South Sudan

Japan will send troops to South Sudan as part of United Nations led nation-building force

Japan will send troops to South Sudan as part of a UN force.

Japan on Tuesday approved a plan to send a unit of ground troops to South Sudan as part of a UN nation-building force, where they are expected to help construct infrastructure for the fledgling nation.

Japan’s military, called the Self-Defence Forces, is barred from fighting overseas under the country’s pacifist post-World War II constitution, but it has joined UN peacekeeping forces in countries such as East Timor and Haiti.

Under the latest plan, troops will be deployed to the South Sudanese capital of Juba — which is considered relatively safe — but will be permitted to use weapons in self-defence.

The troops, mostly engineers and logistical staff, are expected to help repair or build roads, bridges and infrastructure in the landlocked African country, which declared independence from Sudan in July after a long civil war.

Defence Minister Yasuo Ichikawa ordered the Self-Defence Forces to prepare for deployment and await further instructions on their mission, a defence ministry official said.

Japan has contributed military forces to several non-combat operations overseas

“I’ve always thought that the engineering unit of the Self-Defence Forces should play a role, so that they can leave footprints in South Sudan’s nation-building,” Ichikawa told reporters.

“As we start the new mission, it is important for Japan to show the world that we are playing a role in the international community,” he said.

Japan, which has already dispatched two fact-finding teams to South Sudan, is looking at sending the first batch of about 200 troops early next year to establish bases, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tsuyoshi Saito said.

The main unit of around 300 troops will replace them later, he said.

South Sudan, one of the world’s poorest countries, became a member of the United Nations on July 14 and joined the African Union on July 28.

Japan has contributed military forces to other non-combat operations, including the reconstruction mission in Iraq and as part of anti-piracy patrols off Somalia.

Japan recently has began to reestablish a presence on the international scene with its military. With regards to Africa, Japan opened up its first military base overseas in Djibouti.  The base was part of international coalition in helping stop piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Not just using hard power to spread its influence, Japan has also been using soft power in Africa by saying it will invest billions on the continent.

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United Nations welcomes South Sudan as 193rd member

The UN General Assembly has admitted South Sudan as the 193rd member of the United Nations. The vote followed the African country’s achievement of independence last Saturday, breaking away from Sudan after more than 50 years of on-and-off war.

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Chicago Bulls Forward Luol Deng hosts first Hoops summit in South Sudan

Chicago Bulls Forward Luol Deng

Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng is a former South Sudanese refugee, and he was in his new nation to celebrate its freedom  and host it’s first-ever hoops clinic for the youth.  A day before the historical event, Deng joins a practice game with young members of the NBA Africa basketball camp in Juba.

He also had a sit-down interview with John Prendergast of the enough project. Deng talked about what this all meant to him in a video interview. Watch it and you’ll understand why Deng is so well respected by his peers around the league.

Luol Deng can be followed on twitter @LuolDeng9

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South Sudan celebrates independence as world’s newest nation

Southern Sudan became  the world’s newest country on July 9. After more than 20 years of civil war, followed by a half decade of uncertain peace, the new country is starting virtually from scratch. The challenges are many, but the level of optimism is high enough to match.

It is a dramatic shift in mentality from short-term survival to long-term planning. South Sudan faces some challenges; the first being  setting up the apparatus of the state: the security; the police; the military; and all that. The most important task a state is supposed to do is enforce and protect the rule of law. South Sudan needs to defend the peace and security of its citizens. With the exception of the Abyei and South Kordofan border areas, the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement put an end to wide-scale fighting between north and south. But cattle raiding and other crimes persist.

The lack of roads and other infrastructure compound the problem. The country has only about 4,000 kilometers of all-weather roads. Few crops and other goods make it to market centers.  Shortages of basic goods are also common.

Setting up diplomatic relationship with the world and the new administration that was never there will be a challenge. International donors provided aid to besieged communities during the civil war. Now the government is trying to break that dependency. South Sudan must address its revenue problem since the majority of the money will come from oil exports which are dependent on being shipped through the north.

Despite the challenges, there is a sense of optimism among many in Southern Sudan. That resilience is what the people of Southern Sudan will need in the coming months and years.

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President Obama Applauds “Successful” Southern Sudan Referendum

In Monday statement, Obama says U.S. to formally recognize sovereign state in July.

On behalf of the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Southern Sudan for a successful and inspiring referendum in which an overwhelmingly majority of voters chose independence.  I am therefore pleased to announce the intention of the United States to formally recognize Southern Sudan as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011.

After decades of conflict, the images of millions of southern Sudanese voters deciding their own future was an inspiration to the world and another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward justice and democracy.  Now, all parties have a responsibility to ensure that this historic moment of promise becomes a moment of lasting progress.  The Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be fully implemented and outstanding disputes must be resolved peacefully.  At the same time, there must be an end to attacks on civilians in Darfur and a definitive end to that conflict.

As I pledged in September when addressing Sudanese leaders, the United States will continue to support the aspirations of all Sudanese—north and south, east and west.  We will work with the governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition to independence.  For those who meet all of their obligations, there is a path to greater prosperity and normal relations with the United States, including examining Sudan’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism.  And while the road ahead will be difficult, those who seek a future of dignity and peace can be assured that they will have a steady partner and friend in the United States.

Here is a past article about the vote for independence and the worried outcomes from it.

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How will South Sudan vote for independence go? U.S. to remove Sudan from terror list ? Whats the future of Sudan ?

As South Sudan gets ready to vote for independence what does the future hold? Will the U.S lifts sanctions on Sudan if Khartoum compleys with the international community? That what seems to be likely happening recently based on news reports.  The United States has conditioned its willingness to accelerate the process of removing Sudan from the list of countries that sponsor terrorism provided that Sudan fully implements its obligations under the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), including preparing and conducting a January 9, 2011, referendum in southern Sudan and respecting the referendum results.

According to senior Obama administration officials, Sudan’s compliance with its 2005 obligations will “move up our readiness to rescind the designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism as early as July 2011.”

The officials spoke to reporters via teleconference November 7 and asked not to be identified. They said U.S. Senator John Kerry, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reinforced the proposal on behalf of President Obama to Sudanese leaders in recent meetings he held in the region.

“This is a part of our ongoing commitment to do everything that we can to ensure that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement is fully implemented, the referendum is carried out on time and is credible on January 9,” an official said.

Sudan has been listed as a state sponsor of terrorism since 1993 due to its links with international terrorist organizations. Terrorist leaders including Carlos the Jackal, Osama bin Laden and Abu Nidal resided in Khartoum during the 1980s and 1990s. The designation prohibits Sudan from buying or receiving U.S. armaments and from receiving any U.S. economic assistance, in addition to other restrictions.

Along with fully implementing the CPA, the senior officials said Sudan will also need to “live up to all of the legal conditions required under law” for it to be taken off the state sponsors list, such as “not support[ing] international terrorism for the preceding six months” and giving “assurances that they will not resume providing that kind of support to international terrorism.”

An official noted that the George W. Bush administration took similar actions to remove North Korea and Libya from the state sponsors list during its tenure.

Although the U.S. offer decouples Sudan’s terrorism designation from the humanitarian and political crisis in Darfur, a senior official noted that comprehensive sanctions enacted by the U.S. Congress in 2003 and 2004 will remain until the Darfur crisis is resolved.

“The U.S. government and the international community expect to see … no attacks on civilians, humanitarian access, no impeding of [the United Nations Mission in Darfur], and, obviously, we will continue to watch those steps very clearly,” the official said.

“There is no way of getting long-term debt relief without the resolution of Darfur, or final improvement of relations to exchange of ambassadors and that sort of thing without improvement in Darfur,” a second official said.

The Obama administration’s offer to Sudan reflects its commitment that “we have to do everything that we possibly can to see that the referenda [in southern Sudan and Abyei] … are held on time and that we do as much as we possibly can to ensure that the outcome is a peaceful one rather than a resumption of conflict,” an official said.

U.S. officials have heard through African leaders with high-level contacts in Khartoum that the U.S. offer “might be a step that would be useful in convincing the Sudanese to have an on-time referendum and one that is credible,” according to an official.

“It’s very clear the steps that the government of Sudan has to take to meet the criteria to be taken off the state sponsors of terrorism list, and it’s our hope that they take those steps,” the official said.

The U.S. is on record of supporting South Sudan’s independence if it votes in favor of it.  Recently last week U.S. Senator John Kerry, head of the Foreign Relations Committee in the U.S congress was in Sudan.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry said Friday Sudan’s northern government will win quick U.S. incentives if an independence referendum in the south goes smoothly, but further improvement of ties depends on progress toward peace in the separate conflict in Darfur.

Kerry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, is in Sudan ahead of the critical referendum on independence for southern Sudan. The vote is a key element of a 2005 peace agreement that ended the 21-year civil war between the Arab-dominated north and the mainly Christian, animist south. Some 2 million people were killed in the conflict.

Kerry said he has seen a positive shift in the Khartoum government’s approach toward the Jan. 9 referendum, which is expected to see the oil-rich south split off from the north into an independent country.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry speaks to UNAMID peacekeepers Friday, Jan. 7, 2011 as he visits displaced persons in Shangil Tobayi village, where they were forced to flee to by recent clashes between government forces and rebel groups, in north Darfur, Sudan. Kerry says Khartoum will win quick U.S. incentives if an independence referendum in the south goes smoothly, but further improvement of ties depends on progress toward peace in the separate conflict in Darfur.

“They deserve credit for making the decision to follow through and deliver on the (peace agreement),” Kerry said. “I think there has been a constructive change there and we need to follow from there.”

But Kerry, on his fourth visit to Sudan, said resolving the war in the western Darfur region remains an important “matrix” in a U.S. incentives package to the Khartoum government.

He said if the referendum goes smoothly and the north accepts the results, Obama is prepared to “immediately” initiate the process to remove Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism, which Khartoum has been on since 1993. Kerry called the move a confidence building measure.

Relations between Sudan and the U.S. have soured since President Omar al-Bashir’s government came to power in 1989. The U.S. imposed economic, trade and financial sanctions against Sudan in 1997, and added new ones in 2007 because of the Darfur conflict. President Obama renewed the economic sanctions in a letter to Congress in November, a requirement by law every year.

Kerry said lifting economic sanctions would require progress toward a peace deal in Darfur.

“Darfur remains a very critical issue and center of our focus and I went there today to purposely link the future of Sudan to our ability to resolve what happens in Darfur,” he said.

Kerry visited Shangil Tobyai, a village in northern Darfur Friday, where thousands of newly displaced fled to from recently renewed violence. He said he hoped the referendum process and the international focus on Sudan will give impetus to a new push toward making peace in Darfur.

On a previous trip to Sudan in November, Kerry shared with the Khartoum government a letter from President Barack Obama laying out the way forward for a gradual improvement of relations with Washington. He revealed details publicly from the letter for the first time on Friday.

“This is an integrated process and as the president has laid out, Darfur is one of the elements of consideration but the (peace) agreements are very critical,” he said.

Outstanding issues following the southern referendum that still need to be resolved before the peace agreement expires in July this year include border disputes and citizenship rights as well as oil revenue sharing, he said.

“But you can move on one thing or another thing before you have everything completed,” he said. “There has to be a show of good faith on both sides. That requires us to do something when it is appropriate and it requires them to continue to do things.”

Darfur has been in turmoil since 2003, when ethnic African rebels took up arms against the Arab-dominated government. U.N. officials say up to 300,000 people have died 2.7 million have been forced from their homes because of the conflict.

Fighting has subsided in much of Darfur, but there have been recent clashes between government troops and rebel forces. The uptick in violence comes as peace negotiations between rebel groups and the government in the tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar have stalled.

Kerry commended the Qataris on their role in Darfur peacemaking, but said he thinks the talks need to move to a more visible, larger stage. He said rebel groups should participate, not boycott the talks.

“We are looking for a serious process here and we are going do everything we can in order to advance this process,” he said.

The ball seems to be in President Bashir’s court. What actions he takes as of now and tomorrow will impact how foreign leaders, officials and government treat Sudan on the international stage. South Sudan might have the majority of the oil reserves, but the majority of infastructure to export that oil for revenue goes through northern east Sudan where Khartoum is in control.  If South Sudan is able to gain, get control of the oil reserves, manage to sell it on international markets without the help of Khartoum, that will be the end of President Bashir and Sudan as a country since it would no longer have an economic base of survival and stability.

The big concern has been the possibility of a return to war by north Sudan and south Sudan.  That shouldn’t be expected since both sides have an interest in not returning to war, especially the north. Both sides share an interest in oil revenue, so that will keep heads calm in the region since they both heavily rely on it.  It is in the best interest of both sides to develop a plan to both profit from the resources, the only problem might be leadership, especially if President Bashir is still in power.

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Ukraine sold arms to South Sudan according to Wikileaks

Latest release wiki-leak documents state that Ukraine sold arms to South Sudan.

The U.S. had satellite imagery that proved Ukraine lied about shipping arms to South Sudan, according to a U.S. State Department cable published Dec. 8 by WikiLeaks. Such sales to Sudan would violate international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council because of the alleged genocide that has taken place during a protracted and bloody civil war.

The arms shipments were made in 2008, and included tanks and other weapons aboard the Faina, a ship that was hijacked by Somali pirates on Sept. 25, 2008, before later being released on Feb. 5, 2009,after a ransom was paid.

The account of meetings between Vann H. Van Diepen, a U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state, and senior Ukrainian officials in November 2009 also detail how American diplomats raised concerns that Ukraine:

- intended to sell missile systems to Saudi Arabia capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction;

- continued to exports parts, albeit in reduced quantities and not completed weapons, to the military dictatorship in Myanmar;

- was not intervening in the sale by Ukrainian entities of specialty metals for Iran’s ballistic missiles.

Ukraine’s export of arms hit the headlines when the Faina was captured by Somali pirates in September 2008 en route to Kenya.  According to the account of the meeting in the cable, Ukraine claimed the weapons on board this and an earlier shipment were destined for Kenya, but Van Diepen produced a copy of a contract that showed the arms were destined for South Sudan. The Ukrainian side “held to this line, questioned the authenticity of the contract, and asked if the U.S. had any better evidence,” whereupon Van Diepen “showed the Ukrainians cleared satellite imagery of T-72 tanks unloaded in Kenya, transferred to rail yards for onward shipment, and finally in South Sudan.”

“This led to a commotion on the Ukrainian side,” the author of the cable noted laconically. Ukrainian officials claimed they couldn’t be held responsible for the actions of Kenya.

Arms exports to the war-torn country are carefully watched, and under embargo to the Darfur region. South Sudan was granted a degree of autonomy from Sudan in 2005.

U.N. officials told the Associated Press in 2008 that there was no blanket arms embargo on Sudan’s government, but any movement of military equipment and supplies into the Darfur region would violate a U.N. arms embargo if it were not first requested by the government and approved by the UN Security Council’s Sudan sanctions committee.

Van Diepen reminded the Ukrainians that Sudan was on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terror and rebuked the Ukrainian side for lying. He added that the U.S. “would have to consider whether to impose sanctions for the tank transfer, and that a factor in U.S. deliberations would be whether the [government of Ukraine] was being truthful.”

Someone turned a blind eye to this. How can something like this not be known? As we see, neither the former PM or the president of Ukraine at that time called for an investigation into the allegations. On the other hand, this arms build up is rational given the whelming military build up by the government in khartoum headed by President Bashir.

Here is news report about South Sudan’s arms build up leading to the vote on independence.

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Obama to attend UN Sudan meeting

Confirmation has been made that President Obama will attend United Nations meeting on Sudan this upcoming week.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said Obama had accepted an invitation from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to a September 24 meeting on Sudan on the margins of the annual General Assembly gathering of world leaders.

The meeting in New York will bring together leaders from U.N. Security Council and other interested countries as well as United Nations, African Union and World Bank representatives.

It is expected to focus on a January 9 referendum among the people of semi-autonomous southern Sudan on whether to become an independent country, as well as on the seven-year-old conflict in Darfur, western Sudan.

“The president sees this meeting on the 24th as a very important vehicle for focusing international attention on … (the referendum) as Sudan approaches really the last critical 100 days before that vote takes place,” Rice said.
“The meeting in New York will also send important signals to the Sudanese people,” she told reporters on a conference call. “It will underscore that the international community … expects that political leaders will rise to the challenge of addressing the difficult issues that still have to be negotiated if there’s going to be lasting peace.”

Earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sudan was a “ticking time-bomb” ahead of the vote and that the international community must redouble efforts to head off violence there.

The State Department said Clinton had telephoned Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha and southern leader Salva Kiir on Wednesday. It also said that Scott Gration, U.S. special envoy for Sudan, would make a new trip to the region on Thursday to pursue talks on preparing a peaceful referendum.

In Khartoum, state news agency SUNA said Taha told Clinton that Sudan’s government was committed to holding the plebiscite.

Clinton expressed her “satisfaction” with the progress toward holding the referendum, and also thanked the Sudanese government for helping to release a U.S. aid worker in Darfur last week after she had been held by kidnappers for more than 100 days, SUNA said.


The referendum stems from a 2005 peace deal between Sudan’s mainly Arab north and mainly non-Arab south that ended a 20-year war after 2 million lives had been lost, mostly through hunger and disease.

Key problems need to be resolved before the vote, especially on defining the north-south border, along which most of Sudan’s oil wealth is believed to lie.

“The situation north/south is a ticking time-bomb of enormous consequence,” Clinton said in response to a question after a speech on U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank in Washington.

“The time frame is very short. Pulling together this referendum is going to be difficult, we’re going to need a lot of help,” Clinton said. “But the real problem is what happens when the inevitable happens and the referendum is passed and the south declares independence.”

She said the United States had put “all hands on deck” to help with referendum preparations, noting that former senior U.S. diplomat Princeton Lyman had been sent to help the two sides thrash out key issues on sharing wealth and power.

U.S. officials have openly said they see the referendum as the key issue at present in Sudan. But some activists have criticized Gration for what they say is an overly conciliatory approach to the northern government in Khartoum, and for appearing to minimize the violence in Darfur.

A 2003 uprising in Darfur sparked a harsh government response, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe that the United Nations says has killed as many as 300,000 people.

Other countries have not said who they are sending to the September 24 meeting in New York, but Obama’s attendance is likely to raise its profile.

The Washington Post reported that the Obama administration has held daily interagency meetings on Sudan for the past two weeks. It’s all in preparation for President Obama’s first direct interaction with Sudanese leaders since taking office; this week he will meet for an hour with Sudan’s Vice President Ali Osman Taha and South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

In short, with all that remains to be done to prepare for the monumental referenda in January and a smooth transition period following the vote, high-level engagement by the United States couldn’t have come soon enough.

President Obama’s long awaited meeting with Sudanese leaders this week will set the stage for whether this US administration is seen as a credible arbiter in Sudan for the next 100 days and beyond.

NPR Interview : Susan Rice, U.S. Ambassador To United Nations: Situation In Sudan Is ‘Precarious’

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Arms race in Africa

Like most regions of the world, Africa is not immune to defense spending. The region seems to be in a low level arms build up. Defense spending world wide actually Increased, and Africa was no exception.

For the peoples of East Africa and the Horn of Africa long accustomed to living with armed conflict as a feature of everyday life, these are indeed uncertain times. During the seven month period between September 2009 and April 2010, reports gleaned from local and international media alike portend an ongoing or impending arms race in the region, as national armed forces within the region ramp up firepower.

SU-27 Fighter bomber

The region itself can best be described as a historically volatile one with most national armies engaged in fighting either full-fledged civil wars or low intensity armed insurrections. Since the formal separation of Eritrea from Ethiopia in 1994 following the successful overthrow of the Marxist dictatorship of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam in May 1991 and the subsequent rise to power in Asmara(Eritrea) and Addis Ababa(Ethiopia), tensions have simmered between the two neighboring countries.

Both nations have twice, in the late 1990s and in the early 2000s, fought all-out wars in which hundreds of thousands of soldiers battled against each other and for which hundreds of surplus Soviet-era tanks, field and self-propelled artillery, as well as Mi-24 and Mi-35 helicopter gunships were acquired from nations of the defunct soviet bloc, mainly Russia and Ukraine. While Eritrea acquired a mix of SU-27 and MiG-29 jets Ethiopia responded by purchasing advanced SU-27 jet fighters.

With increased oil profits, Sudan felt that it had to establish military equilibrium among its neighbors, Eritrea and Ethiopia.  Sudan has since then acquired a squadron of MiG-29 jet fighters and with technical assistance from China with which she maintains a strategic military, economic and diplomatic partnership, has gone into the local assembly of Chinese military hardware ranging from mortars to towed and self-propelled artillery, T59 and Type 96 battle tanks. The Chinese have also supplied Sudan with WS-2 ballistic missiles.

Between the years 2001 and 2009, Sudan placed orders for and took delivery of a vast arsenal of everything including:
In preparation for a possible return to hostilities, the semi-autonomous government of South Sudan has thus far used the Government of Kenya as proxy in its military procurement drive and has been acquiring surplus heavy weaponry from The Ukraine in 2008 and 2009. This has seen the acquisition of 110 units of T72 battle tanks, 122mm rocket artillery and ZU-series 14.5mm and 23mm anti-aircraft machine guns.
T-72 tanks were part of three weapons shipments from Ukraine “ostensibly consigned to the Kenyan Ministry of Defence” but that were in fact under contract to the Government of Southern Sudan, according to the Small Arms Survey. In addition to tanks, the three shipments in 2007 and 2008 are said to include 122 mm vehicle-mounted rocket launchers, 14.5 mm machine guns, 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon, RPG-7 rocket launchers and AKM assault rifles.
Of course this is increasing insecurity in the region.
The United States is meanwhile warning that shipments of arms into Southern Sudan are heightening insecurity there in the run-up to a referendum that could result in the region’s secession…..

Ms Rice spoke with reporters following a January 26 UN Security Council meeting on developments in Sudan. She said UN officials had indicated that heavier weapons now appear to be reaching the South. Specific information on the shipments has not been provided, Ms Rice added.

Violence is escalating in Southern Sudan, which had been at war with Khartoum for 20 years. The UN reports that more than 2000 people were killed in clashes among tribal militias last year. Some of the incidents involved thousands of heavily armed attackers, the UN says.

International monitors worry that the 2005 peace agreement could break down in the coming months, leading to a resumption of the war that killed an estimated two million Sudanese. Tensions are growing as the antagonists prepare for a scheduled 2011 referendum in the South on the question of whether the region should claim independence. “The international community appears completely unprepared to put out the fire that is likely to start in the event of a [peace treaty] breakdown,” the Small Arms Survey says. “It has singularly failed to prevent ongoing weapons flows into this highly volatile environment to date.”

The US government under George W Bush invested considerable diplomatic effort to bring about the peace agreement. And the Obama administration appears determined to prevent that achievement from coming undone.

The State Department has meanwhile contracted with private companies to help train South Sudan’s armed forces. The US says that arrangement does not contravene the peace treaty, which forbids arms shipments to the South without the joint approval of its government and the Khartoum government.

Kenya has also increased its defense spending spree. Since 2007, Kenya have received 32 units of Chinese-built armored personnel carriers, anti-aircraft machine guns and Z9-WA attack helicopters from China. Queries have been raised due to the fact the helicopters haven’t flown since January.

The Kenyans have also taken delivery of a squadron of fifteen jet fighters which were acquired from Jordan, even though they are obsolete fighter jets to revamp its fleet.

Kenya’s neighbor, Uganda  which according to statistics available from the UN Register of Conventional Arms Transfers acquired 100 units of surplus T55 tanks from Bulgaria in 1998, the Kampala authorities have since 2003 received 31 units of BMP-2 armored vehicles from Russia, South African-made armored vehicles, Israeli-made Soltam 155mm field artillery guns and Mi-24 helicopter gunships.
Tellingly, Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency on April 5, 2010 carried a report about a deal between the Russian state arms exporter (Rosoboronexport) and the Ugandans for the supply of six units of state-of-the-art SU-30MK2 jet fighter bombers could just be the tonic needed to push the arms race to new heights, as wealthier neighbors such as Kenya, Ethiopia and Sudan will most certainly be taking notes of developments. Uganda though denied reports that it had bought the jets.

The question is how smaller and poorer countries of Rwanda, Burundi and Djibouti will react in the face of the ever-changing military realities in the region remains to be seen. It is however almost certain that with civil wars or insurrection or both so rife across the region – in Somalia, the Sudan, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and elsewhere, the rush to acquire arsenals of heavy weaponry does not seem likely to abate anytime soon.

Up north on the continent, the rivalry continues between Morocco and Algeria. Libya is also getting in the game as well.  According to SIPRI data, Algeria, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia accounted for around three per cent of global arms imports for the period 2005-2009, but the volume of major conventional arms delivered to North Africa in 2005-2009 has increased by 62 per cent in comparison with 2000-2004. Algeria accounted for around 89 per cent of transfers to North Africa during this period, rising from 18th to 9th largest recipient of major conventional weapons globally. However, Morocco has placed significant orders in 2008 and 2009, leading to concerns that Algeria and Morocco are entering into what is regarded as an ‘arms race’.
Like Algeria, Libya has enjoyed increased revenues from natural resources and has enjoyed being courted by major arms suppliers in recent years. It was expected that after the lifting of the UN arms embargo in 2003 Libya would seek to modernize, upgrade and replace some of the significant quantity of major conventional weapons that had been acquired in the 1970s and 1980s.
However, for the period 2005-2009, Libya was the 110th largest arms importer in the world, according to SIPRI data.  Libya is not expected to lag behind its neighbours with regard to holdings of modern military equipment for long. Ghaddafi has enjoyed the attention lavished upon him by visiting heads of state from France, Italy, Russia and the UK in recent years, and each head of states has been accompanied by arms company representatives and rumours of multi-billion dollar deals for arms and military equipment.
Early this year in February, Libya signed an arms deal with Russia.
The most contentious weapons system that Moammar Gadhafi’s regime will acquire in the deal announced in Moscow Saturday is the S-300PMU2 air-defense missile, one of the most advanced in the world….

According to Russia’s Interfax news agency, Libya is to get two batteries of the S-300.

It will also receive 20 military aircraft — 12-15 Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighters, four Su-30s and six Yakovlev Yak-130 combat training aircraft — according to Russian sources.

At a cost of $1 billion, the jets account for the bulk of the Libyan purchase.

Tripoli will also get several dozen T-90 main battle tanks and upgrades for more than 140 Soviet-era T-72 tanks, which are almost obsolescent now, and other weapons systems.

In March 2008, Morocco  purchased of 24 F-16 Block 52+ fighter jets from Lockheed Martin at a cost of $2.4 billion dollars. The purchase was in response to Algeria’s March 2006 $8 billion military-technical cooperation agreement with Russia $1.3 billion of which was allotted for the purchase of 29 single-seater MiG-29SMT fighters and six two-seater MiG-29UB fighters.
Algeria terminated the contract in 2007 upon receipt of the first batch of MiG-29s which, after a technical inspection, were deemed defective and of inferior quality than stipulated.  To redeem itself, Russia renegotiated the contract and offered Algeria new MiG-35 Fulcrum fighter aircraft and 16 Su-30 Flanker fighters.   The Russian government also approved a $2.5 billion contract between Irkut Corporation and the Algerian government to supply the latter with 28 Su-30MKA fighters by 2010.
In June 2009, The Algerian ministry of defense signed a contract with Agusta Westland, an Italian company of the Finmeccanica Group, to purchase 100 helicopters of various nomenclatures for its gendarmerie, police, and civil protection agency. The Finmeccanica Group is already committed to equip the Algerian navy with 6 AW101s helicopters and 4 Super Lynx 300 MK 130.
In October 2008, Morocco ordered 4C-27J tactical transport aircraft from Italy.

On September 9, 2009, Morocco was able to secure congressional approval for the purchase of support equipment and weapons for the F-16C/D Block 50/52 in conjunction with its F-16 contract with Lockheed Martin. The package is valued at $187 million and includes 28 AGM-65D Maverick missile, a tactical, air-to-surface guided missile designed for close air support, interdiction, and defense suppression mission against a variety of tactical targets. It is developed by Hughes Aircraft and Raytheon.

An F-16 can carry up to 6 Mavericks. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, a government entity that promotes military-to-military contacts in support of U.S. foreign policy and national security interests, has indicated that Morocco was also approved for the purchase of 60 enhanced Guided Bomb Unit-12 (GBU-12) Paveway II, a laser guided bomb (LGB) that utilized a Mk82 500-pound general purpose warhead and 28 M-61 vulcan cannons, a Gatling-style rotary gun produced by General Dynamics.

Additionally, Morocco requested the installation of communications, air combat pods, targeting pods, ground stations, night vision goggles (NVGs), joint mission planning systems, and radar warning receivers. This latest procurement will increase the interoperability between the U.S. and Morocco and enhance asset capabilities in bi-lateral terrorism prevention operations in the region.

Morocco then in October of that year, signed a contract to buy three CH-47D Chinook helicopters and associated parts, equipment and logistical support for an estimated cost of $134 million.

Earlier this year, a Moroccan air force delegation led by Colonel M’hamed Saufi toured Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. Personnel from Morocco’s Royal Air Force are currently being trained at Luke’s and 162nd Fighter Wing airbase in Tucson, Arizona on the mission support, maintenance of F-16 and the organizational elements involved in the base operations of a fighter wing, i.e., civil engineers and fire department, communications, logistics readiness, security forces, and base services. Morocco is currently building an air force base specifically designed to support F-16 operations.

It is worth noting that, with $5.4 billion worth of arms contracts, Morocco is the third top-buyer of military hardware and weaponry in the developing world in 2008, surpassed only by United Arab Emirates, with $9.7 billion in arms deals, and Saudi Arabia, with $8.7 billion.  The United States holds 70.1 percent of the arms market; its arms sales in 2008 totaled $29.6 billion. Russia comes in a far second with $3.3 billion.

Considering that Morocco and Algeria are embroiled in a diplomatic dispute over “Western Sahara,” analysts are voicing serious concerns that the two countries are gearing up for an arms race that will upset the delicate status quo balance of the increasingly
bifurcated Maghreb.

The sad news is that neither, Algeria, nor Morocco, will get to use those expensive jet fighters. Both countries are neither in peace, nor war. It’s a waste of money and resources. For the both countries who suffer major unemployment crisis, a poor infrastructure (Algeria), and foreign exchange reserves (Morocco), they better focus their resources on what matters most: fighting corruption, promoting small business, and increasing trade between them.

Libya on the other hand is just trying to increase its prestige and lets not forget khadafi is sometimes……well not the most rational leader.

Egypt is also upgrading its fleet of F-16 fighter jets.  The Egyptian Air Force is the 4th largest F-16 operator in the world, mustering about 195 aircraft of 220 ordered.

Video report on the arms race.

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Sudan: US supports south Sudan’s independence

The United States has pledged technical and financial support for the referendum of an independent South Sudan amidst fears that civil war, ethic and religious differences, and totalitarianism constitute a direct threat to the future survival of millions of southern people, southern Sudan authorities have said.

During his third day visit in Kenya the US vice president Joe Biden has said the United States will give technical and financial support for the referendum of an independent South Sudan.The US Vice President urged Southerners to immediately begin negotiations on post-referendum arrangements with Khartoum in tackling unresolved issues such as border demarcation, revenue sharing, and citizenship rights.

Biden said the US will continue to assist in the professionalization of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in recognition of the serious threats to security faced by the South.

Amidst fears that civil war, ethnic and religious differences, and totalitarianism constitute a direct threat to the future survival of millions of southern people, Biden said the US will continue to assist in the professionalization of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army in recognition of the serious threats to security faced by the South.

The U.S Vice President Biden met and discussed the referendum due next year with President of Southern Sudan Salva Kiir in Nairobi capital, Kenya.

Kiir won elections in April to become the first elected president of Southern Sudan. And he is expected to lead the semi-autonomous south to independence. The elections were part of a peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war between the north and south.

The people of South Sudan will most likely choose to break away from the Arab dominated north and have their own state either through the referendum or unilaterally, a former US special representative to the State Department for Sudan said.

Sudan is overtly divided into an Islamic north and a Christian south with more than 400 different languages and dialects spoken among Sudan’s 597 ethnic groups.

Southern Sudan wanted independence from Egypt but Northern Sudan wanted a union between Egypt and Sudan, showing no intention of sharing power with the African south.

Civil war between the north and south broke out in 1955 and continued after Sudan became an independent nation in 1956. Fighting continued until 1972, as policies forcing the south to adopt Arab culture, Arab language, and the religion of Islam, Sudan’s ties to Egypt and Saudi Arabia only intensified.

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