US: EU mission not doing enough to halt arms shipments to Libya

A European Union mission to stop arms shipments to war-torn Libya is not “serious”, a senior US diplomat has said, accusing the bloc of not doing enough to end violations of a UN arms embargo by countries such as Russia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.

David Schenker, the assistant secretary for Near East Affairs, said on Thursday the EU was biased and criticised only Turkey’s involvement in the conflict.

“The only interdictions that they [EU] are doing is of Turkish military material that they’re sending to Libya. Nobody is interdicting Russian aircraft, nobody is interdicting Emirati aircraft, nobody is interdicting the Egyptians,” Schenker told German Marshall Fund think-tank during a virtual discussion.

“They could at least, if they were serious, I think, call them out – call out all parties of the conflict when they violate the arms embargo,” he said.

Libya, a major oil producer, has been mired in turmoil since a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi. The sometimes chaotic war that has drawn in outside powers and a flood of foreign arms and mercenaries.

It is now split between two rival administrations vying for power: the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) based in the capital, Tripoli, and a parallel eastern-based administration allied to renegade military commander Khalifa Haftar.

The EU has set up Operation Irini to enforce the UN embargo, which has been repeatedly violated since its introduction in 2011.

Analysts say the fact that the EU mission deals primarily with naval violations of the embargo raises questions about its effectiveness.

 

“There is no doubt that Egypt and the UAE will emerge as the biggest winners. The Turks have no option but to ship their weapons by sea, and this is the terrain that is now being policed by the EU.”

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