Oil-rich Sudan buys arms from China, Russian, Iran, Belarus

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

LONDON Sudan, flush with oil revenues, has turned to Iran and former East Bloc states as its main military supplier.

The London-based Amnesty International has identified Belarus, China, Iran, Lithuania, Poland and Russia as the leading suppliers to Sudan's military. Amnesty said these and other countries have sold air and ground platforms to Khartoum despite warnings that they could be employed in the civil war in Darfour, Middle East Newsline reported.

"China and Iran have reportedly been major sources of arms supplied to Sudan," the report said.

The report cited the sale of more than 40 Chinese-origin Shenyang J-6 and J-7 jet fighters in the 1990s. Sudan also received F-7 fighter-jets, an improved version of the Soviet-origin MiG-21 Fishbed. Iran was said to have helped finance the deal.

China was also said to have supplied 50 Z-6 helicopters to Sudan in 1996. In 2001, a company in China, Harbin Dongan Engine, was reported to have signed a contract to repair Mi-8 helicopters for Sudan."

In a report entitled, "Sudan: Arming the perpetrators of grave abuses in Darfur," Amnesty said Sudan was also receiving military equipment from European Union states. The organization cited Britain, Ireland and France, states obligated to halt weapons sales to Sudan under a 1994 arms embargo by the EU.

The report said Sudan, buoyed by increasing oil revenues, has become the seventh largest military spender in Africa.

Khartoum follows Egypt, South Africa, Algeria, Morocco, Libya and Angola.

"Sudan's oil wealth has played a major part in enabling an otherwise poor country to fund the expensive bombers, helicopters and arms supplies which have allowed the Sudanese government to launch aerial attacks on towns and villages and fund militias to fight its proxy war," the report said. "By earning increasing oil revenues, the Sudanese government continues to be in a position to deploy considerable resources to military activities be it in the form of paying salaries, or acquiring equipment, such as helicopter gunships, armaments, and associated hardware."

"The government has used increases in oil revenues to fund a military capacity that has in turn been used to conduct war in Darfour, including carrying out violations of international human rights and humanitarian law," the report added.

Amnesty said a British company, Endeavour Resources, negotiated on behalf of Sudanese authorities for the supply of 12 An-26 air transports and 50 An-2 crop planes. The Antonovs were said to have been used by the Sudanese Air Force to drop so-called barrel bombs, or boxes filled with metal shrapnel, on black African villages in Darfour.

The An-2 can carry light cargo or up to 14 passengers and was capable of landing on very short and rough runways. Sudan was said to have received many of these aircraft via the United Arab Emirates.

"The government of Sudan has made extensive use of military aircraft mainly Antonov military transport aircraft, but also helicopter gunships and MiG jet fighters," the report said. "Many of the villages and towns in Darfour have been bombed, and it has been reported that those in North Darfour have suffered the most from aerial bombing."

The report said Sudan has also received military supplies from Middle East states. They included exports of grenades, rifles, pistols, ammunition from Iran and Saudi Arabia.

"Iran had allegedly helped finance the Sudanese purchase of 21 J-6s jets and two Y-8D transport aircraft, a licensed-production version of an Antonov An-12 freighter aircraft, from China, as well as four Mi-24s from Kyrgyzstan in 1994, but many of these are no longer in service," the report said. Belarus, Poland and Russia have delivered to Sudan T-55 main battle tanks, BTR-80 armored combat vehicles and artillery, the report said.

Amnesty said this equipment has been used to attack civilians. The report said Sudan has sought at least 50 T-75 tanks and spare engines from Ukraine. Amnesty cited end use certificates that show that the Irish-registered Sinclair Holdings was authorized by the Sudanese Military Industries Corp. on Aug. 23, 2004 to negotiate for the supply of the T-72s from the state-owned Ukrspetsexport.

An end user certificate issued in May 2004 authorized Britain's Endeavour Resources to negotiate for the purchase of 12 Soviet-origin BM21 Grad 122 mm multiple rocket launchers, 50 T-72 tanks, 50 BMP2 armored personnel carriers, 50 BTR80 armored fighting vehicles, 30 M46 130 mm field guns, as well as aircraft and pistols. So far, no sale has been announced or reported.

"Governments must stop turning a blind eye and stamp out the callous trade in weapons to Sudan," Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Stephen Bowen said. "While the UK and EU have taken some action, others still continue to flood Darfour with weapons."

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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