Murphy's Law: The Secret Shipment To South Sudan

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September30, 2008:  How did a weapons shipment for the rebel government of southern Sudan, end up in Kenya, with the Kenyan government claiming the shipload of weapons as its own? On September 25th, a Ukrainian ship, carrying a cargo of over 2,000 tons of weapons (including 33 T-72 tanks) to Kenya, was seized by pirates off the north coast of Somalia. The pirates promptly demanded $35 million for the ship, then lowered that to $20 million. As foreign warships closed in, the pirates threatened to sink the Ukrainian ship if anyone tried to take their prize away.

Initially, everyone believed the weapons were headed for Kenya, because the Kenyan government said the weapons were theirs and would be unloaded at the Kenyan port of Mombassa. Then U.S. intelligence officials let slip the fact that the weapons were headed to Sudan. Apparently south Sudan, which is an autonomous part of the country, operating under a peace treaty with the main government of Sudan. Although Sudan and its rebellious south have a peace deal, they don't have peace. There has been skirmishing on the border this year, and this semi-secret weapons shipment makes sense. The only way to get weapons into south Sudan is via Kenya. Sudan has several ports, but none controlled by the southern rebels.

The U.S. is concerned that one of the Islamic radical factions in Somalia might get hold of the weapons in the Ukrainian ship (which apparently consists of over 700 tons of rifles, RPGs and ammunition, in addition to the 33 T-72 tanks).

 

 


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