Europe doesn’t know what to do with Turkish arms smuggling to Libya

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BERLIN, (BM) – Last Thursday, EU supreme diplomat Josep Borrel proudly announced the start of the new Mediterranean mission of the European Union, “Irini,” writes the German newspaper Die Welt. This mission should monitor compliance with the UN embargo on arms supplies to Libya.

The French frigate and naval reconnaissance aircraft from Luxembourg have been operating within the framework of the Irini mission for several days. Soon, Germany will also take part in the operation, which will detach up to 300 people for this, a “dilapidated reconnaissance aircraft of the Navy,” and later in the summer, probably a military vessel, the article says.

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However, there is something that Borrel kept silent about: in contrast to the previous Sofia mission, which since 2016 has been unsuccessfully following the cessation of arms smuggling, the new EU mission in the waters of Libya will not receive NATO support in intelligence and logistics and, to for example, refueling ships.

In Brussels, this is assessed as “the failure of the much-praised new cooperation between the EU and NATO and an unfavorable political signal to the outside world,” writes Die Welt. According to the publication, even within the alliance and the EU there is considerable resistance to the idea of ​​support from the NATO military.

Moreover, this is not about any military operation in the Mediterranean Sea. Irini is a new model project of European defense policy. The operation should be carried out from the air, via satellite, and, first of all, at sea. Its goal is to block the transportation of weapons to Libya and thereby help to establish peace in a country covered by a civil war.

Operation Irini is an important step in order for the embargo on the supply of arms to Libya to finally take effect, said David McAllister, head of the foreign policy committee in the EU parliament, from the German party of Social Democrats.

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According to Die Welt, Europeans are extremely interested in the world, because the war will contribute to the emergence of an even greater number of refugees from Libya and other African states. However, is it possible to act separately from NATO? One way or another, the Alliance is present in the Mediterranean Sea – its ships are involved in Sea Guardian operations to monitor the water area, train the military and fight terrorism.

Continued cooperation between the EU and NATO could be organized without any problems, the author of the article notes. However, on the part of NATO, Ankara clearly spoke out against the support of the Irini mission. Thus, the fate of the mission was decided, because the principle of unanimous decision-making operates in NATO.

Without new arrivals, including dangerous combat drones, the government of Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, recognized by the international community and the EU, would have long lost in the war against General Khalifa Haftar, who is supported by Russia, Egypt, the UAE and France, the publication emphasizes. Turkey has supported Sarraj only since last November. Then both parties entered into a controversial agreement on the division of spheres of influence in the Mediterranean.

Thus, Ankara’s interests have changed since the Sofia mission. This led to the opacity of the current situation and drowned hopes for an early end to hostilities. “The constant increase in the number of international players contributes to the escalation and spiraling of violence, and also hinders efforts to diplomatically resolve the conflict,” said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn.

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There was also resistance within the EU against NATO support: France expressed doubts about its necessity, while Greece and Cyprus completely rejected this possibility. Both countries fear that Ankara may receive important intelligence through cooperation between NATO and the EU and will accordingly adjust its arms delivery routes to Libya.

As noted in the article, on the sidelines of Brussels there are already doubts about the current organization of the Irini mission. One of the diplomats in Southern Europe stated that “it’s completely unclear what will happen when the EU military has to stop the smuggling of NATO-affiliated ships of Turkey, if the weapons are not surrendered, and the matter even comes to a conflict with the use of force.”

Moreover, despite the embargo, weapons from the UAE and Egypt continue to freely enter Libya by air or through a land border. This is a clear advantage for General Haftar, who is also supported by Russia.

The situation is now extremely confusing, the German newspaper emphasizes. Both Sarraj and Haftar clearly disapprove of the new EU operation. Both sides are interested in accessing new supplies of heavy weapons, and the war in Libya will continue despite the Irini mission, concludes Die Welt.


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Original source: InfoTV