Gaddafi intercepts weapons from Qatar

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Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have intercepted several boats carrying weapons from Qatar, including a hundred assault rifles and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

Al Jazeera reports Moussa Ibrahim, a Libyan government spokesman, as saying on Monday that that 11 rebels had been captured transporting weapons to shore near the town of Janzour, west of Tripoli.
“In the early hours of this morning [Monday] around 4 o’clock our security forces intercepted the submission of many weapons from a ship that raises the Tunisian flag to two small Libyan boats with some Libyan rebels on board the boats,” he said.
“I was told that this was the load of one major container, so this would be something like one out of ten or something like that,” Ibrahim added.

Foreign journalists were taken to Tripoli’s port and shown the weapons and ammunition destined for rebels fighting against Gaddafi’s regime, but the reporters were not shown the captured boats.

The weapons included roughly 100 Belgian-made FN assault rifles. Some of the boxes of ammunition were marked as coming from Qatar’s armed forces.

Qatar is one of the leading rebel suppliers, selling oil on their behalf and providing them with weapons and ammunition. France has also delivered weapons to the rebels and last week, William Hague, British foreign secretary, announced that the UK was sending 5000 sets of body armour, 6,650 uniforms, 5000 high-visibility vests and communications equipment, to police officers in rebel-held areas.

Last month Le Figaro newspaper said France had parachuted “large amounts” of weapons, including rocket launchers, assault rifles, machine guns and anti-tank missiles into the Jebel Nafusa region of Libya to prevent troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from overrunning the region.
“There were humanitarian drops because the humanitarian situation was worsening and at one point it seemed the security situation was threatening civilians who could not defend themselves,” armed forces spokesman Thierry Burkhard told Reuters.
“France therefore also sent equipment allowing them to defend themselves, comprising light weapons and munitions,” he said, adding that the drop in early June had included medicine and food.

Up until the French drop, rebels had been receiving weapons primarily from Qatar through its bastion in Benghazi to the east of the country.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said supplying arms was a “crude violation” of UN Security Council Resolution 1970, which imposed a comprehensive arms embargo in February.

Paris says it has not violated the UN embargo because the weapons it gave the rebels were needed to protect civilians from an imminent attack, which a later resolution seems to endorse.

France, Britain and the United States say the air campaign against Libya will not end until Gaddafi falls. The war has become the bloodiest of the “Arab Spring” uprisings sweeping North Africa and the Middle East.

France’s and Qatar’s weapons supplies, while possibly increasing the insurgent threat to Gaddafi, highlights a dilemma for NATO. More than 90 days into its bombing campaign, Gaddafi is still in power and no breakthrough is in sight, making some NATO members feel they should help the rebels more actively, something the poorly-armed insurgents have encouraged. But if they do that, they risk fracturing the international coalition over how far to go.

Russia is not involved in the air campaign, but its stance could add to reservations among some NATO countries over the air war. Moscow could also challenge Paris at the UN Security Council, where both are veto-wielding permanent members.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said it was up to the Security Council to determine what is permitted by its resolutions. Even before news of the French arms supply emerged, fissures were emerging in the coalition over the high cost, civilian casualties and the elusiveness of a military victory.