Iran and South Africa – Guns, Oil and Embargoes

South Africa supplies weapons to Iran in spite of UN sanctions

In spite of UN Sanctions, South Africa supplies arms to Iran. South African Deputy President's partner involved.

It was repulsive enough to find out that (yet again) South Africa is acting as a corridor for weapons to a country who really should not have any. Back then it was Zimbabwe. Now it is Iran. And goodness knows what went on in between Then and Now.

I truly hope that this was a once-off, but in my heart I know it is not. The entire operation is much too slick, and completely unlike the time the Chinese and South African governments conspired to smuggle heavy artillery into Zimbabwe in support of its genocidal Mugabe regime.

Guns and other military equipment shipped from South Africa to Iran

On this occasion US weapons were purchased by a Canadian Company, who exported the equipment to South Africa. Selling military grade weapons with South Africa as the end user on the certificate, is completely legal. It is once the weapons hit South African soil that – suddenly – everything starts resembling a marsh: smelly and murky, with several large alligators lurking below the surface.

Here, front-companies re-register the weapons. It seems that the partner of South African Deputy President  Motlanthe, had some

Iran and South Africa Weapons Trade - These are the victims of war

South Africa supplies weapons to Iran. This child could be the next victim.

involvement in terms of paying bribes. I am still trying to figure out WHO the companies are and to whom bribes were paid. The re-registered weapons are shipped to Iran on Russian Cargo Carriers.

It is not the first time of late that family members / spouses of the highest-of-high Brass in South Africa are caught with a smoking gun in the hand. One has to wonder at the coincidence…

I find it highly disturbing that the coverage of the blatant South African violation of sanctions against Iran is receiving so very little attention from the media and that – for some reason – they are not trying to unearth exactly who all the role players are. Guns kill. I have to wonder how many innocents will be killed by Iran with the guns South Africa supplied to them, before the world sits up and really takes notice.

The South African government’s reaction is that they will investigate. This is lip service. In my opinion, South Africa  earned their stripes as Merchants of Death.

South Africa is still buying oil from Iran

The UN has been exerting pressure on South Africa for a while now to stop importing oil from Iran. Late March 2012, it seemed as though the South African government finally paid heed.

To quote Deputy Foreign Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim at a news conference:

“To my knowledge, no Iranian oil is flowing into our country. If there is any, it is very little.”

Yeah, right.

Less than an hour ago, Reuters reported that South Africa imported $364 million in oil from Iran during February. Engen and Sasol are the two biggest buyers of crude originating in Iran.

Frankly, I did not expect the flow of oil from Iran to South Africa to miraculously disappear. These two countries are bedfellows in several joint ventures, such as the $900 million Polymer JV (Arya Sasol Polymer Company) with Pars Petrochemicals.

UN! Impose an Arms Embargo on South Africa

The government of South Africa cannot be trusted. They don’t respect their own signature on UN resolutions they voted in favour of. They don’t respect the rule of law (i.e. Pres. Zuma never stood trial for arms deal corruption charges). They don’t respect the population to whom they have a duty of care (i.e. look at the shocking state of health care and education in the country). They only respect their own pockets and serve their own greed.

I wish to see an arms embargo placed on South Africa until the trade of weapons with Iran is investigated and the culprits are tried.

If you have any information that could be helpful in my research, please contact me.

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The An Yue Jiang sets sail from Luanda, Angola

It is no small victory for those in Zimbabwe and in the rest of the world who have been watching the weapon bearing An Yue Jiang with bated breath. It is also no small victory for the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), whose members – in a display of solidarity – refused to unload the deadly arms shipment from China, both in Angola and South Africa. It is suspected that the weapons ordered by the Mugabe regime, were intended to support his re-election during the presidential runoff campaign.

The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation) and the ITF (International Taekwon-Do Federation), who played an active role in preventing the weapons from reaching Zimbabwe from the time that Noseweek broke the story some three weeks ago, remained in close touch with the Port Workers Union in Angola, who monitored all movements to and from the An Yue Jiang since it docked in Luanda. The Port Workers Union verified that only construction materials (cement etc.) destined for Angola were offloaded from the An Yue Jiang.

In their press statement, the International Taekwon-Do Federation told reporters that, under the watchful eye of Angolan Police, the An Yue Jiang refuelled, took on some supplies and set sail, with its controversial arms cargo still on board: destination China.

The International Taekwon-Do Federation also told the media that they will keep a watch on the movements of the ship and provide an update on its whereabouts later today.

The Mark of the Dragon: China in Zimbabwe…and Angola, Namibia, Zambia and Malawi

There remains an uneasiness among those of us who have remained as close as is humanly possible to the movement of the An Yue Jiang with its shipment of weapons from China to Zimbabwe. Uneasiness, that stems from the extent of Chinese involvement in the SADC countries, and the fact that most of these countries are unofficially ‘Chinese Colonies’.

Methinks we have lost the plot. We keep looking to the African countries surrounding Zimbabwe for a solution. We look at Namibia, Angola, Zambia and Malawi to stop the weapons, mostly because these countries have proclaimed themselves as democratic states and have said that they are eager for peace in the region. But in Africa, saying and doing are two very different things and everybody seems to forget that these very countries are deeply – perhaps even too deeply – involved with the arms shipment’s country of origin to be in a position to do anything except obey the will of their master.

We chide China for their irresponsibility. A small rap over the knuckles, no more. And China, with an eye on the upcoming Olympics, plays the role of the reprimanded gracefully – withdrawing the errant ship, or at least pretends to do so.

They are smiling to themselves, I am sure. Not in embarrassment, but in glee. The West is wrong – again.

China: Africa’s New Partner
You see, China was busy with other things while the rest of the world was busying them with the Middle East and with Eastern Europe. China found somebody to play their own brand of Monopoly with: Africa. And true war masters that they are, the Chinese had their strategy in place long before joining the game. In true Sun Tzu style, they chose each of their battlegrounds with care and won each piece of additional territory without a single shot being fired.

The countries they targeted were easy marks. They were all dead broke, run by kleptocrats (to varying degrees) and heavily indebted to the IMF. The terms imposed by the IMF did not necessarily suit their peculiar brands of democracy. And, considering from whence the IMF funding comes, the terms of these loans have instilled growing resentment towards the haves of the ‘imperialistic’ West.

Hence, when the Chinese arrived on their white dragons, bearing millions upon millions of Dollars in gifts, loans and advances, (initially no strings attached) they were received like long lost brothers – liberators from their imaginary foe, the West. But money, like any other opiate, could be addictive – and, as has been proven time and again, the addicted ends up becoming the lackey of the supplier. In Africa, the extent of the submission depends on the extent of the addiction.

Money is Sun Tzu’s golden thread in this instance: the thing that unites the senseless gluttony of these African leaders and the Chinese hunger for territory, commodities and power.

Want to know why I am uneasy about Angola? Read on.

China: The Angolan Puppeteer
trenched itself in Angola. The CSIS, in their recent report on the Angola China relations, tried to provide a (too) balanced view of the involvement of the Chinese in this country, with China’s involvement made out to be benevolence in exchange for crude oil. Now, I would call China many things, but benevolent isn’t one of these. They have been putting money into Angola, and they want something in return. Full stop. There is no such thing as free Chop Suey.

In addition to oil (Angola is the largest supplier of crude to China – 8.48 million metric tons in the first three months of this year alone), there are diamonds. And, in addition to diamonds there is employment for Chinese nationals. In a country that sports a ginormous unemployment figure, the number of Chinese nationals employed in Angola has increased from 192 in 2004 to 22,043 in 2007. 22,043 jobs that could have moved Angolan nationals from below the breadline to above it – jobs that are filled by people who cannot string two words in Portuguese together, and nearly as little in English. Get the picture?

Vast sums of money have been made available to Angola by the Chinese. Very little has filtered down towards improving conditions for the person on the street. Scholarships to China were donated to ‘enhance Angolan skills’. These only served to enhance the family members of parliamentarians’ skills.

The desire for arms and weapons (Chinese supplied of course) supersede the need of the populace for food. The need to reconstruct the railway between Benguela and Luanda (with Chinese money for Chinese ends) is greater than the need of the population for shelter, basic healthcare and education.

The Dos Santos regime is nominally democratic and but a small margin away from being a one party state. In fact, he could be a Mugabe understudy.

And China? Well, China has proven time and again that they do not particularly care about the fabric of a country’s leadership. The more corrupt the easier it is for them to get around. And, as usual they have no qualms about propping up a dictator as long as he is willing to dance under the big red puppeteer’s skilful hands.

In Closing

So, will Eduardo dos Santos really only allow construction material to be off-loaded? If construction material is indeed part of the cargo carried by the An Yue Jiang…

With things being as they are – and I do hope I am wrong – I would be pleasantly surprised if the alleged construction material does not pan out to be destruction material in the end.

The An Yue Jiang: Lloyds MIU Responds

Note: For background, refer to my blogs on the Zimbabwe China Arms Deal. The An Yue Jiang, which is carrying weapons from China that are destined for Zimbabwe, and that is thought to be heading to Angola, featured prominently in the last few blogs.

The An Yue Jiang, that was added to the Lloyds list on the 20th of April, disappeared off the casualties list of Lloyds MIU this morning. The last entry on the five-ship free portion of the site that remained after the An Yue Jiang was moved or removed, was a vessel that was reported as a casualty on the 19th of April 2008 – 1 day before the An Yue Jiang.

I requested access to Lloyds MIU by using an online form, but was denied on the grounds that Lloyds “only grant trial access to companies with a legitimate business need“. I suppose being a writer makes me less legitimate than most :).

The correspondence
Then, on my WordPress Blog’s Comments, up popped a message from Lloyds themselves. Mark Hankey, their representative, had the following to say:

“We never stated that the vessel sank.

We called it a casualty as it failed to discharge its cargo in the manner it expected. This is normal practice for us as we supply a lot of data to the insurance market and this type of information is of use to them.

We currently have no knowledge of the vessel being refuelled/bunkered or being detained by any navy.”

I then emailed Mr. Hankey, asking him the following:

“Thank you very much for the update you provided to my blog. I would like to publish it, but before I do please can you help me understand:

1. You added it to the list as a casualty because it did not dispose of its cargo as expected. Correct?

2. Could you please let me know why it was taken off the casualty list? Did it dispose of its cargo? Or are there are criteria used?

3. I just want to point out that we never stated that it sank. We merely speculated that the vessel may have run out of fuel as it was not allowed to take in fuel at Durban (it was anchored some 12km outside the port).”

In return, I received the following response from Mr. Hankey (Mr. Hankey’s reponse is in red):

“1. You added it to the list as a casualty because it did not dispose of its cargo as expected. Correct? – correct

2. Could you please let me know why it was taken off the casualty list? Did it dispose of its cargo? Or are there are criteria used? – it’s still there, but due to the timing it has been superseded by more recent casualties on the free part of the database
3. I just want to point out that we never stated that it sank. We merely speculated that the vessel may have run out of fuel as it was not allowed to take in fuel at Durban (it was anchored some 12km outside the port). – cool. Sorry for the misunderstanding. ”

The quandary
I am very grateful that Lloyds took the time to point out that the ship is indeed still on the casualties list. Now there remains but one issue – one that I find hard to get to grips with:

From the outset, I want to make it clear that I am in no position to personally verify whether the ship is still on the list or not because I could not get access to the database, so I am giving Lloyds the benefit of the doubt in this respect. There is no reason not to.

The only things that still bug me (and I regret not having taken thorough notes this morning) are:
(1) that the An Yue Jiang was superseded before an older casualty (the 19th of April casualty) was superseded, and
(2) that it took some 24 hours (perhaps longer) for Lloyds to list the ship after it failed to discharge is cargo in an expected manner.

These are questions I hope to clarify with Mr. Hankey during subsequent correspondence, provided that he will humour more questions from me.

The low-down
So, considering Lloyds’ feedback:

We should not necessarily assume that the vessel has run out of fuel.
We should not necessarily assume that it stopped its slow fuel-saving voyage to Luanda.
We should not necessarily assume that the vessel is headed towards Luanda.
We should not necessarily assume that it has been refuelled.
We should not assume that the ship still carries cargo, and we should not assume that it does.
Finally we should also not assume that the ship has been intercepted by any navy or that it is being led back towards any port – naval or commercial.

But that is not all…

Just where is the An Yue Jiang? The Navy won’t tell and Lloyds cannot tell.
Why is the route suddenly such a secret?
Is the cargo still on board? No response on that one either.
And, why all the attention…even my couple of newbie, basic, itty-bitty blogs are being flooded. And, some of the visitors appear not to be popping by out of curiosity only.

Right now there are simply too many questions and not a single answer to show for it.

PS. Original comment published on my WordPress Blog. You can follow the link from here.

China Zimbabwe Arms Deal: An Yue Jiang now removed from casualty list at Lloyds MIU

The controversial Chinese ship, the An Yue Yang, which is bearing 77 tonnes of arms and weapons destined for Zimbabwe, set sail from Durban without refuelling. When the vessel was reported as a casualty yesterday morning (GMT+2), it confirmed Jasa’s (Justice Alliance of South Africa) suspicions that the An Ye Jiang had insufficient fuel to reach its destination: Luanda, Angola.

Navy sources said that although the ship switched off its transponder when it left the harbour, it was being tracked via satellite by the South African Navy, the South African Police Services, Interpol and other international intelligence organisations. The navy did not wish to comment on the exact location of the An Ye Jiang at that time. (Source: Beeld)

A rough calculation based on a sea speed of approximately 30km/h, would have taken the ship to Luanda by Tuesday evening. Assuming that it had indeed sailed towards Luanda, the ship will have been located somewhere between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town when it (perhaps ran out of fuel, and) was added to the register.

Now, somewhere between midnight and 8am (GMT+2) today, the controversial arms ship was removed from the Lloyds MIU Vessel Casualty register.

There are only two possible reasons for this: The ship may have been clandestinely refuelled during the night or it may have been intercepted by the Navy. If the latter holds true, the ship could be escorted to one of the commercial harbours or, considering the controversies surrounding the vessel, it may even be taken into a naval harbour instead.

Until the Navy decides to offer further information, all we can do is wait.

China Zimbabwe Arms Deal: An Yue Jiang reported as casualty at Lloyds MIU

The controversial weapon carrier, An Ye Jiang set sail from Durban Harbour without refuelling which, according to Jasa (Justice Alliance of South Africa), means that it is unlikely to have sufficient fuel to reach Luanda in Angola.

The ship switched off its transponder when it left the harbour and was seen shortly afterwards heading down the coast of South Africa in a southerly direction. Jasa requested that the ports at East London, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town be placed on alert to ensure that fuel is not clandestinely supplied to the vessel.

It seemingly disappeared until it suddenly appeared 11 hours ago as a casualty on the Lloyds MIU Vessel Casualty register. Does this mean that the ship has run out of fuel as predicted or is it a clever ruse to get hold of fuel without having to re-enter South African waters? Once it has fuel, the Chinese weapons carrier could yet again switch off the transponder and disappear into the blue wide yonder.

Shortly before the order was obtained from the Durban High Court, which prohibited the off-loading and transporting of the arms, another application was filed by the state owned German Bank, which requested that the arms cargo be attached in lieu of an unpaid 40million Euro loan extended in 2000 to the state-owned Zimbabwe Iron and Steel company. The order too was granted.

Should the ship enter South African waters, this order could be executed.

There is also a further option. Navy intervention is possible according to Jasa. The Alliance indicated that should the ship enter South African waters, it could be arrested and taken into one of our harbours. The Jasa spokesman continued to say that: “The arms must then be put in bond until assurances are obtained from the Chinese Government that they will be returned to China. Any promise from the ship owner is insufficient as it becomes unenforceable the moment the ship leaves SA territorial waters. The captain may say he is going home and yet immediately sail for Angola once he has fuel in his bunkers.”

The China Zimbabwe Arms Deal: A storm in a teacup OR the tip of the iceberg?

The China Zimbabwe arms deal is a political hotcake that is getting hotter by the hour. Mozambique, finding that the attention was turning to them in respect of the shipment, was quick to point out that they had been tracking the movements of the An Yue Jiang and that they would never allow a ship bearing weaponry into there waters without prior approval. The Transport and Communications Minister, Paulo Zucula, said that he had confirmed that the destination given to the South African Department of Transport, was Luanda Angola.

The Angolan government has yet to respond. Hopefully their silence signifies that they are rethinking the entire situation. I would be surprised if they don’t. This is 77 tonnes of political hotcake you don’t want in your lap as a developing country right now. If you are sensible, that is…

The China Lie
China too has eventually deigned to comment, albeit in the form of a noncommittal fax to Reuters, which cursively read: “We do not understand the actual situation. China and Zimbabwe maintain normal trade relations. What we want to stress is China has always had a prudent and responsible attitude towards arms sales, and one of the most important principles is not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.”

Clearly China too is trying to place some distance between them and a situation that has definitely graduated into being an international incident.

But for this giant country, there will be little reprieve.

1. Although China is trading in arms with Zimbabwe on a continuous basis, they can still (under very, very lenient circumstances), be given the benefit of the doubt, when they say: ‘We do not understand the actual situation.’ But, considering that China has ALSO deployed some of their very own Red Army Soldiers to Zimbabwe, the ‘We do not understand the actual situation’ excuse becomes thinner than paper thin.

I hold it to be an outright lie.

2. The portion of the message that read: “China has always had a prudent and responsible attitude towards arms sales…”, would have been laughable if you had ignored the gravity of the matter. Here are some examples to chew on:

a) The Big Red has been involved in many shady arms deals with destabilized countries: You may recall the Angolan Oil-for-Arms deal with China or even the Shenyang fighter planes, T-59 battle tanks, HY-2 Silkworm surface-to-surface missiles and rocket launchers supplied to Iran or even the 25,000 Chinese-made rifles and 18,000 grenades that they supplied in Nepal.
b) The Big Red is also one of the largest traders in illegal firearms (Norinco pistols in particular) in Australia, Malaysia, Thailand and particularly in our very own country – South Africa.
c) The Big Red has refused to date to sign any multilateral agreements that will prevent the export of arms to areas likely to use these for serious human-rights violations.

I hold it to be an outright lie.


3. “ …and one of the most important principles is not to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries” In this particular part of the statement, China conveniently ignores their Red Army’s presence in Zimbabwe.

I hold it to be an outright lie.

China Africa’s Most UNWANTED element
Considering China’s secret history on the beleaguered African continent, their propensity for organized crime, their prevailing parasitical opportunism and the active role they play (albeit hidden from plain sight under most circumstances) in sowing (profitable-for-them) dischord, they are unwanted elements in Africa.

Whatever China touches turns to blood and poverty. This is something that we, who are busy trying to build a New Africa, certainly do not need…