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Libyan Crisis: Deploy Warships To Enforce Libya Arms – OpEd


The EU has agreed to deploy warships to stop the flow of weapons into Libya. Josep Borrell, the EU’s chief diplomat, announced that 27 foreign ministers had agreed to launch a new operation with naval ships, planes and satellites in order to enforce the UN arms embargo on Libya.

Borrell promised the ships would be withdrawn if they became “a pull factor” that encouraged people to attempt the risky crossing from Libya to Europe. On the other hand, this commitment helped lift opposition to the mission from Italy and Austria, whose governments had blocked an earlier compromise.

In addition, weapons and foreign mercenaries have been pouring into the war-torn north African country, it will be exposing Europe’s weakness in its own neighborhood. The arms embargo in Libya has become a joke and the country’s financial position is deteriorating rapidly, the world leaders took cease-fire measures in  Berlin last month to draw up a Libyan peace plan, both sides in the civil war have ignored international appeals and turned back to their external sponsor nations for further arms and mercenary support. according to that the UN security council passed a resolution calling for enforcement of the arms embargo and a ceasefire.

Ships under the new mission – called Operation EU Active Surveillance – will patrol about 60 miles (100km) off the coast of Libya, an area of the Mediterranean that is the main route for weapons into the country.  Also, naval assets can be deployed in the areas most relevant to the implementation of the arms embargo, in the eastern part of the area of operation or at least 100km off the Libyan coast, where chances to conduct rescue operations are lower.

In the past the EU ministers agreed to create the naval operation in 2015 to combat people-smuggling and prevent loss of life at sea they called it Operation Sophia. Last March 2019 the operation’s Sophia’s sea patrols, after Italy’s then government, a populist coalition between a far-right party and anti-establishment party, threatened to veto the entire operation.

That operation got its name after a child born to a Somali mother rescued at sea along with 453 other people on a German naval ship that was part of an EU operation.  According to that the EU’s then foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, the name was “to honour the lives of the people we are saving”. The operation was extended to include helping uphold the UN arms embargo on Libya.

Borrell mentioned that it was absurd for Austria, a landlocked country without a navy, to block the revival of Operation Sophia. He had also vigorously rejected arguments that the new naval operation would create a pull effect, also the legitimate concerns of some member states regarding potential impact on migration flows, its so-called “pull effects”. He promised these would be monitored, but in case of the observation of pull factors on migration we will maritime assets will be withdrawn from the relevant areas.

The conflict in Libya with  the volume of unexploded ordnance in Tripoli had increased and this is risk for the civilians which they living in areas affected by fighting, also the investigators had visited the site of an airstrike by Haftar’s forces and found remnants of cluster bombs, which spray small explosive charges that can fail to detonate, creating continuing danger for civilians. There were more than 900 civilian deaths and casualties in Libya in 2019, according to the advocacy group Action on Armed Violence.

Stephen Goose, arms division director at HRW said, “Cluster munitions should never be used by anyone under any circumstances.” Harchaoui, a research fellow with the Netherlands-based Clingendael Institute said, “There’s a free-for-all, almost like a green light that is essentially being sent by the member states of the security council”.

He mentioned, “All types of ugly ordnance, including cluster ordnance, are shipped into Libya, and no member state of the security council is willing to broach the issue of imposing any kind of mechanism that would be unpleasant or costly to the states that are violating the arms embargo.”

Further more, Harchaoui said he feared fighting in Libya would worsen despite the calls for a ceasefire. The dangers posed to civilians by unexploded munitions were highlighted. The Department of Defense claimed the mines would be “nonpersistent” and expire after a short period, but anti-mine activists warned civilians would be endangered if these mechanisms failed.

In the end, Libya needs to reach a political solution that addresses the threat of extremism and terrorism it is the role of the Middle East counties in international efforts in Libya is vital and necessary.

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Miral Sabry Al Ashry

Miral Sabry Al Ashry is an Associate Professor at Future University (FUE), Political Mass Media Department.

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