French-bought, us-made weapons discovered among LNA forces in Ghariyan
On 8 July, a briefing by two US officials to the US House and Senate foreign relations panels confirmed that the four American-made Javelin anti-tank missiles discovered among Libyan National Army (LNA) forces in Ghariyan belonged to France. An adviser to the French armed forces minister confirmed the missiles belonged to French forces, purchased from the US in 2010, but denied they had been sold or given to the LNA. The adviser claimed the missiles were no longer usable, were being temporarily stored in a warehouse awaiting destruction, and were not handed over to the LNA forces. The weapons were allegedly intended to protect French intelligence and counter-terrorism forces operating in Libya.
The missiles discovery indicates that France had boots on the ground supporting Haftar and backs up source reports that at least five French officials were assisting the LNA’s command centre at Ghariyan. The transfer of weapons to Libya is in clear violation of the UN arms embargo, and while the embargo continues to be openly flaunted by regional players such as the UAE and Turkey, this breach by one of the UN Security Councils permanent members will further undermine and delegitimise the UN and its role in Libya.
This exposure may see France pull back some of its activities in Libya and reduce its support of the LNA to appease the US and save face. However, the removal of French support is unlikely to significantly derail the support being provided to the LNA by regional powers such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the UAE. And this incident is likely to heighten the diplomatic divisions and mistrust among key international players in Libya, notably Italy, France, the UK and the US. This will make international agreement on how to solve the Libyan crisis even more challenging and means the chances of a meaningful, unified response to stop the escalating violence and instability in Libya are very remote in the short term.