Tripoli, 15 June 2013:
Libya has struck a €38 million deal with the Czech Republic to buy 350 amphibious armoured vehicles, according to Czech newspaper the Prague Daily Monitor.
The order will include the amphibious BRDM, a wheeled combat reconnaissance vehicle armed with two machine guns, and the BVP-1, a tracked infantry fighting vehicle. Both types are amphibious, able to operate on land and sea. A further 300 vehicles already owned by the military are to be modernised, in Libya, as part of the deal.
The arms embargo on Libya was partially lifted in March this year, allowing the country to purchase: “Non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, and related technical assistance or training.”
Libya is not yet permitted to buy arms, although this may not be fully understood by the Czech companies involved in the deal. Excalibur Army, Tatra and VOP CZ, firms which will supply and upgrade vehicles, are apparently concerned that the deal may fall through because ammunition cannot be included in the sale.
A representative from one of the companies told the Czech media that the government would not allow ammunition to be exported to Libya for the time being. A spokesperson for the country’s Foreign Ministry apparently said that this was because the UN had noted that there had been illegal distribution of military material in Libya. However, it is probable that Libya already has ammunition suitable for use with the new vehicles.
Before the revolution, the Czech Republic was one of the top ten states supplying Libya with weaponry, munitions and related equipment, following the 2003 lifting of the 1992 arms embargo on the country.
It sold almost €2 million worth of military vehicles to Libya in 2007 and, the year before, sold €421,000 worth of toxic agents to the country, according to Amnesty International’s 2011 report ‘Arms Transfers to the Middle East and North Africa: Lessons for an Effective Arms Treaty.’ [/restrict]