Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Libyan Weapons Arming Regional Conflicts

Black-market weapons from Libya’s civil war are turning up from Nigeria to Syria as former fighters look to capitalize on the Libyan state’s inability to control the flow of arms.

Inter Press Service

In the aftermath of Libya’s revolution, Libyan fighters and weapons are flooding areas of conflict in neighbouring countries, according to local fighters and officials in several countries.

Libya’s still heavily armed militias continue to sell their weapons on the black market directly to foreign militias from war-ridden countries, or to arms-dealers from third countries who then sell them on to warring factions, they say.

“All of the militias are involved in selling weapons. There is no law in Libya, still no functioning government, and the country’s security forces are too weak to control the situation, so selling weapons is regarded as legal by many of the rebels,” said Ridwan, a former rebel who fought with Tripoli’s Suq Al Jumma Katiba brigades.

“Many of the fighters got greedy following the war and believe they are entitled to compensation for the sacrifices they made for their country as they believe the government has abandoned them,” Ridwan, who did not give his last name, told IPS.

“The guys sell an AK-47 on the black market for 1,000 Libyan dinars (800 dollars). An anti-aircraft gun mounted on the back of a pickup truck goes for between 8000-10,000 LD. Most of the weapons are smuggled to the borders, especially Turkey.”

Libyan Islamist fighters are also reported to have swollen the ranks of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in their fight against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s security forces.

The presence of Islamic extremists in North Africa’s greater Sahel region, bordered by Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger, has contributed to destabilising the area.

Tuareg rebels have declared their own state, Azawad, in the northern part of Mali, which has also been invaded by Ansar Dine, an Islamist group that works closely with an organisation known as Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The Tuareg are an indigenous people in the Saharan region.

As fighting rages on in Mali, reportedly supplemented by Libyan weapons, a number of foreigners have been kidnapped.

Mali’s ambassador to South Africa, Balladji Diakite, told IPS following the kidnapping of a South African national, that “heavily armed Mali gunmen returning from the Libyan war, where they fought with former president Muammar Gaddafi’s die-hard loyalists, were most likely behind the abductions.”

Dr David Zounmenou from the African Conflict Prevention Programme at The Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, South Africa, concurred with Diakite.

“The Sahel region is awash with weapons and those returned Mali gunmen. Many of the Tuaregs who fought with Gaddafi now have no benefactor. In addition to being broke, they also feel marginalised and politically disaffected,” Zounmenou told IPS.

Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamist militants, who are battling the government and Christians, have set up an alliance with AQIM. Weapons looted from Libya have turned up in Nigeria according to Nigeria’s defence minister, Olusola Obada.

Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a key AQIM leader who operates in the southern Sahara and the Sahel belt, was recently seen in Libya buying arms.

Ridwan told IPS that it wasn’t only AQIM who had traveled to Libya on an arms-buying spree but Syrian middlemen were also visiting the country to buy arms en masse. According to a Syrian friend of Ridwan, Syrian civilians are also receiving military training from former Libyan rebels.

The latest market for Libya’s weapons appears to be Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, where Egyptian security forces continue to clash with Islamists after a deadly attack last month that left 16 Egyptian soldiers dead. According to media reports the weapons include Soviet-supplied SA-24 surface-to-air missiles.

Ibrahim Al-Monaei, who has previously been arrested for smuggling weapons from Egypt to Gaza, told Al Arabiya TV that all the weapons entering the Sinai Peninsula now are from Libya.

Saied Ateeq, an activist from the region, said that weapons imported from Libya are easily identifiable. “The new ones are of the type used in wars and not in regular clashes.”

Meanwhile, Jihadists in Syria are being supported by possibly hundreds of former Libyan rebels, many of them from Gharyan, 80km south of Tripoli. The men from Gharyan reportedly joined the ranks of the FSA after the city’s mufti Sheikh Sadik Gharyan called on Libyans to stand by their brothers in Syria.

Islamist Abdul Basset Abu Arghob, an oil engineer who commanded the Gharyan Brigades during the revolution, said he had considered going to fight in Syria.

“I decided against it in the end as there is so much work to be done in Libya. But many of my comrades have gone to fight in Syria as we believe the war there is part of a holy Jihad against bad regimes in the region and it is our duty as Muslims to help our brethren,” Abu Arghob told IPS.

One of the most prominent Libyan fighters in Syria is Mahdi Al Harati who used to command the Tripoli Revolutionary Brigades, one of the first Libyan brigades to enter Syria in August last year.

Al-Harati said that victory in Libya and the support of world organisations for Libya encouraged him to pass his experiences on for the benefit of Syrians.

“After many Syrians approached me asking for my help, I felt it was time to do more and due to the great success of the Tripoli Brigades we felt it was time to act,” said Al-Harati.

Mel Frykberg is a contributor to Inter Press Service.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is one of the Senate’s more vocal hawks, and one of the prime vacillators among Republicans between objecting to and supporting Donald Trump.


Ron Dermer is the Israeli ambassador to the United States and has deep connections to the Republican Party and the neoconservative movement.


The Washington-based American Enterprise Institute is a rightist think tank with a broad mandate covering a range of foreign and domestic policy issues that is known for its strong connections to neoconservatism and overseas debacles like the Iraq War.


Max Boot, neoconservative military historian at the Council on Foreign Relations, on Trump and Russia: “At every turn Trump is undercutting the ‘get tough on Russia’ message because he just can’t help himself, he just loves Putin too much.”


Since taking office Donald Trump has revealed an erratic and extremely hawkish approach to U.S. foreign affairs, which has been marked by controversial actions like dropping out of the Iran nuclear agreement that have raised tensions across much of the world and threatened relations with key allies.


Mike Huckabee, a former governor of Arkansas and an evangelical pastor, is a far-right pundit known for his hawkish policies and opposition to an Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians.


Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is known for her lock-step support for Israel and considered by some to be a future presidential candidate.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The Trumpian new regional order in the Middle East is predicated on strongman rule, disregard for human rights, Sunni primacy over Iran and other Shia centers of power, continued military support for pro-American warring parties regardless of the unlawfulness of such wars, and Israeli hegemony.


A comparison of U.S. nuclear diplomacy with Iran and the current version with North Korea puts the former in a good light and makes the latter look disappointing. Those with an interest in curbing the dangers of proliferating nuclear weapons should hope that the North Korea picture will improve with time. But whether it does or not, the process has put into perspective how badly mistaken was the Trump administration’s trashing of the Iran nuclear agreement.


Numerous high profile Trump administration officials maintain close ties with anti-Muslim conspiracy theorists. In today’s America, disparaging Islam is acceptable in ways that disparaging other religions is not. Given the continuing well-funded campaigns by the Islamophobes and continuing support from their enablers in the Trump administration, starting with the president himself, it seems unlikely that this trend will be reversed any time soon.


The Trump administration’s nuclear proliferation policy is now in meltdown, one which no threat of “steely resolve”—in Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s words—will easily contain. It is hemorrhaging in part because the administration has yet to forge a strategy that consistently and credibly signals a feasible bottom line that includes living with—rather than destroying—regimes it despises or fears. Political leaders on both sides of the aisle must call for a new model that has some reasonable hope of restraining America’s foes and bringing security to its Middle East allies.


Congressional midterm elections are just months away and another presidential election already looms. Who will be the political leader with the courage and presence of mind to declare: “Enough! Stop this madness!” Man or woman, straight or gay, black, brown, or white, that person will deserve the nation’s gratitude and the support of the electorate. Until that occurs, however, the American penchant for war will stretch on toward infinity.


To bolster the president’s arguments for cutting back immigration, the administration recently released a fear-mongering report about future terrorist threats. Among the potential threats: a Sudanese national who, in 2016, “pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to ISIS”; an Uzbek who “posted a threat on an Uzbek-language website to kill President Obama in an act of martyrdom on behalf of ISIS”; a Syrian who, in a plea agreement, “admitted that he knew a member of ISIS and that while in Syria he participated in a battle against the Syrian regime, including shooting at others, in coordination with Al Nusrah,” an al-Qaeda offshoot.


The recent appointment of purveyors of anti-Muslim rhetoric to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom exposes the cynical approach Republicans have taken in promoting religious freedom.


RightWeb
share