News / Middle East

Arms Watchdog Suspects Belarus-Libya Transports

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi seen during a welcome ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2008
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, right, and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi seen during a welcome ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2008
James Brooke

A leading arms trade watchdog group suspects that Libya received a shipment of military equipment from Belarus, as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi began a bloody crackdown on anti-government protesters.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or SIPRI, reports that an Ilyushin IL-76 military cargo plane left Belarus two weeks ago and flew to Libya. The plane took off from Baranovichi, a Belarusian military base that inherited a huge stockpile of weapons after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  The plane flew to Sebha, a base deep in the Sahara that is still controlled by Gadhafi loyalists.

The information comes from Hugh Griffiths, a British arms control expert for SIPRI. "Sebha is a very interesting airport because it is still under the control of Gadhafi.  It’s surrounded by an area that is controlled by a tribe that is quite loyal, fiercely loyal, to Gadhafi.  Gadhafi spent some time growing up in Sebha.  He went to school there," he said.

Griffiths noted that the military cargo flight took place before a United Nations arms embargo imposed on Libya on Saturday.  He said that surplus Soviet weapons from Belarus have shown up in many conflicts in Africa. "The kinds of weapons that Belarus has stockpiled, like Ukraine, are the kinds of weapons used in poor man’s wars - cheap, readily available, mass-produced weaponry, left over the from the Cold War," he said.

On Monday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon charged that Belarus violated an international arms embargo on the Ivory Coast by sending three attack helicopters to the forces of President Laurent Gbagbo.  Last December, that West African nation’s election commission declared that Mr. Gbagbo lost presidential elections.  He has refused to step down.

Belarus is also hemmed in by international sanctions imposed after disputed presidential elections late last year.  After the voting on December 19, Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko declared victory and threw most of his opponents in jail.

"It is straightforward defamation because we are not selling arms or any type of weapons to Libya," said Belarus Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh speaks from Minsk.

But 18 months ago, Khamis Gadhafi, the Libyan leader’s youngest son, visited Belarus to watch military exercises with President Lukashenko and Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev.  A graduate of Russian military academies, Khamis Gadhafi is a fluent Russian speaker and has spoken publicly about buying arms from Belarus.

In the current uprising, he is leading the Khamis Brigade, a special forces unit, in attacks on rebels around Tripoli.

SIPRI expert Griffiths said that last week, a Falcon 900 executive jet belonging to Moammar Gadhafi flew twice into Minsk airport.  He said the passenger seats were in place, ruling out the transport of heavy cargo.

Griffiths noted that Mr. Gadhafi maintained close ties in the 1990s with West African warlords - gang leaders who paid their bills with diamonds. "That is one of the very few items you can ship out on an executive jet that is non-traceable. This is a couple of days before the U.N. freeze came into effect," he said.

"What we are facing here, I believe, is clear and open speculation, and again defamation.  Because I can assure you that no flights from Libya entered Belarus during those days," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Savinykh, from From Minsk.

With both the governments of Libya and Belarus now under the magnifying glass of international sanctions, scrutiny of this shadowy relationship is expected to only increase in coming days.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid