Doha suspected of smuggling weapons to Tripoli militias

The shipment allegedly belonged to Qataris who, reportedly in coordination with Turkish middlemen, smuggle weapons to Libya.
Sunday 02/02/2020
Libyans stand with their national flags above armoured military vehicles of forces loyal to the UN-recognised "Government of National Accord" during a celebration in Tripoli, January 31. (AFP)
Libyans stand with their national flags above armoured military vehicles of forces loyal to the UN-recognised "Government of National Accord" during a celebration in Tripoli, January 31. (AFP)

CAIRO - Turkey’s intervention in Libya and its use of fighters from Syria to battle the Libyan National Army put the spotlight on the possibility of exploitation of the porous borders between North Darfur in Sudan and Chad with Libya and using them as a supply and support path for the militias allied with Libya’s Government of National Accord.

That scenario became clear when Sudanese security sources announced that weapons, apparently destined to be smuggled into Libya, had been seized. Along with taking possession of the shipment, the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces (RSF) arrested several people of various nationalities, including individuals with Turkish passports.

Sudanese media said the RSF seized an arms shipment in North Darfur that was reportedly en route to militias in Tripoli, which may explain a recent Qatari media attack on the RSF. Qatar is backing the militias aligned with the Government of National Accord.

The shipment allegedly belonged to Qataris who, reportedly in coordination with Turkish middlemen, smuggle weapons to Libya. The shipment was said to be the largest seized in five years.

Heba al-Bashbishi, a researcher of African affairs, said the Qatari presence in Darfur is mainly aimed at creating new smuggling routes into Africa after the crackdown on smuggling of weapons and people across the Mediterranean. Sudan, Eritrea and Chad have become the alternate routes for supplying militant organisations. The new routes are said to be used extensively in the increased Turkish intervention in Libya.

Bashbishi said the road laid out by the French government to deliver humanitarian aid to Darfur in 2007, during the war between Omar al-Bashir’s regime and the armed movements, had become a hotbed for smuggling weapons and people because it is not patrolled by Sudanese government forces.

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