The Sierra Leone-flagged MV Nour M was detained in Greek waters on Friday. The 75-metre cargo is said to be a Lebanese general cargo vessel which left the Ukraine on October 25th. It made a stop in Istanbul on October 30th and remained there until November 3. There is some question as to what the ship did in the period it took to get from the Ukraine to Istanbul. For a ship of that class, it should have taken 30-40 hours to make the voyage. Instead, it took the Nour M 5 days. Once it left Turkey, its stated destination was Libya. Onboard, Greek authorities found 20,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles, and “significant quantities” of ammunition and high explosives. The media is speculating that the shipment was on its way to Syria.
So, the question becomes what was the planned destination of the weapons. 20,000 assault rifles along with ammo and explosives would cause a significant amount of chaos no matter where they ended up. In Syria, it could significantly boost the ability of the rebels to launch attacks on government held areas of the country. However, the ship is Lebanese and had left the Ukraine. That would lead one to believe that it would not have gone to the rebels if it had a destination of Syria. Also, it seems unlikely that if it were to go to bolster the rebels who are in turn being supported by Turkey that Greek authorities would have been tipped off to stop the vessel. On the other hand, if it was meant for the Syrian government there are safer and more direct means of transport.
There is also the chance that it was bound for Libya or even Egypt; but again there are conflicting forces involved. Ultimately the shipment was supposed to go somewhere and would have been a major factor in one of the many conflicts currently afflicting the Middle East. This shipment and its ultimate confiscation is a part of a much bigger story and needs to be watched closely.