April 22, 2008

The Strategic Test of the An Yue Jiang

America appears to have won a round in the battle for southern Africa if, as Chinese foreign minstry spokesman Jiang Yu said today, the ship An Yue Jiang turns back without delivering its cargo --weapons for Zimbabwe's embattled ZANU regime headed by vilified strongman, Robert Mugabe.

Both Namibia and South Africa are firmly in Washington's control dating back at least to 2006 when then Deputy Commander of USEUCOM Gen. Charles "Chuck" Wald began plans for armed intervention if Zimbabwe crumbled. The situation is now more extreme as there is a disputed election and threat of a [insert color here] revolution for the USA to support or perhaps rescue.

Mugabe and the Zimbabwe African National Union regime are short of arms since their Chinese supplies can't get through. The vessel An Yue Jiang, said to be loaded with containers of bullets and grenades, is refused entry by every port in American control. Chinese influence in the region is lacking despite all the billions spent on investments and arms sales there.

What can we deduce? Even though southern Africa has less strategic value than many places the sea routes around the continent are vital to Chinese plans to import more oil not just from southern and eastern Africa but possibly South America (Venezuela, Brazil someday) as well. But the US Navy controls the area. The USS Ft. McHenry and HSV Swift were dispatched to the Gulf of Guinea in late 2007 and form part of a new "partnership" to control the region. Sea power still triumphs.

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