Tanks (were) en route to South Sudan

Certain aspects of the saga of the weapon-laden Ukrainian ship hijacked by pirates two weeks ago never seemed quite right, as articulated here by The New York Times‘ Jeffrey Gettleman:

Why was the ship left unguarded in some of the most dangerous waters in the world, given its cargo of 33 tanks, 150 grenade launchers, 6 antiaircraft guns and heaps of ammunition? Why does Kenya, known for its wild animals, not its wars, need so many tanks? And if it does need tanks, why suddenly switch from British armor, which it has used for decades, to incompatible Eastern-bloc equipment?

The BBC now seems to have uncovered some hard evidence to answer these questions:

A copy of the freight manifest appears to show contracts for the hardware were made by the Kenyan Ministry of Defence on behalf of South Sudan’s government.

Uh-oh. This is bad P.R. for Kenya (perhaps it needs a spokesman more like the pirates‘), but it is worse news for Sudan, where an “arms race” between North and South would be a bad sign in the run-up to next year’s important national elections.