Kenya involved in arming South Sudan to fight for secession

Empowering Weak & Oppressed

M.S. Ahmed

Dhu al-Qa'dah 02, 1429 2008-11-01


by M.S. Ahmed (World, Crescent International Vol. 37, No. 9, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1429)

The Somali pirates who recently hijacked a ship carrying Russian-made arms and tanks claimed that the weapons were bound for South Sudan. But the Kenyan government was adamant that they had been sent to Kenya, not South Sudan. The BBC World Service announced on October 7 that it had found evidence that the equipment had been intended for South Sudan, as claimed by the pirates. Analysts recalled that Russian-made military equipment had been passed to the Sudanese region through Kenya once before, pointing out that it strongly backs the West’s strategy to break up Africa’s largest country. The West’s current effort to turn Darfur (in West Sudan) into yet another supposedly independent country underlines how determined that strategy is.

The Ukrainian ship, MV Faina, was carrying 33 T-72 Soviet-era tanks and other weapons when it was seized by the pirates. The ship’s manifest, which was published by the BBC, has provided highly embarrassing information. It seems to show that tanks and other weapons were being sent to Kenya’s defence ministry in place of the government of South Sudan. The manifest contains the acronym GOSS, which most people take to mean the Government of South Sudan. As the acronym shows who the buyer is, the Kenyan government argued that it refers to a branch of the Kenyan army, General Ordinance Supplies and Security, not to the government of South Sudan. But, as a report in the Economist magazine on October 11 argued, that “does not necessarily mean that they were not going on to South Sudan.” The report emphasised that Kenya “has no history of using Soviet equipment”, and quoted a Russian source as saying that “the only Russian arms Kenya has bought in recent years have been Kalashnikov rifles for game rangers.”

Other reports (in Jane’s Defence Weekly, for instance) indicate that another hundred T-72 and T-55 tanks may have been shipped to South Sudan through the Kenyan port of Mombasa in the past year. According to analysts, this raises several questions, such as who is paying for the shipments and whether they have all reached Southern Sudan (some of them might still be in Kenya). The Economist quotes Kalonzo Musyoka, the president of Kenya, as saying that the tanks on the Faina are Kenya’s property because the Kenyan taxpayer paid for them.

The report then concludes that, if it is true that Kenya has paid for the tanks and they still reach the Sudanese region, this throws doubt on Nairobi’s role in the conclusion of the peace treaty in 2005 between North and South Sudan. “If true, and the tanks still go through to South Sudan, that would turn Kenya from being the midwife of the peace agreement in Sudan in 2005 into the would-be midwife of an independent and heavily-armed South Sudan, ready to go back to war with Sudan’s Islamist government in Khartoum,” it says. What the report does not add is that Kenya was not mediating between the two sides in order to bring peace to the region but to divide them. Certainly it was cooperating with the US, which was determined then to break up Sudan, and still is. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005 laid the basis for such a break-up, as the government of South Sudan now has the right to hold a referendum in 2011 on secession, and to become an independent state if the referendum’s results approve this.

On the issue of who is paying for the arms being sent through Kenya to enable South Sudan’s government to fight for secession after the referendum—or even before it—if Khartoum rejects the results, it is reasonable to conclude that the US and its Western allies are footing the bills. Washington and its allies are certainly paying for the “war against terrorism” which is partly being waged against president Omar Hassan al-Bashir’s “Islamist government” in Khartoum. To its shame, the UN backs the “war on terror”, particularly in the case of Sudan. This explains why Bashir is the only serving president against whom a charge of genocide has been filed by the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was on July 14 that Lui Moreno Ocampo, the ICC’s prosecutor general, filed the charge, to the horror of experts and of analysts, who protested that the charge was an ill-conceived and dangerous move that would throw the country into deeper conflict.

That Western governments are prepared to let arms go to countries where civil war is raging was demonstrated on October 6, when 13 members of France’s political establishment were put on trial over the sale of millions of dollars’ worth of weapons to oil-rich Angola, despite an international arms embargo. Jack Attali, advisor to the current president, Jean Christophe Mitterand, son of former president Francois Mitterand, Charles Pasqua, a former interior minister, and Arkadi Gaydamak, an Israeli politician, are among those accused of helping to facilitate arms sales worth $790 million to Angola between 1993 and 1998.

Le Monde, the French daily, has quoted Jean Charles Marchiani, also on trial, as saying that the arms deals were known at the highest level of government during the Mitterand presidency and that of his successor, Jacques Chirac. The sales were made directly to Angola’s president, Jose Edwardo dos Santos, who is still in office, via a Slovak arms company, ZTS Osos, represented by French businessman Pierre Falcone and Arkadi Gaydamak. The latter, despite being on trial, is determined to remain in Israel, taking advantage of the Israeli law that prohibits the extradition of Israeli citizens to other countries. Israel and the US will certainly be willing to exploit his experience and contacts to send arms to South Sudan to fight for secession. If Gaydamak had a hand in choosing the Ukraine to arrange the sale of arms to Angola, it is not inconceivable that he had something to do with the selection of a Ukrainian ship to carry the arms seized by the Somali pirates to Kenya.

That the current French government and politicians would also have arranged the sale of arms to Angola is indicated by the fact that last May president Nicholas Sarkozy visited dos Santos in Luanda, the capital of Angola, to discuss business opportunities and to allay his concerns about the trial of those who had sold the arms to him. At the time Angola was in the grip of a war that killed an estimated 500,000 people before it ended in 2002. Another indication that the French government was behind the sale of arms is that it has taken ten years to bring the case to court. In fact, one of the allegations examined by Philippe Courroye, the investigating judge, is that French officials used “a parallel diplomacy” to get around sanctions and to gain oil concessions. Angola is known to be the largest oil-producer in Africa.

But Sudan also produces oil, though China holds the concessions; Western governments and oil-companies are interested in recovering them by any means necessary. The French government, politicians and businessmen, however, are not the only operators in Africa and other continents that indulge in corrupt business practices. A report unveiled in Paris on October 17 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found Britain to be the most corrupt operator, and much worse than France. The inquiry that produced this report began in 2006, when the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) decided to drop an investigation into a British company (BAE) over bribery allegations relating to a 48-billion pounds sterling arms-deal with Saudi Arabia, and other cases of alleged corruption. The British government defended the decision, warning that Saudi Arabia might stop co-operating over issues of national security. Even worse, the country’s highest court (the Law Lords) later overturned a court ruling that the SFO had acted unlawfully.

In these circumstances, it is reasonable to conclude that Western politicians and businessmen are involved in the plan to arm South Sudan in an attempt to implement the US-led program to break Sudan up. The leaders of the southern region have certainly shown great interest in receiving arms in order to prepare their army to fight for secession. As the Economist put it, “Southern politicians have been quite open in their desire to build up a strong army, despite the provisions against re-arming contained in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of 2005, in case they have to return to war with the north.” The fact that those leaders have spent most of their region’s oil-wealth on buying arms is indicated by the strong criticism they have received for spending so little on schools and clinics.

But it is not only South Sudan that the enemies of the country are trying to disrupt. The western region of Darfur is also receiving great attention, to the extent that there is no prospect of peace being restored there. As the head of the UN and African Union peace-keeping force there said, “there is no peace in Darfur and no prospects of peace in the near future, as there are too many interests and too many voices.”

The sad thing is that Muslim countries’ rulers would rather support the US-led war on terror than come to the aid of a Muslim country, in this case Sudan.

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