UN: Violations of Libya arms embargo increasing

Published March 13th, 2016 - 08:00 GMT
Members of the Libyan judicial police pose after a graduation ceremony. (AFP/Mahmud Turkia)
Members of the Libyan judicial police pose after a graduation ceremony. (AFP/Mahmud Turkia)

A United Nations report has blamed multiple countries, companies, and individuals for sending weapons to rival militant factions in Libya in violation of an international arms embargo on the divided country.

Among those involved in breaking the arms ban are two US companies, an Italian broker working with a Libyan national in Britain representing the Tripoli-based government in the North African country as well as countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Ukraine, according to the UN document, cited in a number of press reports since Friday.

The investigative report was submitted to the UN Security Council in January and is due for public release in near future.

The Security Council, the reports say, will consider evidence cited by UN investigators in the document and decide on possible measures against member countries, firms and individuals involved.   

The Council imposed the weapons ban on Libya and all warring factions within the North African nation during its popular uprising in 2011, as part of a Western-led military intervention against long time Libyan dictator Moammar Gaddafi, who was eventually toppled and killed by Libyan revolutionaries.

The arms embargo, however, has remained in effect since then as Libya continues to struggle in a bid to achieve political and security stability.

The weapons cited by UN probers were reportedly intended for Libya’s two rival governments as well as their affiliated militia forces, which have been clashing for control of the oil-rich country in the past years.

One of Libya’s rival governments is based in the capital, Tripoli, and the other, which enjoys international recognition, is based in the eastern city of Tobruk. The two administrations have yet to fully accept a UN-brokered deal on establishing a unity government in the war-ravaged nation.

Authorities from the Tobruk-based government have confirmed receiving armaments from friendly allies but insist they are essential for self-defense.

“I don’t think the Security Council should have any say in who the Libyan government buys or receives weapons from,” said an official with the parliament, Abdulsalam Nasiya, as cited in a report by US-based dailyThe Wall Street Journal.

The report further cited a Tripoli-based parliament member, Saad Sharada, as saying that his political allies have only received military personnel carriers while denying procurement of weapons.

Arms and ammunition are continuing to be transferred to various parties in Libya, with the involvement of member states and complex networks of brokering companies that do not appear to be deterred by the arms embargo,” said the UN report as cited by the US daily.

The report includes more than 100 pages of documentation including copies of arms orders, invoices, end-user certificates, as well as serial numbers and photos of weaponry that were previously held by national armies but ended up in Libya.

UN investigators state that the UAE approved weapons shipments to the Tobruk-based regime and also allowed its national companies to sell weapons to that faction.

Egyptian military hardware, including attack helicopters, ended up in the arsenal of the Tobruk administration, the report said, citing photos of the helicopters, including tail numbers.

Additionally, Turkish arms makers have shipped weapons to Libya, while Ukrainian national companies are alleged to have also been involved in shipping armaments.

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