels of insecurity onshore and off the Somali coast, we are unable to carry out an accurate assessment of the extent of the problem," he said.

However, Ould-Abdallah claims the practice still continues.

"What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean," he said.

Ould-Abdallah declined to name which companies are involved in waste dumping, citing legal reasons.

But he did say the practice helps fuel the 18-year-old civil war in Somalia as companies are paying Somali government ministers to dump their waste, or to secure licences and contracts.

"There is no government control ... and there are few people with high moral ground ... [and] yes, people in high positions are being paid off, but because of the fragility of the TFG [Transitional Federal Government], some of these companies now no longer ask the authorities – they simply dump their waste and leave."

[more]

meanwhile,
Pirates Seize Greek Chemical Tanker


Pirates have seized a Greek chemical tanker with 20 crew members on board near Somalia, say maritime officials.
...
Meanwhile, other bandits have released 15 Filipino seamen and four other crewmen seized when Japanese-operated chemical tanker was hijacked two months ago.

Somali pirates release hijacked Iranian ship

The merchant vessel, carrying minerals and industrial products, was headed from China to the Netherlands when it was hijacked along with a German and a Japanese ship off the Gulf of Aden.

etc...

not saying that all of the hijackings can be attributed to this purpose, but it's definitely an inconvenient story that gets in the way of more sensational fearmongering

to seriously solve the "pirate" problem off the coast of somalia:

1.) pull out the ethiopian occupation forces, allowing the TFG/TNG to naturally disappear & the courts mvmt to once again unify the bulk of the nation. somalia is something like 99.5 muslim, so any govt there is going to reflect that - get used to it, foreigners. somali's are not extremists and, given their space, a moderate sharia govt will take shape. piracy was practically eliminated following the popular revolution in the 2nd half of 2006. there is no reason to believe that this cannot happen again, internally

2.) put the buildup of int'l maritime security patrols to work cracking down on vessels engaged in illegal fishing and/or illegal dumping. enforce 'the basel convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal' & other applicable int'l laws that prohibit these acts.

it's more than ironic that the latest u.s. combatant command, AFRICOM, spends a lot of energy rationalizing their purpose by preaching their usefulness in assisting african nations to fight illegal fishing, yet now AFRICOM doesn't even have responsibility for somalia - apparently it's still under CENTCOM's AOR, despite the earlier well-published rationale that AFRICOM was also necessary to centralize u.s. efforts on the continent, which previously had been split up b/w three different commands (CENTCOM, EUCOM & PACOM). just like the rhetoric on taking on illegal fishing, we see that the standing up of AFRICOM on october first was purely sales pitch.

Posted by: b real | Oct 12 2008 5:39 utc | 36

Posted by: b real | Oct 14 2008 4:09 utc | 37

Thanks again to b real for updating our information on this murky business, in particular for pointing out Ukrainian and Kenyan adherence to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (at least nominally). It will come as no surprise that the U.S. was the only country voting no on the U.N. General Assembly resolution in favor of launching an International Arms Trade Treaty (in December of 2006), while Russia, China, India, and Saudi Arabia all abstained, and 153 other nations voted in favor. Such treaties are attempts to legislate virtue or regulate vice, and as such are probably doomed to at best partial success. Unfortunately the "merchants of death" label only seems to stick to relatively low echelon "designated bad guys" while the major suppliers and financiers retain their impenetrable aura of anonymity, indeed, of respectability. The occasional scapegoat is sacrificed with all due pomp and piety under the auspices of international organizations guided by those same puppeteers.
Although the confraternity of untouchables is surely international, and involves official military establishments and industries throughout the industrialized world, this is quite likely the last remaining area where American dominance remains credible. The cynic will wonder if
the alacrity shown in the American naval intervention against the Fania piracy would have been equally in evidence had the source of the tanks been U.S. approved and profitable to American operators.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 14 2008 6:24 utc | 38

pulling out a couple of interesting quotes from an afp story today -- In crisis-ridden Somalia, enjoying the 'piracy bubble'. the authors of the article basically ignore the context the quotes suggest & instead build the narrative around the bling & allure of tales of bags of cash

Abdi Garad, who describes himself as the commander of one of the first groups of pirates who started marauding Somalia's much-frequented waters, has no qualms about listing the personal advantages derived from piracy. ... "This is just like any business for us. We care about it just like anyone would care about their job. I have been on the ocean for a long time, not to fish but to hunt down ships in our territorial waters, which nobody will guard if I don't do it," he explained.

"We're defending our waters from foreigners dumping toxic waste and plundering our sea resources. I hope the world can understand this is the responsibility of Somalis and we shall one day be rewarded for our efforts."

In Puntland's coastal villages, not everyone sees the pirates as heroic freelance coast guards but most show suitable respect for the area's new rulers and their money.

...

Jama Ahmed, 26, joined the trade in Harardhere, one of the coast's main pirate lairs. For him, redistribution to the community is logical since he does not consider the pirates extort ransoms but rather "fees" from foreign ships.

"All we do is ask ransoms for the ships we hijack because we believe a ransom represents a legal tax that a government may have taken," he said.

Posted by: b real | Oct 14 2008 19:02 utc | 39

Posted by: b real | Oct 15 2008 4:15 utc | 40

Thanks again to b real. The thanks may be repetitious, but there is always new reason to be grateful: although there is too much smoke and too many mirrors to be sure one can truly see the wheels turning and gears meshing, at the very least posts like those above reveal the unmistakable sounds emitted by the grinding of inner mechanisms, including the smoke-screen generator. The role of NGO's and UN organs in enforcing U.S. policies is interesting on technical grounds, but perhaps even more so for the psychological gymnastics it must require.

One may hope (very likely in vain, of course) that this is one area where a President Obama might have a more than passing interest and a more than abstract desire to take some positive action. In that regard, it is uncharitable to note, but nonetheless striking, that former CIA spook Larry Johnson, whose financial interest via Jarch Capital in this area was pointed out long ago by b real, remains a fervent opponent of Obama.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Oct 15 2008 6:08 utc | 41

thank you for that gnn link, hkol. the name jarch has not popped up in any recent coverage on sudan's "arms race" but it's certainly seems an area where additional investigation would pay off - even if there are no ties to the ukranian shipments, it helps flesh out the context. if obama does get the nod & relies on the advisors we've seen named up to this point (e.g. susan rice, tony lake, albright, zbig, etc), i wouldn't expect him to address this issue. clinton's admin was heavily involved in arming south sudan, backing the SPLA, during the civil war there.

two references, as example

nov 1999 - US Steps up Support for South Sudanese Resistance

There are growing indications that Washington is now backing the establishment of an independent state in the south of Sudan. US support for the opposition in south Sudan, efforts to isolate the government in Khartoum and diplomatic initiatives designed to legitimize the south's secession have all been reinvigorated in recent months.

Last month, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with southern Sudanese rebel commander John Garang in in Nairobi and pledged to increase "humanitarian aid" to his Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), which has waged a sixteen-year war to acquire autonomy for the predominantly Christian and animist south against the Islamic fundamentalist government in Khartoum.

The increase in humanitarian aid is clearly designed to allow the SPLA to spend more of its meager funds on military equipment. This will help make up for a considerable shortfall in support for the SPLA coming in from neighboring countries.

jan 2000 - The Clinton Administration, War Criminals And Sudan

This was confirmed by the newsletter Africa Confidential: "The United States pretends the aid is to help the governments concerned...to protect themselves from Sudan...It is clear the aid is for Sudan’s armed opposition."

The Clinton Administration has used the same covert warfare tactics that the Reagan Administration used against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua.
...
In addition to using surrogates, the United States has also provided military training to the SPLA by CIA and special forces instructors. United States army generals, for example, have been present during Ugandan army exercises held in conjunction with SPLA forces and Eritrean army units. The American military presence in these "front line" states was under the guise that U.S. advisers were providing "antiterrorist" training. Africa Confidential has confirmed that the SPLA "has already received US help via Uganda" and that United States special forces are on "open-ended deployment" with the rebels.

Posted by: b real | Oct 15 2008 15:05 utc | 42

m k bhadrakumar @ asia times online: NATO reaches into the Indian Ocean

The most far-reaching decision at the Budapest meet was NATO's decision to establish a naval presence in the Indian Ocean, ostensibly for protecting World Food Program ships carrying relief for famine-stricken Somalia.

Announcing the decision on October 10, a NATO spokesman said, "The United Nations asked for NATO's help to address this problem [piracy off Somalia's coast]. Today, the ministers agreed that NATO should play a role. NATO will have its Standing Naval Maritime Group, which is composed of seven ships, in the region within two weeks." He added that NATO would work with "all allies who have ships in the area now".

...

NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General John Craddock, acknowledged that the mission furthers the alliance's ambition to become a global political organization. He said, "The threat of piracy is real and growing in many parts of the world today, and this response is a good illustration of NATO's ability to adapt quickly to new security challenges."

Evidently, NATO has been carefully planning its Indian Ocean deployment. The speed with which it dispatched the ships betrays an element of haste, likely anticipating that some among the littoral states in the Indian Ocean region might contest such deployment by a Western military alliance. By acting with lightning speed and without publicity, NATO surely created a fait accompli.

...

The NATO deployment has already had some curious fallout. In an interesting coincidence, on October 16, just as the NATO force was reaching the Persian Gulf, an Indian Defense Ministry spokesman announced in New Delhi, "The [Indian] government today approved deployment of an Indian naval warship in the Gulf of Aden to patrol the normal route followed by Indian-flagged ships during passage between Salalah in Oman and Aden in Yemen. "The patrolling is commencing immediately."

The timing seems deliberate. Media reports indicated that the government had been working on this decision for several months. Like NATO, Delhi also acted fast when the time came, and an Indian ship has already set sail. Delhi initially briefed the media that the deployment came in the wake of an incident of Somali pirates hijacking a Japanese-owned merchant vessel on August 15, which had 18 Indians on board. But later, it backtracked and gave a broader connotation, saying, "However, the current decision to patrol African waters is not directly related [to the incident in August]."

The Indian statement said, "The presence of an Indian navy warship in this area will be significant as the Gulf of Aden is a major strategic choke point in the Indian Ocean region and provides access to the Suez Canal through which a sizeable portion of India's trade flows."

Indian officials said the warship would work in cooperation with the Western navies deployed in the region and would be supplemented with a larger force if need and that it would be well equipped. But Delhi obfuscated the fact that the Western deployment will be under the NATO flag and any cooperation with the Western navies will involve the Western alliance. Given the traditional Indian policy to steer clear of military blocs, Delhi is understandably sensitive.

...

The operations hold the potential to shift India's ties with NATO to a qualitatively new level. The US has been encouraging India to forge ties with NATO as well as play a bigger role in maritime security affairs. The two countries have a bilateral protocol relating to cooperation in maritime security, which was signed in 2006. It says at the outset, "Consistent with their global strategic partnership and the new framework for their defense relationship, India and the United States committed themselves to comprehensive cooperation in ensuring a secure maritime domain. In doing so, they pledged to work together, and with other regional partners as necessary."

The Indian Navy command has been raring to go in the direction of close partnership with the US Navy in undertaking security responsibilities far beyond its territorial waters. The two navies have instituted an annual large-scale annual exercise in the Indian Ocean - the Malabar exercises. This year's exercises are currently under way along India's western coast.

india express: US keen to partner India to fight pirates off

With India rushing its warship to Gulf of Aden after pirates attacked cargo ships carrying its nationals, the US says it is keen to partner with New Delhi to jointly patrol the high seas off the African coast to deter the armed outlaws.

"The Indian ships presence in Gulf of Aden will provide both of us an opportunity to work together (against pirates) and we are looking forward to it," said US Navy Captain Kenneth J Norton on board USS Ronald Reagan, the world's largest warship, as it sailed in the Arabian Sea about 130 miles off Goa coast.

cnn-ibn: India cannot enter Somali waters: Somalian envoy

Talking to CNN-IBN, Somalian ambassador made it clear that India cannot enter Somali waters.
...
“India has no legal framework to order its navy to intervene in the waters of Somalia because there is no agreement between India and Somalia and also the Resolution of 1817 doesn’t allow them,” says Ambassador Ebyan Mahamed Salah.

India has once held back from signing the agreement presumably because it was felt there was no need but the hijacking of the Stolt Valor and the risk to other Indian merchant ships and sailors has put a different complexion to the problem.

The navy is now reported to be considering anti piracy patrols off the Gulf of Aden in concert with other countries in the region. These patrols could be coordinated with the patrols being carried out by the US led task force now in the area.

Posted by: b real | Oct 22 2008 15:29 utc | 43

more from bhadrakumar in the #43 link

By any reckoning, NATO's naval deployment in the Indian Ocean region is a historic move and a milestone in the alliance's transformation. Even at the height of the Cold War, the alliance didn't have a presence in the Indian Ocean.

...

To be sure, the littoral states would have taken note of the scrambling by NATO and India to deploy naval forces on a sea route that is crucial for the countries of the Asian region. Trade and imports of oil by China pass through this sea lane. All the same, China has merely reported on the NATO deployment without any comments. Russia, on the other hand, didn't bother to report but preferred to swiftly respond.

Last Tuesday, even as the NATO naval force left for the Indian Ocean, it was stated in Moscow that a missile frigate from Russia's Baltic fleet - aptly named Neustrashimy [Fearless] - was already heading to the Indian Ocean "to fight piracy off Somalia's coast". Moscow claimed that the Somali government sought Russian assistance. ("Russian warship en route for anti-piracy mission off Somalia")

Two days later, on Thursday, as the Indian Defense Ministry was making its announcement, it was revealed by the speaker of the Upper House of the Russian parliament, Segei Mironov, an influential politician close to the Kremlin, that Russia might resume its Soviet-era naval presence in Yemen. Interestingly, Mironov made the announcement while on a visit to Sana, Yemen. He said Yemen sought Russia's help to fight piracy and possible terrorist threats and that a decision would be taken in Moscow to respond in accordance with the "new direction" of Russia's foreign and defense policies.

"It is possible that the aspects of using Yemen ports not only for visits by Russia warships but also for more strategic goals will be considered," Mironov said. He further revealed that a visit by the president of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to Moscow is scheduled in the near future and the issue of military-technical cooperation will be on the agenda. Significantly, Mironov explained that Yemen had threat perception regarding groups affiliated to al-Qaeda, which might be hiding in the Somalia region. (The Soviet Union had a major naval base in the former South Yemen, which merged with North Yemen in 1990 to form the present-day Yemen.)

In essence, Moscow has signaled to Washington (and Delhi and the other littoral states) that it, too, can play NATO's game and has the capacity and the will to fight a "war on terror" in the Indian Ocean.

The point is, Somalia has no effective government and the claim by NATO (or India) to have received the permission/request from Mogadishu to undertake naval patrolling in that country's territorial waters is untenable, to say the least. It is also a grey area as to whether such patrolling in the high seas will be in accordance with international law. NATO has taken cover under the pretext that the deployment is in response to a request by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, but then, Ban never acts without an eye on what Washington desires.

Clearly, Russia is establishing its toehold as a matter of principle, asserting that NATO and its "partners" in the region cannot arrogate to themselves the role of policemen in the Indian Ocean.

...

It is obvious that these first blasts of the new cold war have blown into the Indian Ocean region against the larger backdrop of big-power relations. A new command, Africom, has just taken over all US military operations in Africa with effect from October 1. Previously, Africa came under the US Central Command. The widespread perception in Africa is that Africom signifies a hidden US agenda of a scramble for resources under the pretext of the "war on terror".

interestingly, as i've pointed out earlier, counterterrorism operations in somalia and off its coast is still under the responsibility of CENTCOM, despite AFRICOM's full standup on oct 1st

Posted by: b real | Oct 22 2008 21:08 utc | 44

most likely either a communication breakdown or an intentional attempt to force someone's hand here - ria novosti is the only online english source i see running this bit of sensationalism

Somali pirates threatening to kill Ukrainian crew

MOSCOW, October 22 (RIA Novosti) - The Somali pirates holding the MV Faina Ukrainian vessel have threatened to kill the crew tomorrow, Ukraine's Segodnya newspaper said on Wednesday.

The newspaper said that it had spoken on the phone to one of the pirates, who said that there was no food or water left and that "the crew would probably die tomorrow."

A spokesman for the ship owners said that the crew ran out of food and water a week ago and the pirates had been feeding the sailors up to October 21 with supplies brought from the mainland.

no indication that the somali coast guard/'pirates' intend to kill anyone afaik. their record is clear on that. perhaps the spokesperson was requesting access to food & water as supplies dwindled, in order to feed the crew? but then all other reports are that the ships surrounding the faina, primarily the u.s. navy, have allowed continuous movement to-and-fro the ship for the somalis.

Posted by: b real | Oct 22 2008 21:27 utc | 45

forgot to mention that the picture attached to that article shows two (dark) members of MEND, on the other side of the continent in nigeria, which reinforces my opinion that the article is intentionally fearmongering. maybe they feel that somali's aren't dark enough to really scare their readership?

Posted by: b real | Oct 22 2008 21:34 utc | 46

additional materials related to what annie pointed out in #1

these two articles are a bit older & i'm not certain yet how they played out, but let's add them as resources

reuters: US firm to turn south Sudan rebels into soldiers

Aug 12, 2006 (JUBA) — U.S. private security firm and defence contractor DynCorp International Inc. will begin next year to reshape thousands of former southern Sudanese guerrilla fighters into a professional army, an official said.

...

"The military training could start anywhere from early next year and it will be ongoing for the next several years," DynCorp vice president for international business development, Al Rigney, told Reuters in an interview on Saturday.

...

DynCorp, one of the fair’s sponsors, has almost $40 million in U.S. State Department contracts to build barracks, provide telecommunications and training to the former rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

"The U.S. government has decided that a stable military force will create a stable country," Rigney said.

He denied the contracts included any arms deal with southern Sudan’s government, which donors say has funnelled the biggest chunk of its 2006/07 budget — some 40 percent — into defence.

"This contract does not involve sending arms to the SPLA. The idea is not to help them in offensive purposes," he said.

...

The deal specified there would be two armies, the north’s Sudanese Armed Forces and the south’s SPLA.

DynCorp, which has also trained police in Iraq and soldiers in Liberia, expects to complete work on barracks in the traditional SPLA stronghold Rumbek by the end of the year.

Once a shell of bomb-damaged brick buildings, the barracks have been refurbished with everything from new roofs and fencing, to running water and electricity.

DynCorp has similar plans for army headquarters in up to 10 locations, one in each of the south’s states, each housing between 3,000-5,000 soldiers. Work will begin next year in Malakal and Bentiu, Rigney said.

the virginian-pilot: Blackwater seeks role in training security forces in Sudan

(January 18, 2007) Always on the lookout for new markets, Blackwater USA may be close to getting a toehold in one of Africa’s most strife-torn spots.

The Moyock, N.C.-based private military company is angling for a role training security forces in southern Sudan, where a fragile peace agreement has been threatened recently by sporadic flare-ups of a decades-long civil war.

Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, head of mission in Washington for southern Sudan’s regional government, said he expects Blackwater to begin training the south’s security forces within the next few weeks.

He said Blackwater representatives have been assessing conditions in Juba, the regional capital, in recent weeks, and hope to begin the training by early February.

Blackwater, typically tight-lipped about its contracts, had little to say about Sudan. Anne Tyrrell, a company spokeswoman, issued a one-sentence e-mail comment: “We have no contracts with the government of southern Sudan.” She would not confirm or deny that talks are under way.

...

Providing security services overseas requires a license from the State Department. The department does not comment publicly on pending license applications.

Nancy Beck, a State Department spokeswoman, said the department is aware of Blackwater’s training proposal for southern Sudan but had no comment on it.

Until last fall, such an operation would have been illegal. In 1997, the United States imposed a trade embargo against Sudan, accusing it of supporting international terrorism, destabilizing its neighbors and committing human rights violations including slavery and denial of religious freedom. The embargo covered contracts for services.

In October, President Bush signed an executive order lifting those sanctions from certain areas of the country, including the south.

...

Last year, Blackwater vice chairman Cofer Black proposed dispatching a brigade-size force of private soldiers to Darfur as part of U.N. peacekeeping efforts there, but so far the company has not been able to sell the idea.

...

Bush’s allies on the Christian right have urged the administration to isolate Sudan’s central government and support the southern insurgents.

Posted by: b real | Oct 23 2008 4:10 utc | 47

pratap chatterjee, from three years ago

Darfur Diplomacy: Enter the Contractors

Dyncorp is already working in Sudan, under the same State Department contract, on the long-standing "North-South" peace negotiations to end the 21-year civil war between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement, the rebel group based in the south. The company provides staff in Washington DC who arrange housing and transportation to the delegates who meet in Nairobi, Kenya.

"Why are we using private contractors to do peace negotiations in Sudan? The answer is simple," says a senior United States government official who works on Sudan-related issues who preferred to remain anonymous. "We are not allowed to fund a political party or agenda under United States law, so by using private contractors, we can get around those provisions. Think of this as somewhere between a covert program run by the CIA and an overt program run by the United States Agency for International Development. It is a way to avoid oversight by Congress."

...

..DynCorp's role in another State Department contract also appears designed to circumvent United States law under Plan Colombia. In the Colombian conflict, Washington has supplied more than 70 Black Hawk and Huey helicopters and other military hardware that are maintained and flown by private contractors.

Anxious to avoid the "secret wars" conducted by the Pentagon in Laos and Cambodia in the 1960s, Congress limited the number of US personnel that can operate in Colombia to 400 in uniform and 400 civilian contractors at any given time. US law also requires congressional notification before the government can approve the export of military services valued at $50 million or more.

By limiting each individual contract to several million dollars; labeling them peace-keeping missions; employing retired CIA and Special Forces personnel working for private contractors as well as foreign nationals (to whom the 400 person ceiling does not apply), Congress does not have to be notified, making the contracts harder to oversee.

Posted by: b real | Oct 23 2008 4:27 utc | 48

sudanese media center: The Dilemma of SPLM Arms Deal

At its simplest, GoSS behaviour can be seen in the light of some dubious moves it demonstrated earlier. The appointment of the Former American Envoy for Sudan, Roger Winters, as advisor to GoSS was perhaps a clear signal of the direction SPLM was navigating its policy. As a major partner to political power, SPLM is aware that the American agenda has remained targeting Sudan. The appointment of Winters should have therefore been looked at as a step contrary to national interest which SPLM was mistakenly counted as a party to it, at least during this interim period.

Regrettably some other developments proved that SPLM is merely paying lip service to the slogans it has upheld to enlist the support of the masses in both South and Northern Sudan. Behind the scenes, it has cooked policies which were quite opposed to some of its political leaders rhetoric as evidenced by the scandal of the arms shipment.

Whatever mask SPLM puts on its face, Southern Sudanese in particular are not going to forgive it for spending money on armament while they are suffering the bites of hunger, displacement and refuge. To reap the fruits of peace these are their priorities now. But to Winters and the lobbies behind him, such priorities count little on their agenda.

winters is a longtime player in east/central african affairs & know for his open hostility to the regime in khartoum. he's been involved w/ USAID, NGOs, the state dept, the clinton era arming of south sudan, worked closely w/ the RPF in mid-90s rwanda, museveni in uganda, etc...

from a june nyt propaganda piece from the 'radical center' (heh) thinktank, the new american foundation,
The Man for a New Sudan

For the past quarter century — as head of a nongovernmental organization called the U.S. Committee for Refugees, as an official at the federal Agency for International Development and, most recently, as a special representative to the State Department for Sudan, a post created for him — Winter has fought in the back rooms of Washington and in the African bush to bring peace to Sudan. It’s not evenhandedness that makes him effective; it’s his total commitment to the people of south Sudan and a conviction, which has only grown with the years, that the government in Khartoum is, in essence, a brutal cabal.

from a nov '98 dossier on winters (and yes, i realise it's originally from larouche's EIR... but much of it is similar to what you can turn up elsewhere in research & this link combines info on susan rice, who will be in obama's cabinet)

Roger Winter: boss of the warlords

On Sept. 17, Roger Winter, executive director of the U.S. Committee on Refugees, spoke at a conference of the U.S. Institute for Peace, and demanded full-scale backing from the U.S. government for a war "to bring down the Khartoum government" in Sudan, adding, "even though I know it will bring about a humanitarian catastrophe." He reassured the assembled African policymakers present, however, that U.S. troops would not be involved in the effort; this would be a proxy war using Ugandan and Eritrean troops against Sudan, with U.S. weapons and logistical and training support.

...

Roger Winter is also patron to two other warlords in the region: Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni and his underling, Rwandan Defense Minister and former head of Ugandan military intelligence, Paul Kagame.

His sponsorship of Museveni dates backed to 1982--before the SPLA war against Sudan even began. In one of his first ventures as executive director of the U.S. Committee of Refugees, Winter traveled to Uganda, where he took up the cause of the Banyarwanda refugees--Tutsi Rwandans who had fled to Uganda in the early 1960s--against the government of Ugandan President Milton Obote. By 1983, Winter was regularly visiting Yoweri Museveni in the bush, as Museveni was leading his guerrilla war against the Obote government. Winter became an early publicist for Museveni, centered around charges that Obote was carrying out a campaign of mass murder in the Luwero Triangle--a campaign that many in central Uganda are coming to realize was carried out by Museveni himself.

Through Museveni, Winter became an early patron of Kagame and the Rwandan Patriotic Front, which was organized in Kampala, Uganda. In August 1988, Winter organized a conference of the Association of Banyarwandans in Diaspora in Washington, D.C., which brought together Rwandan Tutsis in exile to sponsor the efforts of the Rwandan Patriotic Front to come to power in Kigali. Two years later, the RPF, backed by Museveni along with troops of Uganda, invaded Rwanda in October 1990, launching the process that led to the genocide of 1994. In the 1994 RPF blitzkrieg of Rwanda, after the murder of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, Winter told Congress: "I had the great honor of travelling in Rwanda in April, in May, in June, and in July, as the war was occurring. I had the privilege of travelling with the Rwandan Patriotic Front as it gradually increased its control over Rwandan territory."

Hence, Winter is to be found among the earliest sponsors from the United States of the British warlords--Kagame, Garang, and Museveni--who have wreaked so much havoc in East Africa.

Posted by: b real | Oct 24 2008 3:25 utc | 49

inner city press:

UNITED NATIONS, October 31 -- As a resolution "toward an arms trade treaty" passed at the UN with only the U.S. and Zimbabwe voting against it, the planned destination of the tanks hijacked in their Ukrainian ship off the coast of Somalia became more clear. Two African Ambassador[s] to the UN tell Inner City Press that the tanks were meant for South Sudan, that not Kibaki but Odinga is aware of and even involved in this stealth weapons flow.

hmmm

Posted by: b real | Nov 1 2008 5:51 utc | 50

re #50, on the anon african ambassadors' suggestion that "odinga is aware of and even involved in this stealth weapons flow", i'm assuming that inner city press has been fed some disinformation, though i'm curious why lee would print such unsourced attributions given the testy relations b/w the ODM & the PNU. i haven't been able to find any further info suggesting the same, and running it by some kenyan friends & on an active kenyan political blog, it was quickly discounted as political smearing. some speculation that it's friends in kibaki's circle, the mt kenya mafia, who are more probably involved, though, again, no hard evidence to advance that line.

----

fitting in w/ comment #31 suggesting why somali coast guards are targeting tankers, rpt on tuesday of another chemical tanker hijacked

Somali pirates have hijacked a second ship chartered by chemical tanker shipping group Stolt-Nielsen, a regional maritime official said on Tuesday.

Gunmen seized the Stolt Strength in the Gulf of Aden on Monday afternoon, nearly two months after they hijacked Stolt Valor, a chemical tanker on its way to India.

"The ship was en route to Kandla, India from Senegal and was carrying phosphoric acid," said Andrew Mwangura of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, which monitors piracy.

foreign tankers in an area w/ a history of foreign nations engaging in illegal dumping of toxic waste... of the ships hijacked or attempted since early 2007, how many fit the 'chemical tanker' profile?

---

also, mentioned this in another thread, but will throw it in here too, given the context

garowe online: Coastal villagers report of helicopters hunting wildlife

GALKAYO, Somalia Nov 11 (Garowe Online) - Coastal villagers in Somalia are increasingly reporting incidents whereby naval forces from unknown foreign countries are actively hunting wildlife in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.

A traditional elder from a village in Mudug region, central Somalia, told the BBC Somali Service recently that local leaders are collecting evidence and eyewitness reports regarding the hunting allegations.

"Three helicopters landed three separate days," said elder Mohamed Hussein Warsame, quoting witnesses and community leaders.

Soldiers jumped out of the helicopters and loaded live animals, including deer and ostriches, he added. The helicopters then returned to a warship off the coast.

Mr. Warsame said the foreign soldiers used a technique to subdue the animals, some of which are extremely fast and agile.

He indicated that the identity of the warships remained unknown, but that locals have reported seeing the American flag hovering above one of the warships in the distance.

what's up w/ that? live animals? sounds more like smuggling animals on the black market than shipmates supplementing their dinner options... and all under the protection of the fleets supposedly keeping shipping lanes open

Posted by: b real | Nov 12 2008 5:54 utc | 51

and another...

bbc: Chemical ship hijacked off Yemen

Pirates have seized a Turkish chemical tanker off the coast of Yemen, Turkish maritime officials say.

The tanker, the Karagol, was hijacked 26km (16 miles) off the coast of Yemen on its way to India.

It was carrying 4,500 tonnes of unspecified chemicals and was manned by a 14-member Turkish crew.

Posted by: b real | Nov 13 2008 4:52 utc | 52

xinhua: Chinese fishing boat hijacked by Somali pirates

NAIROBI, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese fishing vessel was hijacked by pirates armed with grenade launchers and automatic weapons off the coast of Kenya late Thursday night and was being held off the coast of the southern Somalia port city of Kismanyu on Friday.

The 24 crew members on board are "fine," a pirate leader told local radio in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, Friday.

Andrew Mwangura, coordinator of the East African Seafarers' Association (SAP) said the pirates hijacked the Chinese fishing boat, named Tanyo No. 8, with 24 crew members on the Kenyan waters probably near Lamu and demanded it sail toward the coastal area off Somalia.

The 24 crew aboard the abducted ship of Tianjin Ocean Fishing Company included 16 Chinese with one from China's Taiwan province, one Japanese, three Filipinos and four Vietnameses, according to a source with the Chinese Ministry of Transport,

A pirate leader, who did not identify himself, however, claimed that the Chinese vessel was fishing off the Somali territorial waters, adding that the ship and crew "will be put before the law and punished accordingly."

shabelle media reports a more full stmt from that individual

“We captured ship carrying ivories and types of fishes, we will put it on the justice” he said on condition of anonymity.

also in today's news

the independent: Off the coast of Somalia: 'We're not pirates. These are our waters, not theirs'

To foreign ships, they're a scourge but Daniel Howden and Abdinasir Mohamed Guled discover that Somalia's pirates see things very differently

...

Bile did not grow up dreaming of being a pirate. He comes from a family of fishermen whose livelihood was destroyed, he says, by the arrival of industrial trawlers from Europe.

At some 3,300 kilometres, Somalia has the longest coastline in Africa. With a fertile upswelling where the ocean reaches Africa's Horn, the seas are rich in tuna, swordfish and shark, as well as coastal beds of lobster and valuable shrimp.

With the overthrow of Siad Barre's government in 1991, the territorial waters off Somalia became a free-for-all. Trawlers from more than 16 different nations were recorded within its waters – many of them armed. EU vessels flying flags of convenience cut deals with the illegitimate authorities in Somalia, according to UN investigators.

Clashes between large, foreign fishing interests and Somali fishermen in the late 1990s were the prelude to the upsurge in piracy.

Bile, like many of the pirates, calls himself a "coastguard" and insists he has more right to these contested seas than the foreign forces now patrolling them. He says many of his friends' boats were destroyed in these battles and stocks of a fish known locally as "yumbi" have all but disappeared.

and on that iranian tanker that was the subject of some right-wing propaganda

lloyd's list: Hijacked Iranian bulker berths at Rotterdam

IRANIAN-owned bulk carrier Iran Deyanat, which was hijacked off Somalia in August, has berthed at Rotterdam after boarding and inspection by port authority police and customs officials.

The 1983-built, 43,150 dwt Iranian-flag bulker, loaded with industrial minerals and food products was allowed to enter the port on Tuesday after officials gave it a clean bill of health.

The ship was the subject of articles by US-based bloggers that some pirates became ill after gaining access to the ship’s cargo, leading to speculation that the ship was carrying arms, uranium or chemical weapons.

A local Rotterdam politician called for inspections before the bulk carrier was allowed to enter port but harbour master Jaap Lems gave the go-ahead for the vessel to enter the port where a multi-disciplinary team comprising inspectors from the port authority, customs and habour police boarded and searched the ship reporting no cause for concern.

No hazardous substances were found and the paperwork was in order, a port spokesman said.

Posted by: b real | Nov 14 2008 16:42 utc | 53

another targeted chemical tanker

Pirates Seize Japanese Ship in Gulf of Aden off Coast of Yemen

Nov. 17 (Bloomberg) -- A Japanese-owned chemical tanker was seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden, Japan's Foreign Ministry said, adding officials are trying to find out more information on the incident.

The 20,000 ton chemical tanker was seized on Nov. 15 off the coast of Yemen, Hiroshi Suzuki, the Foreign Ministry's assistant press secretary, said in a phone interview. The ministry is coordinating with other countries involved.

The ship is called the Chemstar Venus...

from lloyd's list

SOMALIAN pirates hijacked the combined chemical and oil tanker Chemstar Venus over the weekend, just as another chemical tanker, the Stolt Valor, was released following a ransom payment.
...
The Chemstar Venus was seized as pirates released the Stolt Valor, which was hijacked on September 15.

Central Marine, the Japanese owner of the Stolt Valor, which was on time charter to Stolt Tankers, is reported to have paid a ransom of about $1.1m for the release of the ship and 22 crew.

and the latest reported big hijacking, if accurate, indicates new developments in piracy off the coast.. 450 miles off the coast!

Somali pirates hijack Saudi oil tanker with Britons on board

A hijacked supertanker with two British crew members was being taken to a Somali port this afternoon after pirates seized their biggest vessel yet off the African coast.

Acts of piracy in the shipping lanes of the Arabian Sea have become increasingly violent and commonplace in recent months, but this is the first time hijackers have seized an oil tanker.

The 1,000 ft-long Sirius Star was seized on Saturday around 450 nautical miles from Mombasa on the Kenyan coast. The supertanker, which can hold up to two million barrels of crude oil, is owned by Aramco, a Saudi company, but was sailing under a Liberian flag.
...
Al-Arabyia, the Saudi-owned television station, reported this afternoon that the ship had been freed, but both the US Navy and Saudi Aramco, which owns the supertanker, said they had no knowledge of any release.

Posted by: b real | Nov 17 2008 19:41 utc | 54

@b-real - I have serious doubts about "Somali pirates" fetching a very large crude carrier 450 nm south east of Mombasa. Mombasa to Mogadishu is an additional 500 miles and the usual Somali pirates operate much further north in the Gulf of Aden.

Also such tankers make some 15-20knots or miles per hour. It would have taken days to bring it to some Somali port (I am not aware of a Somali port that could take a loaded VLCC anyway.)

The story is VERY fishy. Maybe the captain and crew try to make a killing?

Posted by: b | Nov 17 2008 21:09 utc | 55

yep, location-wise, it's certainly an anomaly. there have been hijacks & failed attempts throughout southern somalia & into kenya -- the mv faina w/ the tanks for instance -- and i've seen reports of smaller oil tankers being targeted (though nothing like what has been going on across the continent off nigeria (just today - Militants Seize Oil Vessel, Hold Crew Hostage), but it certainly seems a stretch to picture, as reports so far are indicating, a dhow taking on a VLCC, or anything for that matter, that far from land. if true, there would have to be a mother ship nearby, i'd imagine.

re ports, those attributed to hijacking operations (ely & hobyo) are natural ports, the ships are actually anchored a distance off shore

on travel time, it was reportedly hijacked on saturday, so that would be 2 or 2 1/2 days travel already

but, i agree, there is something strange about the way it's been reported. i haven't come across any press stmts from andrew mwangua yet in the dozen or so articles i've skimmed on it. and he's based out of mombasa.

Posted by: b real | Nov 17 2008 22:05 utc | 56

well, i should've taken another look since lunchtime - here's mwangura quoted in xinhua

Andrew Mwangura, the East African Coordinator of the Seafarers Assistance Program, said the oil tanker is the largest ship pirates have hijacked along the east Africa coast.

"It seems the vessel was hijacked on Saturday because the ship is approaching anchorage off the port of Eyl in Somalia. For it to reach there, it must have taken three to four days," Mwangura told Xinhua by telephone.

Posted by: b real | Nov 17 2008 22:12 utc | 57

just throwing this out there, in case it connects up w/ other rpts - another bit of chatter (propaganda?) unsourced & no evidence, of course, that it was uganda which was to be the recipient of the armaments on the mv faina
radio katwe (scroll down to "Stories from a PGB boy surviving on luck")

i am a relative to one of Musevenis men working in the PGB and he is too scared from knowing alot thats going on in state house. And now that there is a big reward for anybody leaking information outside state house. He is trying to find a way out but it is really really gonna be hard.

He regreats joinining the army for he has gained anything. He really fears alot and his life is in danger. One of their PGB comrades was murdered three weeks ago by the other PGB guards on orders of Museveni. He has left me alot of secrets and told that if he ever disapears or die i should tell the rest to my relatives or spread the word.
...
This ship is to have been heading to one of the habours the UPDF is guarding in Somalia and then be transported to Uganda. He said that the main aim was equiping the UPDF with heavy gunfire for 2011 and secondly control Congo crisis.

Kagame and Museveni are involved in the Congo war for there own interests. But Ugandans we cant see that Nkundas rebels dont trust Kagame so Museveni is the middle man and the Godfather.

Posted by: b real | Nov 18 2008 5:40 utc | 58

mwangura, from a reuters report earlier today

"The world has never seen anything like this," added Mwangura, whose Mombasa-based group has been monitoring piracy for years. He said the pirates would probably keep the Sirius about eight miles off Eyl, which is heavily protected.

Mwangura, who bases information on shipping groups in the region plus relatives of both crew and pirates, said he believed a hijacked Nigerian tug was used as a "mother-ship".

"The supertanker was full loaded, so it was probably low in the water and not that difficult to board," he said, adding that the pirates probably used a ladder or hooked a rope to the side.
...
Mwangura said he believed the Somali pirates might have had help from others, possibly Nigerians and Yemenis, for this attack, given its distance from Somalia and the scale of the attack. However, he said he had no firm evidence of that.

and the ship is reportedly docked now
Hijacked ship anchors off Somali coast

Bile Mohamoud Qabowsade, an adviser to the president of Somalia's breakaway state of Puntland, said The Sirius Star was now off the coast at the pirate lair of Harardhere, some 300 kilometres (180 miles) north of Mogadishu.

"We have been receiving some information and we now know that the ship is anchored near Harardhere," Mr Qabowsade said.

Posted by: b real | Nov 18 2008 16:05 utc | 59

an observation:

w/ the increased number of ship hijackings this week alone, despite all the international naval presence off the coast of somalia (u.s. navy, nato, russia, india, south korea on the way, etc...), it seems that we're watching adm mullen's thousand-ship navy (to contain china) finally materialize in the indian ocean

has that been the idea all along, or is washington just exploiting this opportunity? it's not like one can really put much faith in their selective use of claims that their hands are tied b/c of international law or some such ethical obligations - those things certainly never stopped navy vessels from shelling somalia over the past two years...

meanwhile,

Somalia Islamists vow tough anti-piracy drive

MOGADISHU (AFP) — A hardline Islamist alliance controlling Somalia's main southern port of Kismayo on Wednesday promised tough measures to protect ships and traders from marauding pirates.

"We will set up marine forces and will protect all ships and vessels from the pirates off the coastal areas we control," Sheikh Hasan Yaqub, spokesman for the Islamist administration in Kismayo told AFP.

...

Kismayo, one off the largest cities in Somalia, was captured in August by an alliance of Shebab fighters -- who are conquering much of the country -- and warlord Hassan al-Turki, who is on a US terrorism list.

Yaqub said that on Wednesday alone, 20 small ships bringing goods from the United Arab Emirates had offloaded their cargo in Kismayo under the watch of the local authorities' security forces.

"We will never allow those gangs to cause havoc in our waters anymore and we will protect all vessels," he said.

Omar Abdiyare, one of the Somali traders whose vessel arrived in Kismayo Wednesday, said local businesses had asked the Islamist rulers to set up an anti-piracy force.

"We are very concerned at the growing number of attacks by pirates so we asked Islamists to protect our ships as much as possible off the coastal areas they control," he said.

The Kismayo administration has imposed a very strict form of Sharia law in recent weeks. Under Islamic law, piracy is punishable by death.

Some experts have tied the surge of piracy in Somalia to Ethiopia's 2006 military invasion, which removed from power an Islamist militia that had taken tough measures against pirates.

Kismayo has had its own pirate groups, traditionally targeting mainly foreign boats fishing illegally.

Posted by: b real | Nov 19 2008 19:59 utc | 60

bbc: 'World only cares about pirates'

Ex-Somali Army Colonel Mohamed Nureh Abdulle lives in Harardhere - the town closest to where the hijacked Saudi oil tanker, Sirius Star is moored. He tells the BBC, via phone from his home, that the town's residents are more concerned about the apparent dumping of toxic waste than piracy.

The Harardhere-born military man advises the town's elders on security matters and is in his fifties.

...

"The people who have been hijacking these ships in our seas are not from our region. We do not know any of the guys on the super-tanker and they haven't made any contact with us.

You know, our problem is not piracy. It is illegal dumping.

These problems have been going for sometime and the world knows about it. The Americans have been here in the region for a long time now - they know about the pollution.

Instead, no, the world is only talking about the pirates and the money involved.

Meanwhile, there has been something else going on and it has been going on for years. There are many dumpings made in our sea, so much rubbish.

It is dumped in our seas and it washes up on our coastline and spreads into our area.

A few nights ago, some tanks came out from the high sea and they cracked it seems and now they are leaking into the water and into the air.

The first people fell ill yesterday afternoon. People are reporting mysterious illnesses; they are talking about it as though it were chicken pox - but it is not exactly like that either. Their skin is bad. They are sneezing, coughing and vomiting.

This is the first time it has been like this; that people have such very, very bad sickness.

The people who have these symptoms are the ones who wake early, before it is light, and herd their livestock to the shore to graze. The animals are sick from drinking the water and the people who washed in the water are now suffering."

Posted by: b real | Nov 21 2008 16:25 utc | 61

reuters: Islamists on trail of Somali pirates

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Dozens of Somali Islamist insurgents stormed a port on Friday hunting the pirates behind the seizure of a Saudi supertanker that was the world's biggest hijack, a local elder said.

...

"Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and hijacking its ship is a bigger crime than other ships," Sheikh Abdirahim Isse Adow, an Islamist spokesman, told Reuters. "Haradheere is under our control and we shall do something about that ship."

...

Islamist leaders deny allegations they collude with pirates and insist they will stamp down on them if they win power, citing a crackdown when they ruled the south briefly in 2006.

...

The elder in Haradheere port told Reuters the Islamists arrived wanting to find out immediately about the Sirius Star, which was captured on Saturday about 450 nautical miles off Kenya in the pirates' furthest strike to date.

"The Islamists arrived searching for the pirates and the whereabouts of the Saudi ship," said the elder, who declined to be named. "I saw four cars full of Islamists driving in the town from corner to corner. The Islamists say they will attack the pirates for hijacking a Muslim ship."

Posted by: b real | Nov 21 2008 16:51 utc | 62

w/ the increased number of ship hijackings this week alone, despite all the international naval presence off the coast of somalia (u.s. navy, nato, russia, india, south korea on the way, etc...), it seems that we're watching adm mullen's thousand-ship navy (to contain china) finally materialize in the indian ocean

has that been the idea all along, or is washington just exploiting this opportunity?

The great game of hunting pirates

The obvious thing to do is to act under a United Nations mandate, preferably involving the African Union and the littoral states, which may have capabilities or may be assisted to develop capabilities. But this hasn't happened, lending to strong suspicion that a Great Game is unfolding for control of the sea route in the Indian Ocean between the Strait of Malacca and the Persian Gulf.

Not sure what is happening but too many warships of too many nations are around. That screams trouble.

Posted by: b | Nov 21 2008 17:53 utc | 63

good catch, b

lloyd's list: Indian navy could boost Gulf of Aden patrols

INDIA is considering plans to send up to four warships to patrol the pirate-infested waters in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean off the coast of East Africa.

The move comes as the naval guided-missile frigate INS Tabar, which destroyed a pirate mother ship on Tuesday, is set to be replaced by a larger Delhi-class destroyer on anti-piracy patrols in the area later next week.

...

Indian navy sources confirmed the government was pondering whether to bolster its military presence in the Gulf after a request from the country’s shipping ministry.

“Yes, we are considering a proposal to increase the number of warships in Gulf of Aden to fight the pirates and to protect merchant ships flying the Indian flag,” said one naval source, who added that a decision would be made soon.

While India appeared to be keen to send additional vessel, it is against committing warships to the area on a long-term basis.

Instead, India has proposed the United Nations adopt an international mandated operation against piracy that would combine existing US and European-led task forces.

India sent one of its three Delhi-class destroyers to relieve Tabar on Thursday. The destroyer was not identified, but each of the 6,900-tonne warships — Delhi, Mumbai and Mysore — carries two Sea King helicopters and a smaller Cheetah or Chetak helicopter, missiles, and torpedoes. The destroyer will arrive in the Gulf of Aden at the end of next week.

ria novosti:

Cap. 1st rank Igor Dygalo, an aide to the Russian Navy commander, said the Neustrashimy is escorting one vessel from each of Russia, the Marshall Islands and the Cayman Islands, and six Liberian ships.

"The Russian Navy will continue its presence in the Horn of Africa region with the aim of providing safe shipping," Dygalo said.

However, he rejected Russian media reports saying the Navy plans to deploy a large group of warships in the area.

"Talk of the possible presence of a large Russian Navy grouping on a regular basis in the Horn of Africa area is premature, as the Russian Navy does not have permanent bases in the area," he said.

reuters had a provocative story earlier this week:
Russian envoy urges EU, NATO, to attack pirate bases

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - NATO, the European Union and others should launch land operations against bases of Somali pirates in coordination with Russia, the Russian ambassador to NATO said on Wednesday.

Dmitry Rogozin said the view of Russian experts was that naval action alone, even involving a large fleet of a powerful nation, would not be enough to defeat the pirates, given Somalia's geo-strategic position.

"So it is up to NATO, the EU and other major stakeholders to conduct not a sea operation, but in fact a land coastal operation to eradicate the bases of pirates on the ground," he said.

"Because we all know ... they have their bases on the ground and of course those actions should be coordinated with Russia," Rogozin said, without making clear whether he foresaw Russia being involved in any such operation.

...

Rogozin said Russia's strained ties with NATO since Moscow's intervention in Western ally Georgia in August had meant the Western alliance had not given proper recognition to Russia's contribution to naval efforts against Somali pirates.

He cited a NATO statement that hailed the courage of the crew of a British warship in repelling a pirate attack on a merchant vessel this month but made no mention of the involvement of a Russian warship in dealing with the incident.

"Maybe they should have at least for objectivity, for impartiality, to prove their unbiased approach, have said a word about the Russian participation," he said.

"Because that could have significant and serious very consequences for our future cooperation ... as we say in Russia, a kind word is dear even to a cat. That could stimulate more joint positive action," he said.

on the same day the u.s. was playing the other end

afp: Pentagon says force not the answer to surge in piracy

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The Pentagon said Wednesday a military approach was not the answer to a surge of piracy off the Horn of Africa and suggested that shipping companies do more on their own to protect their vessels.

"You could have all the navies in the world having all their ships out there, you know, it's not going to ever solve this problem," said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary.

"It requires a holistic approach from the international community at sea, ashore, with governance, with economic development," he told reporters.

...

"Trust me, this subject is being dealt with at the highest levels of this government," Morrell said. "It is a real concern. And we are constantly evaluating what the best approach is."

"I'm just trying to get you to think beyond the notion of, 'The answer is strictly kinetics. We've got to board more ships. We've got to fire on more pirates.'"

...

The State Department convened a high level group of officials to examine the issue, but spokesman Sean McCormack called it "an international problem" that the United States was not going to solve alone.

Posted by: b real | Nov 21 2008 20:25 utc | 64

note to anyone following here that ongoing coverage will continue in this recent thread since this one here that kicked it off is now two months old

Posted by: b real | Nov 22 2008 20:06 utc | 65

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