Ireland Investigation: Why Is Ireland Training Haftar’s Forces In Libya? – OpEd


The Irish government has initiated an investigation into alleged violations by an Irish company, led by former Defense Forces soldiers, that provided military training to the Benghazi army under the command of Khalifa Haftar in 2023. The Irish Times revealed this, which came as a shock and tarnished the reputation of Ireland and our defense forces.The Defense Forces have also requested the police to look into claims that the former individuals participated in weapons training while wearing Irish military uniforms, which goes against the ongoing UN arms embargo.

Irish Training Solutions is a training provider established by former members of The Army Ranger Wing, Ireland’s elite special forces. The courses offered by this company are delivered by experienced instructors who share current best practices, including real-life case studies at national and international levels for managing conflicts and crises.

The training aims to offer a range of specialized training programs. Personal Awareness Security Training (PSAT) and Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT) equip individuals with the necessary skills to navigate dangerous environments effectively. Medical training is also essential to provide immediate assistance in case of emergencies. For conflict situations, Executive Protection Training, Discrete Security Operative, and Hostile Environment Close Protection training programs are valuable in safeguarding individuals and assets. Moreover, in times of crisis, Kidnap and Hostage Training, Terrorism & Violent Attacks training, and Dealing with Natural Disaster training can help individuals respond effectively and mitigate risks. By participating in these diverse training programs, individuals can enhance their preparedness and ability to handle challenging situations with resilience and efficiency.

The company, led by former Irish Special Forces soldiers, sent highly skilled soldiers from Ireland to Benghazi, Libya, where they collaborated with other Special Forces trainers from various countries. They transferred the salaries of Irish trainers to a Dubai-based company named “SOF Training” to evade Irish scrutiny of the company’s operations. Former Irish soldiers were engaged in training Libyan military forces in close-range combat, tactics for attacking homes, conducting drug smuggling raids, and weapon usage.

A study should be conducted to strengthen legislation regulating the activities of former and current members of the Defense Forces in countries under UN or EU sanctions. No Irish citizen should knowingly engage in activities that breach these sanctions, especially former members of the Irish Defense Forces. The high level of training and proficiency acquired by Defense Forces personnel should not be utilized in such situations, such as those in eastern Libya.

This situation may conflict with government efforts to enforce the arms embargo. Due to concerns about damage to the reputation of the Irish Defense Forces from training in Libya, an existing regulation prohibiting individuals from engaging in private security work has been reissued and circulated to all commanders.

Military Intelligence and An Garda Síochána have initiated investigations to determine whether any military or civil laws were violated. While this is not the first training conducted in Libya, previous training occurred in the eastern part of the country controlled by Haftar and supported by Russian Wagner mercenaries.

Irish trainers, including a Defense Forces member who has not yet been demobilized, were flown to Haftar-controlled Benghazi. Photographs, documents, and accounts from individuals familiar with the situation, who spoke to the Irish Times, confirm this. The training involved teaching skills such as sniping, close combat, and room entry. The company provided equipment like helmets and body armor for training, which is subject to international law. The United Nations arms embargo prohibits the provision of military material.

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry is Co-lead for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the Centre for Freedom of the Media, the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield.

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