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Cablegate: Whither M/V Faina's Tanks?

VZCZCXRO7210
PP RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #2290/01 2761546
ZNY SSSSS ZZH
P 021546Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7201
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV PRIORITY 0005
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0306
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 2820
RHMFISS/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CJTF HOA PRIORITY
RHMFISS/CDR USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY
RHMFISS/HQ USAFRICOM STUTTGART GE PRIORITY

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 NAIROBI 002290

NOFORN
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/02/2018
TAGS: MASS PTER PHSA KE UP SO SU
SUBJECT: WHITHER M/V FAINA'S TANKS?

REF: A. USDLO KHARTOUM IIR 6 890 0139 08 201536Z FEB 08
B. USDAO NAIROBI IIR 6 854 0108 08 291553Z JAN 08
C. USDAO NAIROBI IIR 6 854 0026 08 091427Z NOV 07

Classified By: PolOff Rachael Doherty, reasons 1.4 (b,d).

-------
Summary
-------

1. (S-NF) A shipment of 33 Ukrainian T-72 tanks and other
ammunition and equipment aboard the M/V Faina, currently
under the control of pirates off the coast of Somalia, has
raised questions and controversy in Kenya about their final
destination. It is a poorly kept secret that the tanks are
bound for the Government of South Sudan -- and that the
Government of Kenya has been facilitating shipments from
Ukraine to the Government of South Sudan since 2007. Since
the world's eyes are now on the M/V Faina, it is unlikely
that the tanks, if released, would go immediately to their
intended destination. Instead, they are likely to sit in a
Kenyan military depot until the world's attention shifts
elsewhere. In the meantime, the Kenyan military is in an
uncomfortable spot. End Summary.

---------------------
Kenya Claims T-72s...
---------------------

2. (C) The hijacking of the Ukrainian-owned, Belize-flagged
merchant vessel (M/V) Faina -- and subsequent confimation by
the government of Ukraine that there are 33 T-72 tanks and
other ammunition and equipment onboard -- has raised
questions about the cargo's ultimate destination. In a move
likely aimed at stemming controversy, the Government of Kenya
has claimed that the ultimate destination for the shipment is
the Kenyan Armed Forces. It is a poorly-kept secret,
however, that the shipment was originally bound for South
Sudan.

3. (S-NF) The contradictions have already been highlighted in
the press. Kenyan Government spokesman Alfred Mutua and
Kenyan Defense spokesman Bogita Ongeri have both insisted
that the tanks belong to Kenya. East Africa Seafarers'
Assistance Program spokesman Andrew Mwangura told a different
story: that the shipment ultimately was bound for the
Government of South Sudan. (Note: Intelligence reporting
(refs A-C) confirms Mwangura's story -- not the official GOK
stance. After reporting that he was warned by Kenyan
government officials to stop talking about the shipment,
Mwangura was arrested on October 1. End Note.)

4. (C) MFA Director of Political Affairs Ambassador Ben Ogutu
maintained the party line to PolOff on September 30, but
expressed relief that the Ministry of Defense has the lead on
the issue. "e are just repeating the information that the
Ministry has provided to us," Ogutu said. (Note: Ogutu also
expressed great interest in what U.S. officials in Washington
would say about the arms' ultimate destination. End Note.)

--------------------------------
...Although They Were Juba-Bound
--------------------------------

5. (S-NF) Since last year, Kenya's Ministry of Defense has
indeed played a major role in assisting the Government of
South Sudan receive arms shipments from the Government of
Ukraine. When the shipments are off-loaded at the port of
Mombasa, they are transported via rail to Uganda and then
onward to Southern Sudan (ref C). Military officials have
expressed discomfort with this arrangement, however, and have
made it clear to us that the orders come "from the top."
(i.e., President Kibaki)

6. (S-NF) Given the extensive local and international media
attention, it is unlikely that the shipment will go directly
to Sudan should the cargo be offloaded in Mombasa as
originally planned. A high-level military official has
indicated to us that if received, the cargo will be offloaded
and delivered to a military depot in Kenya, where it will
likely sit for a few months before risking the overland
shipment to Sudan.

------------------

NAIROBI 00002290 002 OF 002


Not the First Time
------------------

7. (S-NF) This is not the first time a T-72 shipment to South
Sudan has been publicly diverted. In mid-February, the
Government of Kenya was reported as "seizing" a shipment of
tanks bound for the Sudan People's Liberation Army as it
violated the 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement to end
Sudan's civil war. The "seizure" occurred when Kenya's own
security situation was still precarious given the
post-election crisis. The tanks were ultimately released and
proceeded to Sudan, and the cargo currently aboard the M/V
Faina was meant to complete the tank sale. (Note: Although
there is no arms embargo against Southern Sudan, the CPA does
say that the parties "agree in principle to proportional
downsizing of the forces on both sides" following the cease
fire. The CPA permits the resupply of lethal military items
on approval by the Joint Defense Board and UN mission. End
Note.)

8. (C) Comment: While Kenya does see itself as a guarantor of
the 2003 Comprehensive Peace Agreement, which was signed in
Nairobi, the highest levels of government have nevertheless
allowed previous arms shipments to proceed. Kenya's
political leadership has thereby put the Kenyan military in a
in an uncomfortable spot. Some Kenyan military officials
have been questioning whether Kenya should be facilitating
arms deliveries since well before the M/V Faina made
headlines.

9. (C) Comment, cont: While no one is talking about why Kenya
is in this position, we can think of a few reasons. First,
it is possible that Kenya's political leadership wants to
support the Government of South Sudan but not in a way that
will openly provoke Khartoum or potentially threaten South
Sudan's eventual independence. Vice President Musyoka's
public opposition to the International Criminal Court's
indictment of President Bashir (because it could threaten the
CPA) illustrates this point. Second, the government appears
genuinely sensitive to charges that major arms shipments
would be in violation of the spirit of the CPA. Third, given
Kenya's track record on corruption, it is always possible
that there is a financial benefit for a senior Kenyan
official (or two, or more) in return for facilitating the
arms shipments. As such, the question of "Who owns the
tanks?" will remain a touchy side issue for Kenya in the
piracy of the M/V Faina.
RANNEBERGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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