Libya: government in tobruk wants end to arms embargo

The UN Security Council’s Libya expert panel urgently recommends the formation of an international coast guard because of the many weapons being shipped into the country

Things are not looking good in Libya. The government in Tobruk, which cooperates militarily and politically with Egypt, is pressing the UN sanctions committee to lift the arms embargo (UN Resolution 2174) so that it can take on an enemy that can now be placarded with the black flag of IS as particularly dangerous and clearly extreme Islamist.

"Libya asks for an end to the current arms embargo at a special UN Security Council meeting on the fight against the IS terrorist militia", reported the SZ on 19. February. As if there were not enough weapons in Libya yet.

The fact that there are enough weapons in circulation is also confirmed by a recent report of the UN Security Council’s Libya expert panel. According to Reuters, experts state that there is an uncontrolled import and export of weapons – and ol – in Libya at a rate that makes it urgent to establish an international coast guard – "international maritime force" – to be formed. As if there were not and had not already been enough international interference in Libya.

agypt had recently flown sensational airstrikes on sites in Libya, which were proudly portrayed on state television as successful retaliatory strikes against IS. The fact that civilians also lost their lives in the process was not emphasized as much, resp. not at all. But such attacks create bad blood, as Egypt must have found in previous military interventions. One effect of such attacks is to unite groups that previously went their separate ways but now have a common enemy.


This was the case, for example, with the militias in Misrata, which were split into hundreds of groups after the United Arab Emirates, with Egypt’s help, launched airstrikes against targets in Libya in the summer of 2014. The extent to which Egypt was involved remained vague. But it was enough for groups in Misrata to join the alliance "Operation Morning Red (Fadjr)" who had previously been on the move.

The reason for the move is interesting: the groups felt more committed and closer to their local communities than to the crude Fadjr thing, where the ideological orientation – Islamism – gets a cruder weight. When the logic of war comes into play, relations are reordered according to other obligations, poles are formed where previously divergent interests could be observed.

And it is precisely this polarization that is being reinforced with the appearance of IS in Libya. So far, many rumors and propaganda still obscure an accurate picture of the IS jihadists’ presence in the country. It is known that parts of the Libyan Islamists of Ansar-al-Sharia have sworn allegiance to the IS, but exactly what the connections to Libyan militias are, how anchored the IS is in this unclear network, what the command and control structure is like in concrete terms, has not yet been determined.

Split Haftar as commander-in-chief of the Libyan army?

In Egypt, after the gruesome demonstration of the murder of Egyptian foreign workers in Libya by IS militias (IS kills Coptic hostages in Libya), this is seen differently; especially as new kidnappings of Coptic Egyptians raise fears of the worst. Western nations also see it differently, stirred up by the murder video: The propaganda of the IS or its supporters. its supporters arouses fears ("A long crust against the crusading states"), which may distort the actual position of IS, its influence, its presence in Libya.

On the other hand, this also strengthens the opponent’s argumentation, see the request to lift the arms embargo. The fact that General Haftar, who was previously on the closest of terms only with certain, albeit powerful, parts of the Tobruk government and the rest of the Libyan army, is now on the verge of being appointed as commander-in-chief of the army, according to Gulfnews, which quotes a spokesman for the Tobruk government (HoR), is a sign that a reading of the conflicts in Libya is gaining the upper hand that is once again exposing the country to a division that does not bode well.

Haftar, who is backed by agyten and has long-standing ties to the CIA, is understood to be fighting Islamists – and now IS, terrorists.

Hope for Bruckenbauer Algeria and Tunisia

The parallel parliament to Tobruk "House of Representatives" (HoR) – recognized as the official representative body by the UN, the U.S. and the main Western states – is based in the capital Tripoli and has retained the name of the previous parliament: General National Congress (GNC). According to information from observers, strange signs are indeed coming from there, which in any case indicate that they are not clearly distancing themselves from the jihadist groups: "The nature of the relationship is really not clear."

But, as International Crisis Group analyst Claudia Gazzini points out, it is equally clear that the GNC is not a monolithic bloc. Libyan Muslim Brotherhood is a rough bloc, but there are other factions, some spectrum, there are also individuals with jihadist background, but whether there are any present direct links to radical groups is diffuse. This is likely to change if the friend-foe divide is further sharpened.

Which is why there is some hope in the negotiations organized by the United Nations in Geneva in mid- and late January. There, members of both parliaments met under the leadership of Bernardino Leon, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General to build bridges. The distances are rough, but not as impenetrable as in the case of Syria, at least the International Crisis Group’s interventions suggest.

This think tank has also been accused in the past of being close to interest groups that have pushed for interventions but have done nothing better. But in the case of Libya, the Crisis Group’s recommendation is for the inclusion of Algeria and Tunisia. These are immediate neighbors that have different goals than the military government in Egypt, Turkey, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates, and they do not rely on polarization.

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