Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey repeatedly violated an arms embargo on Libya and it is “highly probable” a foreign attack aircraft was responsible for a deadly strike on a migrant detention centre, according to UN experts monitoring implementation of sanctions on Libya.
A report to the UN Security Council Libya sanctions committee, seen by Reuters, also accused Sudan and the head of Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo – known by his nickname Hemedti – of violating UN sanctions by deploying 1 000 Sudanese troops to Libya.
The UN missions of Jordan, Turkey and Sudan did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the accusations in the confidential report, due to be made public next month.
“The transfers (of military material) to Libya were repeated and sometimes blatant with scant regard paid to compliance with sanctions measures,” independent UN experts wrote.
The UAE ambassador to the UN, Lana Nusseibeh, could not comment on the findings of the report as she had not seen it, but said the UAE was “firmly committed to complying with its obligations under the Libya sanctions regime and all relevant Security Council resolutions.”
The UN Security Council issued a statement in July urging countries not to intervene or exacerbate the conflict in Libya, but any action over sanctions violations reported by UN experts is unlikely.
Libya descended into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising that overthrew leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Thousands died in sporadic fighting since 2014 between factions in the east and west. The violence allowed militants and migrant smugglers to flourish, hit Libya’s oil industry and divide key institutions in the country.
Seven months ago commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive against the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) and its forces in Tripoli. The war is at an impasse.
“The frontline of fighting has remained fluid but constrained in narrow bounds since April. Neither side has the military capability to effectively decide the outcome to their advantage,” the UN experts wrote.
They accuse Jordan and the UAE of supplying military material to Haftar’s forces, which prompted Libya’s Government of National Accord to ask Turkey for help.
“Both parties to the conflict received weapons, military equipment, technical support and non-Libyan fighters in non-compliance with the sanctions measures related to arms,” the experts wrote.
“Jordan, Turkey and the UAE routinely and sometimes blatantly supplied weapons with little effort to disguise the source. The panel also identified Chadian and Sudanese armed groups in support of forces affiliated to the GNA and LNA.”
The report accuses Sudan and Hemedti of deploying 1 000 Sudanese troops to Libya in July to guard critical national infrastructure so Haftar’s forces could focus on the Tripoli offensive.
Libya is one a main departure point for migrants to Europe and has an estimated migrant population of 640,000. Boatloads of migrants leave frequently from Libya’s north-western coast, though the number attempting the crossing dropped sharply since mid-2017.
More than 50 people were killed and 130 more injured when a July air strike hit a migrant detention centre in Tripoli.
The UN experts found it was “highly probable” the attack was conducted by a modern attack aircraft using precision-guided munitions “owned and operated by a member state acting in direct support” of Haftar.
“The panel reserves identification of this member state until further physical evidence or imagery emerges to increase attribution confidence levels and continues to investigate circumstances of the air strikes,” the report said.