Analysis

Developing Situation: US to search for Chinese Arms Ship

1 May 2008 at 01:29 | 644 views

By Scott A Morgan

In a scenario that is reminscent of a Tom Clancy
Technothriller, the situation within Zimbabwe continues to deteriorate.

Almost one full month has passed and there is still uncertainty aboutnwho will be the next President of Zimbabwe. One thing has become apparent, the ruling ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union-
Patriotic Front) will do anything to stay in power.

A case in point is the arms that were to be
delivered from the An Yue Jiang. This vessel of Chinese registry was
carrying several tons of weapons that were to be deliverd to Zimbabwe
recently. These weapons include mortars, RPGs and 3 million rounds
of ammunition. These weapons were to be delivered over the weekend
of April 18th.

There were several unique developments that
prevented these arms from being unloaded in South Africa. First of all
South African dock workers refused to unload the deadly cargo and as
a result of legal action that was initiated the cargo was to be
inspected by South African authorities. A German bank also attempted
to attach a lien against the arms to settle a debt that has yet to be
paid for by the Zimbabwean Authorities.

So in order to avoid the legal action the An Yue
Jiang left South African waters. Reports have indicated that the ship
has been denied entry by both Mozambique and Tanzania. But the
vessel took a step that has some people very concerned. Some time
late on a Friday evening the vessel turned off its transponder blinding it
from both radar and satellites.

Amid the international outcry regarding the situation
in Zimbabwe the United States revealed that it will be taking its
strongest action yet. US Intelligence Services have been ordered by
the President to track and locate the ship. US Diplomats in Angola,
Mozambique, South Africa and Namibia have received instructions from
the State Department not to allow the ship to dock in their ports.

Also Under Secretary of State Frazier will be heading to the region in an
attempt to end the election impasse as well.

This is the first major intervention in the Zimbabwe
crisis made by the United States and as the situation has declined the
most serious action taken by the US has been the imposition of
Targeted Sanctions against the Zimbabwe Leadership and the
cessation of Military Ties.

Efforts to grant Zimbabwe TPS Status have
not been successsful either. The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act of 2001 is Law and provides US Assistance in receiving
IMF, World Bank and loans from the US in exchange for improvement in
Human Rights.

Under Secretary Frazier has experience in the region
after being ambassador to South Africa. Her trip to the region has the
goal of building a consensus within the region to take a firm stand
when it comes to the tragic turn of events within Zimbabwe.

This is a
sign that the Bush Administration is growing impatient with President
Mugabe and the recent turn of events in the Southern African country.

Will these US actions embolden the opposition? Will they encourage
US Allies in the region to take action? Or will this create a new round
of tensions with China and/or South Africa?

We will find out in the near future.

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