Africa Intelligence has reported that the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU), headed by Abdul Hamid Dbeibah, is quietly lobbying the United Nations (UN) to allow delivery of armored vehicles from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), despite the ongoing UN arms embargo on Libya, adding that Dbeibah sent a confidential letter dated 16 December 2022 and bearing the official stamp of the Libyan state to the United Nations Libya Sanctions Committee for those armored vehicles.
The French website said Dbeibah asked in the letter the UN to authorize the delivery of 45 armoured vehicles from the United Arab Emirates. The shipment is part of a contract made via the Libyan company: “Al Madina Company for Motor Vehicles Import”, and the request was made despite the UN arms embargo on Libya.
What Kinds of Vehicles?
The listed vehicles by Dbeibah are [21 Ford 550s, 15 TLC 76s, 5 Toyota Land Cruisers, 3 Toyota Hilux and 1 Lexus 570.]
“Officially, the vehicles are to be used to fight illegal immigration, especially in the Libyan South. However, this is an area where troops of the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar, Dbeibah’s eastern rival, are based. The prospect is of some concern for the UN as the risk of fresh clashes persists.” The website reported.
Response to Request
However, a month and a half after Dbeibah’s request, the sanctions committee has still not given its green light. The UN experts, who are conducting inquiries to find out how exactly the vehicles might be used by the GNU, have sought the support of several members of the Security Council, particularly the United States.
“India, which holds the rotating chairmanship of the Libya sanctions committee, is at the heart of the negotiations. The final decision could therefore ultimately fall to Indian diplomats, who are not particularly familiar with the issue.” The website explained.
IRINI, EU and Links to Violations
Africa Intelligence said the UN sanctions committee is also looking beyond this particular shipment and is interested in a much broader deal between Dbeibah and the UAE.
“That deal may have included ten armoured vehicles seized in October by the European Union’s (EU) IRINI naval mission, which aims to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.” The report said.
It added that IRINI vessels intercepted the [MV Meerdijk], a Dutch cargo ship sailing from Al Hamriyah in the emirate of Sharjah, and found armoured vehicles from the US-Emirati manufacturer “The Armored Group (TAG).”
The website added that the [Meerdijk] was diverted to Marseille, where the vehicles were put in storage. The ship was heading towards eastern Libya, which is under Haftar’s control, but UN experts believed they were in fact intended for the GNU in Tripoli.
“This is however questionable, given that the UAE have been seen since the beginning of the conflict as Haftar’s main financial and military backer.” The website said.
The October seizure caused a stir at the UN, the website said, adding tat a few days after the [Meerdijk] was intercepted, the UAE mission to the UN sent a note to the sanctions committee insisting it had notified it about the delivery of vehicles to eastern Libya.
“But this failed to convince the committee, which saw the [Meerdijk] shipment as a clear violation of the embargo, despite denials by both Tripoli and Emirati diplomats in New York.” The report further explained.
The website remarked that the seized vehicles are still in a warehouse in the port of Marseille, but they could be moved if the sanctions committee decided to prevent their delivery to Libya.
According to the report, several options are under consideration, including sending them to African states facing a jihadist threat. Such a move would however require the agreement of the 15 members of the sanctions committee.