Israeli weapons 'bound for rebels' in southern Sudan: Arms may be destined for SPLA fight against Khartoum

ISRAELI weapons on a plane stranded in Cyprus could be destined for rebels in southern Sudan, diplomats and observers speculated yesterday.

The Nigerian-owned Boeing cargo plane was forced to land at Larnaca on Tuesday during a flight from from Tel Aviv to Entebbe in Uganda. According to the Cypriot civil aviation authorities, it was carrying weapons to Uganda. A senior Ugandan official said yesterday it was the first his government knew of the consignment, and there is speculation that the weapons may be destined for the Sudan People's Liberation Army, struggling for survival in southern Sudan.

Both wings of the SPLA are being rapidly rearmed but the source of its new weapons has remained secret. The SPLA, deeply riven by internal divisions, has almost no resources of its own and faces defeat. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel, American allies opposed to the Islamic fundamentalist government in Khartoum, have an interest in keeping the war going to drain Khartoum's resources.

It is unlikely that the United States would supply the SPLA directly but sources in Washington said that knowing American hatred of Khartoum's fundamentalism, it is probable that Washington gave the green light to an ally in the region to supply the SPLA. Washington has been maintaining a barrage of criticism against Khartoum, particularly for its new offensive in the south.

The Khartoum government believes that American weapons left in Saudi Arabia after the Gulf war were channelled to the SPLA by Saudi businessmen and politicians with Washington's approval.

Six weeks ago when the offensive against the SPLA began, morale among the SPLA fighters was low and ammunition in short supply. The Khartoum troops pushing southwards towards the Uganda and Kenya borders with Sudan seemed unstoppable. However in recent days the SPLA has halted the attack and is reported to have reversed it in some areas, attacking Torit and holding the line at Kit River. At least one convoy has been seen travelling into SPLA territory from northern Kenya and both wings of the SPLA have been recruiting young men and boys into their armies.

The SPLA United, the wing of the SPLA led by Riak Machar which split from the chairman, John Garang, two years ago, claims it has renewed the fight against the Khartoum government. In January Mr Machar admitted that his movement suffered from a serious weapons and ammunition shortage.

The plane at Larnaca seems to have been part of a campaign to end that shortage. It has been unable to continue its flight and the weapons are expected to be transferred to another plane. There is nowhere in southern Sudan, held by the SPLA, where a Boeing could land and observers speculate that the arms would have been transferred from Uganda to southern Sudan by road.

The Sudanese government seems to regard Uganda as a supplier of the SPLA. Reliable sources in the area say Khartoum has been supplying dissidents elements in Uganda who have mounted random attacks near Sudanese refugee camps in northern Uganda.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Media Telesales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR administrator - London - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Office and HR Administrat...

Recruitment Genius: Middleweight Designer

£25000 - £26500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The On-Site division of the UK'...

Sauce Recruitment: Financial Accountant -Home Entertainment

£200 - £250 per day: Sauce Recruitment: 6 month contract (Initially)A global e...

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project