Libyan weapons spread at alarming rate
10 April 2013, 11:00
New York - Libyan weapons are spreading at "an alarming
rate" to new territory in west Africa and the eastern Mediterranean
including Syria and the Gaza Strip where they are fueling conflicts and
increasing the arsenals of armed groups and terrorists, a UN panel said.
In a report to the UN Security Council circulated on Tuesday,
the panel said cases of illicit transfers from Libya in violation of a UN arms
embargo that have been proven and are still under investigation involve more
than 12 countries and include heavy and light weapons such as portable air defence
systems, explosives, mines, and small arms and ammunition.
Since the uprising that ousted dictator Muammar Gaddafi in
2011, the panel said, "Libya has over the past two years become a
significant and attractive source of weaponry in the region".
It said civilians and militias remain in control of most
weapons in Libya, adding that "the lack of an effective security system
remains one of the primary obstacles to securing military materiel and
controlling the borders".
"In the past 12 months, the proliferation of weapons
from Libya has continued at a worrying rate and has spread into new territory:
West Africa, the Levant and, potentially, even the Horn of Africa," the
panel said. "Illicit flows from the country are fuelling existing
conflicts in Africa and the Levant and enriching the arsenals of a range of
non-state actors, including terrorist groups."
The five-member expert panel made 28 visits to 15 countries
in Africa, Europe and the Middle East including 10 visits to Libya. The 94-page
report details arms trafficking cases that violate the embargo imposed after
the 2011 uprising began as well as efforts to track down the financial assets
of individuals and companies linked to Gaddafi and his regime that are on the
The panel said it also examined evidence of the delivery of
weapons and ammunition from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to support the
anti-Gaddafi revolutionaries during the uprising and considers that both
countries violated the UN arms embargo, despite Qatar's denial that it
transferred any military materiel.
Lack of political stability
It cited a case of the transfer of ammunition to Libya
involving the United Arab Emirates, Armenia, Albania and Ukraine, a separate
case involving Sudan, and the reported transfer of a drone to the Libyan
opposition by a Canadian company which Canadian authorities say is under
Last month, the Security Council eased sanctions on
non-lethal military equipment for the Libyan government but warned that the
country is awash with illegal weapons.
The panel said the increased availability of Libyan weapons
has empowered a variety of "non-state actors" engaged in conflicts
against national authorities, and it expressed concern that extremist armed
groups, who are the best financed, are strengthening their position.
"The lack of political and security stability, the
continuing absence of control over stockpiles by the national authorities and
delays in disarmament and weapons collections encourage illicit trading and
have generated considerable money-making opportunities for traffickers,"
the panel said.
It said the post-Gaddafi outpouring of arms has helped fuel
the conflict in Mali where secular Tuareg rebels took half of the north as a
new homeland in 2012 only to be ousted months later by Islamist Jihadists, many
linked to al-Qaeda. When they suddenly headed south, France launched a military
operation in January that routed them, though remnants remain.
The most regular transfers of significant quantities of arms
are going to Egypt and the Sahel, the panel said, with less regular transfers
to Chad and Syria.
The panel said it received confidential information that 30
portable air defence systems from Libya were bought from traffickers in Chad,
and some were transported to the capital Ndjamena.
In a new trend, it said, illicit arms are being transferred
by both land and sea toward the Levant in the eastern Mediterranean.
Egypt is facing an influx of arms from Libya, which present
"a threat to its internal security" because some arms are likely to
remain in Sinai for use against the government by insurgents, the panel said.
Range of actors
But it said the destination for the majority of arms from
Egypt is the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by the militant Islamic group Hamas.
Syria, where a conflict that has killed more than 70 000
people is now in its third year, is also "a prominent destination for some
Libyan fighters and Libyan military materiel", the panel said.
It said weapons transfers have been organised by a range of
actors in Libya, Syria, and in countries neighbouring Syria.
In the Horn of Africa, the panel said it had received
evidence that various types of ammunition originating in Libya have been found
in Somalia, where the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabaab are still fighting
Libya's Prime Minister Ali Zidan told the Security Council
last month that the government has controlled its borders with Algeria, Niger,
Chad, Sudan and Egypt and is training police, the military and a national guard
that will take security responsibility outside urban areas.
But despite efforts by the government to improve security,
the panel said, "the proliferation of weapons from Libya continues at an