By Sami Zaptia.
London, 19 August 2020:
The EU believes that its IRINI Operation has been successful in its role of enforcing the UN Security Council Resolution on the arms embargo on Libya.
IRINI has come in for a huge amount of criticism with the widely acknowledged amassing of weapons and mercenaries in Libya, in general and, along the de facto temporary Sirte-Jufra ceasefire line by both sides seen as evidence of its failure.
It has also been reported that IRINI was refused boarding rights to some ships approaching the Libyan coastline – believed to be transporting weapons.
The operation is also criticised for failing to stop tens if not hundreds of cargo flights into Libya, for both sides, believed to be transporting weapons. Moreover, critics say that EU and NATO members are among states that have broken the UN Libya arms embargo.
On Monday, during his meeting with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in Tripoli, Libya’s internationally recognized prime minister, Faiez Serraj said IRINI had not produced ”positive results”
His government’s press statement on IRINI said ”With regards to the European operation IRINI to implement the arms embargo on Libya, Serraj said that this operation did not stop the air bridge to transport weapons, equipment and mercenaries to the other (Hafter’s) side, and that there are countries that say that the operation produces positive results, while the reality, he added, confirms the contrary”.
Nevertheless, the EU feels the operation has been successful.
“Despite Operation Irini being born in the middle of the full Covid-19 pandemic and having started its activities at sea only on May 4”, Operation Commander EUNAVFOR MED, Admiral Fabio Agostini said in an a recent IRINI press release sent to Libya Herald.
“It has already produced some significant results in terms of collection of information and deterrence effect both in the arms embargo and in the oil smuggling sectors and it has proved to be impartial and balanced when appropriate assets are available.
Operation IRINI is not against anybody or any country but it has the task to implement the UNSCRs arms embargo throughout the whole Area of Operation regardless the actors involved.”
“In these three months” continued the Operation Commander, “IRINI’s assets performed more than 400 hailings and 6 friendly approaches (visit on board merchant vessels) monitoring the cargo disembarked in about 10 ports and landing points.
The Operation has also observed the activities in more than 25 airports and landing strips, and it has monitored more than 65 military flights or possible military-related air cargos going back and forth to Libya from different countries.”
“Thanks to information gained by IRINI assets, more than 190 groups of photos provided by SatCen (European Union Satellite Centre) and intelligence from Member States, the Operation Headquarters was able to issue more than 10 special reports to the United Nations Panel of Experts on Libya on possible violations of the arms embargo or oil smuggling in Libya, alerting on the external influences on both sides of the conflict in the country.”