Byelorussia considered by the West to be the main arm supplier to Muslim extremists. Though the Taliban possess US Stinger missiles

According to some sources in CIA and Israeli Debka magazine, Byelorussia is the main arm supplier to Islamite radicals. Only in first half of 2001, Byelorussia signed arm selling contracts with Arab, Palestinian and Albanian Muslim extremists in the sum of over $ 500 million, the sources report. The last dictatorial regime in Europe seems to play the key role in arm and military equipment supply to Islamite radicals and terrorists in Middle Asia, in the Middle East and in the Balkans. As an ex-USSR republic, Byelorussia inherited a huge amount of arms, later, after its arm production capacity expansion, Byelorussia took a good position to keep its place among the dozen of states exporting arm to the Third World countries. According to intelligence’s documents, Byelorussia with its population of only 10 million people possess 1,700 T-72 tanks. Poland, the new NATO member state with a four-time bigger population, that borders upon Byelorussia, possesses only a half of this amount. “Byelorussia is one of the most secret countries what about its arm contracts, and it is most likely one of the most irresponsible countries one even could imagine,” – arm export expert of Stockholm SIPRI Institute, Simon Weseman says. The fact that Byelorussian President Alexandr Lukachenko who brought the country to international isolation and is being blamed by the West for his non-democratic behaviour gave him a new impulse for selling arm to the countries and organizations that are unfriendly to the US and West Europe. As far as official information from Minsk about arm export is surrounded with secret, Western observers are forced to base their evaluations on reconnaissance documents, information received from analysts – intelligence officers and diplomats, as well as from Eastern European military and political magazines with sources close to Byelorussian arm sale. For example, influential Polish political magazine Wpost writes that already in 1994, the first year of Lukashenko’s governing, Byelorussia supplied to Tajikistan submachine guns and armoured troop-carriers – arm that soon got to Islamite militants engaged in civilian war in Afghanistan. Wpost also reports that Byelorussia, while violating UN Security Council’s resolutions, assisted Iraqi Air Forces in modernization of their air-defence systems with ZA-3 missiles’ components, as well as with equipment used for modernization of Iraqi surface-to-air missile systems. While Lukashenko fully denies accusations of arm supplies to Iraq, Weseman notices that he would not be surprised to know that Byelorussia also carried out a technical support. Lukashenko’s efforts to earn currency that is so necessary for Byelorussian economy – one of the purest countries in Europe – seems to be boundless, as well as arm is boundlessly sold by Byelorussia to everybody who is ready to pay for it, especially to Islamite militants who cannot buy it through legal channels. According to sources in CIA and in Israeli Debka magazine, Byelorussia supplied arm to Albanian rebels in Kosovo and Macedonia: submachine guns, shells, antitank mines and ammunition. The rebels actively used all this in their fight against Serbia and Macedonia – two Slavic nations who are Russia’s main allies in the Balkans. Against this background it sounds ironically, that Lukashenko, the most ardent supporter of the Russian military campaign in Chechnya, is at the same time an important arm supplier to the Islamite world. As far as the fight against Islamite fundamentalist terrorism seems to be the main point of Russia’s new relation to the West, some European observers hope that Moscow will use its political and economical influence upon Lukashenko to put an end to Byelorussia’s arm supplies to the radical Islamite world.

Comments: Where CIA does not possess enough information, it compensates this lack with its fantasies. Moreover, after the West failed last year in its attempt to replace Lukashenko, it used a universal panacea: accusation of supporting international terrorism. So, what is its logic: as far as several years ago Byelorussia supplied arm to the legal government of Tajikistan, now it is responsible for the arm has got to the extremists! And what about using the same criteria to US, whose Stinger missiles have got to the Taliban’s hands? As for Byelorussian arm supplies to Kosovo Liberation Army and to its numerous branches, CIA seems to be too modest here… Everybody knows who bears the palm in this operation.

Translated by Vera Solovieva

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