By Sami Zaptia.
London, 26 January 2020:
The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) said in a statement released yesterday that it deeply regrets the continued ‘‘blatant violations of the arms embargo’’ in Libya, ‘‘even after the commitments made in this regard by concerned countries during the International Conference on Libya in Berlin’’ held on 19 January 2020.
It said that the 12 January truce agreed by the internationally recognized Libyan government based in Tripoli and the Khalifa Hafter-led Libyan National Army (LNA), which had led to ‘‘remarked reduction of hostilities in Tripoli’’, has provided a much-needed respite for civilians in the capital.
However, it warned that this fragile truce is now threatened by the ‘‘ongoing transfer of foreign fighters, weapons, ammunition and advanced systems to the parties by member states, including several who participated in the Berlin Conference’’.
UNSMIL reported that ‘‘over the last ten days, numerous cargo and other flights have been observed landing at Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts of the country providing the parties with advanced weapons, armoured vehicles, advisers and fighters’’. The mission condemns these ongoing violations, which risk plunging the country into a renewed and intensified round of fighting.
It called on the concerned countries to live up to their commitments, and unequivocally and fully respect and implement the arms embargo in Libya established by the UN Security Council Resolution 1970 (2011) and subsequent Resolutions.
The UNSMIL statement comes on the back of a Ministerial meeting in Algiers from Libya’s neighbouring countries a week after the much-heralded Berlin conference on Libya.
Last Thursday the internationally recognized Libyan government led by Faiez Serraj called on the international community to shoulder its responsibility in protecting Mitiga airport.
The call came after missiles were targeted towards the airport on Wednesday leading to its closure. The call by the Serraj administration also comes after Khalifa Hafter’s spokesperson, Ahmed Mesmari, announced that Tripoli and Mitiga airport were a ‘‘no-fly zone’’. He threatened any military or civilian aircraft flying over Tripoli with destruction.
The catalyst for this was ostensibly a drone that the Khalifa Hafter forces claim they had shot down after it had taken off from Mitiga. The forces defending Tripoli claimed that it was they who had shot the drone down which they claim belonged to the Hafter forces.
All these developments come in the shadow of the much-heralded Berlin conference on Libya meant to cement the temporary truce into a more permanent ceasefire. The conference’s final communique and United Nation’s support portended decreased international involvement and arms supplies to Libya and a move to political dialogue.
Sadly, the immediate realities post the Berlin Libya conference means that Berlin is in danger of being no more effective in finding a peaceful solution to the Libyan crisis than the outcomes of the Abu Dhabi, Palermo or Paris conferences on Libya. All these conferences continue to reflect the disunited stance on Libya by the Security Council and the EU.