The BBC’s Africa Eye investigative series has released a documentary examining Turkey and other countries’ role in ongoing violations of a UN arms embargo on Libya, which is in the ninth year of a civil war that began after the NATO-backed removal of long-time leader Muammar al-Qaddafi. World leaders gathered in Berlin on the weekend of January 18–19 to discuss a peaceful resolution to the conflict, ending on a commitment to implement an arms embargo. Not even a week later, a ship named the Bana left the Turkish port of Mersin, and the manifest said it was en route to the Tunisian port of Gabès. Forty kilometers from its destination, the Bana turned off its transponder and disappeared from radar. Satellite imagery later showed it docked in a Tripoli port, having been escorted by two G-Class military frigates. Turkey has been backing Libya’s UN-supported Government of National Accord, based in Tripoli, which has been under attack for nearly a year by Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army, supported by Turkey’s regional rivals Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan.
Why It Matters
An arms embargo violation is one of those scenarios where everyone may know it is being broken, yet it can be exceedingly difficult to prove conclusively who is violating it and when. Evidence obtained by the BBC Africa Eye investigations unit allows regulatory agencies at the United Nations and African Union to confidently assign blame to the violators, and it can be used to institute punishment such as economic sanctions or trade embargos. Support for either side of the conflict will continue until the point when the sponsor in question, whether Turkey or France or Egypt, is forced to realize that their support is more costly than whatever political benefit they may receive from their sponsorship.