Mar 12, 2020 16:10 UTC
  • UAE pouring arms, military supplies into Libya despite UN arms embargo

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is pouring arms and military supplies into Libya despite a United Nations arms embargo against the war-ravaged country, a report says.

According to reports, 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.

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.

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 report 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.