Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 20, 2008

More Weapons To South Sudan

While the capturing of the "Faina", a Ukranian ship loaded with tanks and other military stuff, by the Somali coast guard/pirates was noticed around the world, little has been reported in English about another ship that delivered a load of weapons late last year.

The earlier ship was the German fund owned heavy lift ship "Beluga Endurance", IMO 9312169. There were reports on this in Der Spiegel, Nord-West-Radio and the Hamburger Abendblatt, all in German.

The ship is on long term charter with Beluga Group, a heavy lift shipping company. In November/December 2007 the ship was on secondary charter with ACE Shipping, a company on the British Isle of Man which shortly before was sold to some Ukrainian interest.

The ship then was ordered to the Ukrainian harbor Oktjabrsk in the Black Sea. There the state owned company Ukrinmasch loaded the ship. SPIEGEL says it has documents showing 42 T-72 tanks, 15 anti-air canons, 2 multiple rocket launchers, 2 tons of RPG and 95 tons of Kalashnikov guns and accessories were loaded. The freight was declared to be "general cargo: power generation machinery and vehicles."

From Oktjabrsk the ship went to Israel for unknown purpose and from there to Mombasa, Kenia. Israel is known for upgrading/refurbishing Ukrainian weapons as it did with tanks for Czechia and multiple rocket launchers for Georgia. Note that the "Faina" is owned by an Israeli who is negotiating its release and there are rumors of contacts between the pirates and the Israeli prime minister Olmert.

The load delivery papers refer to "GOSS" as acceptor. This is supposed to stand for Government of South Sudan. Eye witness reported that the weapons did go there.

Neither the Ukranian nor the Kenian government acknowledges the above.

South Sudan gained some autonomy after a long civil war with the north. A referendum is scheduled for 2011 on whether to remain in the greater Sudan or to become an independent nation. There is a UN observer mission in South Sudan which has officially not seen any of the weapons. Weapon delivery to South Sudan is forbidden.

The BBC quoted a Jane's Defence Weekly correspondent who says that more than 100 T-72 and T-55 Russian tanks have been received by the South Sudan in recent months. All together five ship loads were said to be involved.

One wonders who pays for these weapons and how they can escape more scrutiny.

Posted by b on December 20, 2008 at 9:23 UTC | Permalink


"Power generation machinery"? Just what sort of power are they generating?

Posted by: ralphieboy | Dec 20 2008 11:51 utc | 1

Looking at that old thread on the Faina I found this from b:

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.

Compare this with

Dear Juan, you obviously think otherwise, but planes, helicopters or whatever else are not really too sophisticated and difficult for Arabs to operate and maintain them on their own.

Posted by: Some D00d | Dec 20 2008 15:07 utc | 2

@Some D00d - some differences in levels of (relative) sophistication. While Iraq has a good engineering force (if you include expats), South Sudan is in a different state. Literacy in South Sudan is some 24%. Iraq is at 75+% - that makes a difference.

I was by the way refuting Cole's argument that U.S. soldiers are needed to train and maintain those "sophisticated" weapons. F-16 or Apache are flown in several Arab countries without the need of U.S. military to support them.

Posted by: b | Dec 20 2008 15:27 utc | 3

when I was in the military, we learned how to maintain new systems by getting trained by the manufacturer. They would train the trainer. The manufacturer was also responsible for writing and keeping current the maintenance procedures and inspection criteria and schedule. There was no need to have a manufacturer's representative in the local area. We did work on some pretty sophisticated equipment. I was responsible for the flight worthiness of a jet airplane when I was 18 years old. It was a responsibility I took quite seriously as did nearly all of my colleagues. And yet I was a mere farm boy from North Dakota with a high school education only.

not speaking for b but I think the point he was making with the Juan Cole jab (Cole is no saint, he supported the invasion of Iraq iirc) is that there is no need to have the US military in Iraq to train Iraqis how to fly airplanes or drive tanks or anything else. they can and have done it all by themselves in the past. when Cole makes such assertions he comes across as an enabler and supporter of the empire. if you haven't noticed, those kinds of people are not really popular at this site.

Posted by: dan of steele | Dec 20 2008 16:57 utc | 4

During the Civil War between the Sudanese Government and the South in the 90's, mainly about oil, I seem to remember the Israelis being on the South's side and supplying arms. Looks like the relationship has continued.

Posted by: johnf | Dec 20 2008 18:25 utc | 5

Jonas Savimbi and UNITA redux, with Kenya and Ethiopia replacing South Africa. China in Africa and Russia in South America. US troops leaving Iraq to shore up the other parts of the Empire. It was so much fun from the 60s to 80s, let's do it again!

Posted by: biklett | Dec 20 2008 18:53 utc | 6

@johnf - I seem to remember the Israelis being on the South's side and supplying arms.

Not only the Israeli ...

Posted by: b | Dec 20 2008 20:03 utc | 7

is that there is no need to have the US military in Iraq to train Iraqis how to fly airplanes or drive tanks or anything else.

obviously. after a 7 year war w/iran i'm sure they knew a thing or 2 about being a soldier. the point of 'training' is weeding out anyone who doesn't think right. just a loverly excuse to occupy and control.

Posted by: annie | Dec 20 2008 20:57 utc | 8

Well, if US were giving Iraq F-16s, then there might be reason for US to stick around for a number of years: Egypt spent several decades operating Soviet gear, but, when they started getting US equipment in 1970s, it took several years' retraining personnel and reequipping the infrastructure before they could properly support US equipment. If Iraq is to be restored to be serious military power again, US advisors and support will be essential for several years (but probably not on "permanent" basis: see how Iranians kept F-14 operational after their revolution), although the catch is that Iraq is not getting really sophisticated gear.

I don't know much about direct outside support for the Southern Sudanese, though: even T-72 is designed for easy maintenance etc., being good ol' Soviet gear. Will the Southern Sudanese that much help to keep them operational? I don't think whether there are necessarily "Western" advisors on the ground necessarily makes too much difference--compared to the fact that they are getting the gear in the first place.

Posted by: kao-hsien-chih | Dec 20 2008 21:18 utc | 9

After the Iraq concession closes, Blackwater and friends will be glad to supply surplus technicians to S. Sudan and anywhere else. I'm sure they're inking the contracts with blood already.

Posted by: biklett | Dec 20 2008 22:14 utc | 10

The Ukrainian parliament set up a special commission in September to look into the country's arm sales to Georgia before the August war. The results, recently made public, are quite explosive. See 'Ukraine laundered billions in arms trade'

The Somali news source Mareeg provides a translation of an Izvestia article on the issue, where Valeriy Konovalyuk, head of the comission is quoted as saying,

In general, Ukraine is becoming a serious supplier of contraband arms, and this trade is taking place under the cover of the president. According to our information, for example, there is a smuggled cargo of weapons present on the MS Faina, now seized by pirates in Somalia. Furthermore, there is information that the arms that are declared on this ship, that is tanks, combat vehicles, and anti-aircraft installations, were heading for Southern Sudan, which is now under strict UN sanctions. By all appearances, other facts will soon be revealed. The weapons depot fire in Kharkiv Oblast was arranged in order to conceal facts of contraband trade.

This is as close to an official acknowledgment as it comes, I guess.

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 21 2008 0:14 utc | 11

Looks like Yushchenko is retributing...

Posted by: estouxim | Dec 21 2008 1:33 utc | 12

slightly OT -

mahmood mamdani

part one of this year's 'international human rights day' lecture from december 15 in nairobi

Why Africans fight

All of us know of the terrible violence unleashed in Darfur and on Darfur in 2003-04.

That violence has a history. It also has a meaning. Violence is not its own explanation. When people fight, whether non-violently or violently, there is inevitably a history and inevitably issues around which they fight.

The violence in Darfur began as a civil war in 1987-89. There was a reconciliation conference at the end of that civil war. Both sides made representations at this reconciliation conference, putting forth their point of view on the conflict. Both claimed to be victims.

Human-rights organisations from Human Rights Watch to the International Crisis Group have focused on the atrocities committed during the violence in Darfur.

I want to focus on the background that they have ignored: Why the violence? What were the issues that drove the civil war? The violence in Darfur is usually described as an ethnic conflict, sometimes even as a racial conflict.

The question is: Do Africans fight one another just because they are different? Or do they fight because they have differences?

The background to the conflict in Darfur is marked by two most important issues.

The first, the more immediate though not necessarily the most important, is that of sheer survival in the face of an ecological crisis, a crisis of drought and desertification.

According to a UNEP study issued last year, the Sahara has moved roughly 100 kilometers in 40 years, pushing northern tribes southwards.

The second issue was even more long-term. It stemmed from the land tenure system created during the colonial period.

Like most places colonised by Britain after the Berlin Conference in late 19th century, Darfur was tribalised by being divided into tribal homelands during the colonial period.

The British divided the tribes of Darfur into three: Settled peasant tribes got the largest homelands, equivalent to their settled areas; semi-settled cattle nomads got smaller homelands that included their villages but not necessarily their grazing grounds; finally, tribes of camel nomads who had no settled villages got no tribal homelands.

To understand the responses of different tribes to the drought that reached its most acute expression in the mid-1980s, you needed to understand this background of how tribal homelands had been created in the colonial period.



also worth note - fake & funk's THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA: Darfur--Intervention and the USA

The Scramble for Africa analyzes the current humanitarian crisis in Darfur and the activist movements surrounding it, thereby taking on both the U.S. Government and the Save Darfur coalition alike. The authors present the basic information on the political and military aspects of the conflict, examine the options, and suggest ways forward, always with a concern for the broader international implications and for the hundreds of thousands of victims.

This meticulously-researched work gives the history of Sudan, and especially the Darfur region, in relation to U.S. and Western objectives, discussing, at length, the immensely harmful role the U.S. played in Sudan in the 70s and 80s through Washington's support of repressive regimes in Khartoum.

Alongside this, some of the more dubious aspects of the Save Darfur Movement in the U.S. is examined, such as the sidelining of Muslim and Sudanese voices, the lobbying for questionable goals, and the perceived support of the Bush administration's policy objectives. Considering, in the end, how activists concerned with playing a positive role might engage the movement.

Finally, the authors also assess the analysis presented of the Darfur conflict by those on the radical left and evaluate the merits of their opposition to the use of UN peacekeepers on anti-imperial grounds.

more footnotes than txt, but nice to have it all in one source

overview in this commentary - Can Washington ’save Darfur’?

The corporate media never raise the obvious questions: does the history of US involvement in Sudan merit such a sanguine conclusion about its intentions now? Is Washington really the potential saviour of Darfur that it is often portrayed to be?

The US first became heavily involved in Sudan in the 1970s, forging an alliance with the rightward-turning dictatorship of Jafaar Nimeiri, who Washington came to see as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, Libya and the region’s moves towards pan-Arabism.

George H. W. Bush, then the US ambassador to the UN, shared satellite imagery with the Nimeiri regime indicating possible oil reserves in the country’s south, and obtained approval for the US-based energy giant Chevron to do the exploratory work.

The Sudanese government’s desire for the oil money to flow into the central government’s coffers, instead of to the country’s south, reignited a north-south civil war, which would last 22 years and take some 2 million lives, mostly civilians in the south.

Such was the level of US backing for Khartoum that a senior Sudanese official noted that there was a Washington-Khartoum “air bridge” of weapons shipments, used by the government to wage war.

anyone have any good sources on the role of ranneberger, the current u.s. ambassador to kenya, in any of this? he has had official capacity wrt sudan during the early part of this decade, possessing a cv that intertwines w/ a history of cia hotspots & covert arms transfers

  • country officer in angola (1981-84) while the u.s. was overtly supporting the "proto-terrorist" Unita
  • then constructively engaged as deputy chief of mission in mozambique from '86-9 while the u.s. was covertly supporting the outright terrorist mvmt Renamo
  • then paraguay for the '89 coup and on through 1992
  • then '92-94 around el salvador & guatemala for who knows what
  • a brief stint as deputy chief of mission in mogadishu around '94
  • then some work in haiti
  • then coordinator for cuban affairs ('95-99)
  • on to ambassador to mali from '99-2002
  • in sudan from 2002-4 for a civil war while the u.s. supporting the south
  • then on to the african bureau
  • sudan again, as senior representative for sudan
  • and, since 2006, ambassador to kenya & responsibility for u.s. relations w/ somalia

Posted by: b real | Dec 22 2008 6:56 utc | 13

Estouxim @ 12,

:-) So what else is new? And the commission head is suing the Defense Min. predictably. They are all at each other's throats non-stop. Who could have guessed the Orange Revolution would be so high in acidic content?..

Posted by: Alamet | Dec 22 2008 16:50 utc | 14

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