Small Arms Survey published on its latest Sudan Issue Brief from September 2012 an article comparing the “flow of military resources into Darfur” ─prohibited by international sanctions including UN arms embargo─ between 2009 and 2012. The report was written based on fieldwork conducted in Darfur and elsewhere, on interviews, on desk research, and on UN reports.
According to this report, all sides in the Darfur conflict have continued to gain access to military resources since 2009, which it attributed to the limited geographical scope of the embargo that covers only the Darfur states. The article suggested this limitation allowed international suppliers (state and commercial) to legally furnish arms and assistance to the Government of Sudan (GoS), despite evidence it is moving the arms rapidly and continually into Darfur, violating the end-user agreements.
Small Arms Survey and various UN panels drew these conclusions by matching the types, packaging, batch and series numbers of weapons and ammunition captured or found in the battlefield and by tracing requests made to exporting states to illuminate the chain of custody of particular weapons’ shipments.
Evidence suggested that, for instance, at least two state-owned Sudanese companies imported and allegedly moved Chinese ammunition to Darfur: Sudan Technical Center (STC) and Yarmouk Industrial Complex (YIC), both located near Khartoum, it stated.
Nevertheless, as the UN embargo does not cover all of Sudan, the GoS has also been able to establish domestic aircraft overhaul and maintenance facilities, developed entirely lawfully, over the past four years with foreign assistance, Small Arms Survey pointed out.
Small Arms Survey’s findings indicated that the types of weapons used on both sides of the conflict in Darfur “remained consistent” since 2009, despite the fact newer versions of weapons and ammunitions were found in the region throughout 2012.
Prior to 2010 Darfur armed groups held Chadian-sourced arms and ammunition, which included arms manufactured by Israel and Serbia, supplied by Israel, according to the research. It was added that these weapons have not been documented by the UN Panel of Experts on the Sudan since 2010.
The 2011 uprising in Libya appears to have ended the government-sponsored flow of weapons to Darfur, the report suggested, adding that the UN Panel has not found the Belgian and Spanish rifles, traced to the Libyan state, since 2010.
Political changes in Chad and in Libya have decreased the amount of weapons coming into Darfur from these countries, it was stated. However, it further reported that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) weapons’ furnishing to its forces in Darfur continues to provide military equipment to the area, which reach also non-state armed actors.
According to the report, the SAF's equipment, characterized as low-tech (with some exceptions), have remained fairly constant since 2009. This helps explain why it has been so easily appropriated by rebel groups, whose inventories have increasingly come to mirror those of the SAF, it was pointed out. In addition, the report stated that this may also partially explain the persistent military stalemate in the conflict.
Allegedly, SAF’s material includes MAN and Dong Feng 4x4 trucks and Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles, generally mounted with Dushkas. The UN Panel only identified that small arms and light weapons of seemingly recent fabrication in SAF stocks are Chinese-manufactured.
The article also indicated the SAF continues to provide air support for its troops on the ground with aircrafts operated from El-Fasher, El-Geneina and Nyala, which include Mi-24 helicopters allegedly transferred to Khartoum from the Russian Federation as late as 2012. Additionally, one Antonov-26 was spotted in Darfur in 2010, according to a report by former members of the UN Panel. It pointed out the aircraft was delivered by the Ukranian aviation company Meridan, which is owned by a Greek-registered company called Asterias Commercial S.A.
Furthermore, between 2008 and 2009 Belarus supplied Su-25 aircrafts to Sudan and 3.988 rockets suitable for Su-25 in 2011, some of which were identified to be used in Darfur by the UN Panel. Additionally, a Russian MiG-29 was first spotted in Nyala, in 2011, the article indicated.
“Since 2009 UN panels have noted increasingly newer ammunition in the hands of both state and non-state actors in Darfur, manufactured less than 12 months before its discovery on the ground and after the imposition of the embargo in 2005.”
Not complicit in violations
Sudan's international suppliers ─including China─ insist “they are not complicit in violations of the Darfur embargo since exports to Sudan authorized from their country are lawfully consigned to Khartoum along with end-user declarations requiring that they are not moved to Darfur”. The same counts for ammunition supply, the report added.
According to the UN Panel, the Sudanese air operator Azza was operating under a SAF military call sign as late as January 2012, when it was photographed in El-Fasher. In 2011 the Panel identified an Armenian air cargo company flying under a Sudanese military call sign in Darfur’s air bridge.
Fuel trucks of the Malaysian state-owned oil company Petronas were also photographed in Nyala airport fueling SAF’s Antonov and Sukhoi fighter jets in late 2011. Petronas told Small Arms Survey that its subsidiary “Petronas Marketing Sudan Limited (PMSL) provides refueling services at the Nyala airport, which is a civilian airport. The services are operated by individuals employed by PMSL on contract basis. However, it pointed out the Sudan Civil Aviation Authority controls these services from time to time, “particularly during certain situations it deems fit to do so.”
The Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer Antonov Company has also confirmed to Small Arms Survey that, based on contracts with Sudan Master Technology Engineering Company, “it carried out work in Khartoum airport for the ‘extension of service life’ of five Antonov transport aircrafts” during 2010-2011. It added the engineering company has produced a document “stating its implicit observance with the UN arms embargo resolutions” and that the airplanes it operated never participated, and never would take part in any hostilities in Darfur. Three of these five aircrafts have been listed in reports from the UN Panel as being operated by SAF in Darfur.
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