The UAE has sent more than 100 arms deliveries to Libya by air since mid-January, said a flight-tracking data provider on Wednesday, as the shattered North African country is thought to brace for yet another round of fighting.
My list of 100 flights from the ??#UAE to ??#Libya and/or ??Sidi Barrani, #Egypt, is quoted in this article in The @guardian by @burke_jason ?? https://t.co/sSSry6tdoo— Gerjon | חריון (@Gerjon_) March 11, 2020
Since 2014, two rival seats of power have emerged in the North African country: the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, known as the Government of National Accord (GNA), and another group based in the eastern city of Tobruk, supported militarily by rebel forces, collectively known as the so-called Libyan National Army (LNA), under the command of renegade General Khalifa Haftar.
The rebel leader, who is primarily supported by the UAE, Egypt, and Jordan, launched a deadly offensive to capture the capital Tripoli, the seat of the GNA, in April last year. Despite intense fighting, he has so far failed to achieve his objective of ousting the GNA, and the offensive has stalled outside the city.
Updated list of flights from the ??UAE (Sweihan Air Base) to (Western ??Egypt or) ??Libya: over a period of almost a month, the total now equals 64 flights.
Only 2 flights over the past 3 days, way below the average – is the airlift coming to an end? pic.twitter.com/X8sYKMzUMy— Gerjon | חריון (@Gerjon_) February 10, 2020
According to a report by the Guardian on Wednesday, most of the suspect Emirati flights leave military bases in the UAE, while some others depart from a UAE-run base in Eritrea, where a dictatorial regime is in charge and there is almost no international monitoring.
“In all, the flights are thought to have carried about 5,000 metric tons of cargo into Libya in very large chartered transport planes that land at an airport close to Benghazi, Haftar’s coastal stronghold, or in western Egypt, from where their loads are thought to be trucked into Libya,” the report added.
The Guardian further noted that these shipments might contain heavier artillery plus other arms and ammunition. The LNA has recently pounded the center of Tripoli with shelling from long-range artillery.
The shipments “may also include communications technology, spare parts, basic equipment and other non-lethal items necessary for fighting a war,” the report cited unnamed experts as saying.
Furthermore, many of the flights stop at Aqaba, the Jordanian port city, it added.
In a report on Monday, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) described the UAE as a huge importer of arms, making it “the eighth-largest arms importer in the world in 2015–19.”
Since 2011, the UN Security Council has placed an arms embargo on Libya, banning the supply of arms and military equipment to and from the North African country.
However, the embargo has been frequently violated by a number of countries. Last month, UN Deputy Special Representative to Libya Stephanie Williams condemned the ongoing breaches of the UN weapons embargo, saying it “has become a joke, we all really need to step up here.”
She regretted at the time that the embargo had been violated by land, sea, and air., but added that “it needs to be monitored and there needs to be accountability.” She also warned that the North African country was now awash with illegally-imported advanced weapons.
Situation in Libya deeply troubling, UN warnsA United Nations (UN) official says the situation in Libya is “deeply troubling” and a fragile ceasefire in the crisis-hit country has seen dozens of violations.
Numerous attempts to bring about peace between the two sides of the conflict have failed, except for a shaky ceasefire brokered by Russia and Turkey in January, which has been violated dozens of times but continues to stand in one way or another.
Back in January and in an attempt to help establish a permanent ceasefire in Libya, Germany hosted a multinational summit involving concerned parties. Leaders and high-ranking officials from Turkey, Russia, Egypt, France, Italy, Britain, and the United States, as well as Haftar and Sarraj, attended the summit.
The final communiqué of the summit called on all the parties, among other things, to “fully respect” the arms embargo.
The situation in Libya has also been compounded as a result of a move by Turkey, an ally of Sarraj’s government, to deploy troops and transfer allied militants from Syria to the North African country.
Libya plunged into chaos in 2011 when a popular uprising and a NATO intervention led to the ouster of long-time dictator Muammar Gaddafi.