The diplomatic isolation and blockade of Qatar, initiated by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain last week, has had a significant impact on the Libyan political situation. On 9 June, these countries issued a blacklist of Qatari-funded individuals and entities they say are linked to terrorism. This includes five high profile Libyan Islamist leaders, notably Ali Sallabi, a key figure in Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood, Sadeq al-Ghariani, Libya’s controversial Grand Mufti, and Abdul Hakim Belhaj, the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). The House of Representatives subsequently released their own list greatly expanding the number of individuals and entities they claim are implicated in terrorist activities through their links with Qatar.
Last week, the UN Security Council published its final report of the Panel of Experts on Libya. The long, detailed report touches on a number of significant issues impacting stability in Libya including human rights violations, violations of the arms embargo, and the role of foreign mercenaries in Libya’s conflicts. The Panel provided documentation for several instances where armed groups were involved in actual or potential violations of the arms embargo. Access to military equipment has facilitated the escalation of armed conflicts and air strike capabilities. The experts state that the United Arab Emirates have been providing military equipment to the Libyan National Army (LNA), in violation of the arms embargo, significantly increasing the air support available to LNA.
The report describes a network of foreign pilots, mercenaries, and arms dealers, who have supported armed groups in Misrata to expand their capacity to launch airstrikes. The report also mentions the involvement of Chadian and Sudanese mercenaries on both sides of the conflict, concentrated in areas around the Oil Crescent. The Panel reported that commanders of the Sudan Liberation Army/Minni Minawi were received in Marj in mid-October 2016. Chadian groups were hosted in Misrata-controlled bases in Ahjar al-Sawda’ and in Sabha.
On 13 June, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to approve Resolution 2357 (2017), extending its arms embargo off the coast of Libya for another 12 months. The resolution allows UN member states to inspect ships suspected of violating the arms embargo imposed on Libya, on their own or through regional organizations. The states have the power to seize and dispose of any arms found.