Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Illicit Turkish Arms Still Flow Into Libya Despite UN Embargo, by Romany Shaker

On Tuesday, Libyan port authorities at Al-Khoms seized two containers holding a large cache of weapons and ammunition that were delivered by the container ship BF ESPERANZA en route from Turkey. 

The illicit flow of Turkish weapons and ammunition – in defiance of a UN arms embargo – reinforces longstanding concerns over Ankara’s support for Islamist forces that worsen Libya’s instability.

According to a Libyan media report, the two intercepted containers held various types of pistols and rifles and around 4.8 million rounds of ammunition manufactured by two Turkish companies, Zoraki and Retay. Illicit transfers of Turkish weapons and ammunition have been a recurring problem. In December 2013, Egyptian customs officials reportedly intercepted four containers of weapons from Turkey. 

In September 2015, Greek authorities seized the freighter Haddad 1 carrying an undeclared shipment of weapons en route from Turkey to Libya. Greek coastguard also seized in January 2018 a Tanzanian-flagged Andromeda ship carrying explosive materials, reportedly loaded in the Turkish ports of Mersin and Iskenderum, allegedly on its way to the port of Misratah.

In Libya, the confiscation of the latest Turkish shipment trigged angry reactions. The Libyan National Army (LNA) demanded the UN to open an immediate investigation into the incident, blaming Turkey for undermining Libya’s security and stability. Soon after, the United Nations Support Mission in Libya condemned the shipment for violating the UN arms embargo, saying the UN Panel of Experts on Libya should investigate the incident.