International Arms Trade and its many deals


The International Arms Trade is interesting for certain. The movie Lord of War shows both the murkiness of some actors who not only sell and ship the arms but often shows those who back ore even use their position to keep the deals from being intercepted.

So what happens when deals which are meant to be secret are exposed? Not by Human Rights activists but by Investigative Journalists? Specifically those who investigate Financial Crimes? That should raise ones attention for certain. 

An investigation has found that Denis Sassou-Nguesso the President of the Republic of the Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) who is seeking reelection this year has covertly been purchasing arms from Azerbaijan since 2015. The investigators were able to track seventeen shipments totalling over 500 tons that were delivered. The Government of the Republic of the Congo does not declare any Arms purchases making this investigation more difficult. 

These shipments were not small arms but they were well timed. Some of the shipments were delivered after the controversial March 2016 polls which saw President Sassou-Nguesso reelected. There was unrest in the southern part of the country which was put down by force. The Opposition charged that Azeri weapons were used in the Pool area where the UN found that at least 140,000 people faced a humanitarian crisis as a result of the protests that erupted after the polls. It should be noted that there was no conclusive proof that the Azeri provided weapons were used by Rockets were indeed used by the Congolese Republican Guard.

The investiagtion found two other deliveries in 2016 and 2017 that the timing is certain to raise some eyebrows. During that two year period the Republic of Congo had applied to join OPEC (organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.) What is interesting is that the cosigner of these deliveries is Saudi Arabia. The country has substantial oil reserves and it was felt that a compliant Congo-Brazzaville would be a benefit to Saudi Strategies while dealing with other members of OPEC. Brazzaville joined the club in June 2018.

The most recent delivery took place in January 2020. The itenery for that delivery included 775 Mortar Rounds and at 400 cases of rockets that were designed to be fired from trucks. The Republican Guard was the recepient of these weapons.  One concern is that the conduit of this transfer was Turkey. This shipment took place months before the conflict with Armenia. Did this shipment lead to the relationship that would allow Turkey to provide material support and fighters to Azerbaijan?

This is indeed interesting as on March 21st the voters of Congo-Brazzaville head to the polls to determine whether or not President Sassou-Nguesso will be the latest African leader to defy term limits to have a third term in office. It appears that we should expect some violence after these polls conclude. 


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Specialist in US Policy (Security, Assymetrical Operations and Business Development) towards Africa and Arab World (Washington DC – USA)

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