dan-conflict> Kenya, Uganda risk entering Sudan conflict
Sunday, 22 April 2012 15:45 By Haggai Matsiko
As the dispute between Sudan and South Sudan over oil transportation dues
deteriorates into full-fledged war, The Independent reports of an intense
rhetoric that could see Kenya and Uganda sucked in.
Following separation, most of the oil fields fell in South Sudan's territory
but Sudan remains the owner of refineries and pipelines and the South's oil
is exported through the north. For that, Khartoum claims Juba owes it up to
US$3.8 billion in transportation, refinery and port fees but the South says
it owes Khartoum US$2.6 billion.
Sudan wants to be paid US$32 per barrel transported but Juba wants to pay
US$1 per barrel. Brent crude for June delivery was hovering at around US$120
per barrel. In an effort to ease the standoff, the African Union has
proposed a cost of US$25 per barrel.
Meanwhile, Khartoum has resorted to bombarding various towns in the south
and the south has retaliated with occupation of the oil-producing Heglig
region, sparking fears that the conflict might escalate.
There are mixed reports on what is happening in Heglig with Sudanese
officials saying that they are in control of the region and South Sudan
insisting that they the ones in control.
The African Union has called the occupation "illegal", and the US and UN
have condemned both offensives. While the South maintains that it occupied
Heglig because of Sudan's continued aerial bombardments on its territory,
Khartoum insists that the South's move is an act of aggression and a call to
have the guns drawn.
Juba claims that the Thabo Mbeki led African Union High Level Implementation
Panel favours Khartoum, The East African reported. Juba reportedly prefers
the Inter Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) takes over the talks.
And a group of officials from Juba were in Nairobi to co-opt it into
salvaging the situation.
Juba and Khartoum had in March agreed to sign the agreement on April 3 that
would have also allowed a consensus on oil revenue sharing that has been a
contentious issue since December when Khartoum seized Juba's oil as
compensation for alleged unpaid transportation fees.
Sudan this month declared all South Sudanese living in the north
foreigners-they can nolonger use Sudanese passports-and President Omar
al-Bashir has cancelled the signing of an agreement on non-aggression and
citizenship because of the Heglig clashes.
As war looms, there are calls for the region's powers to rein in al-Bashir
who is increasingly being seen as a rogue leader following his indictment by
the ICC over war crimes and now his aerial bombardments on South Sudanese
President Yoweri Museveni has so far remained quiet about the escalation to
full-fledged war between the two Sudans but anxiety remains.
Assurances by the Army and Defence Spokesman, Col. Felix Kulayigye, that
Uganda will not be sucked into the conflict have failed to quell fears.
Shortly before unleashing aerial attacks on the South's territory, Sudan had
blamed Juba and Kampala for backing rebels in Darfur.
Sudan President Omar Bashir's advisor, Mustafa Osman Ismail, warned that
Khartoum would not standby idly while Kampala and Juba continued backing
rebels in Darfur.
It was the latest flare up in hostility that experts trace to Uganda's
history of supporting the Sudanese People's Liberation Army then under the
late John Garang that led to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and
enabled the cessation from the north.
Khartoum has in turn backed Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) rebel
group over the years.
Reports indicate that South Sudan officials have also been courting Nairobi
to intervene on its side. Mombasa is the South Sudan's main conduit of arms
with some of the arms supplies docking at Mombasa supposedly for Kenya only
to end up in South Sudan.
With Nairobi pursuing its biggest infrastructure project, the billion dollar
Lamu Port and Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET), experts
say Kenya will likely be on Juba's side.
Senior UPDF officials, and military experts like Uganda's former Army
commander have quoted a spillover of a war between Juba and Khartoum as one
of the main reason why President Yoweri Museveni has been spending billions
of dollars on arms and fighter jets.
In 2011 Uganda spent a staggering $750 on six SU-MK ex-Russian jets,
ballooning the country's military expenditure to US$1.02 billion far above
the US$735 million for Kenya which has been the region's biggest military
Uganda's advanced combat aircraft have raised Uganda's squadrons a notch
above those in the East and Central Africa regions but Khartoum is reputed
to have one of the strongest armies in Africa.
It has over the years hired Russia and China to up its air force's tech and
some reports indicate that it assembles fighter jets.
Data from SIPRI shows that while Sudan purchased about 1000 jets between
2000 and 2011, South Sudan purchased just 61 in 2011.
The Sudanese Air Force hardware includes Mil Mi-24 attack helicopters,
MiG-29 fighters, Su-25 close air support aircraft, Chengdu J-7 fighters, Q-5
'Fantan' ground attack aircraft, and Antonov medium-some of which are being
used in the aerial bombardments.
South Sudan's airforce was only formulated on 24 June 2008. In September
2010 Bloomberg News reported that the airforce had received a fleet of nine
Mi-17V-5 transport helicopters and one Mi-172 variant, purchased for $75
million from Russia's Kazan Helicopters.
Most of arms supplies to South Sudan have been scantly reported and come
through mainly Kenya. On Sept 25, 2008 a large shipment of weapons
including 33 Russian-built T-72 main battle tanks from Ukraine supposedly
belonging to Kenya were hijacked by Somali pirates. They would later be
located in southern Sudan.
An Arms Survey conducted by Switzerland's Graduate Institute of
International and Development Studies, reported that satellite imagery
confirmed that the tanks were currently deployed at military headquarters in
Reports indicate that the hijacked vessel, the MV Faina, also carried heavy
artillery, 23 ZPU-anti-aircraft guns and 812 tons of ammunition when it was
seized in the Gulf of Aden. It is believed to be one of four arms shipments
to Sudan from Ukraine.
This is not comparable to Sudan that runs fully fledged arms industry that
potentially produces tanks and anti-tanks.
Just in January this year, Sudanese defense minister, General Abdul Rahim
Mohamed Hussien, declared that Sudan participated in Dubai's Airshow with
two drone warplanes.
He also added that that his country was in plans to start producing heavy
weapons. Hussien, added that Sudan was no longer depending on the outside
world to provide small arms to the military.
With an over 100,000-strong force, Sudan ranks among the top 5 Africa
armies, far ahead of South Sudan's fledgling army.
Sudan's military expenditure is also one of the highest in Africa.
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Received on Sun Apr 22 2012 - 07:50:47 EDT