up in arms II

A couple of thoughts have come in on the Angola-arms-Falcone post, including one from dear Rafael Marques de Morais who wrote the Guardian report. He writes:

‘The day after Falcone’s conviction for arms trafficking to Angola, there was quite some commotion outside his luxurious residential compound in Luanda’s exclusive neighbourhood of Talatona. The “Ouro Verde” condominium, as it is known, became the quiet symbol of a parallel structure of power and of private indirect government, unbeknown to even most government officials. In this condominium of some eight residences, Falcone entertained and handled state affairs with the high and mighty of the presidential inner circle, particularly the top intelligence officers, for whom a house was permanently assigned. Very few people are aware that, besides the hundreds of millions of dollars Falcone amassed from illegal arms trade with Angola, he has also become a prominent player in oil deals, including fingers in several Chinese ventures in Angola. On some of the Chinese multibillion dollars’ projects in Angola, like housing, Falcone is earning a modicum of 5% of the total funds involved, as a middleman. His arrest is widely felt with relief among several presidential and government circles for his undue influence on the President of the Republic, José Eduardo dos Santos, and the way he continues to milk the Angolan state for no good reason other than being a master of corruption.’

Leon Kukkuk, who has worked for the UN, among others, in Luanda, writes:

‘It may be worth pointing out that the Troika negotiated the peace with lots of contradictions (apart from arms embargos) as they protected their own interests, then asked the UN to oversee it. The UN should not be absolved from any of their own shortcomings but they were given something hopelessly impractical to implement. A special mention must be given to Robert Fowler. Until he came around, UN sanctions were just empty rhetoric. He suddenly demanded money and investigated violations (unfortunately of one side only) and for the first time in UN history came up with detailed reports in real time that was of actual value (one of them identifying amongst other places the port of Luanda as an entry point for weapons to UNITA). It is a pity [you can say that again, ed!] he could not have done the same investigations regarding the oil side of financing the war. I heard recently that many of the specialists Fowler employed to do the investgations suddenly found their careers stalled. Public rhetoric and strategic interests are very different things. Same as Falcone and friends who were only sentenced years after they had outlived their usefulness.’