UAE, Sudan, Jordan, ‘break arms embargo to back Haftar’

UN draft report obtained by Al Jazeera says member states gave weapons to warring parties in Libya, violating sanctions.

Libya fighters
A fighter loyal to Libya's UN-recognised government (GNA) holds an AK-47 during clashes with forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar on the outskirts of Tripoli [File: Goran Tomasevic/Reuters]
Correction10 Nov 2019
The headline on this story has been corrected. A previous version said Turkey was among the countries which had backed Haftar. This was incorrect. The UN report said Turkey also broke the arms embargo, but as it supports the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord.

Al Jazeera has obtained a draft copy of a report by United Nations which reveals that member states – the United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Turkey and Jordan – have violated the arms embargo imposed on Libya.

The report by the Panel of Experts of the International Sanctions Committee on Libya said that Sudan and its Lieutenant General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo, also known as Hemeti, did not abide by UN sanctions to ban military support to the parties involved in the Libyan conflict, noting that 1,000 Sudanese Rapid Support Forces were sent to eastern Libya in July.

Hemeti sent Sudanese troops to Benghazi in order to enable the forces of renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar to attack the capital Tripoli, the report added.

A number of sources were quoted as saying that the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces were later stationed in al-Jufra, an area in southern Libya.

The report also stated that the UAE violated the arms embargo by providing Haftar with an advanced air defence system that was installed at the al-Jufra base and near the city of Gharyan. It also provided him with a warship that was modified with guns and other offensive equipment.

“The UAE, Jordan and Turkey provided weapons periodically and sometimes blatantly with little effort to conceal the source,” the experts said in a summary attached to their study.

Turkey, which declares its support for the internationally-recognised Government of National Accord (GNA), provided military equipment to its forces, from armoured vehicles to unmanned aerial vehicles, according to the same report.

UN system ‘broken’ by Libya conflict

Haftar’s forces have been waging an armed campaign on Tripoli since April 4 under the pretext of ending “militia rule” but have been unable to penetrate the capital’s walls.

The clashes have killed about 1,100 people, including dozens of civilians, and wounded about 6,000 others. The number of displaced people exceeded 120,000, according to UN agencies.

Anas el-Gomati, founder and director of the Sadeq Institute, a Libya-focused think tank in London, told Al Jazeera: “The danger is not that these revelations are anything new or old, but what the UN Security Council will do with them.

“We are not seeing the massive elephant in the room, which is that Libya can be the example of where the international community and the multi-electoral system of the UN that was supposed to preserve global peace has actually failed and is being broken by the Libyan conflict,” he continued.

“If we go back to April 4, let’s remember that Haftar sparked this war in the presence of the head of the UN Antonio Guterres on his first trip to Libya [who] left within 24 hours without mentioning Khalifa Haftar’s name.”

Haftar has been sharing the documentation of his war crimes for the last four years to intimidate his opponents in Libya, Gomati said.

“He wants to send out the same signal he did when he launched that offensive in front of Guterres – which is, ‘No one can stop me, not even the UN,’.”

‘Textbook example of foreign interference’

The report underscores accusations in May by UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame, who said at the time that Libya had become “a textbook example” of foreign interference in local conflicts.

“[Between] six and 10 countries are permanently interfering in Libya’s problem,” funnelling arms, cash and military advice to the country, Salame had warned.

Last July, the GNA demanded answers after Paris conceded French missiles were found at a base used by Haftar.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Taher Siala asked his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian to “urgently explain” how the missiles “reached Haftar’s forces, when they were delivered and how”.

While France’s defence ministry admitted to purchasing the US-made Javelin missiles, it denied supplying them to Haftar, saying French forces operating in the war-torn country had lost track of them after they were judged to be defective.

However, the French ministry statement did not explain how the missiles were lost, fuelling suspicions that Paris is backing Haftar on the ground.

Source: Al Jazeera