The United Arab Emirates has supplied attack helicopters and other military aircraft to the Libyan forces of strongman Khalifa Haftar, in violation of a UN arms embargo, according to a UN report. Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which refuses to recognise the UN-backed government in Tripoli, has made inroads in fighting and now controls all the major cities and military bases in the south of Libya.
“The United Arab Emirates have been providing both material support and direct support to LNA, which have significantly increased the air support available to LNA,” said the report by a UN panel of experts. They were able to trace deliveries of Belarus-made attack helicopters back to the United Arab Emirates and provided photographs of the buildup at the Khadim air base in Haftar’s stronghold of eastern Libya.
The panel investigated information that the Mi-24p attack helicopters were delivered to the Libyan National Army in April 2015. Belarus confirmed to the panel that four helicopters were sold to the United Arab Emirates in 2014.
The panel also found that the UAE provided at least one At-802i aircraft to the LNA and confirmed deliveries of armoured vehicles in April 2016 to the LNA in Tobruk from UAE-based companies. Requests to the UAE for clarification from the UN experts remain unanswered, the report said.
UN investigators raised concerns over “large deliveries of Toyota pickup trucks and armoured 4×4 cars to Tobruk” in January and April this year. The report, sent to the Security Council last month, said “materiel entering Libya has been of an increasingly sophisticated nature.”
“External assistance to armed groups in terms of direct support, training and technical assistance has also increased,” it said. Libya has been wracked by chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled and killed the longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi, with rival authorities and militias battling for control of the oil-rich country.