Arms supplies for libya: why the embargo is just a joke

Turkey prevents the Bundeswehr from searching a freighter bound for Libya. Unsurprisingly, because the arms embargo is not one.

Bundeswehr soldiers from the frigate "Hamburg" stand on the deck of a tanker in September Photo: dpa

Once again, it is evident that European attempts to control the arms embargo on Libya are a joke. When soldiers from the German frigate "Hamburg" tried to search a suspicious Turkish ship, they had to abort their action because Ankara protested against the search, according to German sources. But it is not just that the suspect state must agree to a search of its ships that makes maritime surveillance of the arms embargo a sham. A large proportion of the weapons for the Libyan warring parties do not come across the sea at all.

However, the Libyan conflict parties have now agreed on a stable ceasefire and a new political beginning, even without the participation of the EU. For Turkey, therefore, arms deliveries to the Libyan government could soon become obsolete anyway, at least if the peace agreement is realized and foreign mercenaries and their state backers then also have to withdraw.

It is therefore not surprising that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is unhappy with developments in Libya. He feels cheated of the reward for his support of the internationally recognized Saraj government. Yet, overall, his aggressive, military foreign policy has paid off for him so far. In the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, his man, the Azerbaijani autocrat Ilham Aliyev, emerged as the clear winner, and in northern Syria, too, Turkey is in the process of increasingly annexing the territories it occupies.

Peace has not yet been truly sealed in Libya either. Many militias, including those allied with Turkey in Misrata – where the freighter is headed – are resisting disarmament. Therefore, the EU would now have another opportunity to do something for peace in Libya. However, not with a sham mission like the naval mission "Irini," but by supporting the peace process with money and a strong joint diplomatic presence.

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