Tanks Deal Between Yemen and the Czech Republic Confirmed by Czech PM [Archives:1999/39/Front Page]

September 27 1999

Some local newspapers mentioned the latest deal between Yemen and Poland, in which Yemen bought around 50 Soviet-made tanks and got only 20 tanks, and suspending the 30 others after news came stating that the tanks are being transported to the Sudanese shores. Reports said that the whole containers unloaded the tanks in Sudan. Local and foreign observers say that the islamist groups in Yemen were behind the support to Sudan in delivering them heavy artillery including the 20 tanks, to show which were then exported to Sudan. 
Analysts suggest that the Yemeni government was not notified with the deal with Poland, and that an investigation is taking place to know the exact circumstances of the deal. Some indications show that islamists with influence in the government and in other sectors of the Yemeni community were the negotiators with the Polish government in the first deal, and with the Czech government in the current deal. Such deals are thought to be quite easy to strike, especially that the tanks are of old brands that are no more used in Europe and most countries. Yemen’s army has more advanced tanks of brands T-72 and higher, and hence it does not need such older brands. The prices of these old branded tanks are very cheap, and reach USD 40,000 as maximum. In other words, one tank is cheaper even than a Toyota – Land Cruiser branded car imported from Japan. The tanks that have been given to Sudan, are most probably for the use of the Sudanese army to further increase the pressure on the attacks of the Secessionists in the south. Sudan is currently under a military embargo with the excuse that it is providing refuge for Islamist fundamentalists. 
The question being asked is: “Are these tanks and weapons which are being transported to Sudan, just a simple type of aid to the Muslim brothers in Sudan? Or is it just a Yemeni traders taking advantage of the embargo on Sudan, and using Yemen’s official stamps and documents to be as a medium between those European countries and Sudan and gain money out of these deals?”