Outrage in Germany over Turkey's use of German-made weapons in Libya's war

The Ottoman nation still defies UN resolution which bans arms transfers to the Libyan conflict
A tank from Libyan fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) during clashes with Khalifa Haftar forces, south of the Ain Zara suburb of the capital, Tripoli

AFP/MAHMUD TURKIA  -   A tank from Libyan fighters loyal to the Government of National Accord (GNA) during clashes with Khalifa Haftar forces, south of the Ain Zara suburb of the capital, Tripoli

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Turkey continues to violate the UN arms embargo on the Libyan civil war; a bloody clash that has been going on since 2014 between the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by Marshal Khalifa Haftar and associated with the other eastern Tobruk Executive. In this case, it has become known that the Eurasian country, present in the conflict in favour of the Tripolitan side, has Germany-supplied weapons which has caused consternation in Germany, as this has been linked to the violation of the blockade imposed by the UN aimed at stopping the bloody confrontation in the North African country.  

The transfer of armoured vehicles and other German-made war material to the Libyan capital of Tripoli has caused irritation in the German political and social sphere. This was known through the German weekly magazine Stern, whose research indicated that this military equipment was sold to Turkey for local use, in the course of regular arms contracts between the two countries, especially since Ankara is one of the largest consumers of German arms in the world and the Turkish-German link is strong in all areas (the large colony of Turks residing on German soil is worth remembering). But the regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan secretly smuggled these armoured vehicles and equipment into Libya to assist the GNA militias, in clear violation of the UN resolution banning arms exports to Libya.  

According to Stern magazine, "On January 24, a ship set sail from the Turkish port of Mersin (a major naval hub on the northeast coast of the Mediterranean Sea in southern Turkey) for Genoa, Italy". "The ship was supposed to carry regular vehicles and pass through Crete and Cyprus," the magazine reported, but the magazine noted that the ship disappeared from the radar from January 27 for two days before it subsequently appeared 25 kilometres from Tripoli, continuing its journey to Genoa as if nothing had happened. The German media indicated that "the ship closed the signal to avoid the radar and carry out a mission in Libya, before returning to the natural route to Genoa". It explained that "according to statements made by the sailors to the police in Genoa, the ship unloaded weapons under the supervision of the Turkish soldiers in Tripoli". "One of the sailors said he saw armoured vehicles from the Mercedes company on the ship", and that "some of these armoured vehicles were equipped with a cannon and radar systems", it added. Reference was also made to a video taken in secret during the ship's voyage to Tripoli, showing Mercedes-Benz Unimog military vehicles on board, according to Al-Ain News.  

Combatientes del GNA se encuentran junto a un camión lanzador de cohetes en la ciudad de Tarhouna, a unos 65 kilómetros al sudeste de la capital, Trípoli, el 5 de junio de 2020
AFP/MAHMUD TURKIA - GNA fighters stand next to a rocket launcher truck in the city of Tarhouna, about 65 kilometers southeast of the capital, Tripoli, on June 5, 2020

Stern magazine also said such a vehicle appeared in a video posted by the GNA militia on social networks, showing a group of its members driving Unimog vehicles near the port of Tripoli. Other images would also show a military convoy of Fayez Sarraj's militia with the presence of military cars produced by the German firm MAN.  

According to the same investigation, the smuggling of vehicles produced by German companies into Libya is also controversial for the German government, since the latter sponsored the last conference in Berlin on January 19, which brought the conflicting parties in Libya together, committing them to respect the arms embargo and to declare a ceasefire, something that was clearly not respected. 

Stern magazine said that the smuggling of German arms into Libya was causing great anger in Berlin. It called for a ban on the export of German arms to countries involved in the conflict in Libya, especially Turkey. 

El presidente de Turquía, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
AFP/MANDEL NGAN - The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

From the Turkish side, it has also been reported that Khalifa Haftar has used German-made military trucks in violation of the UN arms embargo, according to Stern magazine itself.  

The publication referred to pictures showing Russian Pantsir-S1 missile systems mounted on MAN-SX 45 trucks built in Germany. The German government has long criticized other countries for violating the UN arms embargo, has repeatedly called for an end to foreign influence in Libya, and has defended the European Union's Operation Irini, a naval mission whose main objective is to enforce the UN arms embargo through air and sea assets.  

The weekly reported that authorities believe the Pantsir-S1 missile systems and MAN-SX 45 military trucks were supplied to Khalifa Haftar's forces by the Emirates, according to the official Turkish news agency Anadolu. The military trucks were produced by a joint venture between MAN and German defense giant Rheinmetall. 

Fayez Sarraj, primer ministro del GNA
PHOTO/REUTERS - Fayez Sarraj, Prime Minister of GNA 

EAt this point, the GNA continues to suffer from the onslaught within the latest siege operation on Tripoli launched by the Khalifa Haftar Forces since April 4, 2019. In response to this, the GNA launched Operation Peace Storm on March 26 to counter attacks on the capital, with Turkish support, which resulted in the recovery of Al-Watiya airbase and important enclaves in the region such as Sabratha and Sorman.  

Libya has been devastated by civil war since the overthrow of the late leader Muammar al-Qadhafi in 2011. Efforts for a political settlement have failed so far. All this within a conflict now internationalized by the intrusion of several countries interested in taking a stand. The case of Turkey and its attempt to extend its influence in the Mediterranean arc through participation in the civil wars in Libya and Syria, under the clear interest of obtaining economic benefits, linked to gas and oil prospecting and geostrategic benefits, stands out. Not in vain, the Turkish intervention in the North African country was reinforced from the pact signed at the end of last year by Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Fayez Sarraj, which agreed the Turkish military support to the GNA and the distribution of exclusive economic zones in the Mediterranean, which came into conflict with maritime borders of countries as Greece and Cyprus. This support is enhanced by the financial muscle of Qatar, a country internationally associated with Turkey.  

Jalifa Haftar, mariscal del LNA
PHOTO/REUTERS - Jalifa Haftar, LNA marshal

In the Libyan civil war, the opposing factions received strong external support. On the one hand, the GNA, internationally recognized by the UN since 2016, receives support from Turkey, Qatar and Italy; while on the other hand, the LNA has the support of nations such as Russia, France, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt.