Experts: Libya rivals UAE, Russia, Turkey violate UN embargo

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FILE - In this Friday, Sept. 21, 2012, file photo, civilians watch fires at an Ansar al-Shariah Brigades compound after hundreds of locals, military, and police raided the Brigades base in Benghazi, Libya. The warring parties in Libya and their international backers the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Jordan vs Turkey and Qatar violated a U.N. arms embargo on the oil-rich north African country that remains totally ineffective, U.N. experts said in a new report. (AP Photo, File)

TANZANIA – The warring parties in Libya and their international backers — the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Jordan vs Turkey and Qatar — violated a U.N. arms embargo on the oil-rich north African country that remains “totally ineffective,” U.N. experts said in a new report.

The panel of experts monitoring sanctions against Libya said in the report seen Tuesday by The Associated Press that 11 companies also violated the arms embargo including the Wagner Group, a private Russian security company the panel said in May provided between 800 and 1,200 mercenaries to support eastern Libya’s rebel commander Khalifa Hifter.

In addition, the panel of experts said the warring parties and their international backers, along with Egypt and Syria, failed to inspect aircraft or vessels or both, as required by a 2015 U.N. Security Council resolution if they have reasonable grounds to believe the cargo contains military weapons and ammunition.

“The panel considers that details in letters to certain member states, together with extensive media coverage, provides sufficient information for them to have reasonable grounds for inspection,” the report said.

The new report follows a warning last week from the top U.N. official for Libya that the oil-rich country is at “a decisive turning point,” with foreign backers of its rival governments pouring in weapons and the misery of its people compounded by the coronavirus pandemic that appears to be “spiraling out of control.”

Acting special representative Stephanie Williams told the Security Council that its actions “will help determine whether the country descends into new depths of fragmentation and chaos, or progresses towards a more prosperous future.”

Libya was plunged into chaos when a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 toppled longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi, who was later killed. The county has since split between rival east- and west-based administrations, each backed by armed groups and foreign governments.

Eastern military commander Hifter launched an offensive in April 2019 trying to capture the capital of Tripoli. But Hifter’s campaign collapsed in June when militias backing the U.N.-supported government in Tripoli, with Turkish support, gained the upper hand, driving his forces from the outskirts of the capital and other western towns.