Procurement: Gunrunners With Permission


July 4, 2010: U.S. officials have arrested Israeli arms supplier Hanoch Miller, and charged him with breaking the embargo against selling weapons to Somalia. Miller, and an American partner, are charged with supplying Somaliland with weapons for the last three years. Somaliland is one of the two statelets that comprise northern Somalia. These two areas have been better governed since breaking away from Somalia in the 1990s to form Puntland (2.5 million people) and Somaliland (3.5 million). The other two-thirds of the Somali population to the south, has been in perpetual chaos since 1990.

The situation up north is also beginning to come apart, as the tribal (clan) agreements that brought peace, and created Puntland and Somaliland, are unraveling. Somaliland is sliding towards civil war, while Puntland has been split between those who back (and profit from) the pirates, and those that don't. The result is no power that can stop the pirates.

The UN put an arms embargo on all of Somalia in 1992. But weapons have been brought in by air and via ship, ever since. Iran has been using nearby Eritrea has a base for airlifting weapons to Islamic radical groups in Somalia. Miller and his partner bought weapons in the Balkans, and elsewhere, had used renegade air transport companies to fly the stuff into Somaliland. It's believed that the U.S., and other Western nations, have been getting weapons to factions that oppose the powerful Islamic radical militias there. Similar covert gunrunning has supplied the governments of Puntland and Somaliland (which have cooperated with the United States). Miller and his partner may have had official (or unofficial) permission to sell weapons to Somaliland.